Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – May 13 , 2021

Jeff Smith
West Marine

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

The Lake Ontario Counties spring trout and salmon derby is approaching its final weekend and a new $15,000 Grand Prize leader has emerged this week as Ken Champagne of Ohio caught a 25-pound, 8-ounce Niagara Bar king salmon on a flasher-fly, besting Jeff Smith of New Brighton, Pa. who had taken the early lead on the first day of the contest May 7. Smith’s was a 24-pound, 15-ounce Olcott king salmon he caught on a Carbon-14 magnum spoon.

Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith of New Brighton, Pa. was the early leader in the spring LOC Derby with this 24-pound, 15-ounce Olcott salmon.

The 30 miles of Niagara County shoreline has been producing some great early season salmon. Just check the leaderboard at and you can see that 19 of the top 21 salmon all come from Niagara County waters. For brown trout, the current leader is a 20-pound, 1-ounce Wayne County fish reeled in by Scott Libihoul of Clay. Top Lake Trout is a 24-pound, 12-ounce Henderson Harbor fish caught by Mike Kimsey of Lacona. Leading walleye is an 11-pound, 15-ounce fish weighed in by Aaron LaFlair of Watertown from Henderson Harbor. The Wilson Harbor Invitational tournament is all set for May 15-16. At last report there were over 30 teams registered for the kick-off tournament for the season. Check out the Facebook page for the WHI for details on what will be happening or stop down at Clark’s Park in Wilson to see the weigh in each afternoon. Salmon action continues to be hot off the Niagara Bar drop-off and fish were being caught in 80 to 100 feet of water, as well as in 140-210 feet of water earlier in the week. Small craft advisories for Tuesday and today could scatter fish to the east, but time will tell for the remainder of the week as the action continues. Magnum spoons such as the Rodfather and Carbon-14 were working for John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda first thing in the morning. As the morning progressed, flasher-fly and meat rigs picked up a bit. White-white and green was a good color combination. Over in Olcott, anglers like Wade Rowcliffe of Rochester were doing well with a mix of baits, too. Read your graph and look for marks. Salmon are chasing bait like crazy. Fish much of the water column. The Coho salmon bite has been insane, but if you are looking for kings, stay away from them and fish deeper. Cohos are in the top 20 feet with some kings in the 15-25-foot range. Target kings from 20 feet down to the bottom. If you just want to catch fish, Rowcliffe says to run standard size spoons, with some variation of “mixed veggie.” Flasher-fly have been hot, too. Orange or other bright colors if you want Coho action.

Kurt Bitikofer salmon
Kurt Bitikofer from Conneaut, Ohio shows off a salmon that was 38 inches and 24.75 pounds he caught out of Wilson with John Hoover, also of Conneaut. They were not in the derby. You have to be in it to win it.

Bass fishing has been good throughout the river according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. Guys are still catching some laker trout and steelhead in Devil’s Hole. The Niagara Bar has been good for bass, lake trout, salmon, and steelhead, but the salmon have moved out to deeper water since the weekend. Ned rigs and tubes for the bass. One of the hot Ned plastics this past week was a PBJ-color according to Patrick Duncan of Virginia with Rapid Fishing Solutions. He found that by casting upriver at a 45-degree angle toward the shoreline, the swing caused by the drift would trigger fish to hit. It was also working for Brian Evans with Seaguar Fishing Line.

Gerry Benedicto smallmouth
Gerry Benedicto with Seaguar shows off his biggest smallmouth of the media event last week.
Gerry Benedicto walleye
Gerry Benedicto of Seaguar Fishing Line shows off a personal best walleye from the lower Niagara River, tipping the scales at nearly 12 pounds.

His associate at Seaguar, Gerry Benedicto, managed a personal best walleye in the lower river with a fish that tipped the scales at nearly 12 pounds. He also caught a salmon in the river, a 20-pound king that must have been chasing baitfish into the river for a quick meal. Salmon are normally not found in the river this time of year. He caught both fish while he was fishing for trout and bass. Mark Davis with Big Water Adventure TV Show targeted bass one day in the lower river and caught 80 smallies using blade baits. Louie Stout with Bassmasters managed to catch a personal best smallmouth in the lower river with a fish over 6 pounds. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls is still catching bass and lake trout from shore in the gorge. Using his homemade pearl jigs, he catches silver bass and smallmouth. His homemade chartreuse No. 5 spinners work well for lakers.

Oswego County

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

Oswego River Report

Spring and summer mean bass on the Oswego River. Anglers also target carp, walleye, and pan fish. Occasionally a summer run steelhead or Atlantic salmon is spotted in the mix too.

Our recommendation for walleye is to fish on the west side, between the two bridges, especially at night. Most walleye setups will get the job done.

Please check our website for the current CFS, and check back in mid-August for the fall salmon report.

Please Consider the Following 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.

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.

Salmon River Report:

Things are certainly winding down as far as drop backs go. Water temperatures are remaining cool, offering some leisure for the remaining steelhead on their ride back home.

Spring means bass on the Salmon River. Smallmouth are bedding up and can be very aggressive. Our biggest recommendation is to try a lot of pockets and keep moving throughout the day. They’ll hit anything from a juicy fly to a crank bait.

Please check our website for the river CFS, and check back in mid-August for the fall salmon report.

Lake Ontario Report:

Listen carefully for separate reports for Oswego and Mexico Bay.

Overall lake conditions this past week have been rough. However, we expect to some calmer conditions for the upcoming week.

We’ve had warm and dirty water coming and going with the winds. Pockets can be found with water up to 53 degrees. However, given the recent westward blow, we expect the brown trout fishing to improve.

The following Oswego report is courtesy of Captain Kevin Keller, of Fish Chopper Charters.

Capt. Kevin has been mainly targeting brown trout in 6-20’. With the flows on the Oswego River increasing it has created a lot of colored water around the Oswego Harbor and with prevailing westerly‘s that color has pushed all the way to 9 mile point This has led us to run Stingers in bright colored offerings to generate bites.

When the conditions are right kings can be caught with some Coho in in the mix. Fishing the edge of the river plume has been our best Location with another pod of salmon being found off the west end of the 9-mile buoy line.

Lake trout fishing has slow down the last week. With the arrival of a few salmon we’ve decided to target Kings when the brown bite slows.

Given the recent weather pattern, Kevin’s biggest tips is to dress warm. With the winds across the cold lake a lot of our customers have underestimated how cool the weather can be.

The following Mexico Bay report is courtesy of Captain’s Adam and Mike of Northeastern Sportfishing.

Main species targeted for us this week were Brown Trout. The fishing has been come and go depending if you can find the right pocket of water and school of fish. If you can get on a good pocket of browns a decent box is possible and can be hammered out during a 6hr trip.

Our average fishing depth has been between 10-40’ for browns. If you miss that pocket, lake trout have been readily available in deeper water (160-175’). We also have found a few pockets of Kings over the past week in 60-80ft of water.

Best setups for browns have been a smith wick bleeding shad, and silver tiger flatlined in 180-200’, as well as UV can’t afford it, and “doctor” stinger off a chinook diver back 12 and on a 1 color core. Lake Trout have come on hammerhead blades on blue and silver with blue peanuts. The kings we have seen mostly game on chartreuse green spoons, no off of cores 6-8 colors of lead and on deeper riggers. Water level is still down 1-2 feet, but the recent rain should help it rise.

Oneida Lake Report:

Walleye season opened the second weekend of May, and with an average depth of 22’ bass can be caught throughout most of the lake. We recommend first-timers who are targeting bass to try the mouth of the Oneida River as well, since it’s easy to identify where the cover is.

Check out our website for more information on charters.

Sandy Pond Report:

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

Popular species throughout the summer include bullhead, crappie, pan fish, northerns, bass, walleye, and the occasional pickerel.

Check back with us in January for our ice fishing report.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

Blowing today, however it was calm enough to troll for browns over the weekend. Wayne County is of course, the Brown Trout capital on Lake Ontario. The proof is in the pudding.

The LOC Derby leaderboard features bt’s caught out from Hughes’ Marina. The top five were caught in Wayne County with the first-place brute weighing 20 lbs. Pictures of those browns and others are on the LOC Derby Facebook page.

Fish close to shore for bt’s using glow spoons. Today’s wind will create mudlines for fishing the next couple of days. The browns love the stained water.

Lakers are out deeper in 150 feet of water. They hit cowbells and peanuts near the bottom.
The spring kings are starting to show-up, but they have been few and are scattered.


Some perch have been caught in Port Bay, however this time of year they head for the lake. Crappies are being caught at the south end of Port Bay. You’ll have to launch at the north end until the south ramp is opened.

Sodus Bay fishing has seen pike caught at the north east section of the bay. Troll spoons or fish with live bait next to the islands.

Crappies and bullheads are hitting off Bay Bridge at the south end of Sodus on Ridge Road.

The 2021 New York State fishing guide can be found at for downloading and printing at home. Production of hard copies is finished and have been delivered to License Issuing Agents. Hard copies can be requested by emailing

Erie Canal

Canal waters remain high because of recent precipitation which means a faster current if you are launching a boat.

Crappies and other panfish are being targeted. When the waters warm and the regular bass season begins, canal angling is the place to be for five pounders.

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.

Mike Grager
Mike Grager from Get Hooked Sportfishing caught this 17-pound Laker on Day 1 of the LOC Derby. It wasn’t in competition for a prize (<20#) so he released it back into the lake.

The Spring Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Derby is underway and ends this Sunday, May 16, 2021. Register at Cash prizes are as follows:
$44,350 Cash;  $15,000 Grand Prize For the largest Salmon with four divisions: Salmon, Lake Trout, Brown Trout and Walleye

  • Cash Prizes for Salmon division: First Place $2000; Second Place $1000; Third Place $800; Fourth Place $550; Fifth Place $400; Sixth Thru 10th Place $200; 11th Thru 15th $150; 16th Thru 20th $100
  • Cash Prizes for Lake, Brown and Walleye divisions: First Place $1000; Second Place $525; Third Place $400; Fourth Place $300; Fifth Place $200; Sixth Thru 10th Place $100; 11th Thru 15th $75; 16th Thru 20th $50
  • $1100 Big Fish Daily Prizes: $500 per day for the largest salmon; $200 per day for Lake, Brown and Walleye

Prizes will carry over if no fish is entered that meets the minimums. No Daily Prize May 16th.

$1000 cash award from LOTSA for the largest valid LOC Salmon. Both entrant and witness must be LOTSA members and noted on the official LOC Weigh -In form to be valid. Weigh In closes at 1pm on 5/16.

The current leader is a 25.08# Salmon caught by Ken Champagne of Ohio on May 11th. View the current leaderboard at

Pen Rearing Project
The 2021 Pen Rearing Project was completed last week with the release of 10,000 steelhead into Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Oak Orchard River. The fish were delivered by the DEC in early April and raised in the pens until their release last week. Pen-rearing is a process in which young salmon and steelhead are stocked into net pens and held at the stocking site. At this life stage, they will imprint on the river water and prepare to out-migrate to the lake system. Thank you to all the volunteers that made this project a success!

NBC Sports highlights Oak Orchard, pilot fishing program with canal water

Chris Megan
Chris Megan from “On the Water” TV program holds his brown trout caught in the Oak Orchard River.

The New York State Canal Corporation on Friday announced the Reimagine the Canals initiative was recently featured on the NBC Sports program “On the Water: Angling Adventures.” The television show highlighted the successful launch of a pilot program that strategically used water from the Erie Canal to enhance already renowned fishing opportunities in Western New York during the fall of 2020, including the Oak Orchard River. The full episode can be seen by clicking here.

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