Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – March 25 , 2021

West Marine
Shawn West steelhead
Shawn West of Lockport with a bomber steelhead he caught in a favorite Lake Ontario tributary on an egg sac.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

Unseasonably high temperatures have brought out the fishermen in the streams and on Lake Ontario. Some boats have started to work the waters in the main lake. Remember that if your boat is less than 21 foot in length, everyone on board should have a personal flotation device on (wearing it) until May 1. Capt. Joe Oakes of Newfane reports he did well catching brown trout and lake trout out of Olcott last Sunday. The lake is warming up already at 36 to 38 degrees. The brown trout fishing now is tough due to the lack of rainfall/runoff making the inside waters really clear according to Oakes. If possible, try and find some dirty water if looking for browns says Oakes. Best baits for browns are stickbaits and smaller spoons. The lake trout action is extremely good right now between 50 and 100 feet. Any lure with some flash will work if fished towards the bottom. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown reports he fished the lake on the Niagara Bar the last two days and did well. The brown bite is slow right now, though. A few bites early then it shuts off. The water is clear and cold, 36-37 degrees according to Yablonsky. The laker bite between the green and red can on the Niagara Bar is good. MagLips on 3-way rigs or trolling with spoons on riggers and divers has been working well. In the streams, Jim Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports there is good trout action at Burt Dam, some fish are being caught off the piers in both Wilson and Olcott, and Olcott harbor is producing steelhead and perch with minnows. The LOTSA pen rearing project work party is at the Town of Newfane Marina at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 27. In other tributaries, Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that the streams have been reduced to a very slow pick of scattered singles. There has been no rain or meaningful snow melt in 2 weeks. Warm weather and low, clear creek conditions have created full on spring conditions early this year. That could all change with a warm rain Friday. That should bring in more steelhead, as well as smallmouth bass. Mark your calendars for the Niagara County Bullhead Tournament set for April 9-11, 2021. This is shore fishing only. Best 2 bullheads total weight wins the prizes. Weigh in on Sunday at the Wilson Conservation Club. For more info call Eric at 628-6078.

Brendan Walsh smallmouth
Brendan Walsh of Niagara Falls with a lower Niagara River smallmouth on a jigging spoon.

Capt. Joe Oakes lake trout
Capt. Joe Oakes of Newfane with an Olcott lake trout.
Mike Ziehm steelhead
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls caught some dandy steelhead like this one in the lower Niagara River despite clear conditions. He was using a homemade jig.
McKelveys' lake trout double
Tom McKelvey and his wife from Long Island with a double on lake trout they caught fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown this week on the Niagara Bar.
Capt. Vince Pierleoni steelhead
Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane with a steelhead from the lower Niagara River.
Andrew Bartlett brown trout
Andrew Bartlett of Lockport caught a brown trout in the Lower Niagara while fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane.

The big news for next week is that the NYPA fishing platform, as well as the other NYPA fishing facilities (Reservoir and upper river at the Water Intakes), will open on April 1. They hope to have the elevator working, too, on the platform but no guarantees. Action has been slow in the lower Niagara River according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle. The main reason is clear water. The rain in the forecast for later this week should help. Shore guys are using spoons, spinners, and jigs. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports catching 3 steelhead on Sunday, all above the whirlpool. All were taken on homemade white and silver jigs. Water was low and slow with at least 7 to 8 feet of visibility. Capt. Matt Yablonsky reports the bite in the river is pretty much non-existent for boaters. With the fish spawning and the crystal-clear water conditions, the bite is tough. No reports on smelt yet. Brendan Walsh of Niagara Falls was in search of smallmouth bass and found some bass using a jigging spoon over the weekend in the lower. Remember that for almost all locations around the state, it’s catch and release with artificial lures only if you are targeting bass.

Oswego County

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

Oswego River Report

The CFS has been dropping all week and was at 2390 as of this morning. Temperatures have been increasing all week with the above average air temps. However, we expect the temps to moderate and water to increase with rain in the forecast.

This following report is courtesy of Captain Andy Bliss, of Chasin’ Tail Adventures Guide Service.

Typically, March provides some great steelhead fishing on the Oswego. But this week most of our catch this week was made up of brown trout. As the water levels decreased it kept us out of the upper river, so we concentrated on the lower river. During a trip with an outdoor writer, we landed an 11+ pound brown that will be immortalized by a replica mount and admired for years to come.

The upper river is holding more Steelhead than down low. With the lower water levels wading has been easier. Our go to setups this week are: Trick’em Jigs in white and white or chartreuse, suspended under floats.

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.

Lake Ontario Report:

This week’s report comes from Captain Casey Prisco of Dirty Goose Sportfishing.

Conditions on the lake this week we found a lot of clearwater with sunny skies which made brown trout fishing tougher. Temps remain cold.

Offshore of the lake trout bite has been good. We have been targeting depths of 5 to 20 feet. We are catching fish on surface lines, Chinook divers, one- and two-color lead cores and shallow downriggers.

Our go to lures this week were Michigan Stingers in Uv Diehard, black widow, and BayRat goose n tonic.

Salmon River Report:

The Pineville gauge was at 1240 CFS as of this morning. The flow has been steady this week and is scheduled to remain through the 31st. Temperatures have been warming with high temps this week. However, we expect things to cool off after today.

This following report is courtesy of Captain Zach Eason, of Blue Line Adventure Guide Service.

Fishing this past week has been a grind. We have worked hard each day and consistently we still have been putting some quality fish in the boat.

Somedays have been better than others and the key for us has been the switching up of baits, colors and working different depths while float fishing both Steelhead and Brown Trout.

On the Salmon River, peach, white and blue spawn bags have been the top colors for us as well as pink worms. White maribou jigs have also taken fish while float fishing the river.

Oneida Lake Report:

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.

Fishing is slow on Sandy Pond this time of year. We have seen a few folks fishing from shore for bullhead, crappie, and pan fish. And we eagerly await the second weekend in May when walleye and pike seasons open!

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

The countdown continues for BT fishing the lake. April 1st is now only 8 days away. Many charters will be plying lake waters by April 1st. Ya hooo!

The browns have been in 10 of feet of water off Hughes’ Marina. Water temps were 40 degrees over the weekend. Lake levels are low, so some launch sites are a challenge,

With temps in the high 60’s there shouldn’t be any ice left blocking launch sites. Long Shallow (LS) Bay Rats seem to the favorite for browns.

Smaller boats are doing the trolling business so far… so…. make sure you are cautious.

The reports from lake anglers say the bt’s are larger than last year.

Lake Ontario fishing is set for another exciting year.


Some anglers were fishing Sodus Bay off Bay Bridge yesterday. The bite is slow and it’s way too early for bullheads, however, yesterday would have been a great excuse to cast for anything. Early spring will see the crappies bite, so it won’t be long.

The water level is low this year, so be careful launching at places you are not familiar with. The docks won’t be in for a while so fishing in pairs is the way to go.

PDF’s need to worn until May 1st. You should wear them all the time. The new ones are not bulky and do not interfere with casting.

Erie Canal

Anglers were fishing for crappies on the north side of the canal along the trail. You can park at the lot across form Widewaters Park.

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 steelhead
Some nice steelhead like this semi fresh buck are showing up in the Oak. Renewed pen rearing efforts are coincident with the good winter and spring action. Email Ron at Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge to help our pen rearing efforts for April 2021.

Flows in the Oak are something a little less then medium, probably close to moderate but still a notch above low. Water color is clear with 3+ ft of visibility. Given the dry March weather so far, the Oak is actually hanging in a little better then most all other area tribs which are low and clear. Once we get thru this week’s bluebird warm weather, it looks like a turn in the weather toward cooler and wetter by the end of the week and this weekend. Temps forecast in the 60’s°F for mid week with a slight chance of showers Wednesday. By the end of the week, there is a greater chance at soaking rains and then temps in the 40’s°F thru the weekend. There’s still good opportunity ahead for more fresh fish migrations, especially on higher flows and continued cool weather. Even now on the existing flows determined fresh steelhead are likely still trickling in. Fishing pressure overall is pretty light with a few cars at each parking spot. Anglers should find some fish staged or dropping back in the holes or at the dam and some spawning fish are in gravel areas. Use light line drifts or swings with small and subtle presentations for best hook-up chances. Water temps will be warming around and into the 50’s° which can make for some spirited fights for fresh or dropback fish. The other area smaller tribs have low and clear flows. Mostly spawning steelhead are scattered throughout.

As for Lake fishing, a few boats were spotted out on the open watersof Lake Ontario this past weekend testing the conditions. Capt. Grager from Get Hooked Sportfishing reported “The water depth at the mouth of the river is only between 3-4 feet!!! Gotta’ be real careful right now going in and out. That was on the Westside. I wouldn’t dare try out of the East side of the channel. Near shore water was gin clear and browns weren’t cooperating. Slid out and tried for Lakers, had one on and it got away.” With the soaking rain forecasted for Friday, hopefully lake levels will increase.

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