Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- December 7, 2023

Capt. Frank Campbell lake trout
Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston with a lower river lake trout he caught during a filming with Capt. Jim Hanley of Angola.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

It is crunch-time for the Great Lakes musky season as the final week is here. This is the best time to be out there if you want to try and catch a trophy fish. Good luck and be sure to handle those fish with care. It’s essentially catch-and-release because the minimum size to keep one is 54 inches long. The season will continue through Dec. 15th. Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reports that he has been seeing some nice muskies being caught the past week or two. He will be in the upper river this week targeting fish that have moved into the river system. Cinelli noted that he has witnessed epic amounts of emerald shiners in the upper river recently, which is good news. Anglers are catching some yellow perch in the upper river as well.

Milan Singh and Capt. Connor Cinelli with lake trout
Milan Singh of Williamsville caught this lake trout held up by Capt. Connor Cinelli of Grand Island.
Rohan Singh lake trout
Rohan Singh of Williamsville caught this lake trout in the lower Niagara River fishing with Capt. Connor Cinelli of Grand Island.
Steve Brzuszkiewicz steelhead
Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla managed to hit the upper Niagara River this week and caught this nice steelhead.

In the lower river, the Artpark drift has been the most consistent for trout action reports Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston. The recent winds and rain added some color to the water and visibility was around three feet as of earlier this week, nearly perfect on Tuesday. He also reports that steelhead numbers are slowly increasing and there are still good numbers of lake trout in the system. Brown trout are still around, as are bass and walleye. Beads, Mag Lips, Kwikfish, and egg sacs are all good baits to use for trout from a boat, drifting with the current and using your trolling motor to control your speed if you need to. If you’re using lures, the plug must have decent wobbling action so fish them with a south-southwest wind or use your trolling motor to bump your speed up. If the wind is out of the north, use beads or sacs. Tuesday, he fished with Capt. Jim Hanley of Angola who was filming a YouTube video on how to fish the lower river. In less than two hours of fishing, they reeled in two steelhead and three lake trout. They also lost at least that many. The funny thing was that all the other boats out were either fishing Devil’s Hole or the Niagara Bar and the dynamic duo had the Artpark drift all to themselves. Conditions were ideal. Best plug was a silver Mag Lip with a chartreuse bill. Shore casters are still doing well with jigs and No. 4 spinners. Beads and egg sacs fished under a float will also work well for you in the gorge. Just a reminder that the NYPA fishing facilities are now closed for the season as of Dec. 3rd, which includes the popular fishing platform and the reservoir.

Danny Jankowiak lake trout
Danny Jankowiak of Buffalo caught this lake trout from shore in the lower Niagara River
Mark Vogt brown trout
Mark Vogt of Newfane shows off a Burt Dam brown trout.

Fishing has been pretty good at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek for brown trout, reports Matt Vogt of Newfane. There are not a ton of steelhead around yet, but they are trickling in here and there. Vogt is still using egg sacs because they have been good to him, but he has seen fish caught on jigs, too. It should be a great winter and spring of trout fishing in the streams if this trend continues. Mike Erdt of Williamsville says there are still some brown trout around, but most are spawned out. Remember that the daily limit for brown trout is one fish per person, the same as steelhead. If you do catch a brown trout and it is ripe with eggs, it is illegal to squeeze the eggs out of it and release it back into the water. All the traditional baits will work in the tribs, but Erdt likes using an 8 mm bead with pale yellow, pale orange, and pale peach – what some companies refer to them as “dead egg” colors.

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.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


Almost 2-inches of rain has saturated Wayne County, which is great news for stream fishing. Maxwell Creek has a great flow of water on the south side of Lake Road. The slower Maxwell Bay can be fished with torpedo bobbers cast out in the middle. Use egg sacs.

Fish the south side of Lake Road using egg sacs concentrating on the pools where the steelhead like to hang-out. The other small tribs also hold browns and steelhead. Salmon Creek is in Pultneyville, Mink Creek is next to Hughes Marina and Furnace Creek is in Wolcott.

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.


Today, DEC was taking out the docks at the north and south end of Port Bay. The two north ramps on the barrier bar road are safe for launching, however use caution because you don’t have the docks.
The Port Bay channel is almost closed with just a trickle of water entering the lake.

The perch are in the bay and if you don’t have a boat, fish the north end shoreline. Use small white bait because the perch are still eating shad. Tip your hook with perch eyes.

Sodus Bay continues to have some great perch fishing off the points. They are schooling so move around if you want the larger fish. We call them “thumpers.”

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 crappies are still the favorite catch at Widewaters. That section of the canal is not drained.

If we get ice, Widewaters is a great place to set up your shanty. You don’t have the wind that happens on the bays.

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:

Over the past weekend there was precipitation on the order of 0.75+ inches for the WNY Lake Ontario south shore. Along with winter time drainage of the Erie Canal underway right now, the trib flows are up and slightly stained. By anglers reports no one has been kept off the water because flows were too high or dirty. Smaller area waterways are high and stained and look to be on the retreat. Dropping and slightly clearing flows are typically a good recipe for action so look for chances at fresh steelhead and a mix of browns moving up or post spawn fish dropping back. Flows in Sandy and Johnson are likely to drop back to around medium – slightly high as the Canal water prevails after the runoff.

Branden with brown trout
Good flows are still giving up some nice browns and now steelhead in the Oak. Courtesy of Branden.

Smallest tribs like Marsh could be offering up a decent water window right now that some folks were looking for earlier in the fall season. In the Oak, there wasn’t much observed change in what was already slightly high flows to perhaps now high flows. Color still good, just a little stain. Hearing of brown trout hook ups on the Oak from the middle reaches and to the downstream flat water. Check out the nice Oak brown trout below that was hooked up this beginning part of the week along with bunch more and some steelhead. Drifts or swings just need to be down and slowed a bit but the post spawn browns are hungry hitters now and steelhead are being intercepted too. Look for continued higher flows in the Oak likely at least thru this week as the observed Canal levels look to be dropping only slowly. Weather forecast is a little cooler thru this mid week period then another warm up thru the weekend. Next chance at any significant precipitation is for the end of upcoming weekend.

Jami Price caught this big hen on a bead while fishing Oak Orchard earlier this week. (@relentless_angler)

Oswego County

Fishing has been up and down. The water has been steadily going up and the fishing has been affected. High, cold water has led to overall tough conditions. And with more rain on the way and warm temperatures, we could see even higher water flows.

Raven with steelhead
Raven, from Wilkes Barre PA, landed this buck during the whiteout. While fishing with STS Guide Service.

Salmon River, Pulaski NY

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

Fishing on the Salmon River has been tough this past week with the high, cold water. The water conditions are a result of the recent multi foot snow event we had last week that was melted by rain over last weekend.

Your best bet to find success right now, is fish the slower water edges. Your best baits are egg sacks in blue, white, or pink and large beads (10 to 14 mm size) and bright colors to catch the fish’s attention.

Dan M. steelhead
Dan M. landed this big steelhead fishing with Chasin’ Tail Adventures.

Oswego River, Oswego NY

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

The water levels on the Oswego have been over 10,000 CFS. Wading has become very dangerous, so be careful and wear your life vest. Fishing off the wall has been a tough task. Fish have been taken though, as well as in the kiddie pool.

If you’re wading, stay close to the shore. As the water goes up, the fish slide towards the shoreline.
Jigs have also been taking a fair share of the fish, especially in white, white/pink and white/green. Eggs have not been great right now. But the best baits have been beads in natural and bright colors. Note that this could change with the rain forecasted.

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

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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