Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – December 23, 2021

West Marine

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

The days are getting longer, and Christmas is just a few short days away. The fishing is finally turning around as back-to-back windstorms put a hurt on the Niagara River fishing action. Anglers are catching fish again … but the winds are back in the forecast again for today. Time will tell what impact that will have on the water conditions.

Bernard Tobolski steelhead
Bernard Tobolski of West Seneca managed to catch this nice steelhead in the lower Niagara River the last time the water was clear, fishing with Nick Sagnibene of Ellicottville.

Joe Cermele whitefish
Joe Cermele with “Meateater” shows off a Niagara Bar whitefish he caught, a species not seen very often in these waters. You never know what you are going to catch on the Bar!
John Van Den Bosch lake trout
John Van Den Bosch holds up a chunky lake trout he caught in the lower Niagara River near Fort Niagara with Capt. Arnie Jonathan last week.

Earlier this week, Aaron Woods of Ransomville worked beads and sacs along Artpark from shore, and he connected with some lake trout and steelhead. The water was stained, but it had a greenish tinge to it which was a good sign. No. 4 spinners will also work from shore. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reports that jigs are also working for the shore guys and a few browns are being caught. The boaters haven’t been out in a while, and they may have tried to fish out of Lewiston earlier this week (Monday), but some work was going on at the Lewiston launch ramp and it was closed down for a day and a half. Boaters will be able to pull Kwikfish and MagLips off three-way rigs to take trout. Beads and egg sacs off three-way will also produce fish.

Denis Kreze musky
Musky season closed Dec. 15 on the Canadian side of the upper Niagara River and Denis Kreze of Fort Erie, Ontario shows off how he closed the season.

Tommy Ortolano of Lake Effect Bait and Tackle in Tonawanda reports that the foot of Ferry Street has been getting a fair number of walleyes, some rainbows and lake trout. He says that large minnows on a plain hook and sinker are working well. Also, ¾-ounce white or pink jig heads tipped with a minnow are producing some fish.

For Lake Ontario and the tributaries, Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports that Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek have seen some action the past week for both steelhead and brown trout. The best approach has been using jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float. Conditions for the creek have been decent. Some rain is in the forecast, but not enough to make a measurable difference according to reports. Put your walking shoes on to find the spots holding trout and you should be able to catch some fish. Pressure has been light for the most part.

Merry Christmas!

Oswego County

Salmon River Report:

The CFS at Pineville was at 553 as of this morning. It has been holding steady for a week now. We are at our normal “wintertime flows.” Temperatures have been hanging in the low 30’s.

This following report is courtesy of Capt Andy Bliss of Chasin’ Tail Adventures.

With the low water and cold temps fish have definitely been heading to their wintering holds.
Concentrate your efforts on the bigger deeper pools and anywhere are you find slow water. Fish the inside edges and the belly of the pool.

Eric Traverse steelhead
Eric Traverse hooked this steelhead on an egg sac under a float while fishing with Chasin Tail Guide Service.

When winter sets in, steelhead become more lethargic and less active finding baits that peak their interest this time of year seem to be the best method to triggering bites. But, as always, the egg sac takes over in slow cold water. Blues really shines during wintertime; white and peach are the next best. Chartreuse has been a great early bait this week as well, considering the stained water.

Other bait options are pink worms, marabou jigs, wax worms and crappie baits. The better color combinations for these are typically white, with a little added color.

Tight lines!

Oswego River Report

The Oswego has been very high this season limiting fishing. But the flows have finally started to recede. 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 “Bridie Hole” should start fishing good now that the water is around 10K CFS.

Luke from CT steelhead
Luke from CT caught this steelhead on an egg sac under a float while fishng with Chasin Tail Guide Service

This lower flow also makes the big wall fishable again. The lower Oswego behind the hotels has also started producing some trout and even a fair number of walleye for those putting their time in. Casting swim baits has been the best technique to trigger bites.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


Some steelhead are coming from Maxwell; however, it’s been slow compared to last year. Use fresh egg sacs.

The pools on the south side of Lake Road have plenty of water, so concentrate in that area for steelies. Use bright beads if you don’t have eggs.

Bear Creek in Ontario has some browns in the outlet to the lake. Also, Salmon Creek in Pultneyville is another small creek in Wayne County that holds steelhead and browns.

Lake Ontario tributary regulations

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


Port Bay’s water temps today were 37 degrees, so the bay has no ice along the shore. The perch are moving around, however concentrate near the points.

The ramp at the north end is opened for launching a boat. Be careful as the DEC ramps can be very slippery.

Sodus Bay also has jumbo perch. They have been eating small shad so match your presentation with 2- or 3-inch rubber Powerbait.

Colder weather is predicted so maybe we can be on the ice in a few weeks…or less.

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 is a small coating of ice along the shoreline at Widewaters. When the canal freezes solid, that section and near the Clyde boat ramp will be a safe place to ice fish.

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:

Flows in the Oak have retreated some to slightly high and slightly stained. Real nice flows by steelhead standards. First real cold night of the year Sunday night probably tightened things up for flows and runoff in the Oak and smaller area tribs as well. Looks like a good head of turbine water with overflow levels diminished.

Just a handful of cars seen at each access spot. Not a whole lot of reports coming back in for the Oak but now with flows that are a little more easily drifted guys should be into a few browns or steelhead.

Always the chance at some fresh steelhead migrations that should only improve as we get into the later winter. Downstream frog water areas are all open with no icing conditions yet. Other area smaller tribs are at moderate to medium and slightly stained flows. You can see the Canal drainage influence in the stained color but Canal release flows sure look more tempered in the smaller tribs then say the Oak.

Hike some different water spots on the smaller tribs and you should find some brown trout action with a steelhead or two thrown in. Forecast is back to the seasonable warm temps that we have been prone to so far this whole trib season – highs near 40°F for mid week and warmer yet for end of week. There’s a chance of snow showers tomorrow (Wed.) and precipitation at the end of week again.

No real change yet seen in Oak upstream headwater flows but shortly Canal water will run out and I’d be looking for some kind of continued lowering flows by end of week or weekend – that is without any new significant precipitation for runoff.

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