Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- December 30, 2021

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

As 2021 is winding down, already, 2022 is appearing brighter. DEC has announced there will be additional salmon stocked in Lake Ontario in the spring, and the forage base is improving. The new Olcott breakwall is nearly complete, making it a true safe harbor while also creating some legitimate shoreline protection. On to the fishing…

It was the Mike and Mike show again in the lower Niagara River. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls has been hitting the water just below Niagara Falls the last couple days since the river’s visibility has improved.

Mike Ziehm with a nice steelhead from the lower Niagara.

He reported 4-feet of visibility above the powerplant, and 2 to 3-feet below the powerplant. Mike’s been catching double-digit steelhead using bucktail jigs in orange, white and chartreuse; some are all white with silver tinsel. His homemade No. 5 spinners are also taking some fish, and again, his best colors are chartreuse and orange.

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls hit the lower Niagara River this week when the water color started to improve. He was rewarded with several steelhead like this one.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls made it out this week, too, and caught steelhead and lake trout from shore using spinners and jigs. Boat action has been slow through Tuesday due to the stained water. Captain Joe Marra of Lewiston has been hitting a few trout on egg sacs fished off three-way rigs. The catch has been a mix of steelhead and lake trout, with an occasional brown trout thrown in, but this should improve soon. Other lures to consider once it becomes less turbid are beads, MagLips and Kwikfish.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught this lake trout on the lower Niagara River using a spinner.
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught this steelhead on a homemade jig in the lower Niagara River.

Scott and Alex Gauld of Amherst had some great Christmas fishing action for smallmouth bass in the upper Niagara River. Most of the fish were 4-5 pounds with some smaller ones in the mix; they were all caught on Ned rigs with a green pumpkin candy 3-inch Venom Salty Sling. The bite came best by dead dragging the Ned rigs on the bottom. The water was 40 degrees with a moderate stain, and the fish bit best once the sun popped out.

Scott Gauld of Tonawanda with a big upper Niagara River smallmouth bass he caught on Christmas Eve, the latest he has ever had the boat out.
Alex Gauld of Tonawanda with a lunker upper Niagara River smallmouth bass he caught on Christmas eve.

The Lake Ontario tributaries are back to producing some steelhead and brown trout according to Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctors in Olcott based on her intel. Mealworms, spikes, and egg sacs are the best baits. There has been limited fishing pressure in the streams and this would be a good time to do some exploring to figure out where the fish are holding. You just might find some new fishing areas that could be beneficial in the future.

Oswego County

Salmon River Report:

The CFS at Pineville was at 1460 as of this morning. Temperatures have been hanging in the low 30’s.

The following report is courtesy of Captain Stephen Shen of STS guide service:

Flows on the salmon river recently received an unexpected bump in flows (a 1200 CFS release). Unfortunately, this has slowed the bite for most anglers. For best chances of success, we recommend targeting the slower edges of the current and use the bank, islands and any other structure to your advantage.

The best baits have been bright colored egg sacks and beads as well as pink worms. Put your time in and you will be rewarded with some beautiful steelhead.

Our second report is courtesy of Captain Mark Ledden of Driftwater Fishing.

The quality of steelhead fishing on the Salmon River has varied due to weather, water lever, and water temperature. In the last week we have seen a mix of tough and good days. We will see more consistent and productive fishing as the weather becomes stable. The good news is we have a decent number of steelhead throughout the river. If you put in the time, you will be rewarded. The fish we are catching have been a mix of mostly resident fish and a few fresh chrome fish mixed in.

Tight lines everyone!

Oswego River Report:

The Oswego has been very high this season limiting fishing. Levels receded last week but are back up after some Christmas rain. Anglers are still seeing fair numbers of fish on the west side above the powerhouse. Fishing jigs, beads and egg sacs under floats has been the most productive.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


It has been hit and miss with the steelhead. Maxwell Creek has an excellent flow with trout hitting egg sacs. FYI… you can get some egg sacs at Bay Bridge Sport Shop located at the south end of Sodus Bay. 

Salmon Creek in Pultneyville has some brown trout action. The browns were hitting bright beads under floats. Construction on Ontario’s Bear Creek outlet has created limited spots to fish. They are replacing the side break wall and it will be a great place to launch this spring.   

Lake Ontario tributary regulations:

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


Port and Sodus Bay’s perch fishing has been phenomenal, and some ice was starting to form last week, however weekend rain melted the thin layer. Currently you can launch boats. 

Predictions of colder temperatures next week could make ice. Prepare your shanty and keep your fingers crossed for a nice Canadian air mass. If you are fishing the bays, the perch have been hitting anything white. Two-inch Berkley Power Bait works the best. 

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

Water levels in the canal are high and the current is strong. If you want to launch a boat use caution. Fishing the Widewaters area has consistently produced pan fish.  

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 fantastic way to help maintain mental and physical health. 


Orleans County

Ron Bierstine, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge
Christmas rain brought all the trib flows up with stained water color. The forecast through this week after today is for warm temps in the 40’s°F.
There’s a chance of an inch or two of area wide snow tonight on the Lake Ontario plain, with 2-3 inches expected to the south; that will subsequently melt. Consider how wet it’s been for months now, the high water tables, saturated fields and brim full swamp headwater supplies. You’ll come to realize the “typical” slow rise and quick fall of trib levels is going to occur more like quick rise and slow fall.
Canal seasonal feed and winter drainage water is done or nearly done and the trib levels remain up thanks to the natural run of the river contributions. Flows in the Oak are slightly high with 1 – 2 feet of stained visibility; a good head of turbine water lending fishy water and cover for fish to be anywhere in the water course they would want to be.
As a few post holiday reports come in it sounds like guys have had some better steelhead action. By steelhead standards, the flows we have now are real nice and could move some fresh fish upstream. The other smaller tributaries of the area have slightly high flows, with stained visibility of about 1 foot, however those waterways do seem to be slowly back on the retreat.
Look for post spawn browns to be redistributed thru the waterways and the chance for some fresher steelhead. All the waterways are wide open to fish with no icing to worry about for now. Fishing pressure is light to moderate, with what looks like a few guys here and there probably enjoying holiday time off. There’s a chance of legitimate winter weather and lower temperatures coming on by next week.


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