Fish, Fish, Fish Galore! FREE FISHING DAYS in New York this weekend!

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Feb. 12, 2020 – from Destination Niagara USA
Gary Laidman of South Wales enjoyed a banner day on the lower Niagara River fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island using egg sacs and Kwikfish.

This weekend is the first NYS Free Fishing Days weekend of the year, set for Feb. 15-16.  If you are 16 years of age or older, you don’t need a fishing license for these two days, but you do need to abide by the fishing regulations on the body of water you intend to fish.

Action in the lower Niagara River was on fire this week.

Conditions were near perfect if you were fishing from a boat.  Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reported excellent water as he guided Gary Laidman of South Wales and Bob McNamara of Allegany to hefty catches of steelhead using a mix of Kwikfish and pink egg sacs fished off 3-way rigs.

Glenn Strzelczyk of the Town of Niagara caught this steelhead on the lower Niagara River while fishing with Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston. He was using an egg sac.

A few brown trout and lake trout are also hanging around, as well as some walleye.

Downriver, the brown trout and lake trout were hitting a bit more and MagLips were added to the list of preferred lures. Minnows were also used to hit both trout and walleye.

Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island caught this big smallmouth bass in the lower river on Tuesday while we was fishing for trout.

A fair number of bonus king salmon were also being caught as anglers drifted off the mouth of the river near the green buoy marker.

Shore anglers didn’t fare as well of late. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls did report a 3 for 3 day on steelhead in the gorge by tossing a favorite No. 4 spinner. Fishing from shore is tough without boots. Be careful walking the gorge along the shoreline. Ice grippers are important.

The NRAA Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest is set for Feb. 22 in the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario tributaries. Sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston or the Lewiston Launch Ramp the morning of the event. It runs from sunrise to 2 p.m.

As far as the Lake Ontario tributaries, fishing has been a little tough with only a few steelhead and brown trout being caught. Flows are medium or a bit better with 2-3 feet of visibility. Look for the coldest temperatures of the year on Friday of this week, making things difficult. It could ice up the smaller streams.

Feb. 14-15 is the Birds on the Niagara festival. There is lots of indoor and outdoor programming on Saturday. Check out for a complete schedule.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was 3 for 3 on steelhead on Tuesday despite some tougher conditions using a spinner in the gorge of the lower river.
Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
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Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Spotty Fishing in Niagara Region is Downright Exciting!

Joel Spring of Ransomville, NY, poses with a prehistoric-looking long nose gar, he caught on a rope fly while fishing a favorite Lake Ontario tributary.

The 29th Steve Harrington Memorial Erie Canal Fishing Derby is over. We won’t know who will win the boat, motor, and trailer, though, until the Awards Ceremony on Sunday, July 21 at the Gasport Fire Hall starting at 3 p.m. There will be a random drawing of first-place winners to see who the lucky winner will be.

Chris Walczak of Amherst, NY, caught this walleye in the Erie Canal on a spinnerbait this week.

In the bass division, Ed Mort of Lockport was in first-place with a 5.66-pound fish. Sam Hillman from Lockport was the top walleye catcher at 7.04 pounds, and James Nix, Jr. of Tonawanda topped the pike division with an 11.81-pound fish. The biggest bullhead was a 1.58-pound fish reeled in by Michael Boncore of Buffalo. Biggest catfish is an 8.75-pound fish reeled in by Keegan Walczak of Amherst and Matthew Clark of North Tonawanda was the leading carp with a 26.11-pound fish. Carleen Beback of Buffalo won the sheepshead category with a 12.21-pound fish. Check out for final results.

In Niagara Falls, USA, Lake Ontario salmon and trout action has been a little spotty of late and some of it can be blamed on the weather.

With Tropical Depression Barry showing up this week, the hottest weather of the season is on our doorstep through the weekend. One sleeper area could be the Niagara Bar, as mature kings have been reported this week.

Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston had some customers looking for some salmon slammin’ and they were rewarded with some mature kings in 100 to 200 feet of water, pulling magnum spoons in greens and white-glow spin doctors, with green flies, behind dipsy divers 30 to 50 feet down.

Off Wilson, fishing has actually been pretty good, but the information was tough to come by with the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association events taking place on Friday and Saturday this week. Some bigger fish are available. Robyn Wolf of Wilson came close to the top prize with a 27 pound, 15-ounce King that is currently in second place in the Salmon Division. She was fishing out of her home port with Capt. Mike Johannes of “On the Rocks” charter service and caught the fish on a magnum spoon. Darker colors have been working.

Blake Kenney from Grand Island, NY, with a walleye from the upper Niagara River. He was fishing with Capt. Connor Cinelli of Grand Island.

Capt. Tim Sylvester of Tough Duty was fishing out of Olcott on Monday and hit a 28-plus pound King on a 400-foot copper line with meat. However, the person that caught the fish was not in the LOC Derby currently going on.  He was fishing in 300-plus feet of water. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott says, “Try fishing a little east of Olcott in 400 to 450 feet of water or a little west off the red barn in 315-375 feet of water.”  The new Grand Prize leader is 29 pounds, 6 ounces.  The derby ends on July 28.

In the Niagara River, bass fishing in the lower river has picked up according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait & Tackle. The moss is still an issue, but it does seem to be getting a little better. Worms, crabs, and tube jigs have been the bait of choice. A few walleye have been reported, too.

Max Gavigan from Buffalo with a nice bass he caught on a crab in upper Niagara River over the weekend fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island.

Upper river action has been great for bass, as well. According to Capt. Ryan Shea of Brookdog Fishing, his best bass bait has been a NED rig. That same rig has been producing an amazing number of muskellunge, too. So far this year he has connected with 16 muskies, all caught and released with care. Some decent walleye fishing in the river too, especially in the Emerald Channel.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast – from Destination Niagara USA

  • 6th Annual Greater Niagara Fishing Expo is running Jan. 18-20
  • Tough Weather…Great Time for an Outdoor Show, BUT WE STILL HAVE great fishing
  • REPORT FOR Jan. 17, 2019
Gary Laidman of Eden caught this 12 pound walleye in the lower Niagara River. He also caught some nice steelhead on pink egg sacs fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island.

The 6th Annual Greater Niagara Fishing Expo is almost here, set for Jan. 18-20 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. The website is  There is a winter storm advisory but it appears to be more of a southern track right now with 6-7 inches expected Saturday night. Don’t let that scare you off! The show will go on!! Here are a few small tidbits worthy of consideration in making your way to the Cataract City with over 200 seminars, 96 speakers and over 170 vendor booths:

  • Antique Fishing Tackle – Mark Schmitkons of Wilson will be showing off some of his antique fishing tackle. More importantly, he will be happy to appraise your own old/antique fishing equipment to see if it’s of any value. He will even store your old gear, so you don’t have to walk around the show with it.

Harry S. from Pittsburgh, Pa. caught this nice steelhead in Devil’s Hole on an egg sac Monday while fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane, NY.

  • Capt. Lance Valentine of Walleye 101 is a Pro Staff representative for Lowrance Electronics and Sonar/GPS whiz. If you have a Lowrance unit on your boat that is Gen 2 or newer, his booth will be offering free updates and set up on Lowrance Sonar/GPS units.
  • DEC Bureau of Fisheries Chief Steve Hurst will be mingling with anglers at the show. He will be sitting in on Capt. Bob Songin’s Lake Ontario Niagara Bar salmon seminar at 5 p.m. and answer some questions then. He will also have his own Q and A on Saturday at noon, fielding questions from the audience. Lake Erie Unit biologists Dr. Jason Robinson and James Markham will be around on Friday to give talks on walleye movement and steelhead study updates.

    Connor Cinelli of Grand Island was fishing the lower Niagara River on Monday and caught this nice steelhead on a pink egg sac.
  • Make sure you check the website out at and print out the $5 parking voucher. Pay just $5 for the day. Park in the city ramp. The Expo will go on no matter what the weather or conditions.
  • Four different Bass pros will be hanging out in the Rapid Fishing Solutions booth, at the Hawg Trough and in the seminar rooms. They are Billy McDonald, John Murray, Brad Knight and Mark Menendez. There are also many other local bass experts sharing their insights on fishing local waters.
  • Need a fishing license? Stop in at The Boat Doctors booth at the show and pick one up.

And on to the local fishing. They are still catching some nice trout and walleye in the lower Niagara River, but conditions have been brutal. Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island took his son Connor out to catch some steelhead on pink egg sacs. The following day it was steelhead and walleye, including a 12 pounder reeled in by Gary Laidman of Eden. What a fish!

Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield reports that the bite was slower than expected from shore recently while casting the gorge area of the lower Niagara River.

Dan Ettipio of Tonawanda caught this hawg lake trout on a shiner while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli in the lower Niagara River.

Water had good visibility, but he couldn’t get the reaction strikes he wanted with spoons and spinners so he switched over to a gulp minnow on a jig head. With the move, he managed 3 steelies by bouncing the jig off the bottom very slowly.

Gary Laidman with a nice steelhead from the Lower Niagara River.

Learning how to read the water and fish your baits accordingly is part of Davila’s seminars this weekend at the Fishing Expo in Niagara Falls. Be sure to check them out at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday to learn how to fish from shore there.

With some snow, cold and wind scheduled for the weekend, it’s a perfect time to attend the fishing Expo! Don’t forget that the Niagara River Anglers has their steelhead contest Feb. 2. Mark your calendars! Call 731-8710 for more information. Sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle or The Slippery Sinker.

For the Lake Ontario tributaries, most creeks are frozen partially or fully according to Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters. Finding open spaces to place your bait or fly is going to be a challenge right now. Fish the faster water at the top of big pools where things don’t freeze as much. Feltrinelli managed to find some open water in some Lake Ontario tributaries, and he needed to fish it low-and-slow to take brown trout and steelhead due to the cold water temperatures. Check his seminar out at the Expo. Ice fishing in Wilson and Olcott harbors are a more likely scenario, but we’ve not had any reports.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303