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Western New York Fishing Hotline

February 5 to February 12, 2016

Free Ice Fishing Weekend: President's Day weekend (February 13-14, 2016) will be a free ice fishing weekend to encourage more New Yorkers to try Ice fishing while many are on winter recess. Residents and visitors age 16 and older will be able to fish the waters of New York State without a license, providing a great opportunity for people to learn about this popular sport.

Lake Ontario Tributaries

Angler holding lake trout caught from shore in lower Niagara River.
Lake trout caught from shore in the Lower
Niagara River gorge.

Oak Orchard Creek fishing has improved with increased water flow. The Oak currently has medium flow with a little color and about 2 feet of visibility. This morning, most anglers were catching steelhead. Eighteenmile Creek flow is currently slightly high with a heavy stain. Flow spikes on the smaller streams flushed out the ice, and levels are dropping back into fishing shape just in time for the weekend. Egg sacs, egg pattern flies and hair jigs tipped with a waxworm work well for winter steelhead. The key is to drift the bait slowly and keep it near the bottom. For additional steelhead fishing tips see Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries.

Lake Ontario Harbors

Olcott Harbor has opened up and shore anglers have been catching some yellow perch and northern pike. Other harbors and piers are now ice free as well.

Lower Niagara River

River waters are still murky today, but improving. The trout bite slowed a bit this week. Previously boaters were catching steelhead in the upper drifts on three-way rigs with egg sacs or shiners. The trout bite remained steady on the Niagara Bar, when boats could get out. Three-way rigs with Kwikfish lures or shiners produced a mix of lake trout and brown trout with the occasional steelhead. The best recent trout catches for shore anglers were at Devils Hole State Park. Drifting egg sacs, egg flies, minnows or jigs with grubs under a float, or casting spoons and spinners are common shore tactics. Exercise extreme caution when shore fishing in the lower river, as icy access stairs, icy shoreline rocks and swift currents make these areas hazardous.

The New York Power Authority fishing platform has been closed for the winter. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page. Regulation notes: Lake trout season open on the lower river as of January 1st. Starting on January 1st, walleye daily limit decreased to 1, with a minimum length of 18".

Ice Fishing

Due to warm temperatures and rain, ice coverings have deteriorated on all waters. There is currently no safe ice in the region. Always remember that ice thickness can vary greatly on the same body of water, especially if there are springs, stream inlets or heavy snow cover. Before you head out onto the ice this winter, remember that a minimum of 3 to 4 inches of solid ice (blue or black, not white) is the general rule for safety, for individuals on foot. Five inches of solid ice is more suitable for small groups fishing together. Drilling holes or tapping with a spud bar to check ice thickness is recommended on your way out, or when moving around. Safety ice picks, boot cleats, throw rope and a floatation device are recommended safety supplies. Use good judgment and fish with a friend when possible. Those new to ice fishing can check the Ice Fishing Basics page for more information. See the Lake Contour Maps page for maps organized by county.

New ice fishing regulations are in effect. Anglers are now allowed a total of 7 "ice fishing lines" for ice fishing, in any combination. An "ice fishing line" means any device used for fishing through the ice, including but not limited to jigging rod, hand line, tip-up, tip-down, etc. Angler's name and address no longer required on ice fishing devices.

Silver Lake

Shore ice deteriorated lake-wide. Some of the main ice sheet survived the warm-up, but is unsafe at present.

Honeoye Lake

Some parts of the lake opened up during the warm-up, and remaining ice is currently unsafe.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 855-FISH.