Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- February 1, 2024

After last week’s rain and snow, the rivers have swollen. Salmon River is running at 1,500 CFS and Oswego River is averaging well over 18,000. But we’re still seeing big steelhead!

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

First and foremost, the Greater Niagara Fishing Expo is set for Feb. 15-18 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. The show’s motto is “Teaching Fishing” and it offers the fishing community a long list of educational opportunities focused on fish, fishing, boating and all the components needed to be successful on the water. This year the Expo is offering over 250 seminars being delivered by over 80 qualified instructors. Visit niagarafishingexpo.com for more information.

Dennis Kreze lake trout
Dennis Kreze of Fort Erie, Ontario caught this lake trout in the upper Niagara River this week.

After all the rain and snow melt last week, the Niagara River and area tributaries were trashed for a few days. They are slowly starting to make a recovery and conditions should be good by the weekend. In fact, they are calling for sunshine two days in a row, a rare occurrence for this winter so far – just like our Buffalo Sabres winning back-to-back games!

Mike Ziehm with steelhead
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls managed to catch steelhead from shore this week despite poor conditions in the Niagara River.

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls got the itch to hit the shoreline in the Niagara Gorge and he was rewarded with some chunky steelhead. When he first went out, there was only about 1 to 2 feet of visibility, making fishing difficult. White and silver spinners and white bucktail jigs did the trick for him, with the best fishing above the power plant. By Tuesday, he was finding 3-foot plus visibility and was 5 for 7 on trout. If the water is stained, shore fishing is the way to go.

Sean Robinson and Bob Lewin with steelhead
Sean Robinson (left) and Bob Lewin, both of Philly, caught some steelhead with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters this week in stained water.

The first boats hit the water this week and on Monday Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters was excited when his first drift produced three trout with customers Sean Robinson and Bob Lewin of Philadelphia, Pa. It was slow after that. He was using egg sacs to entice the fish to hit. As the water clarity improves, so should the fishing from boats.

Streams were high and muddy according to Matt Vogt of Newfane. He’s been checking the tributaries and places like Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek were very fast and high. Small streams were unfishable earlier this week, but when they do come down, there could be a push of fresh fish in many of the tributaries. When the water is stained like that, Vogt says to increase the size of your baits a bit and stick to colors that may stand out, depending on how stained the water is. Last week he had safe ice in Olcott and Wilson harbors, but that was all gone for now. Nothing is safe.


Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Streams

The water flow in every stream in Wayne County is starting to calm down. It’s still strong because of the weekend rain, however it’s still fishable. Trying for Steelhead in Maxwell, you can cast egg sacs in the small pools on the south side of Lake Road. If the current is too strong try the north side of the road.

This week’s prediction of less rain should have most streams leveling-off to normal flows.

Remember the regulations for Lake Ontario tributary fish. Three in combination, not to include more than two Rainbow Trout (or Steelhead) in the lake, and not to include more than one Rainbow Trout (or Steelhead) and one Brown Trout in the tributaries.

Bays

Once again we are faced with a dismal hard water season. There were two days last week when the shanties dotted the ice near the south end of Sodus Bay.
Currently it’s just slush with open water near the middle of the bay. No safe ice anywhere!

It’s the same situation for the smaller Port Bay. You can’t even launch a boat with the slushy ice at the ramps.
We need a week of consistently freezing temperatures to make a solid four inches of safe ice.

Bait shops that are open are highlighted below.

Bass season has closed except for catch and release fish until June 15th.

Pike season will continue until March 15th and when we get safe ice you should concentrate near LeRoy Island.

Erie Canal

Widewaters has the same slushy covering with open water near the shoreline. There is no safe ice anywhere along the canal.

Anyone underway in a boat less than 21 feet in length anytime between November 1 and May 1 must wear a securely fastened life jacket.

Bait for fishing is available on the south end of Sodus at Davenports and Bay Bridge Sport Shop.
On Port Bay Jarvis Bait Farm is open on Brown Road. The signs are on East Port Bay Road at the junction of Brown Road.
Toadz Bait is near the end of West Port Bay Road.

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:

The area is on the backside of high and blown flows thru the past weekend. There are a few guys back out on the waterways now who are more or less nibbling on the edges. By steelhead standards, the smallest tribs like Marsh are probably in good, slightly high and stained flows right now. The other area smaller waterways east and west of the Oak are likely just a day or so away from being in similar reasonable fishable condition. For now Johnson and Sandy are high and dirty, but on the retreat. All the previous icing should be blown out. Look for Sandy to mend next behind Marsh and then next will be Johnson – all coming into that nice slightly high and slightly stained flow.

Weather forecast ahead thru something like the weekend is back to seasonably warm with this mid week period highs near 40°F. No significant precipitation seen in the near term. All the dropping and clearing is tempered some thanks to no real drop back to exceptional cold.

On the Oak, flows are high and dirty with less then a foot of visibility. Overflow levels are just about diminished today so look for full bore turbine water to be the run of the river. Expect high flows to continue in the near term since there is exceptional upstream swamp headwater supplies with water being over the roads there just a couple days ago. Water color should continue to be on the mend slowly but like mentioned there’s a fair amount of upstream dirty water that’s not going to be helped to clear by real cold temps. There are a few guys parked at each access spot and a couple fish have been hooked up. Whatever presentation you make via fly, float or spin it’ll have to be big and/or bright and/or stinky for best hook up potential. Every other previous spate of high water the steelhead action had perked up so this shot of water may well be what leads us into good action now vs what we typically see more toward February or March. We’ll have to wait and see if we return to any prolonged winter cold weather ahead.

Show Season Schedule

Stop by any of these shows, pick up our travel guides and mini calendar when you introduce yourself to the Orleans County Tourism staff at the following outdoor shows over the next few months:

  • Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo – Niagara Falls, NY • February 15 – 18, 2024
  • Sportsmen’s Show & Outdoor Recreation RV’s & Boats, Monroeville, PA • February 16 – 18, 2024
  • Springfield Sportsmen’s Show – Eastern States Expo, MA • Feb. 23 – 25, 2024
  • Empire State Outdoor Sportsmen’s Show – Suffern, NY • Feb 29 – March 3, 2024
  • West Virginia Fishing, Hunting & Outdoor Sports Show – Morgantown, WV • March 2 – 3, 2024
  • Connecticut Fishing & Outdoor Show – Mohegan Sun Earth Expo Center, CT • March 22- 24, 2024

Oswego County

Mark your calendar for the Greater Niagara Fishing Expo, slated for Feb. 15-18, 2024 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. Admission is $10 a day or $25 for all four days. With over 200 educational seminars available, it’s the perfect “teaching fishing” show for anyone who fishes – young and old. Check out niagarafishingexpo.com for details.

Tommy Q. and his father with steelhead
Tommy Q. and his father landed this big steelhead fishing with STS Guide Service.

Salmon River, Pulaski NY

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast
Click Here for the Current CFS at Pineville

While the water has been high, it hasn’t been very dirty. So, the same clear water techniques have been working, you just need to get down to the fish.

Reports show the fish are spread out. There aren’t many big number spots but there are a few fish just about everywhere. The town to Altmar has been especially consistent.

The best baits have been egg sacs in pink, blue, peach and white. The old pink worm has been taking a few as well. Jigs are still taking a few fish too. Especially whites with a touch of color (pink, peach, chartreuse), black or browns. And don’t be afraid to tip your jigs with wax worms.

John T. with steelhead
John T. of Endwell NY shows off this beautiful steelhead caught below the dam with Chasin’ Tail Adventures.

Oswego River, Oswego NY

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast
Click Here for the Current CFS

A week ago, Oswego went from 10k-20k CFS in 24hrs. It also became very dirty in that time. A few anglers have been trying their luck with very little success. For those who are up to the challenge, here is your best bet:

In these conditions try beads in 10-12mm sizes. Chartreuse, oranges, combination of the 2 colors, such as Starburst, Tangy, Atomix Yellow and SUV Orange.

Just above the powerhouse has been a very productive spot. And as the water remains high don’t overlook the kiddie pool. Lots of trout tend to hold there to get out of the heavy currents. They actively hit jigs, beads and stickbaits.

Tight Lines!

Note about shore access: construction along the Riverwalk is complete in most areas, but much of the high wall remains closed. Click here to see a map of the areas that are closed due to construction.

free fishing guide

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.

Welcome to Oswego County - Watch the Video

Welcome to Oswego County – Watch the Video

Discover more at visitoswegocounty.com

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