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

Ray Seigel steelhead
Ray Seigel of Connecticut had a banner day at the end of last week on the lower river fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. Here he is with a steelhead.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

Today is the final day of walleye, northern pike, pickerel, and inland musky seasons. Keep that in mind as you head out on the water this week.

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls was back at it over the weekend in the mornings, casting spinners and jigs in the Niagara Gorge from shore. Water in the Niagara River was super clear with visibility nearly 7-foot in places. He caught all his trout on a pink and white mix of homemade No. 4 spinners and white bucktail jigs. The best bite is daybreak through 11 a.m. The bite gets slow after that. Capt. Joe Srouji of Angler Edge reports that water conditions were good of late, and fish were active despite the north winds recently. There was great steelhead action with brown trout and walleye mixed in. His charters took fish on minnows and eggs, including multiple double headers over the course of two days of fishing. North winds naturally slowed them down, so he was able to stay off his bow mount trolling motor and just drift with the current. Key to success was monitoring his electronics as fish moved deeper in the water column. Trout were found throughout the river, from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar. Even a surprise Coho salmon showed up on the Bar this past week, meaning spring isn’t very far off. Water temperature on Tuesday in the lake and river was 37 degrees. The ice boom at the head of the river off Buffalo is now out for 2023.

Brandon and Katlyn Davis  lake trout and steelhead
Brandon and Katlyn Davis of Rochester (brother and sister) show off a lake trout and steelhead they caught in the lower Niagara River fishing with Capt. Ryan Shea of Brookdog Fishing Company.
Matt Vogt steelhead
Matt Vogt of Newfane caught a few steelhead targeting the smaller tributaries off Lake Ontario using hair jigs.

Tanner Niezgoda of Newfane reported he was just at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek on Monday, and it was slower compared to last week. Water levels are up with the melt off in creeks like 18 Mile. Color is probably 3-5 inches of visibility, so in his opinion, perfect. Jigs, sacs, and beads all seem to be working. There still seems to be a low volume of fish for this time of year. Possible rain on Friday could bring in fresh steelhead. Matt Vogt of Newfane reports that he has been drifting a little bit in the smaller streams and action has been pretty good. Burt Dam has slowed a bit. Hair jigs were working best on the smaller tributaries. Don’t rule out casting the piers for trout and an occasional Coho with spoons, spinners or stickbaits.

Phil Seigel lake trout
Phil Seigel of Connecticut had a banner day at the end of last week on the lower river fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. Here he is with a lake trout.

The 10th Annual Niagara County Bullhead Tournament is less than a month away, set to begin April 14 at 5 p.m. and run thru April 16 at 1 p.m. Weigh in is at the Wilson Conservation Club. Age 13 and older is a $10 registration fee. Children 12 and under are free. For more information call Eric at 716-628-6078.

Tanner Niezgoda steelhead
Tanner Niezgoda of Newfane with a big steelhead he caught in 18 Mile Creek this past week.
Troy, Wayne and Richie steelhead triple
Troy, Wayne and Richie from Carmel, NY show off a steelhead triple in the lower river while fishing with Joe Srouji of Angler Edge.

Congratulations are in order for some fishing-related awards winners named by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs this past week. Mike Fox of Youngstown was named the Pinky Robinson Memorial Award winner for dedication to the Great Lakes Fishery after his work on the pen rearing projects in the Niagara River and his years on the Niagara County Fisheries Development Board. Capt. Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston was added to the Don Bronson Memorial Conservation Wall of Fame in Lockport. They will be honored at the March 25th dinner at the Brookside in Newfane along with many other awards winners. Call Chris Schotz at 260-7462 for more information.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


The steelhead are in the streams, however a “nor-easter is wrapping its delightful snowfall in our face. Wayne County will receive wet snow around 5 to 7 inches.

For the rest of the week it will be clear so…cast out egg sacs in Salmon Creek in Pultneyville and Maxwell Creek in Sodus. Lake Ontario water level is perfect to keep all channels open letting the steelhead come and go from the lake.

Lake Ontario tributary regulations:

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


We are not getting any cooperation with weather patterns for fishing the bays. Ice fishing was a bust and now we have March storms and colder temperatures making slush on the bays.

The only good news this week is that the perch, crappies, bluegills, bass, and pike are still in the bays. They have not left so keep calm and prepare your gear for springtime fishing.

Pike season ends tomorrow March 15th and resumes May 1st.

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 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

The slush on Widewaters is not the best sight. Just like our bays, the canal needs warmer weather.

The New York State Canal Corporation recently announced that, conditions permitting, all portions of the New York State Canal system are scheduled to open Friday, May 19, 2023, at 7:00 a.m. for the 199th consecutive season of navigation.

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

steelhead in the Oak

Orleans County Sportfishing Coordinator Ron Bierstine:

No major impacts expected here on the WNY south shore of Lake Ontario from the Nor’easter. The major snow accumulations are expected east of here with maybe 1 – 3 inches from the wrap-around Lake Effect Snow thru tonight. A cold NW wind is expected today and thru some of tomorrow and then another slight warm up thru the end of week with high 40’s°F forecast. Flows all around like in the Oak and area smaller tribs are mostly being maintained at about medium flows with slightly stained water color going toward clear. The end of week warmup may again get some run-off rolling bumping flows back up to slightly high with more color to the water. On one of these spates of water or some future blow out, hopefully, we’ll see more fresh steelhead action. Looks like for now we are living off the numbers of earlier run fish (when it was milder) that are mostly staged up nearer the dam on the Oak and a few fresh fish trickling in thru downstream areas. A future warm up along with high and off color flows will tell the tale if spring steelhead are still queued up waiting to move upstream. There’s light fishing pressure all around. Expect to work the fast water sections on the Oak thoroughly or other smaller tribs for a few steelhead hookups or some silver browns. Check out the pretty steelhead caught from the Oak this past weekend in the pic above. Just a few suckers in the Oak for now. The mild winter that has turned into a cold and snowy spring might have the typical Feb/Mar action shifted more toward Mar/Apr or even later, so we’ll have to wait and see what the weather and future high water flows may dish out.

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

Driftwater fishing steelhead in the snow
Driftwater fishing braved the weather this week, and was rewarded!

Salmon River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The water on the Salmon River has remained at a constant level for a few weeks. It is currently flowing at 350, which affords bank anglers access to many of the major holes. But, being March, the fishing has become very sporadic.

Look for fish near gravel areas. There has been signs of spawning fish but most are still holding in the deeper pools and holes close to the gravel.

The pink worms have been working great! Egg sacs and the occasional bead have been productive too. Fished under a float, these baits have been producing plenty of action. “Glo-Roe,” “Onta-Roe,” “All-in,” and “Tangerine” have all been producing. Blue, white and pink eggs have been working too.

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.

Colin B.
Colin B., of Rome NY, found success off “the wall” on the Oswego River.

Oswego River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

Anglers have been finding active fish up the west side of the Oswego River. Recent flows have resulted in great levels to fish off the wall. With these 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.

With only a week left in the walleye season don’t be afraid to get down there and give it a shot. Bucktails and swim baits in white, black or natural colors are your best bet.


Save the Date

The Awakening Angler YouTube Channel and O.M.F. Events/ Limp Lizard BBQ have partnered together to carry on the Central New York tradition of the Chittenango Lions Club opening weekend Walleye Derby on Oneida Lake.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *