Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- May 11, 2023

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

James Hall smallmouth bass
James Hall, editor of Bassmaster magazine, holds up a big lower Niagara River smallmouth bass.

What a week! As the weather started to improve, so did the fishing. And as we’ve said time and time again, timing is everything! The outdoor media crew in town saw some incredible catches, from personal best smallmouth bass encroaching on 7 pounds to 12-pound walleyes; from 20-pound lake trout to 20-pound salmon. On top of the regular media part of the Destination Niagara USA group that comes in every spring, Mark and Jake Romanack with Fishing 411 television show also came in for three days of angling action that left their head shaking.

Jake Romanack lake trout
Jake Romanack with Fishing 411 TV caught this big lake trout on the Niagara Bar while filming a show.

Let’s hear right from Mark Romanack himself:

“We caught lake trout and Chinook (salmon) at the ‘Green Can’ on Thursday trolling Mag Lip 3.5 plugs on three-way swivel rigs,” said an excited Mark Romanack. “The action was steady. Friday, we moved out to the ‘Red Can’ fishing east and west along the Niagara Bar (dropoff). We caught Chinook, Coho, and lake trout on Silver Streak Mag Spoons on lead core line. The Yakima SpinFish cut plugs were also good when fished in combination with a 11-inch Pro Troll paddle and downriggers. Saturday, we fished smallmouth (bass) at Buffalo using minnows on three-way rigs by the lighthouse and along the break walls.”

Jake Romanack king salmon
Jake Romanack with Fishing 411 TV caught this 21-pound salmon on the Niagara Bar while filming this week.
Curt Hill of Power Pro and James Hall with Bassmaster Magazine
Curt Hill of Power Pro and James Hall with Bassmaster Magazine show off a pair of chunky smallmouth bass from the upper Niagara River.

Meanwhile, Bassmaster Magazine editor James Hall repeated his 2022 performance using Strike King jerkbaits in both the upper AND lower river with Mark Copley of Strike King and Curt Hill of Power Pro to catch conservatively 50-60 smallmouth bass casting the shoreline.

Dante Gramuglia with Flambeau Outdoors walleye
Dante Gramuglia with Flambeau Outdoors caught this 12-pound walleye fishing for bass in Buffalo Harbor with Capt. Jeff Draper of Grand Island.

Dante Gramuglia with Flambeau Outdoors was casting for bass in Buffalo Harbor when he encountered a personal best 12-pound walleye fishing with Capt. Jeff Draper of Grand Island. He released it. The stories kept coming and Niagara Falls USA will see a fair amount of promotion as a result of these efforts.

Aaron Woods salmon
Aaron Woods of Ransomville caught this salmon in the lower river at Lewiston Landing while casting for walleyes with a Zoom Fluke.

Speaking about good stories, it doesn’t get much better than Aaron Woods of Ransomville and his catch off the Lewiston Landing area as darkness was settling in. Casting a 4-inch Zoom Fluke split tail for walleyes, he hooked into a king salmon! You just never know what you are going to catch.

George Smutko, and his son Kurt with steelhead
George Smutko, 91,of Youngstown and his son Kurt caught this steelhead while bass fishing in the lower river with Capt. Joe Marra of Youngstown.

Age doesn’t matter either. 91-year-old George Smutko of Youngstown with his son Kurt were drifting the lower Niagara River this week with Capt. Joe Marra of Niagara Rainbow Charters targeting smallmouth bass and doing quite well. Their surprise catch was a nice steelhead that hit their offering. Kurt also caught a steelhead from shore casting for bass at his father’s house on the river with a swim bait. Yes, it was a good week.

Matt Wilson of Lewiston was on the lower river this week and caught fish from Artpark all the way to Fort Niagara. If you can get the right wind, you could have a magical day in front of the fort. Walleye were caught on Ned rigs along with the bass with their big ‘eye going 28 inches long.

The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby is on hump day, with only 5 days left. Grand prize leader for the $15,000 dollar check is Chris Gilbert of Michigan with a 23-pound, 3-ounce king he caught out of Wilson. Top lake trout, that will be tough to beat, is a 29-pound, 3-ounce fish reeled in by Andrew Kupferschmid of Kendall while fishing out of Point Breeze. There are several 20-pound lakers on the board from the Niagara Bar. As of Tuesday, not a single 10-pound brown trout had been caught. Check out for the leaderboard. The Wilson Harbor Invitational will be starting up its popular Salmon and Trout Slam, as well as the $1K a Day boat contests on May 13 and they will run through May 19, the day before the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament May 20 and 21. You don’t have to be in the tournament to compete in the other two contests. Contact Kevin Jerge at 863-1001 for more info. On the horizon, the Niagara County Pro-Am Tourney is June 2-3 out of Wilson and Olcott. The postmark deadline to register is May 15 but you still have time to pay in cash up to Memorial Day. Check out for details.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

As of today a 23-king salmon is leading the LOC Spring Derby. The action on the lake continues until this Sunday, May 14th. Current leaderboards are at

The 120 to 250 fow has been busy straight out from Sodus Bay. Steelhead are being caught 20 feet down hitting bright red spoons.
Salmon are hitting 30 to 70 feet down.

The water is clear, so the browns are not along the shoreline. Currently, there is not one brown trout on the LOC leaderboard.

Lakers were 10 feet of the bottom in 130 fow. They will hit cowbells and peanuts off a rigger.

Kings have been biting green spoons. Michigan Stinger Dolphins are just one of the many spoons used.

Lake Ontario water temps in Wayne County waters are currently 48 degrees.


Some pike were caught trolling behind LeRoy Island on Sodus Bay. The weeds are starting to pop-up so casting out spoons will work the best. You can also catch pike with live bait. (Pike minnows)

Perch are still in the bays, however they are smaller. The larger males are already in Lake Ontario.

Rock bass are starting to bite in Port and Sodus Bays. Use live small minnows or go with small bright jigs.

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.

Erie Canal

The water in the canal is still muddy from last week’s rain. The canal opens in a week so fish near the locks. The opening and closing of the gates stirs-up the bottom attracting fish.

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.

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

Orleans County Sportfishing Coordinator Ron Bierstine:

Ava M with Capt. Chris Vogt king salmon
Ava M with Capt. Chris Vogt and her King “contender” that’s entered into the LOC Spring Derby.

Here we are in a stretch of warm, bright, dry, clear, calm weather. Pleasant to fish in for sure! But for open Lake Ontario action we might want some winds to make better water color, especially for near shore brown trout action. In the near term forecast it looks like more of the same weather, so anglers will have to make the best of it. And the general lack of fishing pressure here – thanks to many guys heading west toward the Niagara bar – should help keep local fish in a better biting mood. Some anglers are definitely making the best of it, including Andrew K. who boated the current LOC Derby lake trout leader with a 29.03 pounder fishing out of Point Breeze. Otherwise by most reports of charters and rec guys the King numbers are pretty good by spring standards. Captain Chris from U-Betcha Charters was fishing just this past weekend. He said “the King numbers are good. We had action in 75 – 105 fow and 45 – 75 down.” Fishing straight out from port, more or less, he had a good spoon bite on riggers and a few hits on the junk lines. One of his young anglers, Ava M., pictured below, has a king close to the top in the salmon division and youth award in the LOC Derby. Congrats to the young lady! Two good fish that show not all the action is on the western end!

Oswego County

Liam C king salmon
Liam C., from Sidney Maine holds up a king salmon caught while fishing with Fish Chopper Charters.

Lake Ontario – Mexico, NY

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The lack of big winds this week has led to some clear water conditions. So to find the biggest concentrations of brown trout, we recommend staying near the creek mouths. The 3 main spots have been grindstone, butterfly and the catfish. But Catfish Creek to the the mouth of the Salmon River has been best.
Fish are shallow, in 8-20’ of water. For stick bait colors we recommend black/sil/org, ridin dirty, firetiger and clown. Spoons that have been working are: frostbite, ‘57 Chevy, uv grn glo, Alewife, Lance 2 face, and gold perch

Most anglers are heading to the high rocks and heading offshore to capitalize on the hot King bite. 60-120’ has been the hot zone from the east end of the high rocks to the information building on the west side of the plant.

Concentrate on 20-70’ of the column. With the dirty river water pushed that way golds and brighter patterns have been working best, like pickleseed, circus freak, and mongoose.

Carlee H king salmon
Carlee H., from Dexter NY, with her dog. They landed this early king fishing with Crime Pays Sportfishing.

Lake Ontario – Oswego

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

Things have changed, brown trout fishing has become tougher, they are still around, but you have to work for them. On the other hand salmon fishing has been on absolute fire!

With the calm conditions we’ve had over the last week, along with the higher river flows there’s colored water from the mouth of the Oswego all the way to the shores of the salmon river. This water has warmed up greatly. Overall, the fish are scattered, making it harder to put up the big numbers without covering a lot of water. Brown trout have been caught from the shoreline to 40’.

Planner boards and small divers are taking fish. Flat lines from 75-150’ and 1,2&3 color leadcores have been best. The best baits are: stick baits in blk/sil, , jailbreak, and ghost. The best spoons colors have been chicken wing uv, can’t afford it , yellow nbk, and black alewife.

If you slide out to a little deeper, in 90-200’ there has been a lot of kings lurking around too. Try 3-8 color leadcores, 30-80’ down, on downriggers and slide divers, 60-120’ out. Stingray spoon have been best in diehard, uv green glo alewife , uv tux and SSW.

Oneida Lake Hatchery Tour & WalleyeFest Tagging

Watch the Video Here

Join “The Awakening Angler” on a tour of the Oneida Lake Walleye hatchery in Constantia NY. See how baby walleyes are made and watch a fish get tagged for The Oneida Lake WalleyeFest.

Oswego and Salmon River Reports

Throughout the spring and summer, both the Oswego and Salmon Rivers offer a variety of fishing opportunities, including panfish and bass. The Oswego also offers carp and walleye opportunities.

Year-Round Notice (Oswego River): There are mandatory personal flotation device zones on the river. The Oswego Fire Department offers loaner life jackets at no charge through its “Loaner for Life” program. For more information contact the east fire station by calling (315) 343.2161 or Click here for the Brookfield Varick Fish Safety brochure.

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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