Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- February 29, 2024

Alex Hepworth steelhead
Alex Hepworth of Williamsville caught this 33-inch steelhead in the lower Niagara River on a white jig.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

Spring-like temperatures brought people out to fish, but the conditions in places like the Niagara River forced anglers to work for any fish that ended up on their lines. One angler who was thankful just to be on the water was John Jarosz of Lake View. When Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters notified him that Feb. 23 opened on his schedule, he jumped at the opportunity because it was his 75th birthday. His son Dave came along to celebrate, too. Despite the stained conditions, the trio landed 3 of 6 brown trout drifting minnows off three-way rigs on the Niagara Bar. They headed up into Devil’s Hole and hooked into one steelhead but lost the fish at the boat. Yablonsky said that the bite should be better with a little more water clarity. With more wind in the forecast, keep your fingers crossed for this weekend. Meanwhile, Capt. Joe Marra of Niagara Rainbow Charters fished the weekend and managed to hit double digit catches of lake trout and brown trout using golden shiners on the Bar near the green buoy. Up in Devil’s Hole, egg sacs helped produce steelhead and lake trout. Sunday John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda was fishing with Wade Winch of North Tonawanda and Adam Gierach of Pendleton to catch brown trout, lake trout, and walleye in the stained water. The biggest walleye was a 10-pound fish that hit a gold MagLip plug off a three-way rig. Visibility was only a couple feet. Shore casters like Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls were still casting hardware like spinners and jigs to take trout in the gorge area from shore.

John Jarosz with brown trout
John Jarosz of Lake View caught some brown trout on his birthday last Friday on the Niagara Bar fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown.

Capt. Dave Scipione with walleye
Capt. Dave Scipione of Lewiston with a nice walleye he caught in the lower Niagara River.
John Van Hoff with 10-pound walleye
John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda shows off a 10-pound walleye he caught in the lower Niagara River last weekend.

Bruce Kowalski with TAAR Outdoors reports that the upper Niagara River is also producing some steelhead off Ferry Street, the Bird Island Pier, as well as some nice walleye on swim baits during the early morning hours.

Mike Rzucidlo with lake trout
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was fishing from shore in the gorge area to take this lake trout.
Wade Winch with walleye
Wade Winch of North Tonawanda with a lower Niagara River walleye.

For the Lake Ontario tributaries, water in the streams have been low and clear. With rain in the forecast in the coming days, look for a fresh push of steelhead. The weather this weekend looks to be very good. Out in the lake, if the winds cooperate, look for a mud line to develop off the creek mouths and work stickbaits or spoons in and out of that distinct line in 15 to 40 feet of water to catch a mixed back of fish.


Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Streams

With open water in the bays some anglers are fishing the lake. If you are doing the brown trout gig, try trolling close to shore.
Coming out of Sodus Bay, troll west past Maxwell Creek towards Hughes’ Marina.
Stick baits will work the best…using Bay Rats or Smithwicks.
From Port Bay troll east towards Scott’s Bluff or west past Chimney Bluffs.

If you are trolling the lake, make sure you are comfortable and safe in your watercraft. You should also fish in pairs.

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

So much for ice fishing the 2024 season. The only place I saw shanties was at Fouth Lake in the town of Inlet, which is not Wayne County.

All the bays have open water. Port Bay has some slush near the south launch, however with 65-degree days that will disappear today or tomorrow.

The perch are in the bays, so try off the points in Sodus and Port Bays. Use the same bait if you were on ice. Small bright jigs tipped with spikes work. If you find the “shorties” move around for the 8 to 10 inchers.

Launch sites for Sodus: Next to the Coast Guard Station and Bay Bridge Sport Shop.
Launch sites for Port Bay: Barrier bar road at the end of West Port Bay Road and soon as slush disappears the south end DEC site.

Fish in pairs for safety and remember the docks next to DEC’s sites are not in the water.

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

Sections of the canal should be ice-free by today. The temperatures for the next few days will be in the 60’s.
Widewaters is still the hot spot for crappies. Use small bright jigs and fish off the bottom. Crappies will be suspended in the water column.

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:

A warm day today with highs in the 60’s°F and chance of rain or thunderstorms later and thru tonight/tomorrow. A wind advisory is forecasted tomorrow with falling temps. Those cold temps are dropping below freezing at night, expected thru the end of week. Then another warmup is expected for the weekend!

For now, flows in the Oak are low and clear. The other area smaller waterways have something like moderate flows and slightly stained water color. Chance of a rise in flows with some color to the water depending upon how much precipitation is received or where thunderstorms may impact. Forecasted track seems to show most major precipitation south of the area. Any precipitation for trib flow maintenance or to raise flows up and off color could probably help perk up the steelhead action.

The most recent lower and clearer flows have been making for harder drifting conditions. Anytime we get these couple day unseasonable warmups there is the likelihood of rising water temps and chance for spawning activity. And this time of year, rising trib outflow temps can draw in some fish with or without a significant change in flow, provided the base flow is at least reasonable.

Fishing pressure over-the-all is pretty light, but chance of more folks coming out to enjoy the spring like weather. Anglers should be able to spread out thru the waterways and will need to make long and light and careful presentations for fish that have been resident and seen a fair amount of other drifts over the past month+! But the optimistic steelheader always hopes for the chance of fresh chrome, less educated fish! This kind of warming weather will no doubt lead to some anglers looking toward the near shore Lake Ontario waters for casting or small boat trolling chances. Pockets of stained water are the targets there and for now with calm or southerly winds it may be more like clear and clearer. Near shore water temps are already warm for the calendar date. Wind ahead will surely change the water color scenario soon enough to likely too dirty!

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:

  • 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

The steelhead spawn is well under way. With the warm weather, the fish are a month ahead of schedule.

Lynda C. steelhead
Lynda C., from Long Island NY, landed this steelhead while fishing with Salmon River Guide.

Salmon River, Pulaski NY

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

Fish are moving to spawning areas and the population of post spawn fish is increasing. This will help increase pockets of fish leading anglers to better numbers.

Don’t be afraid to cover water to find activity. Classic winter spots like the Schoolhouse, Trestle, Sportsman, 81 and Town Pools are still holding fish, but a lot have been moving to the gravel too. Overall, we recommend concentrating on the slower deep spots downstream from traditional spawning gravel.

The best baits have been egg sacs in pink, blue, peach and white. The reliable pink worm has been taking plenty of fish too. The bead bite has also picked up, natural beads in 8 and 10mm have been best. But bottom bouncers have proven most successful. Running flies in chartreuse, blue and copper stone flies. A few bank anglers have done well by deploying side planers and plugs.

Aaron W.
Oswego native, Aaron W. capitalized on the high water and caught this trout behind the east side hotels.

Oswego River, Oswego NY

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

Beads and jigs have been working but the egg bite has really started picking up with finicky biters. We recommend beads in 10-12mm sizes. Chartreuse, oranges, and combinations of the 2 colors such as Starburst, Muskegon Madness, and UV Tangerine all work well. For egg sacs, we recommend chartreuse, pink, and peach.

Just above the powerhouse is always a very productive spot. And 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, while swim baits and blade baits are taking walleye and trout. White, silver and gold are all great colors. Remember that walleye season closes in a couple weeks, so get in those last few day while you can.

Tight Lines everyone!

Salmon River Steelhead video

Salmon River Steelhead – Watch the Video

Steelhead fishing is good on the Salmon River in Upstate New York and the time is now to see your float go down. Join us as we drift the river in search of some of the best steelhead action in the Great Lakes on this episode of Pautzke Outdoors.

To learn more about guided trips with STS Guide Service on the Salmon River Visit: stsfishguide.com To Learn More About Pautzke Bait: pautzke.com.

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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