Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- December 15, 2022

Aidan Kelly steelhead

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

River fishing has been good for both boat and shore fishermen. Capt. Joe Srouji of Angler’s Edge Outdoors enjoyed a great morning on the water with Jim Kelly and his son, Aidan of Elma over the weekend. It was a short trip because of Aidan’s hockey game, but they scored early, landing seven trout and losing several others while drifting beads and eggs from three-way rigs. Water was a little stained, perfect for Capt. Joe. Meanwhile, Capt. Arnie Jonathan of AJ’s Guide Service did well on Sunday using Kwikfish, paddletails, chartreuse beads, and egg sacs from Artpark to the Niagara Bar. The river was packed with boats taking advantage of the conditions.

Don Warda steelhead
Don Warda of Amherst caught this steelhead fishing off Lewiston with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters.

Aidan Kelly steelhead
Aidan Kelly of Elma with a Niagara River steelhead he caught while fishing with Capt. Joe Srouji of Angler’s Edge Outdoors.

Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports that steelhead action has been good along Artpark, with a few lake trout also cooperating. Shore casters are using egg sacs, egg imitations, spinners, and jigs. Brown trout are being caught from the docks off Fort Niagara for something a little different. Musky season ends Dec. 15 and action has been good in the upper river and in Buffalo Harbor when the conditions cooperate. Capt. Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters did it again a few days ago with a 53-inch, 26-inch girth harbor fish. Greg Tilley of Pembroke reeled in the fish, catching it on one of Mann’s homemade Poly Carver lures in firetiger pattern. He also caught another 46-inch musky on Monday for an awesome Fall season so far.

Aidan Kelly lake trout
Aidan Kelly of Elma with a Niagara River lake trout he caught while fishing with Capt. Joe Srouji of Angler’s Edge Outdoors.
Danny Chamberland steelhead
Danny Chamberland of Springville caught steelhead in Devil’s Hole fishing with Capt. Arnie Jonathan of AJ’s Guide Service.
Don Warda smallmouth bass
Don Warda of Amherst caught this bass fishing downriver off Youngstown with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters.
Logan Noon steelhead
12-year-old Logan Noon of Newfane with an 18 Mile Creek steelhead.

Olcott fishing action has seen limited pressure, but 12-year-old Logan Noon of Newfane has been sneaking down to fish Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek and doing well with a mix of beads and egg sacs. Steelhead and brown trout are both available. Remember that water releases from the Erie Canal will be discontinuing on Dec. 15 and it will all be up to mother nature when it comes to water flow in 18 Mile Creek. Smaller tributaries have been low and clear. There is some nasty weather coming in this weekend. How bad it will affect Niagara County will be dependent upon wind direction. Keep your fingers crossed.

On a sad note, we lost a local outdoor icon with the passing of Bill Hilts, Sr. of Sanborn earlier this week. He was one week short of his 91st birthday. He was instrumental in the building of the NYPA fishing platform and was promoting our fishing before there was an actual program – as an outdoor writer, media professional and more. Rest in peace “Big Bill.”

Oswego County

  • December is a great month to fish for Steelhead as they put on the last big feed.
  • River temperatures are hovering just above freezing, which has sent the fish to the slowest water.
  • The “high wall” in Oswego is starting to pick up again.
  • On the OZ: white jigs are the best tactic right now.
  • Consider booking a guide. Click Here to find one in Oswego County.
  • Order a free fishing guide
Johnathon S steelhead
Johnathon S., from Cicero NY, caught this steelhead with Sich’s Guide Service.

Salmon River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The fishing on the Salmon River remains very good this week.

Fish can be found in the normal winter spots, which helps concentrates them. This time of year, it can be a waiting game. If you’re in a good spot don’t give up, just keep working the spot and changing baits. The fish turn on and off more this time of year.

With the colder temps., egg sacs have been the primary bait of choice. White, pink, and blue, being the most consistent colors. Fishing the egg sacs under a float has been the most effective way to catch feeding steelhead.

December is a great month to come up and fish for Steelhead as they put on the last big feed before they go into their winter slow down.

Nolan M steelhead
Nolan M., of Mass. was fishing with Chasin’ Tail Adventures when he landed this big steelhead on a bead.

Oswego River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

Oswego is experiencing a drop in the flows as the rains of Fall have ended and the winter snows are upon us. This has led to some challenging fishing.

There is a good number of brown trout and steelhead in the system. The best places to find fish are in the slower sections: the base of the dam, the flats or the deep channel. Look for slow edges, fish tend to slide to slow water when the cold water sets in.

The high wall is starting to produce now that the flows have dropped. Beads, jigs and plugs are all taking bites.

Trout and walleye are now being caught behind the hotels on the east side of the river. Deep diving crank baits and swim baits are the best baits in those locations.

Tight Lines!

Salmon River
The below text is an excerpt from our free 8-page “Salmon River Steelhead Guide.” A PDF is available here.

Don’t Miss Steelhead Fishing this Winter

The pilgrimage for Salmon River steelhead is a time-honored tradition once the cool winter temperatures come to Great Lake Ontario’s southeastern shores. After the salmon run, steelhead pour into the river for the winter, feeding and running upstream to spawn in the early spring. Unlike the lake’s salmon, steelhead make multiple spawn – ing runs in their lifetimes. The Salmon River’s steelhead season typically runs Novem – ber-April, depending on the temperatures and river conditions. During these months, fewer anglers are on the water and fishing pressure diminishes. Early season steelhead are aggressive and voracious as they pack on the pounds to help carry them through the winter. As they run upstream, they are the most fun you can have with a fishing rod in your hand. After spawning in late March and early April, the fish make a 180 degree turn and head downstream to the cooler waters of Lake Ontario. “Drop-back season,” as it’s known, is a wonderful time to be on the river, the fish are hungry and aggressive, chasing down any and all food to regain strength after spawning.

Powerful fighters no matter the season, feeling the thump-thump-thump of a headshaking 10-pound fish will warm any angler’s cold hands, moments before they start chasing their speeding prize downstream. Steelhead will happily eat a variety of lures, baits, and flies, which is why they are so beloved and sought after by a diverse group of anglers.

Steelhead have earned the nickname of “the Fish of 1,000 Casts” in many circles, but if you can find the fish and what they’re feeding on, we’re confident you can make them the fish of less than 100. Steelheading is not for the faint of heart, they run during the coldest, harshest months of the year, and solid preparation before your first trip out is absolutely key to making your adventure memorable for years to come.

To access the full article, Click Here.

Free Oswego Fishing Guide

Click Here to Order a Free Guide

The 68-page guide includes a detailed overview of fishing opportunities on eastern Lake Ontario, Oneida Lake, the Oswego and Salmon rivers and a variety of other tributaries, as well as the more than 40,000 acres of public lands available for hunting.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


With colder temperatures coming to town the smaller creeks in Wayne County will have some skims of ice along the shore.
Maxwell Creek has open water on the south side Lake Road. Some steelhead were caught over the weekend. Use anything bright whether it’s beads, small jigs, or egg sacs.

Pier fishing will depend on ice build-up. Closer to the Coast Guard station will be ice free because of the sandy shore.

Lake Ontario tributary regulations:

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


It is definitely transition time on the bays. All of Port Bay has a skim of ice and with temperatures all week below freezing there will be no boat launching.

Sodus Bay is the same. There are openings however most small boats have been winterized.

Now we wait for the ice. The autumn perch fishing has been excellent so has soon as we get safe ice it will be “shanty” time.

Erie Canal

The canal has a skim of ice and like the bays we will be waiting for safe condition to fish the hard water. The Widewaters section is a great place to set-up for perch, crappies, and bluegills.

More Info:
• Keep informed from the NYS Canal web for changes and restrictions with canal waters.
• Keep informed about 2022 canal hours.
• There are no tolls or fees for recreational use of the Canal system this year.

Notable Freshwater Fishing Regulation Changes

The following list offers a summary of the most notable fishing regulation changes resulting from the adopted rulemakings described above.

  • New statewide regulation for rainbow trout, brown trout, and splake in lakes and ponds. The season will now be open year-round, with a five-fish daily limit, any size, with a “no more than two longer than 12 inches” harvest rule.
  • Statewide Atlantic salmon regulations will now allow for a year-round open season.
  • Ice fishing is permitted on all waters in New York unless specifically prohibited with the exception of Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties where previous rules remain.
  • New specific dates replaced floating dates for statewide season openers to include:
    • May 1 – Walleye, Northern Pike, Pickerel, and Tiger Muskellunge.
    • June 1 – Muskellunge. (Note that in 2022, DEC will allow for the fishing of muskellunge beginning the last Saturday in May to accommodate previously planned fishing trips);and
    • June 15 – Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass.
  • A five-fish daily walleye limit in Oneida Lake.
  • A new regulation to limit the growth of the walleye population in Skaneateles Lake. No daily possession limit; 12-inch minimum size limit, open year-round.
  • The statewide sunfish daily harvest limit has been reduced from 50 to 25 fish: and
  • The statewide minimum size limit for crappie has been increased from nine inches to ten inches.

Orleans County

Ron Bierstine from Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge brings us this Stream Fishing report:

A little bit hard to stay on top of trib water flows as it seems like Canal drainage water is being passed thru with select adjustments on the water managers’ end that only they know about. For now, after the past weekend, it looks like flows are back down some in the Oak to about med or slightly high and less stained. Flows in the other tribs bracketing east and west look like they are back up some. It’s unknown how much longer Canal drainage flows will last but it likely is not that long. Recent precipitation for now is probably not enough to keep flows any higher then low-ish when Canal water is ended. Weather is seasonal for now with highs in the 30’s°F and dropping back at night forecast thru the mid week. End of week there is the chance for mixed bag precipitation and Lake Effect Snow for the weekend. Greater impacts expected SW of here but the south shore of Lake Ontario may get some accumulations. Fishing pressure real light. We are hearing of most guys getting their drifts down and slow getting a few hook ups in the fast water reaches below the dam and a little more action in the downstream flat water possibly as a result of some drop back brown trout action and a few fresher steelhead.

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