Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – March 18, 2021

West Marine
Mike Rzucidlo steelhead
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught 3 nice steelhead like this one using a No. 4 spinner on Tuesday.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

Happy St. Patty’s Day! With the arrival of spring this coming Saturday, March 20, it will not be long before area foliage will be turning green. We have more mild temperatures in the forecast and there are rumblings that the ice boom off Buffalo may be coming out soon – another sure sign of Spring.
In the Niagara River, action has been tough due to clear water conditions. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reiterated that, combined with some cold north winds making fishing that much more difficult. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reported 7 to 8 feet of water clarity on Tuesday, and he used No. 4 spinners to take 3 steelhead in a couple of hours. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports that he has been out twice the past week and that bucktail jigs have been really working well for chrome, catching 2 rainbows and a steelhead in the Whirlpool and beyond. In some back eddy pockets, water is crazy clear at 6 feet plus. Down river of the power plant it is a little more stained but still clear. All these days with the southwest and west wind gusts have been making it tough to drift bounce. Jigs in orange and white and all-white jigs have been working for Ziehm. Water seems to be getting clearer with each passing day. It has been a bit tough for the boaters, too, according to Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston. Minnows were working well for him over the weekend on Saturday. With super clear conditions, extend your leader a bit longer and use fluorocarbon line. Smaller hooks when using egg sacs or minnows will help with hook-ups. Sunday it was a different story as fishing became much tougher. The Niagara Bar has been yielding some brown trout and lake trout when the north wind is not blowing. Remember that walleye season is now closed. It reopens on May 1.

Gary Hall steelhead
Gary Hall of Niagara Falls with a chunky lower Niagara River steelhead caught over the weekend.

Kerry Dillon steelhead
Kerry Dillon of New Jersey caught this fine steelhead in the lower Niagara River this week fishing with Capt. Ted Kessler of Grand Island.
Clint Bentley steelhead
Clint Bentley of Rochester caught a couple big steelhead in the lower Niagara River fishing with Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston.

Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports that some of the smaller tributaries along Lake Ontario are holding trout. Steelhead fishing at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek has been decent according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott. Egg sacs or egg imitations are good baits to start with. The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association will be getting their salmon and trout pens ready for DEC stocking on March 27 at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott starting at 9:30 a.m. Normally they would ready the pens the first weekend in April but that is Easter weekend this year. Bring wire cutters. On another note, the first week in April is normally when Hyde Park Lake and Oppenheim Park Pond are stocked with trout by DEC, but there will not be a formal announcement prior to the stocking to avoid crowds due to covid. They will be stocked some time in early April.

Oswego County

David Owens of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

Oswego River Report

The CFS was 5470 as of this morning.

This following report is courtesy of Captain Stephen Shen of STS Guide Service.

Fishing is starting to pick up as the water temps have kept up.

Browns can be found from the powerhouse to the harbor. The best baits have been white jigs and swim baits. And steelhead are being caught throughout the system as well. They have been taking egg sacs (both white and pink) as well as beads in natural colors.

Year-Round Notice: There are mandatory personal flotation device (PFD) zones on the river. For more information, visit our website at and click on the Fishing Report along the top bar on the home page. The Oswego Fire Department offers loaner life jackets at no charge through its “Loaner for Life” program. For more information contact the fire station at 35 E. Cayuga St. by calling 315-343-2161.

Click here for the Brookfield Varick Fish Safely brochure.

Click here for the current water flow.

Salmon River Report:

The Pineville gauge was at 1050 CFS as of this morning.

This following report is courtesy of Captain Stephen Shen of STS Guide Service.

Fishing has been challenging on the salmon river. A few fresh fish have been entering the lower river. The fish haven’t started heavily spawning but there is more activity daily. A few post-spawn drop backs are being found in the mix. The lower fly zone has seen the most consistent action. Our go-to recommendations this week are: egg sacks, beads, and pink worms under floats or egg patterns. For fly rods we recommend stoneflies, and squirmy worms.

Be sure to check the USGS gauge as well as Safe Waters (Facility 42) for any updates in flows.

Oneida Lake Report:

Fishing on Oneida is tough this time of year. As of today (March 18th) we have reports of people on the ice, but lot of open shoreline too. Fish at your own risk.

We eagerly await the second weekend of May when walleye season opens!

Sandy Pond Report:

The main points of access for Sandy Pond are: Greenpoint, “The Elms,” Wigwam, and the new DEC launch at Stanley Drive.

This following report is courtesy of Woody’s Tackle Shop.

As of today (March 18th) we have reports of people on the ice, and we are told the shoreline isn’t too broken up yet, but that will likely change very soon. Fish at your own risk.

The crappie bite has picked up and the perch remains stable. Our go to bait this week are cubby jigs.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

The countdown continues for BT fishing the lake. April 1st is now only 16 days away. Many charters will be plying lake waters by April 1st. Ya hooo!

Opening day for trout fishing inland streams is April 1st. The tribs in Wayne County along the lake are always opened.

Try for steelhead in Maxwell Creek. The water flow is perfect.


Ice fishing has completed the 2021 season. There is open water on all bays and even the smaller ponds do not have safe ice. Put your gear away until next year.

It was a great season for catching perch, although we had a late start. If we had colder temps in January, safe ice would have been a 2-month adventure.

Some hardy anglers will launch boats because of no ice. It is still a perch quest and they will remain a good springtime catch. However, safety should be on your mind. Ramps are slippery, docks are not in, and the water temps are still in the 40’s. Hypothermia is quick and deadly.

Fish in teams, wear your pdf, and keep an eye on weather patterns…especially the wind which has been cranking every day.

Perch will hit exactly what you put down your ice hole. Live bait and bright jigs tipped with spikes or perch eyes will work.

Erie Canal

You can fish from the shore on the Erie Canal. Parts of the trail on the north side of the waterway have locations to cast out for panfish. You can also try next to the locks adjacent to Route 31.

Keep informed from the NYS Canal web for changes and restrictions with canal waters.

Charters in Wayne County are Opened for Business

Wayne County Charters are now opened for business. The Finger Lakes region has currently met all the necessary requirements during Phase One to operate their business. All steps and guidelines to ensure safety are listed HERE.

Boat Launches Opened

Privately-owned marinas, boat launches, and many other recreational marine locations are now opened.

The official statement from New York State is made in conjunction with similar ones from the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, is the latest change to the guidance from Empire State Development on what is and isn’t affected by the governor’s Executive Order 202, which ordered employers to reduce the number of employees working at individual locations to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance regarding privately-owned marinas, boatyards and recreational marine manufacturers allows for operations and boat repair/maintenance so long as the facilities ‘adhere to strict social distancing and sanitization protocols.’ However, watercraft cannot be used for charters or rentals, and any restaurant facilities there must remain take-out or delivery only.

Safety Precautions from DEC

While enjoying the outdoors, please continue to follow the CDC/New York State Department of Health guidelines (leaves DEC’s website) for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:

  • Try to keep at least six (6) feet of distance between you and others.
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, and kissing.
  • Wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and playground equipment.

When fishing, DEC recommends avoiding busy waters and following the guidelines on DEC’s website about fishing responsibly in New York State. If an angler arrives at a parking lot and there are several cars, they should consider going to another parking lot. If an angler is fishing upstream, they should fish downstream of the other angler or consider fishing another day. Anglers fishing from boats should be able to maintain at least six feet of distance between one another. For more information about the benefits of being outdoors safely and responsibly, go to DEC’s website.

New York State is open for fishing and DEC encourages anglers to recreate locally at a nearby waterbody. New York’s lakes and streams offer great opportunities for fishing in a wide array of settings across the state. Even during the current COVID-19 public health crisis, getting outdoors and connecting with nature while angling in New York’s waters is a great way to help maintain mental and physical health.

Charters and Guides

The “New York State on PAUSE” Executive Order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone during the COVID-19 response, includes a directive that all non-essential businesses statewide must close effective at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, and temporarily bans all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.

At this time, fishing guides or charters of any size have been determined to be not essential and are subject to workforce reduction requirements of the Executive Order. The full and updated guidance on which types of businesses are determined essential and other designations associated with the order can be found online. For more info

Orleans County

Ron Bierstin, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge

Orleans County

Flows in the Oak are dropping back and clearing slowly. Cold nights are really tightening up runoff apparently. It was 20°F last night and the night before. Flows are about medium or maybe just one notch more – I wouldn’t call it slightly high anymore. Water color is getting clearer at 2 ft of visibility or more. No precipitation is seen thru today (Tuesday) and the next chance at a mixed bag rain/snow showers is on Thursday. Temps will be around 40°F-ish thru mid week, with a slight dip for end of week, then a warmer forecast for the weekend. There still should be good upstream swamp head water supplies so hopefully we can keep the flows at least at medium with some more future rain or runoff thrown in here and there for more color and to keep flows up.

Fishing pressure is really not bad – a few cars seen at each parking spot today. Additional parking seems to be available now like in the Fall in the farmers field across the dirt lane at the Park Ave Ext Fishing Trail spot. There is good steelhead action underway by most accounts with guys getting hook ups at the dam, downstream thru the fast water areas and in the frog water areas that this year are not very froggy thanks to lower Lake Ontario levels. That good current farther downstream may encourage some fish to find their happy place on a zebra mussel shoal sans gravel. There are mixed bag hook ups on darker fish and some nice fresh chrome with a legitimate tank here and there. The still decent medium flows allow fish to be in most any spot in the river they want to be so fish all the water. The other area smaller tribs have moderate and mostly clear or going clearer flows. Those smaller waterways have dropped and cleared definitely to a greater extent then the Oak. Guys are spread out and no doubt finding some chilly water temps at this time. There aren’t a lot of reports from the smaller waterways otherwise.

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