Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- March 30, 2023

Matt Vogt steelhead

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

One of the good things that happened this week despite the weather is that the New York Power Authority Fishing Platform and the other NYPA fish facilities have opened for the season, ahead of the traditional April 1 schedule. It gives fishermen access to a prime section of the lower Niagara River. It also opens up the NYPA reservoir off Upper Mountain Road in Lewiston and the water intakes area along the upper Niagara River along the Niagara Scenic Parkway. Should we receive some bad weather, check the NYPA hotline at 286-6662 to see if the platform is open.

Mike Ziehm steelhead
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls hit the gorge area of the lower Niagara River and caught some steelhead despite tough conditions.

Unfortunately, the Niagara River looks like a mud bath after the recent wind and rain and many people have stayed away. Not Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls. He hit the shoreline on Tuesday and managed to catch five steelheads or more using his homemade pink and white No. 5 spinners. The cleanest water he could find was 2 feet of visibility, good enough for him to hook up. Some guys don’t even want to give it a try when the water is murky. The go-to back-up plan for Mark Plennert of Niagara Falls is to hit some of the tributaries off Lake Ontario. Little white jigs have been working for him recently, part of a learning curve to fish the streams. Matt Vogt of Newfane has been picking his days to hit the tributaries, with many of the streams high and stained due to the rain and snow melt.

Mark Plennert
Mark Plennert of Niagara Falls hit some of the tributaries off Lake Ontario to catch some nice trout like this one.

Since the weather started to break, more and more people have been hitting the tribs. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the regulations. Minimum length for steelhead in the tributaries is 25 inches and only one steelhead and one brown trout each may be kept if you are keeping any. There are seasonal tributary regulations in places like 18 Mile Creek from the Route 18 bridge to Burt Dam, but that ends on April 1. Should you see anyone violating the fish and game laws while afield or on the water, call 844-DEC ECOS and report it.

A few anglers have hit the lake including Capt. John Oravec of Troutman. He caught some browns trolling the shoreline but conditions were difficult. The best is yet to come. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports Burt Dam has been high and muddy, but a few fish are being caught on jigs, beads and egg sacs. Some perch action was reported in Olcott Harbor, so you could assume that if there is clear water around, you should find perch in Wilson, too.

Matt Vogt steelhead
Matt Vogt of Newfane shows off one of the tributary trout he caught recently off Lake Ontario.

Hyde Park Lake and Oppenheim Park Pond will be stocked with trout the week of April 3. We don’t know the day. At Oppenheim Park in Wheatfield, there will be 200 rainbow trout and 100 2-year old brown trout at 12 inches and larger. At Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls, there will be 1,700 brown trout and 200 of the two year old browns. Remember that the Niagara County Bullhead Tournament is April 14th to the 16th. Best two fish win. Cost is $10 for ages 13 and older. Kids 12 and under are free. Contact Eric at 628-6078 for details.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

There was some calm water last week, however the weekend blows kept everyone off Lake Ontario. The browns are there in stained water close to shore. Lake level is now 245.9 which is great for opening any of the smaller streams.


Most steelies have entered the lake. There are some browns in the Pultneyville harbor. Try Salmon Creek, across from the restaurant.

Some smaller rainbows have been caught in Glenmark Creek in the town of North Rose. Use bright red bait.

Lake Ontario tributary regulations:

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


The perch were scattered in Sodus Bay. Be prepared to move around because they are schooling this time of year and you need to search for them.

Try the drop offs near the islands and over on the east side next to the Bonnie Castle B &B. (There is a sign along the shore.)

Use white 2-inch rubber minnows or Charlie Brewer Crappie Sliders White 1.5 inch with chartreuse tail.
Tip your bait with perch eyes or fresh spikes.

The Port Bay water temperature is 39 degrees which is a little cold for bullhead action at the south end.

The perch have been in 20 fow and will hit white Berkely Power Bait 2-inch minnows or Berkley Gulp.

Just like Sodus Bay you have to move around to find schooling perch.

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.

Erie Canal

Some crappies were caught in Clyde near the launch site. The current has slowed enough to safely put-in a boat.
Widewaters is another perfect place to launch a boat. This Wayne County Park has plenty parking spots for trailers.

You can also shore cast near the locks along Route 31. Crappies are also hitting under the Port Gibson Bridge. Use small bright jigs tipped with spikes.
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

Kings and steelhead stocking in Orleans County

Orleans County Sportfishing Coordinator Ron Bierstine:

Spring means pen rearing time for both Kings and steelhead. This Saturday, the salmon and steelhead pens will be assembled with fish anticipated to arrive from NYSDEC next week for their one month or so rearing in the Oak Orchard. Volunteers needed for help this Saturday at 9 AM and for feed and care after that. Pens will be assembled and will soak at Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina. Many thanks for all the help that the marina has given for pen rearing help.

Trib flows all around on a slow drop for this mid week period after the past weekend precipitation. Emphasis on slow. There were some showers thru yesterday. Chance of more rain/snow showers later Wednesday and precipitation again for end of week ending in… you guessed it – wind again! Seems like we can’t shake the every weekend wind advisory forecasts. So we’ll have to wait and see how much precipitation is realized out of the upcoming forecast and if it will mean flows holding steady or going back up high and off color. Either way it seems unlikely that trib flows in the near term will be approaching anything like low and clear or even medium and slightly stained. Look for at a minimum slightly high and stained.

Flows in the Oak are high and dirty. Overflow levels are just about diminished again and it still looks like a full head of turbine water. Water color is about 1 foot of visibility with still lots of stained water upstream in Lake Alice. Fishing pressure looks light with just a handful of cars parked at the access spots. Without that ripping overflow water now and as visibility goes on the positive side of one foot, guys should be able to make some productive drifts. Look for some fish to be set up in gravel spots and/or adjacent holes. The other area smaller tribs have slightly high flows trying to ease back toward medium with 1 – 2 ft of visibility. Its likely going to be a hunt and peck scenario there with a mix of drop back browns/steelhead and a few fresh steelhead.

All that same wind that has been making the weekend conditions challenging is likewise making the near shore open Lake action tough at times too. Acres and acres of mud won’t allow for narrowing down the trolling or casting spots. But on the backside of the windy days like about now for this mid week period you can target the green water or mud lines. When boat anglers or casters have intercepted that tasty water there have been some browns hooked up.

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

  • Salmon River: beads have become the go to bait as of late, with the pink worm a close second.
  • Oswego River: flows have dropped.
  • Lake Ontario: concentrate on the 5 to 20 feet of water, running stickbaits and spoons off of boards.
  • Consider booking a guide or charter. Click Here for our full list..
  • Order a free fishing guide
Patrick H. spring steelhead
Patrick H. landed this spring steelhead with a CTA on a Trick’em bead and Pautzke Fire Gel!

Salmon River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The water has remained at a steady 750 this week. But with heavy rain forecasted, Friday through Saturday, we expect things to change.

Beads have become the go to bait as of late, with the pink worm a close second. The egg sac bite has started to slow down.

We should see some excellent fishing over the next few weeks. But the key to the game right now is patience. Work the water you’re in hard, but don’t be afraid to keep moving to find fish.

Oswego River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

Oswego River saw a huge drop today from the high levels that we’ve been seeing most of the winter. The new flow makes the situation very conducive to wading.

Oswego hasn’t seen much pressure over the last few weeks. But it’s a great fishery in mid to late spring. As the warm weather moves in, the smallmouth start showing up in good numbers.

Lauren P. brown trout
Lauren P., of West Springfield Mass. landed this big brown fishing with Chasin’ Tail Adventures.

Lake Ontario

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The lake season has kicked off with a bang – plenty of brown trout around the waters of Lake Ontario out of both Mexico and Oswego.

Concentrate on the 5 to 20 feet of water, running stickbaits and spoons off of boards. Flat lines, and one and two color leadcores have been the most productive.

The recent wind had lead to colored water. This means that bright baits have been best. Chartreuse is our color of choice as of late.

Tight Lines!


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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