Steelhead, Steelhead, Steelhead…and Browns and Lakers and Bullheads, OH MY!

Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston with a big Lower Niagara River brown trout from last week.

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for March 18, 2020 from Destination Niagara USA
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a “chromer,” a steelhead, caught on a spinner in the lower Niagara River.

Fishing the waters in Niagara Falls USA has been one of the few constants in this time of uncertainty in the world.

Fishing in the lower Niagara River was on fire this week.  Double-digit catch days were the norm for boaters drifting a mix of minnows, egg sacs, and Pautske fire dye minnows.

Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown and Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston reported banner days on the water this week, nearly all steelhead.

Nick Hudak of Pa. with a lower Niagara River steelhead from this week, fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown.

Three-way rigs bouncing the bottom was the way to go, especially upriver as far as Devil’s Hole.  If the winds are switching to the southwest, throw on a MagLip or Kwikfish.  Speaking of winds, there will be something severe blowing in on Friday that could mess things up again, including some heavy rains.

Shoreline casters are picking up some fish, too.  Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls hit some steelhead on spinners this week in the gorge. There is 4 to 5 feet of visibility being reported.

Some bullheads were hitting in Wilson and Olcott and Lake Ontario was hitting the magical 40-degree mark.

Trolling the shoreline for brown trout and other fish is an option, as is casting the piers with spoons, spinners or stickbaits.

The Wilson Conservation Club announced this week that they are cancelling their Bullhead Contest set for April 3-5 due to the coronavirus.  Not because of the fishing, but because of the weigh-in and afterparty.

There have been good numbers of steelhead and brown trout in some of the main streams like at 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam after last week’s rains.  Best baits have been egg sacs, wax worms and beads tipped with waxies or run clean, according to Ken Jackson of Sanborn.  Rain in the forecast will help the small to medium streams out for sure.

Nick Hudak of Pa. with a lower Niagara River steelhead from this week, fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown.

April 1 is the opening of the inland trout and salmon season.  Hyde Park Lake, Gill Creek, and Oppenheim Park Pond will be stocking on April 8 starting at 10 a.m.  For other stockings call the hotline at 358-2050.

There are a few cancellations or postponements we should report on due to health concerns.  The next Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA) meeting set for April 2nd in Amherst, complete with a new flea market option, has been canceled. The LOTSA folks have even cancelled public involvement with the pen rearing project installation on April 4th in Olcott. That said, LOTSA board members will be doing all the work to get the job done in preparation for receiving the salmon and trout.

The Niagara Musky Association announced last Friday that they will be postponing its popular Awards Banquet set for April 4 at the Pearl Street Grill in Buffalo. The group has also cancelled its April 7 monthly meeting that was scheduled at the Eldredge Club in Tonawanda.

The Antique Fishing Tackle Show set for April 4 in Lockport has also been cancelled for the time being. It may be rescheduled in the future.

We will do our best to keep everyone updated on events such as derbies and tournaments. And, of course, the fishing. Stay safe out there!

Mike Ziehm with a lower Niagara River steelhead he caught this week from shore.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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Mark Romanack, FISHING 411 TV – the Niagara River in Winter…after a Lake Erie WINDSTORM

  • Niagara Falls USA, Pictures, Stories and our latest Fishing Report

The white stuff is starting to come down again. Depending on where you are in the county will determine how much snow we will be receiving before it’s over.

Mark Romanack of Fishing 411 TV arrived in Lewiston on Sunday afternoon with enough time to catch some lower Niagara River brown trout using MagLips.

Mark Romanack and his Fishing 411 TV crew came into town on Sunday (12/8/19) and managed to get a couple of fishing days in, but the winds caused water conditions to progressively get worse until he left Tuesday afternoon. This is what he had to say upon returning home:

Making Lemonade out of Lemons

Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters spent Monday on the lower Niagara River with Mark Romanack of Fishing 411 TV. The best bite came on 3-way rigs with egg sacs.

“When conditions are right, the lower Niagara River can be the hottest steelhead, brown trout and lake trout fishery in North America. When conditions are less than ideal, the fishing is routinely very good despite the conditions. However, when the Niagara River decides to shut down, she protects her fish like no other. In our recent visit to the Niagara River, we arrived Sunday afternoon in near ideal conditions and were treated to a couple of hours of stellar fishing drifting 3.0 Mag Lip plugs on three-way rigs. The next morning we also enjoyed great fishing with the help of Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters drifting spawn sacs on three-way rigs at the famed Devil’s Hole. By mid-morning, on the second day, the rains rolled in and fishing went from excellent to a slow tough grind. The third morning we hit the river hopeful with the rain passing, fishing would improve. Instead, the river levels had risen several feet due to heavy winds pounding the shores of Lake Erie. The watercolor in the Niagara River turned the color of chocolate milk. Despite our best efforts on day three, it wasn’t meant to be. Fishing is like that sometimes.”

Joel Juhasz of Lancaster with a new 3rd place 31-inch steelhead from the lower Niagara River, caught on a pink egg sac with Captain Matt Gantress of UnreelfishingNY.

“I can honestly say I’ve seen the Niagara River at her best and worst. I wouldn’t have missed either experience, but I’m hoping next go around the river will treat us with a little more kindness or at least a little longer stretch of kindness. Merry Christmas everyone and I hope to see all our NY friends at the Greater Niagara Fishing Expo January 17-19 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls.” Mark Romanack, Fishing 411 TV

Ric Davila of Wheatfield shows off his one of his two steelhead he caught using a Spey rod in the lower Niagara River. He was using a streamer to catch them.

Despite the turbid conditions, shore anglers had been picking up some steelhead, brown trout and lake trout. Best baits are spinners, beads, and sacs. Pink is a hot color right now.

Sacs and live bait are working for brown trout around Fort Niagara according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle.

Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla launched his boat at Ontario Street and fished the upper Niagara River to take lake trout up to 30 inches long and some walleye using minnows.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been hitting an occasional king along Artpark by tossing a No. 4 spinner. The fish he caught on Tuesday was 21-1/2 pounds and he caught that one on 8-pound test line.

We all may have to wait a few days for waters to clear this time around.

Remember that if you do catch a lake trout in New York waters, it should be released immediately.

Lake trout season opens on Jan. 1 in New York waters. However, if you fish the Canadian side of the river, that season opened on Dec. 1.

Muskellunge season remains open in the Lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River through Dec. 15.

In the upper Niagara River, Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla launched his boat over the weekend and used emerald shiners to catch some nice walleye, as well as lake trout up to 30 inches long. It was the only bait he could get to work.

The deadline to comment on proposed regulations for the Niagara River and Lake Ontario is Dec. 14. Check them out at


Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
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Destination Niagara USA; 10 Rainbow Blvd.; Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Bill Hilts Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast – May 2, 2019

Mark Davis of Big water Adventures TV is catching Lake Trout and King Salmon near Niagara Falls, NY.

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for May 2, 2019 from Destination Niagara USA
Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters has had some great fishing stories to tell the past week, including this triple header on king salmon. Salmon fishing is hot!

We have a smelt report! One was caught this week in the lower Niagara River according to Mike Fox of Lewiston. He checks nearly every night and one night this week there was one that was netted, the first he’s seen. One fish. If smelt runs are based on water temperatures, it will still be a little while because ice is still coming down the river from Lake Erie. In the meantime, stop by the Lewiston Smelt Festival Friday night (May 3rd) at 5 p.m. in Academy Park.

Fishing in the river continues to be good for trout – steelhead, brown and lake trout – if you want to brave the ice floes. Shiners, minnows, egg sacs, Kwikfish and MagLips will all catch fish. There could be some walleye hanging around, too, for the opener on Saturday. While the big numbers aren’t there like Lake Erie, it’s a sleeper spot for big fish. Last year in the spring LOC Derby, the winning walleye came from these waters, caught by an angler trolling for salmon and trout on the Niagara Bar near the river mouth.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught this steelhead from shore in the lower Niagara River this week.

And speaking of the LOC Derby, remember that the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby is set for May 10-19 with a Grand Prize of $15,000 for the biggest salmon and a total prize structure of $45,000. Check out

Finally, it looks like the lower Niagara River will be receiving its 75,000 salmon meant for the pen project in Youngstown on May 6. Due to cold water in the river due to extended ice in the system and the removal of the ice boom, DEC stocking trucks have been unable to bring salmon in from the Salmon River Fish Hatchery. The temperature difference between the trucks and the water that would be receiving the fish cannot be in excess of 10 degrees. If everything goes as planned, that will be on Monday. According to Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston, they need volunteers to help feed the fish for the next 3 weeks. If you would like to be part of the effort, contact Campbell directly at 716-523-0013. Thanks to these pens, anglers received the benefit of double the survival rate for stocked kings.

Mark Davis with Big Water Adventure arrived in Niagara Falls USA to participate in a Spring media event, something he’s been involved with for over 20 years. This was one of the first fish he caught, a huge Lake Ontario lake trout.

For Lake Ontario and tributaries, salmon fishing has been good to very good for trollers working the waters from Olcott to the Niagara Bar. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown has had some banner days on big kings, fishing spoons and flasher-fly 50 to 75 feet down over 75 to 85 feet of water. Lake trout are also being caught.

Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters has been doing well on brown trout, too. Getting the kids involved is important for the future of the sport.

Trolling the shoreline will still produce some brown trout using stickbaits according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott. Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott reported that a couple nice Atlantic salmon were caught off the piers in Olcott recently, casting stickbaits.

Many of the tributaries are high and stained right now according to Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters. He caught some nice trout and smallmouth bass this week using yellow wooly buggers.

Don’t forget about the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament May 31 and June 1. Check out for details.

Ethan Bronschidle of Newfane , NY, has hit some big steelies in some of the Niagara County tributaries.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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