Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- November 17, 2022

A few salmon are still being caught and seen in the lower Niagara, but most of the action has been with brown trout, steelhead and lakers.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

The regular big game season opens on Saturday, Nov. 19. Be aware of that if you are going fishing on some of the inland tributaries. It might be best to wear some highly visible clothing. Hunting season should also lessen some of the fishing pressure on area waterways in places like Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek. There are still a few old salmon swimming around there, but Jim Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott says you will be better off targeting brown trout and the occasional steelhead when conditions allow for it. Water releases from the Erie Canal have been a good supplement for pulling fish in.

The weather forecast this week looks terrible! So much so that the NYPA fishing platform is being shut down for the season. Normally it is shut down around Dec. 1 depending on the weather. With cold temperatures and a possible lake effect snowstorm in the current weather report, NYPA officials are taking a cautious approach and shutting it down now. The fishing access located near the Upper Mountain Fire Company at the Lewiston Reservoir and at the water intakes along the upper Niagara River will also close for the season.

Meanwhile, conditions in the lower river have been a bit difficult with the wind and rain we had last week. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports that he made it out a couple of times to fish the gorge from shore, waiting for better water conditions. Water was dirty below the power plant with visibility less than a foot. He opted to fish above the power plant where there was 3 feet of visibility. However, water levels were low. He managed to catch some white bass on white jigs, a bit of a surprise. He also caught steelhead and lake trout on white and chartreuse No. 4 spinners that he made.

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls had a surprise catch from shore in the lower Niagara River gorge – several nice white bass like this one.
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a big steelhead he caught from shore using a homemade spinner in white and chartreuse.

Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports that steelhead fishing is starting to pick up in the lower river around Artpark and Devil’s Hole when conditions allow for it. Beads and egg sacs are working well for drifters from shore and boat. A few salmon are still being caught and seen. She also heard that brown trout were hitting downriver around the Fort before the last weather event. Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston confirmed the brown trout report, catching a few at mid-river and down around Fort Niagara. He also caught steelhead and lake trout on Tuesday using shiners, MagLips and beads/egg sacs. If you want to target smallmouth bass, shiners and swim baits are the two best approaches for success.

Writer Jeff Samsel of Georgia caught some jack perch while fishing for other species in the lower Niagara River.

In the upper Niagara River, a few muskies are being caught in some of the traditional holding areas. Inland musky season closes Nov. 30. This does not include the Great Lakes and that season will be open through Dec. 15 – even on the upper Niagara River and Lake Erie areas like Buffalo Harbor. Lake trout season will be opening in the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario on Dec. 1. The regular bass season ends on Nov. 30, switching to catch and release with artificial lures in most of the state. One exception is Lake Erie, where there is a one fish daily limit and a minimum size of 20 inches starting Dec. 1 – if you wanted to keep one. You can use live bait if you want.

Orleans County Report

Ron Bierstine from Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge reports:
“A fall cool down on the backside of the weekend rains is upon us! A nice spate of water which is hanging on in the Oak and retreating in the other area smaller tribs back to the base Canal feed. There were briefly low flows in Sandy but my estimation is Canal feed has resumed and bumped flows back up slightly.
Fishing pressure is down all around, especially in the Oak. Some decent brown trout action now for most anglers on the Oak seemingly on the backside of these most recent higher flows. Most guys upstream- ish report good action while those downstream like in the flat water report tougher action. Note to self – after any kind of high water after stale conditions try more upstream then downstream. And that flat downstream water on the Oak is just tougher to fish period except for good float techniques or cast/retrieve. Classic drifting, not so much.
A couple anglers reported when flows came down thanks to turbine rack cleaning it revealed strong numbers of browns and some steelhead nearer the dam, even if they hadn’t been good biters prior. This is in some contrast to earlier reports of mostly Kings kicking around on the lowering flows. Here’s the skinny on the weather, and we are not meteorologists. Some LES is coming this weekend. And that’s after a brush with some area wide snow tonight and tomorrow that might only be a dusting this far north on the WNY Niagara Frontier. Same for the LES that is coming. Its a semi serious band forecast to set up off Lake Erie. This area will be on the far end of it. Oh winds could shift it this way and that would mean we’ll get some snow. But in all likelihood the greater accumulations will be SW of here with the chance that the WNY Niagara Frontier may not get all that much. Either way it’ll be colder with continued clearing and lowering flows like in the Oak.”

Oswego River Report

After the big rain event last weekend, the Oswego has been raging. When the water is high the fishable water from shore shrinks vastly and less wading is possible.  People fishing the transition water below the dam and up to the dam are seeing some success this week, but the water levels have jumped up and down, making the fishing tough. Beads, flies, and cured roe are the main presentations we recommend. The high wall fishing has slowed way down with the high water, but should stabilize soon.Wading the Oswego River is a very dangerous situation especially when the water is up. The warning lights and sirens are there for your safety. The water levels rise very quickly so please exercise extreme caution when wading and wear your life jacket.

Buck C., of Bethel Connecticut, with a big steelhead caught while fishing with Chasin’ Tail.

Salmon River Report

An extended report for this week is brought to us by John Lutz, of Guide on the Side Guide Service.Fishing in Oswego County mid-November can be very weather dependent. Since the middle of October, we have seen a consistent flow of under 335 CFS from the powerhouse on the salmon river. These low water conditions have made it difficult for the trout to make their journey up the rivers and creeks.  But that all changed last week, which presented an opportunity for a willing angler to capitalize on some early season chrome. With the water conditions being so low it offers less places for these trout to hide. With air temperatures starting to drop, the river temps are also dropping. River water temperatures are now between 44° and 50.°  This temperature range has the fish holding in faster more oxygenated water. We have been focusing on heads of runs, riffles, and rapids.  Anywhere there is enough chop on the water that a trout could feel safe to not be seen and still get the food it wants with the level of oxygen it needs to live. Natural egg pattern flies have been working well for the fly fisherman. Examples of patterns that see success are Sucker Spawns, Glow Bugs, Nuke Eggs, and Eggastacy Eggs.  For the float fisherman we have been seeing our best success with natural bead patterns and fresh cured roe. Single cured eggs tied into spawn-sacks with colors like blue, pink, peach, and white have been a large part of my daily program. Filling in the gaps with 8mm natural bead patterns like “Natty Light or Star Burst” by Slay’NSteelCO. for a fresh egg imitation. We have been fishing fast and covering water to see the most success. Pods of fish are moving through the river daily. Starting the mornings off fishing pocket water and seems between boulders and moving transition water or heads of pools once the sun crests the trees. The lower section of the river from the DSR line up to the 2A bridge sees a lot of pressure being in town with a lot of easy access but the fishing is very good in the early season as the fish push up. The middle section of the river, from 2A up to Pineville, has a lot of good quality water that holds fish during this time of year, but it comes with a lot of walking, since the access isn’t as available. If you’re willing to make the trek it holds great opportunities with long stretches of pocket and transition water. The upper section, from Pineville up to Altmar, sees the most pressure as the available access is great. It also offers a lot of the quality water you are looking for this time of year.  Many famous pools on this stretch have good transitions into the next pool and contain the shallow quick riffles you’re looking for.

Chris G., of Orange County NY, with this beautiful steelhead caught while fishing with Guide on the Side.

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