Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- February 23, 2023

Megan Plete Postol walleye
Megan Plete Postol of Remsen (NY) caught this personal best walleye fishing with Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

Anglers continue to be at the mercy of Mother Nature as more inclement weather is in the forecast for this week. Once again, wind and rain could have a negative impact on the Niagara River. However, rain could positively impact the tributaries of Lake Ontario as they are currently a bit low and clear in the smaller streams. Matt Vogt of Newfane tried his luck over the weekend on 18 Mile Creek and water conditions were low with a greenish hue that seemed clear. He could see fish but catching them was a different story. Rain will help since there is very little to no snow melt due to the mild winter.

Mark Musser found several cooperative steelhead in the tributaries this week.

Mike Ziehm steelhead
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a big 15-pound steelhead he caught this week in the gorge of the lower Niagara River.

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls finally made it out on the river from shore this week and scored on some big steelhead up to 15 pounds using his homemade No. 5 spinners. Best colors were combinations of whites, pinks, oranges, and chartreuse. He found visibility in the gorge from 1-1/2 to 2 feet of water. What the wind and rain will do to those conditions this week is anyone’s guess.

Dan Amundson steelhead
Dan Amundson of Minnesota with a chunky steelhead he caught during a recent filming out of Lewiston.

The Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers sent a group of media folks in to fish the lower Niagara River recently and overall, they did well considering the poor water conditions. The cinematography team of Brett and Dan Amundson of Minnesota filmed with local captains Nick Calandrelli and Frank Campbell of Lewiston. They managed to hook up with four lake trout and four steelhead and lost several others one day under less-than-ideal conditions. A mix of minnows and pink egg sacs did the trick for some decent footage. Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston had some success with Josh Lantz of Michigan and Matt Crawford of Vermont on the same baits. Most of the fish landed on day one was from the Devil’s Hole area. Capt. Richard Brant of North Tonawanda was able to produce some walleye and brown trout to finish off the Niagara Slam for the Amundson duo on the second day. Mark Smith of Indiana landed a few nice fish and Megan Plete Postol of Remsen (NY) landed a personal best walleye with Calandrelli on day two. All the fish on day two came on minnows and mostly south of Lewiston reports Campbell.

Josh Lantz steelhead
Josh Lantz of Michigan with a lower river steelhead he caught during a media event last week.
Mark Smith with a lower river lake trout
Writer Mark Smith of Indiana with a lower river lake trout he caught last week.

The Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding its winter Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest on Saturday, Feb. 25 with a few changes to invite more participation. You do not have to be a member of the NRAA to sign up. It will be held from sunrise to 2 p.m. Eligible waters include the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario, as well as the tributaries of Lake Ontario. Entry fee is $25 for the contest plus $5 for the biggest brown trout. If you fish from a boat, remember that everyone on board must all be entered. Sign up the morning on the contest at Lewiston Landing adjacent to the launch ramp, where the fish will be weighed in. For more information contact Frank Campbell at 523-0013. Next weekend is the 33rd annual Antique fishing tackle show on March 4th. It will be held at the Elk’s Lodge on North Canal Road in Lockport from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $5.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


The current in Maxwell Creek has slowed and there are pockets and pools where steelhead are hiding. Use fresh eggs or bright flies and jigs.

You can also fish Salmon Creek in Pultneyville. Access is limited; however you can find spots across from the Post Office.

Pier fishing at the Sodus Bay channel has produced steelhead and browns. Be careful of any ice on the pier and bring a long-handled net.

Cast out Little Cleos or other heavy spoons. Keep the color bright.

Lake Ontario tributary regulations:

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


All the bays are clear of ice so it’s now a boat adventure. We use to have safe ice until March…but that was decades ago.
Port Bay is all open water and there are two ramps to launch. Currently the south area has a new ramp and the north end launch works. Both roads to the launch are very bumpy. There are no docks in so use caution and fish in pairs for safety.

The perch are off the points in water 15 to 25 feet in Port Bay. Use small jigs and tip them with fresh spikes.

Sodus also has open water. There are slushy sections by LeRoy Island and the very south end of the bay, however most of the bay is ice-free. The best place to launch is Bay Bridge Sport Shop at the south end of the bay.

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

There is no safe ice on the canal. If you want to launch a small boat, the ramp at Widewaters is open. This section of the canal is never drained and has perch, bluegills, and crappies.

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:

Not much precipitation was realized for the past weekend, so all the trib flows are on the drop and clearing for now. Flows in the Oak are about medium and slightly stained with about 2 ft of visibility. The other area smaller waterways are about moderate with water color of about 2+ ft of visibility. Chance of rain/snow showers for the mid part of this week with forecasted mixed bag precipitation of rain, sleet and snow thru the end part of the week. Chance of icing in select areas. It’s a difficult forecast to predict what may happen to trib conditions but any over-the-all colder temps that will come along with the icing or snow should continue the dropping and clearing trend in the waterways to moderate in the Oak and low in the smaller waterways. Look for a good water flow window possibly in the Genesee while the Niagara remains a tough pill thanks to a windy open Lake Erie. If there’s significant rain ahead of or instead of the ice/snow, then trib flows could be on the rise and going off color.

Colder temps could bring back some icing conditions especially in the smaller waterways if lower flows prevail. For now on the Oak, anglers seem to be hooking up on a few steelhead nearest the dam that came along with the higher flows of a few weeks ago mixed in with a handful of fresh fish trickling in thru the downstream fast water. A dropping and clearing water scenario is a contrast for what you’d rather see as rising or high flows for best chances at fresh fish migrations. The brown trout action in nearby tribs that was pretty good is a little slower lately thanks to the lower and clearer flows. Any future rise in flows should perk up the action for fresh fish so we’ll hope the upcoming forecast brings that on either with rain or snow and then melt off. Water temps have flirted with 40°F but should slide back with the forecasted colder weather ahead. There seems to be a stalemate between the open Lake temps and the trib water temps thanks to the relatively mild winter. The next significant rise in flows may bring on some fresh steelhead action thru March.

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.


  • 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

Save the Dates for the Orleans County Open:
June 10-11, 2023

The Orleans County Open will be held on June 10/11 this year. More info will flow in the coming weeks. We will again be running a Pro and an Am division.

Since we developed this event the trout aspect has changed. For the past few years Steelhead have been the “bonus” fish. It’s our belief that it has made anyone who participated a better Steelhead angler. We’re tossing around an idea to make Steelhead the bonus fish on Saturday and Brown Trout the bonus fish on Sunday. You can comment on their Facebook page.

Oswego County

Scott K. steelhead
Scott K., from Massachusetts caught this beauty while fishing with Joe’s Outdoor & Fishing Adventures.

Salmon River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The water on the Salmon River has been lower the last week. Even with the water drop, fishing was tough. With the warm weather this season, many anglers have been enjoying the time outside, leading to larger than usual crowds on the river. But with the recent turn, this weekend is a good time to get out, if you can brave the elements.

The steelhead have been holding in the slow, deep pools. But we are also starting to see the first signs of spawning fish. So don’t be afraid to spend some time on the holding area closest to know spawning grounds.

Egg sacs have been the primary bait of choice with blue, white and peach being the most popular. 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,” “Onta-Roe,” “All-in,” and “Tangerine” have all been producing. Jigs in white, white-peach and pink-white are other good options.

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

Don’t be afraid to try something different. We have seen quite a few anglers running side planers and plug combos this winter, with great success!

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

Anglers have been finding active fish up the west side of the Oswego River. The water has finally dropped down to wadable levels and a great flow to fish off the wall!

Overall, we recommend fishing the slow pockets with egg sacs, beads and jigs. The best options being: pink, white and peach eggs sacs, beads in bright colors, or jigs with a white base and a variety of bright colors mixed in.

With the lower flows the high wall will continue to be a great place to fish. Slip floats or bottom bouncing beads or egg sacs, or jigs under a float are all techniques that will not disappoint!

When the water drops the harbor fishing might take a dip. But with only a couple weeks left in the walleye season it’s worth a shot! 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 take a good number of fish as well. As the water “colors up” don’t be afraid to throw some brighter baits.

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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