Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- March 23, 2023
Greater Niagara Region
Niagara River fishing is on hold for a few days due to recent wind and rain, creating a muddy mess. Action had been good for trout up to Thursday of last week, but then some nasty weather took over. More rain is in the forecast for this week, but it should start to clear by the weekend if not before. Previously, steelhead and lake trout could be found upriver toward Devil’s Hole and along Artpark; downriver it was lake trout and brown trout. Minnows, egg sacs and plugs like MagLips and Kwikfish were all producing fish. Some of the captains have been marking pods of bait in the river and in all likelihood, it is smelt. Water temperature is 38 degrees so when that water gets a bit warmer, don’t be surprised if the smelt move closer to the shoreline. Shore casters can still use spoons, spinners, jigs, egg sacs or egg imitations to take trout before the boaters when waters start to clear.
When the river fishing is down, many anglers turn to the local tributaries off Lake Ontario. Larry Garabedian of Niagara Falls hit the streams on Tuesday and managed to catch some nice trout in the smaller streams on egg sacs. Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek is always an option, as are the piers off Wilson and Olcott. Trout and the occasional Coho salmon are available for casters this time of year.
April 1st is the regular inland trout stream opener for New York. Trout stockings began this past week in the Region 9 waters of Western New York. The Randolph Fish Hatchery has a stocking hotline number that can be accessed at 358-2050 if you want to find out where and when trout will be stocked. All of these inland waters are currently open to catch-and-release trout fishing throughout the region. This is not to be confused with the fishing that is available in Great Lakes tributaries off Erie and Ontario. Those areas do not have seasonal restrictions. If you are wondering about Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield or Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls, the inside word is that they will be stocked the week of April 3rd. They won’t narrow things down any more than that. April 1st is also when the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association will begin its work party for putting the pens together for salmon and trout. Meet at the Town of Newfane Marina at 9:30 a.m. and bring wire cutters.
Finally, the 10th Annual Niagara County Bullhead Tournament will begin at 5 p.m. on April 14 and run through 1 p.m. on April 16. No boats. Best 2 bullheads win cash prizes for adults 13 and over. Entry is $10. Kids 12 and under are free for merchandise prizes. Call Eric at 628-6078 for more info.
Wayne County Fishing Update
Some of the smaller boats are catching browns, trolling 20 fow next to the mouth of Maxwell Creek. They are using the same procedure as the charter boats. The “big boats” usually start the season in early April.
Use planer boards if you have them and use stickbaits trolling close to shore. The browns will hit if the water is colored and you start early in the day.
Steelhead are still being caught at Salmon Creek. Maxwell has brown trout.
Don’t forget the smaller tribs. There is an excellent flow in all streams.
Some smaller rainbows have been caught in Glenmark Creek in the town of North Rose.
Lake Ontario tributary regulations:
Three fish in combination and not to include more than one Rainbow Trout (or Steelhead) and One Brown Trout.
The angling business is open for all the bays in the county. The perch are hitting in 20 fow between Newark and Eagle Island. Use perch eyes or white 2-inch shad bait.
Perch are also being caught out from the old trestle. You can also catch them near the breach at the north end of Sodus.
It’s the same good news at Port Bay. Launch at the south end at the DEC site or the north end ramp. Both sites are off West Port Bay Road.
The perch are schooling around 20 fow off Graves and Tompkins Point.
Some crappies and perch were caught today, fishing off the bridge at Bay Bridge Sport Shop.
Bullhead season is near…. we just need the continued warmer temperatures to start the season.
Pike season ended 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.
The canal current is high and muddy, so if you are casting near the locks use caution. Some anglers were fishing the shoreline on the north side of Widewaters, probably hoping for some bluegills and crappies.
The water flow next to the Clyde Ramp is fast and muddy. Wait till the current calms before launching a boat.
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 Sportfishing Coordinator Ron Bierstine:
For now, flows all around are hanging in at around high and stained, and could go back up in the near term based on the forecast. We are back to warm temps at least thru the mid week so after the previous few days of below freezing temps where runoff was tempered – now, runoff is ramped back up again at least for the remaining snow and ponded water left in protected areas. Rain around half an inch is forecast on Thursday that, if realized, will bring flows back up toward blown and dirty. For now flows in the Oak are high and dirty with just less then a foot of visibility. Overflow levels are diminished so it looks like we are left with wide open turbine flows. There are a few guys fishing primarily nearer the dam with unknown results but if the drift can be slowed down enough there should be the chance for hookups on fresh steelhead.
The other area smaller tribs are probably offering up their best chance at fishable conditions about now before flows may go higher and dirtier. Flows for now are slightly high and slightly stained with about 1 foot of visibility. Look for fresh fish to be well distributed thru the smaller waterways. Drifting chances all around will have to contend with high-ish and off colored water for now and in the near term. It may take brake shot float techniques, old school pencil lead spin drifts or heavy dead drift fly drifts to put you in the game right now while the worst of the spring runoff runs it course.
Pier head and lakeshore casting chances should be coming on more consistently now. Brown trout are the primary focus for land lubbers and small boat casters and trollers alike. Look for the best chances when semi stained or green near shore waters are on the backside of windy conditions. Serious rec boats and charters will be shaking down in earnest now – targeting the tasty green near shore waters for the first trolling passes of the new season.
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.
- Water levels on the Salmon River have risen (as high as 1200).
- Some anglers have made their way onto Lake Ontario, but with mixed success.
- The Oswego River is very difficult to fish this week.
- Consider booking a guide. Click Here for our full list..
- Order a free fishing guide
Click Here of the 10 day Forecast
The water on the Salmon River has been on the rise this week. From 350 on Monday to 1200 as of Thursday. With more rain on the way, don’t be surprised if it goes up more.
The water is still cold, so concentrate on the slow edges. There have been signs of spawning fish, but most are still holding in the deeper pools and holes close to the gravel.
Pink worms continue to work well. Egg sacs are still producing plenty of fish too. But it’s the bead bite has really started to take off. Fished under a float, these baits have been producing plenty of action. “Glo-Roe,” “Reel Deal,” “No Name,” and “Muskegon Madness” have all been producing. Blue, peach, and pink eggs have been the best lately.
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.
Click Here of the 10 day Forecast
After the widespread nor’easter last week, followed by 1” of rain on Friday the Oswego River has been a high, muddy mess! Very few anglers have been trying their luck.
Just a reminder that New York State walleye season is now closed. It will open back up on May 1st.
Click Here of the 10 day Forecast
The lake season is quickly approaching. In fact, a few excited anglers have already made their way out onto the waters of Lake Ontario. They have been greeted with mixed results, which is common for March. Fishing should only get better as the water continues to warm up and more browns move inshore.
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.
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