Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – April 29 , 2021

West Marine

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

With the opening of the state’s wild turkey season taking place of Saturday, along with the opening of walleye, northern pike, pickerel, and tiger musky seasons, it will be a tough decision on what to do. Do not forget to throw in that salmon fishing is starting to take off along the Niagara County shoreline for its annual spring salmon fever and it is near impossible. Oh yeah, trout are still in the Niagara River and the bass are starting to turn on. Make your choices wisely.

Mike Rzucidlo on left and Mike Ziehm lake trout double
Mike Rzucidlo on left and Mike Ziehm with a lake trout double.

For Lake Ontario, Karen Evarts of the Boat Doctors in Olcott reports that lake fishing is happening right now from 60 feet of water to 120 feet of water from Olcott to Wilson. Both charters and recreational guys are doing well using a mix of spoons and flies. Lakers are big, salmon are decent sizes. The best colors are blacks, whites, and chartreuse. John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda reports he fished to the east of Olcott near Golden Hill 60 feet to 70 feet down over 80-to-90-foot depths, and he was 9 for 15 on king salmon. Magnum spoons worked best. Lyman plugs worked best off lead core line. Remember the start of the Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Derby is next Friday, May 7. Check out for details. The two fishing contests leading up to the Wilson Harbor Invitational tournament May 15 and 16 are the $1K a Day contest and the Salmon Salmon. The $1K a Day – or up to $1,000 a day for the largest salmon each day – and the Salmon Slam for the best 7 salmon over 7 days, will be held May 8-14. Check out the WHI Facebook page for details. Capt. Joe Oakes of Newfane said fishing remains good out of Olcott. There are fish as far west or east of Olcott as you want to go. Best depths for salmon and lakers have been 50 to 120 feet. Brown trout action along the shoreline is still good when there is a mud line to work. The rain in the forecast will help that mudline out. Everything is working right now: sticks, spoons, and flasher-fly combinations. Dreamweaver spoons such as Seasick Wobbler, Fickle Pickle and UV 2 Face were his go-to lures. Capt. Rich Hajecki of Yankee Troller worked out of Wilson and he did well on Saturday in 80-90 feet of water for salmon. On Sunday, things changed, and he moved west to 100 to 150-foot depths. Flasher-fly was the top bait on Sunday. Best downrigger was set at 75-foot with a Double Crush Glow 8-inch spin doctor with an A-Tom-Mik gold stud fly. The best diver bite was back 100 feet on a No. 2 setting, pulling Wonderbread SmartFish/A-Tom-Mik Glow Blue Hammer and an 8-inch paddle\MC Rocket in an A-Tom-Mik Stud meat rig. Evarts also reports that the smallmouth bite is good for big fish, catch and release with spinners or spinnerbaits. A few steelhead have been caught off the piers in Wilson and Olcott. Some perch in the harbors. Pike season opens on Saturday for casters and live bait fishermen in the harbors of Wilson and Olcott.

Dominic Sollitto
Dominic Sollitto of NF with king salmon
John Van Hoff salmon
John Van Hoff with a big salmon from this week.

With the walleye opener Saturday, Joshua Marshall likes casting swimbaits for the opener off Broderick Park in Buffalo. Use big bright jig heads with 4-inch swimbaits. He will use multiple sizes and colors to see what works. The fish are there. If it is not being bitten in 10 casts or so, change baits. Cast, let it sink, and begin a slow retrieve with your rod tip down and occasionally pop it up off bottom. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reports that he is still catching good numbers of steelhead in the Devil’s Hole area, reeling in 3 his last trip to the NYPA fishing platform using spinners. The Artpark shoreline in Lewiston is loaded with lake trout – jigs and spinners will both take fish. Silver (white) bass are starting to increase in numbers.

Wade rowcliffe lake trout
Wade rowcliffe with a nice lake trout caught aboard Tight Lines Charters.

Capt. John Oravec of Tight Lines Charters reports that lower river action continues to be consistent downriver for bass and a mix of trout with an occasional salmon. Last Saturday he had brothers Wade and Vic Rowcliffe of the Rochester area on the Niagara Bar to catch several brown trout using shiners and minnows on three-way rigs. He found most of the fish on a drop in 30 to 40 feet of water – brown trout, lake trout and even a king salmon. They also ran into the river and targeted smallmouth bass. Best artificial lures to use are Neds and swimbaits.

Oswego County

Report is Courtesy of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning

Oswego River Report

The CFS was at 3660 as of this afternoon.

The steelhead fishing on the Oswego has slowed a lot. They’re still in heavy spawn mode and they leave the river as soon as the water drops and warms up. With the lower water levels wading has been easier. But be careful as the water levels can change drastically.

The go to setups this week are: beads in natural colors and jigs in the channel. Swim baits and blade baits down low.

There are several other species you might come across as well, including smallmouth and browns.

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 CFS was 442 as of this afternoon at the Pineville gauge, where it has stayed flat for the week. Temperatures have been fluctuating and rain is in the forecast.

Steelhead have been quickly retreating their way back to Lake Ontario after their spring spawn. It makes fishing tough when they’re mostly in the lower stretches of the river.

Our go-to baits this week are pink worms and beads in natural colors during the high sun. With brighter colors working in low light conditions.

Water temps have seemed to settle but they are still on the warm side for this time of year – which, in art, leads the fish to retreat back to the lake.

With lower water conditions you’ll have less traffic from boats on the river so walk into your favorite spots, target the faster runs, and you should still find plenty of steelhead to have a fun day!

Lake Ontario Report:

Today’s report is brought to you courtesy of Captain Tony Buffa, of Captain Buffa Fishing Charters.

Since my very first Port of Oswego brown and lake trout fishing charter on April 10th, until this past Saturday it had been a struggle to scratch out a few browns. On the other hand, lake trout have been readily available in 140 to 175’ range. To plagiarize Bob Dylan, “The answer my friend is blow’n in the wind.”

Indeed, it is and has been. The wind is both friend and foe. For our spring fishery out of OZ, strong south, south east, east and northeast winds create totally adverse inshore conditions for brown trout anglers. Very cold, clear water are not the combination to support foraging browns in the shore environment. Conversely northwest and westerly winds keep the inshore water warm, stained and loaded with baitfish.

Currently we have been blessed with Northwest and westerly patterns and the brown trout fishing has not only picked up, but has yielded some very healthy specimens in the low to high teens in weight. The pattern is simple: find the green stain, bait in the upper column and temperatures ranging from 46-50 degrees Fahrenheit in water from 8’ to 30’ depths. A spread including flatlines, one and two color core rods and riggers at depths from 7’ and deeper with a mix of stick baits and spoons. If you don’t get a good catch then file a complaint with whomever else is onboard because someone is at fault.

Lakers remain oblivious to the wind because they are occupants of the deep. They are a nice “go-to” when the browns stop biting. S&S blades in tandem with a Spin N Glo is all you need. Fish this within a couple feet off bottom at a GPS speed of 1.5 to 2.0 max to bring these deep dwellers into the boat.

“FIN”cerely, Cap’n Tony.

The tourism department would like to add that Tony has decided to hang up his Lake Ontario spurs. He has been a pillar for the fishing community for 40 plus years, so this week marks the end of an era.

Tony will continue fishing the waters of Oneida lake, chasing walleyes a little closer to home. Whether it was targeting browns in the early season or fishing for staging Kings in early October October, Tony was always just as excited about seeing the smiles he created on his clients’ faces. The excitement in his voice as he reflected on the days adventure will be greatly missed by all his fishing brothers on Lake Ontario.

Tony, we wish you the best! We know you will keep up the chase and live life to the fullest. Good luck and tight lines.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

Still a slow bite, however, some cohos were hitting early this morning. The browns are in stained water created by yesterday’s blow. Currently, the lake is flat.

It’s been tough for browns; however, some came close to shore early this morning. Glow-spoons are what you throw at them.

Water levels have gone up about half a foot since last week. At the Oswego NOAA substation, the level was 244.88 this morning.

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


Cold temps from last week slowed the bullhead bite down. They prefer the warmer water. The Port Bay south access road is still closed so launch at the north end.

Look for crappies suspended under 6 feet of water on the southwest side of Port Bay.

The perch continue to spawn (not eating) so most bay anglers are concentrating on other panfish. Walleye and pike will have open season this Saturday. (May1st) For Sodus Bay… fish the pike between LeRoy Island and the shoreline. Or look for cover from last year’s weeds. They like the “hide and attack” procedure.

Use a “Dardevle” spoon or bright spinnerbaits to make this predator fish strike.

The new guide can be found at 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

Most agents have already received the regulations book. It measures 8×5 inches, the perfect size for your tackle box.

Erie Canal

Not too much happening at Widewaters over the weekend. The waterway is being flooded for the 2021 season.

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.

With high and cool flows hanging on in the Oak, there’s still good steelhead chances for the end of April 2021! Photo courtesy of Chuck Swinger.

Good flows and drift/swing conditions are hanging on in the Oak with little to no fishing pressure. Flows in the Oak are slightly high with slightly stained visibility of about 2-3 ft. Cool temps are hanging on today (Tuesday) thanks to a lake breeze off the Lake Ontario waters then rain with chance of storms through mid week. Flows might recede toward medium but any significant precipitation will keep flows up. Guys targeting steelhead via float techniques still had success this past beginning part of the weekend and swingers on the fly had success for the beginning of the week. So fish are still there! There have been no water temp spikes to chase fish out with water temps still hanging in at the low 50’s°F. Even pen-reared steelhead are going to be kept in the pens for another week before being released, in large part as a result of the cool river water temps we have been experiencing.

The other area smaller tribs have moderate – medium and slightly stained flows. Any significant precipitation through the upcoming week could bring those flows up higher and off-color. Pier head and casting chances for land lubber or small boat trollers occur when wind and waves coincide for that coveted semi-stained water. Low Lake Ontario levels mean that the color comes and goes pretty quickly as the winds dictate. Some evidence of at least modest movements of alewives into the nearshore mid-depth waters can mean some well-fed but fat trout and salmon!

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