Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- December 14, 2023

Mike Ziehm steelhead
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a 16.1-pound steelhead he caught from shore in the gorge using a spinner.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

Mild weather conditions have triggered some decent fishing action in the lower Niagara River. Local charter captains have been boasting of up to six different species of fish while drifting minnows, beads, egg sacs or using plugs like MagLips or Kwikfish. Capt. Joe Marra of Niagara Rainbow Charters led one of his customers (Ellis) from Indiana over the weekend to a personal best 18-pound brown trout on a minnow. Capt. Dave Scipione of Scipione’s Fishing Charters led the way to a personal best steelhead for Justin Monin of Lewiston. It tipped the scales at 13 pounds. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls caught a 16-pound steelhead for shore in the gorge. When the winds cooperate on the Niagara Bar, boaters are still picking up some salmon by drifting plugs, great fun for this time of year, too.

Capt. Dave Scipione brown trout
Capt. Dave Scipione of Lewiston with a dandy Niagara River brown trout.

Gary Hall king salmon
Gary Hall of Niagara Falls with a king salmon he caught on the Niagara Bar recently fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston.
Jeanine Scipione steelhead
Jeanine Scipione of Lewiston with a big steelhead she caught in the lower Niagara River fishing with her husband Capt. Dave Scipione.
Justin French lake trout
Justin French of Lewiston with a big Niagara Bar lake trout he caught fishing with Capt. Dave Scipione of Scipione’s Fishing Charters..
Justin Monin steelhead
Justin Monin of Lewiston with a 13-pound steelhead he caught fishing with Capt. Dave Scipione of Scipione’s Fishing Charters.

Speaking of winds, they were howling yesterday with gusts to 50 mph. When it finally settles down, there is a very good chance it could affect the fishing for a few days and shut things down due to muddy conditions. Scipione was drifting Artpark prior to those winds with 8mm trout beads and pink sacs tied with brown trout eggs. He also did very well with another group of anglers in Devil’s Hole pulling chartreuse/silver Maglips and pink/silver Kwikfish. They landed 11 fish in about 90 minutes including a 13-pound steelhead. Over the weekend, he fished both days and caught lake trout up to 15 pounds on the Niagara Bar pulling plugs courtesy of a south wind. Then the browns were cooperating along the Coast Guard drift on yellow meshed brown trout egg bags and a yellow 8mm bead 18 inches up from that. Scipione insists that steelhead are now outnumbering the lake trout in the river, with some steelies in double digit poundage. Some big walleyes are still showing up when using shiners and pink meshed brown trout egg sacs.

Bernadette Scherer salmon
Bernadette Scherer of Valatie, NY caught this salmon on the Niagara Bar fishing with Capt. Ryan Shea of Brookdog Fishing Company.
Capt. Joe Marra and Ellis brown trout
Capt. Joe Marra holds up an 18-pound lower river brown trout reeled in by Ellis of Indiana.

Bruce Kowalski with TAAR Outdoors reports that the Lower Niagara has been a hot bite for steelhead and browns from banks and boats. Chartreuse beads, as well as small pink egg sacs, have been the main pattern. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls confirmed the shoreline bite and the past week he has landed more than 40 trout. His homemade No. 4 spinners in white and chartreuse have caught most of the fish. Jigs in white and silver are also catching fish. Water clarity has been very good for the past week, 4-foot minimum visibility in spots and up to 6-foot in others. Water was starting to stain up more in the afternoon on Monday and the Tuesday winds should dirty the water even more. Shore fishermen can usually fish first after a muddy water event and he figures to the shore by Thursday or Friday.

Matt Vogt of Newfane managed to get out to several tributaries in the county, starting with Burt Dam early in the morning. The water was high and fast, and had a lot of color to it. There are fish around. He ended up checking a few other smaller streams and saw plenty of new fish pushing in, including steelhead and Coho salmon. The rains seemed to have pushed in some new fish and opened some of the smaller tributaries for the time being.

Matt Vogt Coho salmon
Matt Vogt of Newfane caught this Coho salmon from a small Niagara County tributary this week.

Remember that the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association will be holding its Christmas meeting on Dec. 14 at the North Amherst Fire Hall starting at 7 p.m. DEC fisheries bureau chief Steve Hurst will be the keynote speaker along with Lake Ontario Unit Leader Chris Legard, to give a State of Lake Ontario report. It is free and open to the public.

If you want to learn how to fish the lower river, hire a licensed skipper for a trip on the water. In fact, it would make a great stocking stuffer for Christmas this year. Capt. Jim Hanley of Northeast Outdoors has been filming YouTube instructional videos on his YouTube Channel, and his most recent 11-minute clip was a fishing adventure on the lower Niagara River with Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston. Check it out.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


The current in all of Wayne County tribs has been perfect. Maxwell Creek has produced steelhead and browns on the south side of Lake Road where the flow is faster. Find the pools and use egg sacs for steelhead.
The northside (Maxwell Bay) has a slower current, so cast out your egg sacs under a torpedo bobber.

Don’t forget to try the smaller streams. You can fish a section of the Port Bay stream near the intersection of Furnace Road and West Port Bay Road.

On the western section of the county try Mink Creek, Salmon Creek, and Bear Creek in Ontario.

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.


The Port Bay water temperatures are in the high 30’s. Just maybe…we can have some colder temps for ice fishing. Last year was a dismal affair for hard water angling.

The perch in Port Bay seem to be moving around looking for deeper water. They are probably searching for shad.
Fish the north end of the bay using 2-inch rubber shad tipped with perch eyes.

It’s the same at Sodus Bay. You can still launch boats and search for fish. Try near the breach and around the islands, again fishing 20 to 25 fow. Bay Bridge Sport Shop on the south end of the bay has the best launch site.

Bass season has closed except for catch and release fish until June 4th.

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

Erie Canal

The bluegills and crappies are still hitting at Widewaters. You can fish from the north side canal trail or still launch your boat at the county park west of Newark on Route 31. If we do get ice, Widewaters is the perfect place to set-up without any wind.

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:

Brown trout and steelhead
Brown trout (left) and steelhead (right) courtesy of “Country”.

On the backside now this week of the previous warm weekend temps and some rain. Looks like that precipitation has barely bumped up flows in the smaller area waterways or more as maintenance for medium-ish flows with some nice stain back to the water color. Flows in the Oak may actually be on the fall and going clearer as the first wave of winter time Canal drainage water might be played out. Flows about medium so down from the slightly high. Chance of flows dropping and clearing more in all the waterways thru the week as seasonably cold and dry weather hangs in for this week. Look for breezy if not windy conditions. No significant icing expected so lots of water to choose to fish too.

Mark Musser
Mark Musser has been finding decent numbers of fish on the Oak

Not a hot and heavy bite all around but definitely not bad by December standards. Check out the pics below of some solid steelhead and browns lately hooked up in the Oak and smaller waterways. Good looking steelhead are showing up in the Oak with still some browns and Kings hanging on. Other area smaller waterways like Sandy having action for some good looking browns. Clean looking fish either way even if they are post spawn but there are fresh browns apparently late to the party also. Fishing pressure about moderate thru the past weekend and will probably lessen thru the week. Fly guys with streamers and float guys with jigs and beads are scoring. Lots of float drifts running thru certain drifts in clear water are going to cause fish to turn on and off.

Oswego County

Fishing has been challenging this week with the high water. But we predict the fishing will pick up not that the waters are settling.

Paul M.
Paul M., of Middletown NY, enjoying this winter wonderland on the Salmon River!

Salmon River, Pulaski NY

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

Fish have been holding in the traditional winter holding spots. Especially after the highwater event last week, a lot of fish have moved to the slow water edges to get out of the heavy current.

The high water has also drawn in new fish; so don’t be afraid to fish from the DSR all the way to Altmar.

Steelhead are spread out throughout the river right now. The best bait have been natural colored beads in 10mm, especially: All In, Glo Roe, Lighten Up and Muskegon Madness. Egg sacs in blue, purple, white and pink have been producing well too.

Huckabee Fitzgerald
Local Family Feud star Huckabee Fitzgerald, landed this beautiful double striped rainbow fishing with Chasin’ Tail Adventures.

Oswego River, Oswego NY

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

There has been a mix of brown and steelhead. The water is very high and dirty. So concentrate on the edges and try bright colored presentations.

Shad have been washing down stream so white jigs are a good option. Beads in chartreuse, tangerine, tangy, and Exit Music. For eggs sacs, pink, chartreuse, lime and peach have been “the golden ticket.”

Tight Lines!

Note: Click here to see a map of the areas that are closed due to construction.

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.

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