Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- February 16, 2023

Spencer Durrant "trout trilogy"
Spencer Durrant of Wyoming completed his lower river “trout trilogy”.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

The Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is finally here, a pure fishing trade show at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. It starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. There is still plenty of time to take advantage of over 200 seminars that go hand in hand with the price of admission. Check out for details.

Gary Laidman walleye
Gary Laidman of South Wales caught this big walleye fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island this week.

Steve Haak steelhead
Steve Haak of South Wales caught this steelhead in the lower river fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli.

Despite the marginal conditions, Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island decided to give it a go yesterday with Gary Laidman and Steve Haak, both of South Wales, in the lower Niagara River yesterday. They managed to catch steelhead and walleye – pink egg sacs for steelhead on Artpark and large Emerald shiners for walleyes. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports a few anglers are catching trout from shore along Artpark using jigs, beads, and spinners, but you must work for them. Add Kwikfish to the list of options for boaters. With the wind and rain in the forecast, you are better off attending the Fishing Expo in Niagara Falls. Over the weekend, Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston had a writer in town, Spencer Durrant of Wyoming, who wanted to try some fly fishing. That didn’t work out due to the conditions, but they did manage to find a small area of clear water on the Niagara Bar and Durrant reeled in a personal best brown trout on a minnow. He also completed the river trout trilogy by catching a steelhead and lake trout in Devil’s Hole on a MagLip plug to help salvage the day. Things were starting to clear up on Monday, but a slight wind muddied the water again. It doesn’t take much. With more high winds in the forecast today and rain on Thursday, the Niagara Falls Convention Center may be your best bet for the next four days.

Jordan DiVirgilio lake trout
Jordan DiVirgilio of North Tonawanda caught this lake trout while fishing with Capt. Ryan Shea of Brookdog Fishing Company while fishing the lower river this week.
Matt Vogt steelhead
Matt Vogt of Newfane caught this steelhead in 18 Mile Creek near Burt Dam.

Drabczyk did note that many of the shore fishing guys who like to target the river have been heading to area tributaries for trout after last week’s rain. Jigs fished under a float have been hot. Matt Vogt of Newfane has been hitting 18 Mile Creek and picking up some steelhead and brown trout. For him, trout fishing has been exceptional this winter. The Burt had some really nice color last week, but the big rain blew it out for the weekend. He has been getting away from eggs more with each outing. Feather jigs have been the best for Vogt this winter. Adjust the color of your jig to the water clarity.

Just a reminder that this weekend is also the first Free Fishing Weekend of the year in New York, both Saturday and Sunday. Remember that you must abide by the regulations for the body of water you intend to fish. Another big event this weekend is the Birds on the Niagara Festival that will run from Friday through Monday. There is a new website at to find out all the details on this event that is truly for the birds.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


Action on the streams has been better with Maxwell having an excellent flow. The steelhead are hitting on both sides of Lake Road. Current is fast so use some of your heavier terminal gear.
Egg sacs are still the best choice or use anything bright. Fish during the week for less crowds.

Lake Ontario tributary regulations:

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


We have two “good news” and one “bad news” for the bays.
Number one good news is the perch are still in the bays, especially Sodus Bay. The bad news is there is no safe ice anywhere…even the smaller ponds. With temps soaring to 60 degrees tomorrow all the bays will have open water.
Number two good news…you can launch your boat and go after the perch and pike. Fish in pairs for safety and be careful with the ramps. All the docks are out so it’s a different situation when launching. Don’t slip and fall.

Perch have been in 20 to 30 fow. They are also schooling off the points in Port Bay. They tend to congregate based on size, so if your catching small fish move to find the “Thumpers.”

When you launch your boat… remember 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.

Bait for ice fishing 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

Widewaters will have open water by mid-week. Launch your boat at the Wayne County Park west of Newark on Route 31. Don’t forget the water temps, which can be deadly if you fall overboard.

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

Mark Musser steelhead
While fishing the oak this past weekend, Mark Musser landed this big 30-inch steelhead with a lamprey wound.

Orleans County Sportfishing Coordinator Ron Bierstine:

Flows in the Oak are clearing slowly and hanging in somewhere between medium and slightly high. Water color has improved to about 1 plus feet of visibility. Upstream swamp headwater supplies seem brim full so look for flows to be pretty well maintained and on a continued slow clearing. Any future precipitation could raise flows and bring back dirty water color. So for now the drifting and swinging conditions look pretty good. So far we are probably looking at some fish from earlier higher water and new fish trickling in on medium-ish flows instead of one bigger batch of fish on a blowout event. Stay tuned though for any future high water that could really perk things up. The other area smaller tribs have medium flows and slightly stained water color. Good drifting and swinging chances there too with warming water temps and the chance for some fresh fish. There could be fresh steelhead, fresh silver browns or drop back fish. Water temps for now are already in the the high 30’s°F on the Oak and probably going higher with the forecasted warmup thru the end of this week. Chance of rain and colder temps and windy conditions for the end of the week but back to relatively mild temps again by the weekend. Fishing pressure is over-the-all pretty light and manageable. With no real winter to come out of and trib and open lake water temps all on the warmer side, who knows for sure how the steelhead gods will play things out over the next couple months?!

Check out Orleans County at the Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo from February 16 – 19, 2023. After a couple of Covid years hiatus, the show will be back bigger and better then ever! If it’s Great Lakes trout, salmon, walleye, bass/pike fishing and tackle info you’re interested in you’ll find it at the show. There’s a big emphasis on seminars and teaching and also a fly fishing component on Friday February 17. See you there! Click here for more information.

Upcoming Sport Shows

Orleans County will be attending the following sport shows. Stop by and pick up our brochures, meet our reps and get excited about the trib fishing and upcoming open Lake fishing.


  • Feb. 16 – 19 , 2023 – Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo, Niagara Falls, NY
  • March 4 – 5, 2023 – West Virginia Fishing, Hunting & Outdoor Sports Show – Morgantown, WV (NEW for 2023)
  • March 10 – 12, 2023 – WNY Sport Show – Hamburg, NY

Oswego County

  • High water on the Salmon River has led to some tricky fishing.
  • We have seen quite a few anglers running side planers and plug combos this winter, with great success!
  • On the Oswego, when the water is up, the harbor fishing takes off!
  • Consider booking a guide. Click Here for our full list..
  • Order a free fishing guide
Kayla E. smallmouth bass
Kayla E., of Oneonta, shows off her massive smallmouth. It was estimated to weight about 6 lbs.

Angler Hauls un One Big Bass On the North Shore of Oneida Lak

Read the Article on “NY UP”

The weather was just right for a nice Sunday afternoon of ice fishing on Oneida Lake. Not too cold, not too windy. So Kayla Eramo, of Oneonta, and her boyfriend Zach Taylor pitched their shack on the north shore and settled in. Read More

Karl T. steelhead
Karl T., of Sandy Pond holds up a steelhead with “gunmetal” colloration. Karl is a regular on the River.

Salmon River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The water on the Salmon River has been low for the last week. This has led to some great fishing. But with the warm weather moving in and a chance of up to an inch of rain, things could change.

The steelhead have been holding in the slower, deep pools with river temps hovering just above freezing. So take your time to generate bites in the deepest and slowest holes.

Egg sacs have been the primary bait of choice with blue, white, and purple being the most consistent colors. Don’t be afraid to throw in a peach or red. But make sure you have blue, it seems to be the golden ticket this time of year.

Other good baits are pink worms, jigs and the occasional bead. Fished under a float, these baits have been producing plenty of action. Glo Roe has been taking shots lately. Jigs in white, white-peach and pink-white have all been producing as well.

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

Andy M brown trout
Andy M., of Massachusetts, landed this brown trout on the lower Oswego River, fishing with Blue Line Adv.

Oswego River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The fishing on the Oswego has start to pick up! Anglers have been finding active fish up the west side of the river.

Water conditions have really improved with a nice drop and clearing. Unfortunately, this next rain event will likely push us right back to high and dirty water.

Overall, we recommend fishing the slow edges along the shore with egg sacs and jigs. As the water “colors up” don’t be afraid to throw some brighter baits.

With the lower flows, the high wall started fishing well again. White jigs and variations with a white base have been the best, along with bright beads.

Also note that when the water is up, the harbor fishing really takes off. Bucktail jigs and swim baits on jig heads are the best presentations. White and white chartreuse and natural color baits are typically best. Along with swim baits, bladebaits also take a good number of fish.

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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