Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – April 15 , 2021

West Marine

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

The Niagara County Bullhead Tournament was held last weekend and Matt Bedient of Lockport won the friendly contest with two fish weighing in at 4.49 pounds. His secret bait was shrimp and he won $660 for his efforts. Second place was Olivia Lampman with two fish weighing 4.42 and third place was Terry Molisani with 4.12 pounds, tied with Taz Morrison also at 4.12 pounds. The youth winner was Chloe Weaver of Ransomville with two fish tipping the scales at 3.06 pounds. A total of 146 anglers competed in the weekend tournament. In the Lower Niagara River, smelt action has been good according to dipping reports, a nighttime activity that normally takes place this time of year around Lewiston. The run has been decent so far, but it probably will not last long. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reports that Devil’s Hole is still producing trout – steelhead, lake trout and the occasional brown trout. Egg sacs, beads and spinners are all working to take trout. The NYPA Fishing Platform is a good spot to be this week as casters have been catching some nice mixed bag of fish.

Chloe Weaver
Chloe Weaver of Ransomville won first place in the youth division with a weight of 3.06 pounds for 2 fish.

Zac Schrader
Bullheads can be slippery as Zac Schrader found out during the bullhead contest. He did place third in the kids division.

Shore guys are hooking up regularly for steelhead according to Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls. He is using spinners. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught a nice brown trout off Youngstown on a jig, as well as some smallmouth bass. He also found smallmouth bass active in the NYPA Reservoir. Fishing off Upper Mountain Road, he was using small jigs to catch-and-release smallmouth bass on a regular basis. Back to the lower river, Capt. Ryan Shea of Tonawanda reports that he had some decent success on smallmouth bass in the upper river using Ned rigs with John Jarosz of Lake View and his son Matt of Hamburg recently. Orange beads were working on steelhead in the lower river on a couple different trips. They also took some fish on 3-inch Mr. Twisters. Around the corner on the Niagara Bar, Shea decided to try chartreuse spoons in 80 feet of water with downriggers and he found constant action from 4 Mile Creek to 12 Mile Creek.

Mike Rzucidlo
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a big brown trout caught from shore in Youngstown.
Mike Rzucidlo
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught some nice bass in the NYPA Reservoir this past week on jigs.
John Jarosz
John Jarosz of Lake View and his son Matt from Hamburg caught some nice bass in the Upper Niagara River fishing with Capt. Ryan Shea on Ned rigs.

Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reports that the lower Niagara River is loaded with smelt so drifts are slow. Lots of warm water species are showing up on any back eddy. The Niagara Bar has been hit or miss, with boats mostly catching big browns out there. Cinelli says that Devil’s hole has been good for lakers and steelhead. Light colored sacs and perch minnows working best up there. Some bead action is being reported, too.

Jim Niland
Jim Niland of Amherst with a lower river steelhead, caught while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island.
Mac Capen
Mac Capen with a lake trout from the lower Niagara River, caught while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli.
Sara Capen
Sara Capen of Newfane with a brown trout she caught on the Niagara Bar fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island.

Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports that yellow perch fishing in Olcott harbor is good right now. People were bucketing up last weekend. Bullhead fishing was good in Olcott and okay in Wilson. A few browns are being caught off the piers in Wilson and Olcott on minnows. She reported that the Lake Ontario Counties Derby Newspaper is now available at registration outlets. The first event is May 7-16.

Chase Scharff
Chase Scharff of Council Bluffs, Iowa caught this lower river steelhead fishing with Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston.
John Augsburger
John Augsburger of North Carolina caught this chunky lake trout fishing with Capt. Ryan Shea of Tonawanda.

Capt. Joe Oakes of Newfane reports that he was fishing off Olcott this week and was picking up lake trout with an occasional king salmon. With the lack of rain and no north wind to create a mud line, the brown trout bite had been tough. That should improve with the recent rains with more on the way. The lake bite is from 60 to 120 feet of water according to Oakes. Lakers can be caught on anything from spoons to flasher-fly combos. The water is warming up and is now up to 42 degrees. Tributaries enjoyed some much-needed rain with more on the way.

Lydia "Bugs" Hunt
Lydia “Bugs” Hunt fishing with her dad David from McDonald, PA. caught this 11 pound steelhead fishing with Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston.
Noah Barlow
Noah Barlow of Buffalo with a lower Niagara River steelhead caught on an orange bead with Capt. Ryan Shea of Tonawanda.

Inland trout stockings have taken place at Oppenheim Park Pond, Gill Creek and Hyde Park Lake and anglers have been enjoying some good action for big fish. Ron DeVantier of Niagara Falls reports that he caught fish up to 18 inches last weekend, all of them released to let someone else enjoy a trout catch.

Oswego County

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

Oswego River Report

The CFS was 3710 as of this morning.

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

Typically, in April the steelhead fishing on the Oswego starts to wind down. Steelhead are in heavy spawn mode and they leave the river as soon as the water drops and warms up.

We have had relatively low water on the Oswego, but as of this morning the water has gone up on the and so has the temperature. It will not be long and most of the trout will return to the lake.

Lots of smallies and brown trout in the lower river right now. A few steelhead are left in the system if you put it the time you will find them.

Beads in natural colors and jigs in the channel are still performing well. We recommend swim baits and blade baits down low.

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.

Click here for the Brookfield Varick Fish Safely brochure.

Click here for the current water flow.

Salmon River Report:

The CFS was 530 at Pineville as of this morning.

The Water has been holding steady and we could really use some rain. Water temps have been in the low to mid 40s in the morning but rising into the low 50s on some of the sunny. However, we expect temperatures to cool down over the next week or so. Hopefully water temperatures will stay in the 40s and keep the fish around through the end of the month.

This following report is courtesy of Captain Troy Creasey, of High Adventure Sportfishing.

Steelhead have been dropping back out of the hatchery and the headwaters for a few weeks.
There are still a lot of fish on the gravel and as you get down into the middle and lower river they are holding in the deep fast pockets.

The key to finding fish is either working the spawning areas or concentrate your efforts at the heads and tails of the pools in the highly oxygenated water. The fish are either looking for food to come into the hole or drop out of the hole, don’t waste your time in the slow water where you’ll only catch stockers and creek chubs.

Our go to setups this week have been fishing beads under a float most days the best color has been a mottled orange or an Oregon cheese colored bead at 8 mm.

If you are fly fishing, egg patterns are probably the best but if you are working the spawning areas a big woolly bugger or egg sucking leech swinging through the gravel will entice the spawning fish to strike.

Lake Ontario Report:

The following report is brought to you by Captain Eric King of Second Nature Sportfishing.

The much-awaited 2021 lake season is finally upon us. The sights, sounds and smells of the open water rejuvenate our spirits as we leave winter.

Starting the season off in the shallows of Lake Ontario marks the kick-off of a new year as we pursue brown trout on light tackle. Each season has its highs and lows, as well as its challenges. The 2021 trout season is proving to be no exception. This past winter, our region of New York received less than normal snowfall. Now that spring has arrived, we are seeing less rain than we are normally accustomed to having this time of year. Both factors combined have Lake Ontario water levels 2.5-3 feet below average. The low water levels and minimal run off have left crystal-clear water, making it more difficult to entice the easily spooked trout.

Finding the warmest, dirtiest water available along the shoreline is the key success. Once you locate it, perseverance is key. Reducing to 8-10lb fluorocarbon leaders is also critical. Utilizing planer boards with increased leads behind the boat from 125,’ to as much as 200,’ can improve the bite as well.

Natural bait color presentations, such as black and silver, or blue and silver stick baits seem to find favor in the current conditions. Our best spoons have been green glow alewife and diehard in the stinger size range. Goby patterns have generated a few bites too.

Once the mid-morning sun hits the water, the brown bite generally fizzles out. At which point we recommend heading offshore to 125-160 feet of water to seek out lake trout.

Cow bells in blue and silver, as well as chartreuse and green, have been taking lakers daily at GPS speeds of 1.8-2mph. We are in much need of rain and westerly winds to get us back on track in the shallows. One positive outlook is that we are seeing a decent amount of bait on the fish finders. Our catches have been stuffed with a variety of species, primarily alewives of all age classes. Seeing an abundance of bait leaves us very optimistic for the future. Good luck and tight lines to all!

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

There were some breaks with water temps off Hughes’ Marina. From 43 to 52 in some spots. Yesterday’s rain will help create a small mudline for browns to hide in. It least we received almost an inch Monday.

Water level is still low, however most trailered boats should not have any trouble putting-in. Saw a large fully loaded ship pushing down Lake Ontario Sunday, so water levels because of the shipping industry are probably going to rise. (hopefully)

The kings have been in deeper water, while the browns are close to shore. Fishing has been rough because of all the clear water. Try and find some temps breaks for browns. Troll in front of Port Bay where the channel is now open. The same with Sodus.

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

Bays

The bullheads are hitting in the warmer water near the south end of Sodus Bay. Use night crawlers. Fish and release pike have been in the Port Bay channel. Pike season opens the first Saturday in May… May1st…the same day as walleye.

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.

The new guide can be found at https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7917.html for downloading and printing at home. Production of hard copies is underway, and DEC expects to have guides at License Issuing Agents no later than the second week of April. Hard copies can be requested by emailing FWFish@dec.ny.gov.

Erie Canal

Some anglers where fishing from the shore next to the lock west of Newark. A few boats were also going after crappies near the Port Gibson section of the canal.

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.

Orleans County

Ron Bierstin, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge

NOTICE: Beginning April 1, 2021, quarantine will no longer be required for domestic travelers coming to New York State, however all travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form and adhere to safety guidelines during their visit. Please review guidelines for the NYS COVID travel advisory here.

Finally some significant rain! Thanks to the precipitation over the past couple of days, all the trib flows are up. There’s a chance of showers today (Tuesday) under cool, gray conditions. Temperature forecast is around 50°F for highs through the week and a chance of showers again at the end of the week. There will be nice, cooler and wetter weather to prolong any steelhead action – water temps should hang in the 50’s°F without spiking high just yet.

JD’s Custom Charters brown trout
From Capt. Jeremy Sage of JD’s Custom Charters: This weekend was tough getting the browns into the boat – we had our opportunities but this was a nice surprise. Switched gears to try yet another tactic to get brown trout in a little deeper water and this almost 18 lb behemoth crushed a weighted spoon fished off the planer board in 20-25 fow.

Flows in the Oak are slightly high and stained with about 2 ft of visibility. Flows are all contained in the turbine channel so look for flows to likely hang at this level for a bit but may continue to get a little dirtier. Remember the runoff equation is different now than winter thanks to vegetation drinking and groundwater uptake through open soils. The other area smaller tributaries have high and dirty flows. These flows in April still have the chance to draw in fresh fish, now with definitely higher temps than the near shore Lake Ontario waters. Flows may flush out some of the old dog spawners and redistribute other fish. Look for some feisty jack steelhead and more bass too. There’s plenty of water cover in the Oak again for fish to be anywhere they want to hold.

Lake Level Update from the IJC
Press Release, International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board, April 13, 2021

Lower than average precipitation and winter snowpack runoff have resulted in decreased inflows to Lake Ontario. The reduced inflows have resulted in lower water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. In response to these conditions, the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board has decided to reduce outflows from Lake Ontario beginning April 10.

During January and February this year, the Board was deviating under authority granted by the International Joint Commission (IJC) to remove additional water from Lake Ontario as a result of the risk analysis in December 2020 showing approximately a 28% chance of water levels exceeding a damaging high water threshold in 2021. A total of 9.4 cm (3.7 inches) was removed from Lake Ontario to further reduce the risk of potentially damaging high water levels in late spring and early summer.

Due to the reduced spring runoff, the Board has decided to reduce outflows below those specified by the plan to restore the extra water removed during the winter to Lake Ontario at a rate of approximately 2 cm (0.8 in) of water to Lake Ontario per week for the next three weeks. After these 3 weeks, the Board will revert to plan-prescribed outflows.

This strategy will allow Lake Ontario and Lake St. Lawrence water levels to increase more than they would under plan-prescribed flows over the next few weeks. It now appears likely that Lake Ontario levels will remain below long-term average over the summer unless very wet weather occurs.

Read the full press release.

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