Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- February 15, 2024

Gary Laidman and Steve Haak with pair of brown trout
Gary Laidman (left) and Steve Haak, both of South Wales, show off what a brown trout double looks like. They were fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

On a day when love is in the air, if you love fishing, this is the place to be! The Greater Niagara Fishing Expo starts tomorrow, Feb. 15 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. It runs through Sunday, Feb. 18. The Expo 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. Check out niagarafishingexpo.com for all the details. One special feature on Saturday is the DEC Open House from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meet the biologists and the managers that get the job done for all anglers. This weekend is also a free fishing weekend throughout New York State. Both Saturday and Sunday, everyone without a license can fish for free if you are 16 years of age or older. However, you must still abide by the regulations for the body of water you intend to fish. And on to the fishing …

Derrick DeFazio brown trout
Derrick DeFazio of Youngstown caught this brown trout fishing with Capt. Dave Scipione of Lewiston.
Kevin Schroth walleye
Kevin Schroth of Wheatfield with a big lower river walleye he caught fishing with Capt. Dave Scipione of Lewiston.
Parker Cinelli lake trout
Parker Cinelli of Grand Island with a big Niagara Bar lake trout.

The Niagara River is the place to be right now as conditions have improved considerably. John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda was fishing with Adam Gierach of Pendleton and Wade Winch of North Tonawanda on Sunday, and they found conditions to be near perfect as they drifted the river, catching steelhead, brown trout, and walleye using minnows and gold Kwikfish off three-way rigs. They were unable to get to the Bar because of the winds. Action for browns and lake trout has been decent down river towards the lake and on the Niagara Bar when the winds cooperate reports Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston. Minnows are the best choice for baits. There have been some steelhead at Artpark and egg sacs should be your bait of choice. A good mix of fish is also being reported in Devil’s Hole including steelhead, lake trout, walleye, and the occasional brown trout. Using minnows works best for variety. Use egg sacs if you want to target steelhead, again all fished off three-way rigs. Capt. Dave Scipione of Lewiston hit an afternoon recently and he used Emerald shiners along drifts north of Lewiston Landing and was rewarded with a mix of brown trout, lake trout, and walleye. Fish can be found throughout the river system.

Mike Rzucidlo steelhead
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a steelhead he caught in the gorge.
Mike Ziehm with steelhead
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a large steelhead he caught in the Niagara Gorge from shore.

In the gorge, Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls has been using white bucktail jigs and No. 4 spinners in chartreuse and orange. He caught mostly steelhead. The water clarity has been 4 to 5 feet. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls used KO Wobblers, No. 5 spinners, and jigs to catch a mixed bag of trout that included lakers, steelhead, and browns. In the Upper Niagara River, Bruce Kowalski with TAAR Outdoors reports that some nice walleyes have been hanging around Ferry Street in Buffalo. Jigs have been the best enticement.

For the Lake Ontario tributaries, Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that streams are low and gin clear right now for the most part. Downsize your bait and use natural colors. With the mild weather, lake fishing is an option, too. Target lake trout and brown trout in 20 to 40 feet of water with spoons or stickbaits.


Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Streams

Some holdover browns are in Maxwell Creek and a few steelhead were caught off the Sodus Point Pier. If there is ice on the pier, cast it out near the Coast Guard station.

You can also throw out heavy spoons along the shoreline at the north barrier road of Port Bay.

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

It is an open water season this winter. Last week the outside temperatures hit 65 degrees. What little slush there was has disappeared.

The perch are in the bays and if you have your boat ready you can launch at the Coast Guard station and on the south end of Sodus at Bay Bridge Sport Shop.

For Port Bay you can launch a boat at the north end ramp.

If you are putting your boat in, it’s better to fish in pairs…safer at the ramps and safer on the water.

The perch have been caught at the north end of Sodus Bay and straight south of the Port Bay ramp. Use small jigs tipped with perch eyes or spikes.

Some anglers have fished the shoreline of the lake for browns. Why not, there is no hard water on the bays.

The Niagara Fishing Expo is this week. The DEC will be on hand to answer all your questions about Lake Ontario and the tributary fishery.

With hundreds of hours of fishing education available for attendees to choose from and over 170 booths of fishing-related exhibitors, the Greater Niagara Fishing Expo is the largest fishing show in New York State and among the largest in the Great Lakes.

Bass season has closed except for catch and release fish until June 15th. Remember this!! You cannot keep any bass while ice fishing.

Pike season will continue until March 15th and the best place to hook pike is near LeRoy Island on the northeast corner of Sodus Bay.

Erie Canal

Widewaters has no ice, and you can launch at the Wayne County Park west of Newark. Use caution as the docks have been pulled.

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:

spawned out steelhead
The Secret Steel header finds a slightly spawned out big hen on the Oak. Courtesy of B. Kype

Welcome back to a little bit of winter! Back to a slight cool down to seasonably cold temps of highs in the 30’s°F and dropping back to the 20’s° at night. No impacts expected here on the WNY Lake Ontario south shore from the latest nor’ester, but there is the chance for off and on snows or lake effect thru the week that could lead to a few inches of accumulations by weeks end. Chance of a colder day or two by end of week or weekend. With dropping and clearing flows especially in the smaller area waterways, there is the chance for some renewed icing conditions. No liquid precipitation seen in the near term forecast and since the last melt-off/rain of 2+ weeks ago its been pretty dry.

Mark Musser
Mark Musser has been finding consistent action on both the Oak and Burts.

Flows in the Oak are medium with 2+ ft of slightly stained visibility. Flows should be hanging in around medium-ish at least for a few days or week but I’d look for a dropping down toward moderate and clearer some time soon given the current weather conditions and forecast.

Guys are living off the steelhead from earlier higher water “runs” with some good fish still being hooked up. Anglers are able to target all of the waterway from the downstream frog water up to the dam. Fresher fish may be higher in the rivercourse and there are, of course, those landlocked fish in the overflow pools. There’s a mix of fish and you might encounter darker fish that came in weeks ago, some fresher staged or spawning fish, or some chromers.

Other area smaller waterways have low and clear flows. Steelhead or browns will be hunkered in where they can find water cover or else dropping back to estuary lies in those smaller tribs. Who knows what the weather ahead may bring and if winter may settle in for a bit? If it doesn’t we are likely headed toward an already early warm up and continued warming water temps that have hardly even got as cold as winter average.

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

Fishing on the Salmon River picked up this week since the water drop. And the Oswego has come down to a more fishable level too!

Vinny, from Northern NJ with steelhead
Vinny, from Northern NJ landed this steelhead while fishing with Sich Guide Service.

Salmon River, Pulaski NY

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

Like last week, the water levels are around 750, and the fish are spread out. There aren’t many big number spots. But there are a few fish just about everywhere.

Don’t be afraid to cover water to find activity. Classic winter spots like the Schoolhouse, Trestle, Sportsman, 81 and Town Pools have been good.

The best baits have been egg sacs in pink, blue, peach and purple. The reliable pink worm worm has been taking a few as well. The bead bite has slowed down but a bright bead early has taken a few bites, Chardonnay or Atomic Yellow are reliable colors.

Jigs are still taking a few fish. Whites with a touch of color (pink, peach, chart), black or browns. Don’t be afraid to tip your jigs with wax worms. But bottom bouncers have had the most success this week fishing the Schoolhouse pool, running flies in chartreuse, blue and copper stone flies.

We also have reports of several bank anglers deploying side planers and plugs, which are doing well.

Nick Searor with steelhead
Nick Searor landed this steelhead on a bright bead, now that the water levels are down! Follow Nick here.

Oswego River, Oswego NY

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

With water levels finally on the decline the fish seem to be more active. Although with the recent warm up, the water clarity is down.

Try fishing beads in 10-12mm sizes. Chartreuse, oranges, and combination of the 2 colors (such as Starburst, Muskegon Madness, and UV Tangerine). Egg sacs in chart, pink and peach are good options too.

Just above the powerhouse is always a very productive spot. But as the water remains high don’t overlook the kiddie pool.

The harbor has also been fishing well lately with the high water. Fishing eggs on the bottom has been taking trout. And swim baits and blade baits worked close to bottom have been taking walleye and trout. White, silver, and gold are all great colors.

Tight Lines!

free fishing guide

Free Oswego Fishing Guide

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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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