Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- February 9, 2023

Capt. Chris Cinelli steelhead
Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island caught this steelhead in the lower Niagara River this week while drifting a pink egg sac.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

Winter anglers must take advantage of fishing conditions when they become available. You never know how long they will last. For instance, Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island was using pink egg sacs this week when he noticed the water was finally clearing in the lower Niagara River. Fishing with Gary Laidman of South Wales, they managed to reel in some respectable steelhead in the morning with less than ideal conditions. Capt. Rich Brant of North Tonawanda has also been combatting the marginal conditions. Fishing has been good on minnows with chartreuse beads, using the bright color to attract the fish when water color is two feet or less. Thursday will probably be the death of the current conditions with rain and wind arriving to dampen the action. Be ready to jump at a moment’s notice after this round of inclement weather. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston was reporting a murky green color to the water. A few guys were fishing from shore in the gorge with spoons, spinners, eggs, or egg imitations like beads.

Gary Laidman steelhead
Gary Laidman of South Wales caught this lower Niagara River steelhead this week fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island.

Anthony Albano brown trout
Anthony Albano of Missouri caught this brown trout in the lower Niagara River on a minnow, fishing with Capt. Rich Brant of North Tonawanda.
Mike Albano walleye
Mike Albano reeled in this walleye from the lower Niagara River while fishing with Capt. Rich Brant of North Tonawanda.

Over in Wilson Harbor, Matt Vogt of Newfane found some safe ice in the back bay and managed to catch some panfish. It was mostly bluegills and wax worms were the most effective. However, that ice will dissipate with the pending wind and rain on Thursday. The arctic freeze last weekend did its job, but the warming trend will put things right back into the “unsafe” category for hard water anglers. Tanner Niezgoda of Newfane hit 18 Mile Creek this week to catch his first steelhead of the year using an olive-colored jig. Water volume was low, and visibility was about a half-foot mid-week. Options in the tributaries will be good after the rain, but only after you’ve given the streams to settle back down again. Look for the smaller streams to ramp up and attract some fresh fish.

Tanner Niezgoda steelhead
Tanner Niezgoda of Newfane caught his first steelhead of the year this week fishing 18 Mile Creek near Burt Dam. He was using an olive-colored jig.

The Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is only a week, a pure fishing trade show set for Feb. 16 to 19 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. If you want to learn about fish and fishing, this is the show to be at. Last call for a new Walleye Fishing School that still has a few seats available. With over 220 seminars over the course of the four days, you can’t beat the amount of education that is available for all levels of fishing. Check out , for details. Next weekend is also the first Free Fishing Weekend of the year in the state, slated for Feb. 18 and 19. If you want to give ice fishing a try, take a cast in local streams or tributaries, or try drifting the Niagara River from a boat, no fishing license is required. However, you must abide by the regulations for the body of water you intend to fish. Next weekend is also the Birds on the Niagara Festival, set for Feb. 17 to the 20th with lots of in-person birding tours and recommendations on how and where to bird if you want to do things on your own. There is a new website at

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


Not much occurring at the streams. There is open water at Salmon Creek in Pultneyville. A few browns were caught using 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.


Sodus Bay has 4 to 6 inches of solid ice at most spots, however it does vary in thickness straight out from Third Creek. (Shaker Heights)

If you fish near the loop at Sodus Point you can park at Hot Points or Margaretta Road.

They have been catching perch at the “trestle” which is across the street from the old malt storage. Use small jigs and vary the color. Make sure you tip it with perch eyes or spikes.

Some pike were caught at Leroy Island using pike minnows under tip-ups.

Port Bay also has 5 inches of ice, however make sure you spud your way out. Because of our mild winter ice has not been uniform. Perch were being caught off of Tompkins Point Road or on the southeast side of the bay. Stay away from the bubblers near the docks.

Blind Sodus Bay used to be a great ice fishing location; however the barrier bar was breached years ago making the bay unsafe for drilling holes. If you try this embayment stay at the south end where there is safe ice.

If we do lose our ice and 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 has six inches of ice and you can catch blue gills, crappies, perch and some pike. Fishing the canal is an excellent location. It does not have the relentless wind coming off Lake Ontario.

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:

More of the up and down temps that we’ve been experiencing so far this winter. After a quick hit of real cold weather this past weekend, we are back to mild temps that are forecast at least thru this week. Chance of even warmer unseasonable temps for next week. Some rain showers and gloom and breezy conditions today (Tuesday). The showers did not amount to much and there is the chance for more rain showers and wind for the end of the week. Since we are not getting cold temps and/or snow, hopefully we can get rain along with the warm temps to help maintain flows. A big precipitation event that blows out the waterways with a resultant drop down to fishable conditions could be just what we need to kick off spring steelhead action. For now flows in the Oak are moderate – or optimistically almost medium and mostly clear. Good drifts on lighter leads are still scoring some hook ups on some dark and slightly silver fish. There’s no part of the driftable or castable or swingable waterway that is frozen over. The other area smaller tribs have a fair amount of icing. Flows are moderate to medium and slightly stained at least where you might be able to find a slot with open flows to drift. Look for those smaller waterways to open back up again slowly like thru the end of this week or weekend. Flows will likely just open up minus any blow out, as long as there is no significant precipitation.

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

  • The weather has warmed dramatically compared to last week.
  • We recommend fishing the slow edges along the shores (egg sacs and jigs).
  • 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
Jenna and Nate steelhead
Jenna (left) from the Capitol District, and Nate (right) of Moosic PA, both show off big steelhead. Jenna fished with STS Guide Service, and Nate fished with “Guide on the Side.”

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.

Ritchie B of RTB steelhead
Ritchie B., owner of RTB Tackle, shows us how it’s done with this perfect Oswego River specimen.

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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