Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – December 16, 2021

West Marine

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

Just when things were starting to look up again for fishing action in the Niagara River, another high-wind event will be arriving later today and into tomorrow that will ultimately mess things up for a few more days if not longer. It takes a little bit longer to clear up this time of year because the water temperature has been hovering around the 40-degree mark, when the water is the densest. When things do start to clear, it will be the shoreline casters that have first crack at the trout. Prior to this last storm, steelhead, lake trout and the occasional brown trout were all being caught. Last Friday Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls stayed away from the high-pressure area along Artpark and focused on the gorge upstream from the NYPA facility. His lure of choice is a No. 5 homemade spinner, chartreuse and orange and he caught all steelhead – including a few nice ones. Egg sacs, beads and other egg imitations will all catch fish, too, when presented properly.

Mike Ziehm lake trout
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls caught this big lake trout last Friday from shore in the gorge.

Boat fishermen were also catching trout prior to the big blow. Drifting the river current with MagLips, Kwikfish, beads and sacs while using three-way rigs. You want to make sure your lure is working and if there is any kind of a north wind that will slow you down, you may need to engage your trolling motor to pick up your speed until you can feel the wobble of your hard bait. Conversely, if you have a southwest wind and you are fishing eggs or beads, you may have to slow the boat down. When the waters do finally start to clear, they will be hungry. Today is the final day for muskellunge fishing in the lower river and Lake Ontario.

John Van Den Bosch and Capt. Arnie Jonathan lake trout
John Van Den Bosch with a Niagara Bar lake trout, caught while fishing with Capt. Arnie Jonathan of Lockport.

The tributaries off Lake Ontario have seen limited fishing pressure. Some steelhead and brown trout are around, but you do have to work for them. Eggs or egg imitations are popular right now, but jigs fished under a float are also effective. Warm temperatures the remainder of the week before things start to cool down again. We could see some rain later this week before it turns to the white stuff.

Matt Rand and guide Nick Sagnibene with steelhead
Matt Rand of Maryland holds up a lower river steelhead he caught fishing from shore with guide Nick Sagnibene of Ellicottville.

Christmas is only a week away. If you are looking for something a bit different, a fishing charter is a great gift that can be shared with multiple people. For a list of charters in Niagara Falls USA, check out https://www.niagarafallsusa.com/things-to-do/outdoor-adventure/fishing/charters/

Membership to the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association or the Niagara River Anglers Association would also make a great stocking stuffer. The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derbies is offering an extra $10 off their 3-derby season packet for 2022 at loc.org. And with the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo all set for Feb. 17-20, buy an admission ticket at $10 per day or $20 for 4 days. There are also options for special pay-to-play educational lessons on fly fishing, a super kid’s fishing clinic, a walleye school, and beginner sessions for salmon/trout, bass, walleye, and kayak fishing. Check out niagarafishingexpo.com.


Oswego County

Salmon River Report:

The CFS at the Pineville gauge was at 1160 as of this morning. It has dropped from some very high flows last week. Temperatures have been hanging in the low 30’s.

The following report is courtesy of David Thomas of Salmon River Guide Service.

The fishing has been all over the place lately, mainly because of the weather is constantly changing. The snow melt and rain put the water up and made the water cold making the fish not want to bite well. We’ve been using big bright beads trying to get a reaction bite from the fish and give them something they can see.

The following report for the lower river is courtesy of Capt. John Kopy

We’ve seen a fair number of fresh chrome fish in the lower stretch after the recent flows. They have been aggressive! Happily taking eggs fished on the slower seams. Overall, fish have been found in pods lately. So don’t be afraid to move if you’re not getting bites.

Tight lines!

Oswego River Report

The Oswego has been very high this season, which greatly limits fishing.

But now that the flows have receded. Anglers are seeing fair numbers of fish on the west side above the powerhouse. Fishing jigs, beads and egg sacs under floats have been the most productive.

The lower Oswego, behind the hotels, has also started producing some trout and even an occasional walleye for those putting their time in. Casting swim baits has been the best technique to trigger bites.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Streams

More steelhead are showing-up in Maxwell Creek. The water flow is excellent, and the trout have been in the pools on the south side of Lake Road. Use fresh egg sacs. You can also catch steelies with bright red beads or even small jigs with your spinning outfits.

The browns have been in the slower current on the north side, which is called Maxwell Bay. Cast out egg sacs under torpedo bobbers in that section.

Some steelhead were also caught at the Sodus Pier. Always use caution fishing the pier. There is no ice build-up on the pier because of warmer temperatures, however, that can change fast. Make sure you bring a long handle net.

Lake Ontario tributary regulations

Three fish in combination and not to include more than one Rainbow Trout (or Steelhead) and One Brown Trout.

Bays

I don’t know how we can make ice when it’s 60 degrees. Maybe next week the temps will drop. Port Bay water temperature has been 37 degrees so it won’t take long if we can have a good ole Canadian blast of air. And not a full blow of wind like occurred Saturday.

Currently the perch are hitting in Sodus and Port Bays. And they are extra-large. The Port Bay catch has been mostly females gobbling food for their eggs.

Use white shad bait. Berkley Ripple Shad 2 inch works the best. Keep the colors white and tip your bait with perch eyes or spikes.

All persons on board a recreational vessel less than 21 feet in length (including canoes, kayaks, and rowboats) must wear a USCG–approved PFD from November 1 to May 1.

Erie Canal

You can launch boats at Widewaters, however make sure you are safe and fish with a partner. Widewaters will freeze first because it’s protected from the wind.

All persons on board a recreational vessel less than 21 feet in length (including canoes, kayaks, and rowboats) must wear a USCG–approved PFD from November 1 to May 1.

The 2021 New York State fishing guide can be found at https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7917.html 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 FWFish@dec.ny.gov.

Keep informed from the NYS Canal web for changes and restrictions with canal waters. Keep informed about 2021 canal hours. (There will be no fees for the 2021 canal boating season.) May 21st is the scheduling for the canal opening. Hours are 7 am till 5pm. Stay informed with the below web page.

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

This week’s report is from Ron Bierstine from Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge:

Flows in the Oak are medium and mostly clear. Definitely on the moderate side of medium and not on the slightly high side of medium. For now these are the lowest flows of the whole fall season and are more typical of average fall flows. If any Canal winter time drainage is passing thru it must be tempered like Canal managers said they would do.

Light fishing pressure with just a few cars seen at the two access points. I’m hearing of a few hook ups each outing for most guys, and those anglers report putting in the time and working for the hook ups by covering different water with swings or dead drifts. Browns are more likely in downstream water with a few steelhead at the dam.

For best chances at steelhead action later this winter and spring we might hope for some more colder and typical winter weather for the in between later Dec/early Jan timeframe. With the flows observed today anglers should be able to cover all the fishy water pretty effectively.

Downstream slow water is getting pretty froggy thanks to rising Lake Ontario levels and the lowering upstream flows. The other area smaller tribs I have not laid eyes on directly and should have something like medium flows. Some reports of stained water color to the east which could be a result of Canal drainage. Everything is wide open to fish with no icing conditions.

Lakeshore conditions should likewise be wide open if any hardware chuckers were so inclined to make some casts. Warm weather is forecast under windy conditions over the next couple days and cooling down for the weekend.

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