Fishing is GREAT, BUT…the Boat Launches/Access are under NYS Covid Rules

Matt Tall of Wilson with a respectable king salmon he caught off his home port last week.

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for April 15, 2020, from Destination Niagara USA
Wade Winch of North Tonawanda with a king salmon he caught on the Niagara Bar area on Easter.

COVID-19 impacts continue to be felt throughout the fishing community, leaving people a bit confused as far as what is happening with the local fishing scene.

Charter captains are shut down. For the most part, marinas are shut down. Launch ramps – DEC and State Parks are open. A few others run by towns or villages are still open. Lewiston is open and so is Olcott. The ramps at Fort Niagara, Wilson and Golden Hill state parks are all open, with a caveat. There are no amenities, no restrooms. Take your garbage with you.

If you are using the launch ramp, make sure you abide by the social distancing guidelines. Don’t be packing a 21-foot boat with 4 people.  Be respectful of others. If not, there will be no other choice than to see access shut down in the problem areas. For now, take advantage of the good fishing opportunities that we have in this area.

The Olcott launch ramp opened back up on Tuesday morning, but there are no workers or amenities.

Action out in the lake continues to be good for salmon and lake trout in 50 to 70 feet of water according to Roy Letcher of Newfane. Wilson has been a hot spot of late. Spoons and stickbaits are both working to take fish. Wade Winch of North Tonawanda launched his boat at Fort Niagara and hit the Niagara Bar for some Easter action. He hit 3 kings, an Atlantic salmon and a lake trout using DW Orange Crush spoons 60 to 80 feet down over 200 to 220 feet of water. Try netting a king salmon by yourself on a boat if you are looking for a challenge. The piers are still producing a mix of fish including some nice brown trout when the water isn’t too muddy coming out of 12- or 18-Mile Creeks. Cast spoons or stickbaits. Cooler temperatures have kept steelhead around for some possible action, drop backs who have finished with their spawning. Smallmouth bass action has started and are moving into the lower stretches of the creeks. Bullhead can be found most anyplace according to Letcher.

Capt. Taz Morrison with a big Wilson king salmon last week.

Water clarity was limited in the Niagara River after Monday’s winds that topped 60 miles per hour in some places and brought us nearly an inch of rain. Less than 2 feet of visibility was reported by Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. When the waters start to clear, look for good trout fishing to continue in the river. Water levels have been high in the river, especially after the winds pushed water into the eastern basin. The New York Power Authority reminds anglers that the Fishing Platform, the stairs leading down to the Devil’s Hole shoreline and the access stairs off Upper Mountain Road to the Reservoir are all closed at this time. For updates on access call 286-6662. Shoreline fishing for trout is still available using spinners or other hardware, drifting eggs or egg imitations under a float in the clearer water, tight to shore.

Danny Jankowiak of Buffalo with a chunky lake trout he caught last week fishing out of Olcott.

For those planning ahead, the Spring LOC Derby has been canceled for May 8-17 and the Niagara County Pro-Am Tournament set for June 5-6 has been canceled. The Erie Canal Fishing Derby has been canceled for the July event, originally set for July 16-26 but now set for July 15-25, 2021 in Niagara and Orleans counties. Stay safe out there and be sure to maintain your social distancing.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
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