Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- January 19, 2023

Gary Laidman and Connor Cinelli
Gary Laidman of South Wales (left) with steelhead and Capt. Connor Cinelli of Grand Island by his side.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

It’s been a long time coming for consistent Niagara River fishing. It’s been nearly four weeks since the Blizzard of ’22 and lower river action was taking off for anglers, with a big trigger on Tuesday of this week. Some anglers jumped the gun and picked up a few fish over the weekend, but a few extra days can make a big difference. Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston reports that fishing is good now from both boat and shore. Take advantage of it. Trout – steelhead, brown trout, and lake trout – are spread throughout the river from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar off Fort Niagara. MagLips and egg sacs are the two top baits right now, but other lures and baits will also work, but just not as consistently. Captains Chris and Connor Cinelli of Grand Island took out Gary Laidman of South Wales and Dan Ettipio of Clarence on Tuesday and had a banner day on the water using pink and chartreuse egg sacs off three-way rigs. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reported green murky water on Monday, but conditions continue to improve. A few guys caught fish and when they did it was steelhead and lake trout. The sun should help trigger increased activity with a bit of warmth. Drabczyk says that Kwikfish or MagLips should be working well, fishing off three-way rigs. Some anglers have been using shiners with mixed success.

Gary Laidman steelhead
Gary Laidman of South Wales with a lower Niagara River steelhead he caught Tuesday.

Dan Ettipio steelhead
Dan Ettipio of Clarence with a lower Niagara steelhead from this week.

For the shore casters, visibility was sitting at 2 to 3 feet on Monday according to Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls. He hit three steelhead on Sunday and three steelhead on Monday. Finding the right spot is key. Once again, his homemade No. 4 spinners in pinks and whites are doing the trick. He also caught a few trout on white and silver bucktails. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls also hit the gorge area of the lower river and was 5 for 7 on browns and rainbows. He was using No. 6 spins and KO wobbler spoons in silver and green.

Mike Rzucidlo brown trout
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught this brown trout from shore in the Niagara gorge.

The most consistent tributary off Lake Ontario is 18 Mile Creek at Burt Dam. Burt has been muddy, but the bite is hot, reports Matt Vogt of Newfane. He caught three trout Monday in a short few hours. He also saw a few other trout caught as well. Tributaries are still open, with decent flow. The smaller creeks may start to close the colder it gets. Hair jigs and egg imitations are still doing well. Egg sacs and beads will produce fish, too. No safe ice in Wilson or Olcott harbors yet with the mild conditions.

Matt Vogt steelhead
Matt Vogt of Newfane with a nice Burt Dam steelhead he caught this week.
Mark Musser with a nice brown.
Mark Musser with a nice brown.

Lake action for brown trout, and to a lesser extent for steelhead, lake trout and Atlantic salmon, continues to be an option if the weather cooperates. Water has been stained coming out of the tributaries, but that should create a distinct mudline that will be where the browns will be hanging out. Use stickbaits in bright colors like orange, chartreuse and firetiger when working the mudline off in-line boards.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


Maxwell and the creeks in Wayne County have excellent flows. It looks like Maxwell is ready to blow open the small channel to the lake. Recent rainfall might be the answer to accomplish the “busting through.”
There are pockets that hold steelhead at the south end of Lake Road. And there is enough flow on the north side to fish under torpedo bobbers.

Some trout were caught at Salmon Creek in Pultneyville. Use fresh egg sacs.

Lake Ontario tributary regulations:

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


The bays skimmed over the holiday weekend, however there is no safe ice anywhere. The first to freeze will be Sodus Center Pond or any other small embayment’s like East Bay.

The south end of Port will also freeze first. But…it looks like a dismal hard water month. With rain and above freezing temperatures continuing the future looks dim.

If you do launch your boat, as many will, be cautious. Ramps will be slippery and there are no docks at most ramps.
And water temperatures will be in the thirties, which will be lethal if you have an accident and fall in the water.

Maybe next week we can have a more productive report for ice anglers.

From November 1st until May 1st New York’s law requires you to wear your PFD. That means it cannot be laying around your boat. It must be worn.

When we get solid ice bait is available on the south end of Sodus at Davenports and Bay Bridge Sport Shop.
On Port Bay Jarvis Bait shop is open on Brown Road. The signs are on East Port Bay Road at the junction of Brown Road. In Ontario, Grantley’s Bait at 1864 Route 104 Ontario, NY.

Erie Canal

The canal has skimmed over with ice, however like the bays to the north nothing is safe.

Put Safety First When on the Ice

A Minimum of Four Inches of Clear Ice is Safe for Anglers on Foot. The NYS DEC is reminding ice anglers to use caution and common sense as ice fishing gets into high gear across much of New Yor State.

Four inches or more of solid ice is safe for anglers accessing ice on foot. Ice anglers should note that ice thickness can vary on everybody of water and even on the same body of water.

Anglers should be particularly wary of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice buildup.

The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be considered as evidence of safe ice conditions. Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk. Testing the thickness of ice can be done easily with an auger or ice spud at various spots.

“Ice fishing is a popular sport in New York and interest in it increases every year,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Safety is the first thing to consider when taking part in the sport, and we remind people to use good judgement when venturing onto the ice. Ice fishing is great for families looking to try something new, and parents can mix in skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or other activities during ice fishing trips to keep everyone interested and happy.”

Feb. 19 and 120 have been designated as a free fishing weekend. The requirement for a fishing license is waived during this period. The free fishing weekend is a great opportunity to try ice fishing for the first time and for experienced anglers to introduce their friends to the sport.

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

Orleans County Sportfishing Coordinator Ron Bierstine:

Addy B steelhead
Come on out in the high cool winter flows for fresh steelhead! Courtesy of Addy B.

Considering that January is usually a bit of an in-between time frame – after the fall salmon/brown trout action and before spring steelhead, the few guys out taking advantage of the weather and flows are doing pretty good. The fair action now is hopefully a good sign for action yet to come thru Feb/Mar. Let’s hope the weather keeps serving up the so-far good fishing chances! Some crimson males and brighter hens are what anglers are finding nearer the dam and also in the overflow channel.

Jan S. steelhead
Colorful, chunky male steelhead – winter time action on the Oak. Courtesy of Jan S.

Flows in the Oak are slowly on the retreat from higher and dirtier flows. And that is part of the formula for steelhead hookups – being on the water after a spate of water. Flows are something like med to slightly high with 1 – 2 ft of visibility. Temps are on the mild side, dropping down some at night and thru today and over the next part of the week we are getting some melt off which should be good for maintenance. Chance of rain mid week and if there is a significant amount of precipitation flows in all the area tribs could be back on the rise and going off color. The other area smaller tribs have med to slightly high flows with slightly stained water color. There is some icing up in spots but there’s still drifting slots to be found. If there’s steelhead in the Oak then more then likely there’s a few slinking up those smaller waterways too.

Oswego County

first steelhead
This angler, from NJ, braved the cold temperatures to catch her very first steelhead this week.

Salmon River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The water levels on the Salmon River have increased with all of rain we received this week.

This will lead to changes in where the steelhead will be holding. With the river temps hovering right at freezing, the increase in flow will have the steelhead moving to the edges. So, we recommend concentrating on the slow seams and inside edges.

Egg sacs have been the primary bait of choice. White, pink, and blue, have been the most consistent colors. Don’t be afraid to tie a purple and red this time of year; you might be pleasantly surprised by the choice. Other good baits are pink worms, jigs and the occasional bead. Fished under a float these baits have been producing plenty of action.

Fly anglers have been finding success running stoneflies in a variety of colors, especially copper, blue and chartreuse. An egg sucking leech or woolly bugger, in black or olive, has been productive too.

lower Oswego River
The above photo depicts the lower Oswego River (taken last season). If you want to share a photo with Oswego County Tourism, please tag us on Facebook.

Oswego River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The fishing on the Oswego has been challenging as of late. The water is very dirty and on the rise. But there has been a steady bite off the high wall.
We recommend fishing the slow edges along the shore with egg sacs and jigs. And take your time.

As the water rises, the harbor fishing really takes off. Bucktail jigs and swim baits on jig heads are the best presentations. White, white chartreuse, and natural color baits are typically best. Along with swim baits, blade baits also take a good number of fish. As the water “colors up” don’t be afraid to throw some brighter baits.

Tight lines everyone!

Steelhead fishing on the Salmon River
Watch the video: CLICK HERE

Steelhead Fishing on the Legendary Salmon River

Let this be your year to experience the legendary waters of the Salmon River, long regarded as one of North America’s premier steelhead destinations!

It only takes one light tackle hook-up for you to understand why they are called Steelhead. Anglers from around the world will tell you that these underwater lightning bolts do more than steal your bait. By the time they have had their way with you, they’ll have stolen your heart and soul. Whether heading upstream for a fall feeding frenzy or dropping back to Lake Ontario in the spring, these 5-10 lb. “chromers” will give you the freshwater fight that brings you back for more.

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.

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