Greater Niagara Region
Happy Easter! April 1 is the traditional opener of the state’s inland trout fishing season. Of course, this does not include Great Lakes tributaries (they are open all year). However, it does include Gill Creek, Hyde Park Lake and Oppenheim Park Pond. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the state will not be announcing a specific time and date for when fish will be stocked. One way to keep tabs is to call the fish stocking hotline at 358-2050 to see when fish are stocked after the fact. They are usually stocked the first week in April. The NYPA Fishing Platform, including the elevator and the fish cleaning station, should be open starting April 1. Check the hotline at 286-6662 to see the status. The upper reservoir and the water intakes in the upper river are both open as well. Some mixed smelt reports in the lower river. We heard of one decent report prior to the water changing color, but most are coming up empty. Water temps are good and there are an awful lot of lanterns on the Canadian shoreline across the river.
Water clarity took a serious hit in the Niagara River after the wind and rain last week. With more wind and rain in the forecast, it will continue to have an impact on fishing success. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports that he was down in the gorge this week and found 1-1/2 feet of visibility. He did manage to catch a small female steelhead using an orange/chartreuse No. 5 spinner. There should be some fresh fish around when the water starts to clear. Boaters have really been struggling, but a few fish have been caught on live bait like minnows and plugs like MagLips. Brightly colored egg sacs are also producing a fish here and there, which is what Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston was using last weekend down river Anthony Gomez Jr. and Sr. from West Seneca. Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston found some steelhead in Devil’s Hole.
For Lake Ontario, the kings are starting to hit off St. Catharines, Ontario according to reports this week, which means it will not be long before kings will find their way off the Niagara Bar, Wilson, and Olcott. Mark Mika of Newfane reports that he wanted to share some early season action out of Olcott. He boated 15 Lakers, all big healthy fish, fishing with his brother Dave of Tonawanda and Paul Karelus of Williamsville. They were fishing in 60 to 65 feet of water between Olcott and Somerset using spoons and homemade body baits. A dozen were taken on an old Sammy Pac 07 that he repurposed for some added fun. Capt. Richard Brant of Tonawanda was out on the Niagara Bar fishing for lakers this week and he got into them well trolling east in 65-75 feet of water on spoons with chartreuse and gold colors. Todd Ceisner with In-Fisherman was out trying to jig up bass and lake trout last week while fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell in the river and out in Lake Ontario. He pulled a walleye from the river that was released immediately, and then had several hits on lake trout using a jig tipped with a plastic smelt imitation. Swim baits worked the best. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports that steelhead fishing has been good at Burt Dam. Egg sacs or egg imitations like beads. Action was good off the piers but slowed after recent storm activity. Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters to his first smallmouth of the year last weekend with some customers. After that last rain, lake run trout are dropping back and out of the system while smallmouth have started moving in. It is a slow pick of scattered singles in the tributaries now. The Niagara County Bullhead Tournament is coming up April 9-11. This is a shore fishing only event, with anglers vying for the best 2 bullheads total weight to win the prizes. The contest starts at 5 p.m. on April 9. Weigh in on April 11 at the Wilson Conservation Club from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. when the tourney ends. For more info call Eric at 628-6078.
David Owens of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.
Oswego River Report
The CFS was at 6960 as of this morning. (The river has been rising all week). Temperatures have been increasing all week with the above average air temps. However, we expect the temps to drop significantly 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 were browns. As the water levels decreased early in the week it kept us out of the upper river. By mid-week (after the rain and increase of run off) we could focus more on the upper river.
The upper river is holding more steelhead than down low. Wading has been easier, with the lower water levels. But be careful looking ahead, since the water levels are now on the rise.
Our go to setups this week are: Trick’em Jigs in white and white/chartreuse suspended under floats in the lower river and harbor. Egg sacs in pink and peach up river.
Year-Round Notice: There are mandatory personal flotation device (PFD) zones on the river. For more information, visit our website at visitoswegocounty.com 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.
Lake Ontario Report:
This week’s report comes Mark Ledden of Driftwater Fishing.
The brown trout fishing on the eastern end of Lake Ontario has been good to spotty depending where you are fishing. We have found the most productive fishing close to shore, in stained water in or near the out flow of the tributary streams along the lake shore. Stay in this stained water if you can, this is where you will find the most consistent fishing this time of year.
There are not a lot of bait fish around and most every fish I have cleaned have had nothing in their stomachs or only small Gobies. Because of this we have been using spoons with gold or copper in them or short shallow running stick baits and they are producing the best results. We have had our best success in eight to twelve feet of water with our trolling speeds between 2.2 and 3.0mph. The surface temperatures have been slow to warm up this year and that could explain the lack of bait fish in the area. But this should change as we get into April.
The lake is also a few feet lower than previous years, so some spots that had plenty of water over them last year may only be a few feet deep this year. Keep a close eye on your sonar and be careful trolling close to shore if it’s your first time out.
Salmon River Report:
The flow has been crazy this week, with the CFS at 750 as of yesterday. Temperatures have been warm with a bit of rain. However, things are cooling off today.
This following report is courtesy of Captain John Kopy, of Little John’s Guide Service.
We have worked hard each day and consistently put quality fish in the boat. But the fishing this past week has been somewhat of a grind, due to high water, low clarity, and debris.Some days have been better than others and the key has been targeting the non-normal spots.
On the Salmon River, pink and chartreuse spawn bags have been the top colors for us while float fishing.
The key to our success in high water is our experience. I dazzled clients on Tuesday by calling three bites before the float dropped.
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
Water temperatures from Rochester and Oswego are 38-39 degrees and if we ever get some calm winds we can troll the lake. It is time for some BT fishing.
Water levels are extremely low so make sure if you launch a small craft you are aware of your site. DEC has not put the docks in at public access points so be careful. Fish with a partner is the safest way to be on water.
Maybe with the shipping season starting the gates to Ontario will be closed and the levels will rise.
For the hardy souls plying the cold lake the browns have been in 10 feet of water and hitting the usual stickbaits. After yesterday’s blow there should be some mud lines east of Sodus Bay. Troll in and out of the stained water.
Reports so far are some extra-large hold-over browns being caught close to shore. Try trolling near the channels of Sodus and Port Bays if you cannot locate stained water.
It is not too early to think about some competitive angling. The LOC Derby dates for 2021 are:
Spring-May 7th – May 16th
Summer June 26th- July 25th
Fall – Aug 20th- Sept 6
The perch are hitting on the east side of Port Bay and the south end of Sodus Bay near Oak Park Marina.
Some crappies were caught off Bay Bridge at the south end of Sodus.
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.
For any inland stream anglers April 1st is the opening day for trout. The new regulations are a daily creel limit of five fish with no more than two longer than 12 inches.
As the canal waters warm the panfish will be starting to bite. Crappies can be found near the Port Gibson section of Widewaters. They like bright small jigs.
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 https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026.
Ron Bierstin, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge
There was a little bit of rain thru the end of the past weekend. Some wind comes back today (Tuesday) on a SSW downslope warming wind. Forecasted rain showers are mid week going over to snow showers Thursday with cooler temps thru the end of the week. No great accumulations are expected but there’s a chance of a couple inches here on the WNY Lake Ontario Plain. There has been no great change in trib flows from the most recent precipitation. Flows in the Oak look down just a little bit to moderate with still clear water color. Flows reportedly stepped down yesterday. A few more guys are out today (Tuesday) on the nice weather day, maybe just moderate fishing pressure. There’s been good numbers of steelhead evidenced, especially spawning fish. Guys can choose to make some careful drifts or swings to those fish or can work the adjacent holes for staged or drop back fish. Some drifts will inevitably wind up into some suckers now, but their numbers still aren’t real heavy. There has been a smallmouth or two caught. Look for water temps into the 50’s°F especially after today and then likely falling back with the forecasted cooler weather at end of week. Hopefully we can hang on to cool weather and subsequent water temps and keep getting enough precipitation to keep flows interesting. The other area smaller tribs have mostly low and clear flows, not a lot of fresh intel from those waterways lately.