Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – December 2, 2021

West Marine

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

It’s the final month of the year starting today! The Dec. 1 date is a biggie for trout fishermen in the lower Niagara and Lake Ontario – it’s the opening of lake trout season! However, you won’t be able to fish for trout from the NYPA fishing platform – which closes on Dec. 1 for the season. Musky chasers can still target those fish until Dec. 15 in the lower river and Lake Ontario.
Lower river trout action has really taken off the past week. Capt. Joe Marra of Niagara Rainbow Charters reports that he had some banner days over the weekend on steelhead using yellow and green beads first thing in the morning. Fish are spread out from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar. Browns have been hitting more downriver than up. Mike Berry of Tonawanda was out fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters recently and they did well on steelhead using egg sacs on a 3-way rig. The water color was perfect. The bite was slow in the morning but picked up at about 10:30 a.m. They stayed in Devil’s Hole and caught all steelhead. Artpark drift will be your best bet for lake trout.

Mike Ziehm
Mike Ziehm with a big lower river lake trout. Lake trout season opens Dec. 1.

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls has been doing very well on steelhead in the gorge north of the power plant using his orange and chartreuse No. 4 spinners. Water clarity was about 3-foot of visibility. Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle of Lewiston also said the shore guys are doing well on trout. Some very nice steelhead, lake trout and occasional browns are being caught using beads, egg sacs, spinners, and plastic minnows on a jig and fished under a float. From a boat, Kwikfish, MagLips, live bait and beads are all working off 3-way rigs.

John Antone muskellunge
John Antone of Sanborn caught this 50-inch Niagara River musky last weekend fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island.

In the upper river, the musky season ended on Nov. 30. John Antone of Sanborn caught a personal-best 50-inch fish drifting with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island last weekend. Capt. Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters was also catching some muskies the past week. Now that the season is closed, bass action is still an option. Also, Tommy Ortolano with Lake Effect Bait and Tackle in Tonawanda reports that Buffalo Harbor is producing a few nice perch. Ferry Street is producing some nice walleyes and rainbows.

For the tributaries off of Lake Ontario, not too much to report. There has been limited fishing pressure. Some brown trout are being caught in 18 Mile Creek along with the occasional steelhead. Egg sacs and beads lead the way for enticements. Stay safe out there!

Oswego County

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

Salmon River Report:

Salmon River water levels finally dropped from the last several weeks of highs. It has been running at around 750 for the past week. Additionally, the temperatures have be holding in the mid to upper 30’s, causing the fish to move to the slower parts of the river.

Matthew Luba steelhead
Matthew Luba from caught his first ever steelhead fishing with Mark Sabia of Northwoods Outfitters

The following upper river report is courtesy of Capt. Mark Sabia of Northwoods Outfitters:

This week has been up and down. Temperatures are fluctuating and making fish irritable….winter mode is setting in so we’re getting a mixed bag of dark and bright steelhead. The pink worm bite is starting but beads are my choice bait. Natural colors are getting the job done.

The following report is from Carl Kerstetter’s guide service:

It has been important to capitalize on opportunities as the steelhead seem less numerous over the recent weeks. Beads are getting it done with a proper presentation and placement. Great lakes steelhead company beads have been sealing the deal. Steelhead snot and nuc yellow are our “go-to.”

Tight lines everyone!

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


Maxwell has a great flow and some browns are hitting bright jigs under floats on the north side of Lake Road. The south side has more current, and some browns and steelhead are in the pools.

The best bait is still very fresh salmon eggs; however, you can still cast out bright green beaded jigs.

Lake Ontario tributary regulations

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


The regular bass season is over today, however, catch and release continues through the winter.

Port Bay is running high 30s for temps. If you are launching, you can still fish Sodus and Port Bay on open water.

Some DEC docks were still in at Port Bay. When they pull the docks make sure you are careful launching off the ramps. They freeze quickly and if the water level decreases the ramps are extremely slippery.

The perch are still monsters in Port and Sodus Bays, many weighing over one pound.

Use bright jigs hooked 12 inches on top of sinkers. If you start catching the smaller variety…move around. Perch often school by size.

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

There was a coating of ice on Widewaters this morning. It was along the shoreline and wouldn’t affect any boat launching. Be careful when ice fishing the canal as the current is strong. Wait for 5 inches for safety.

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 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

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:

There has been light mixed precipitation thru today with highs in the 30s°F. Another warmup is forecast thru mid-week with highs in the 40s°F and another chance at rain Thursday. Flows in the Oak are slightly high consisting of a good head of turbine water. Water color is only slightly stained at 2 – 3 ft of visibility. There is plenty of water cover to hide fish or to encourage any late migrations of browns or early migrations of steelhead. Water level fluctuations are still common thanks to hydropower operations and at least in the downstream fast water areas when flows are reduced, there’s been just a handful of mostly browns revealed. Nearer the dam and just downstream should show a few more fish.

This steelhead was caught near the dam last week. Courtesy of Barry Kuhn, Greensburg, PA

Overall though, the brown trout action on the Oak is tough. A good day might be a couple of hookups with a steelhead thrown in. The other area smaller waterways offer as good or better action by virtue of smaller watercourses with the fish probably more concentrated. To the west at Johnson Creek, flows are medium and mostly clear with reports of some brown trout hookups. To the east at Sandy Creek flows are reported to be medium or just a notch greater. Some days guys seem to do OK and other days are slower. Generally, the most action has been to the east so that’s where most anglers have been heading. Otherwise, fishing pressure elsewhere is real light. Opportunities right now may not be for multiple hookup days but the chances are there for a few hard worked at bites with light fishing pressure in real nice flows and not bad weather conditions.”

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