Branson Fishing Lakes rank among BEST-IN-AMERICA

The Tri-Lakes area of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas includes fishing hotspot waters, including Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake.

  • World class fishing is found everyday in the famous Tri-Lakes region of southwest Missouri.
  • Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake & Bull Shoals Lake offer trout, bass, crappie, walleye, catfish, perch and more.
  • Visitors discover affordable family fun, family fishing, family entertainment and restful accommodations. 
Big trout live here, including this 40-pound 6-ounce Missouri State Record Brown Trout from Lake Taneycomo.

By Larry Whiteley

Where can you go and fish three different lakes for 23 different species of fish in one trip? The answer is Branson, Missouri. Located in the famous Tri-Lakes area of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas, this family fishing hotspot includes Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake. All have been ranked among the best fishing lakes in America. In 2018, Branson was named #1 in ”Top 10 Lake Towns,” then in 2020 was ranked #2 in ”Top Affordable U.S. Lake Towns” by

Wrapping around the eastern border of Branson is Lake Taneycomo, renown as the “Trout Capital of America.” It is internationally known for world-class rainbow and brown trout fishing. The Missouri state record brown trout was broken twice in 2019 with a 34-pound 10-ounce fish, followed seven months later with a 40-pound 6-ounce brown. The world record is 42 pounds 1 ounce and was caught in New Zealand. In 1997, a dead brown trout was found floating in Taneycomo that was 41.75 inches long, and based on those measurements, it would have weighed over 44 pounds. Will the next world record come from Lake Taneycomo? The fabulous trout fishing is not the only great fishing that Taneycomo offers. The diverse fishery also features catfish, crappie, bass, sunfish and walleye that all thrive in the cold, nutrient-rich waters.

Massive fish thrive in the Tri-Lakes region, like this 65-pound 10-ounce Missouri State Record Striped Bass from Bull Shoals Lake.
Tasty yellow perch are among colorful fish to be caught here. This 2-pound 7-ounce Yellow Perch was taken from Bull Shoals Lake, it’s a Missouri State Record.

Table Rock Lake is also a big part of the fishing and fun in the Branson area, with shorelines covering both Missouri and Arkansas. When I say big, I do mean BIG! The 43,100-acre reservoir has excellent bass fishing year-round and is annually ranked in Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes listing. If you have dreamed of catching the “Triple Crown of Bass” (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted), this is the place you could make it happen. White bass are also in these waters, so I guess if you caught one of them along with the other three, you would have a “Grand Slam of Bass.” There are also a limited number of striped bass, but I have no idea what you would call it if you caught one along with the other four. A miracle, I guess, and something you can tell your grandkids about. In addition to all the bass species available in Table Rock waters, there are also white and black crappie, walleye, goggle-eye, channel catfish, flathead catfish, carp, bluegill and longear sunfish. If you are into catching something really different, Table Rock is also home to ancient paddlefish.

Bull Shoals Lake is a short drive from Branson, and like Table Rock, is in both Missouri and Arkansas. It, too, is nationally known for its excellent bass fishing. Largemouth weighing up to 12-pounds have been caught here. There is also hybrid bass, smallmouth bass spotted bass, stripe bass, and white bass too. Bull Shoals is not known for hybrid bass, but a local angler recently caught a state record 29-pound 1-ounce hybrid that might very well also be a line-class world record if it passes all the judging criteria. A 65-pound, 10-ounce state record striped bass was also taken from these waters. Bull Shoals is also nationally recognized as a fabulous walleye lake. The Missouri state record at 21-pounds, 1-ounce came from Bull Shoals. Crappie fishing is also popular and, if you’re into catfishing, there’s plenty of those too. There are a limited number of rainbow trout and a few of the historic paddlefish here. Another fish in Bull Shoals, and conservation folks are not sure how they got there, is the yellow perch. This species is very popular in America’s northern lakes and in Canadian waters. The Missouri state record is 2-pounds, 7-ounces, which is a good size for this good-tasting cousin of the walleye.

Besides fishing, there are many family fun things to do in this beautiful area of America. Go to and check it all out for yourself, then come explore all that Branson, Missouri has to offer for fishermen and families. For additional information regarding travel or accommodations, you may also  contact the Branson Visitors Bureau by phone: 1-800-296-0463 . 

Winter Chill is Here, but Fish are Too

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Report from Destination Niagara USA
  • Big fish in Trib’s during December runoff periods
  • Ice Boom going in on Lake Erie very soon
Corey S. of Massachusetts caught this big brown fishing with Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters.

Temperatures are in the single digits with the wind chill and there’s not much wind.

Efforts are underway to install the ice boom at the head of the river off Buffalo, but water temperatures are still fluctuating around 40 degrees. Ice is still a ways off. As a result, the Niagara River water is still susceptible to stained conditions when the winds are right.

Joel Juhasz of Lancaster caught this 30-inch steelhead in the lower river to take over the lead in the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors fall contest.

With temperatures being forecast in the 40’s this weekend, it should be a good time to get a line wet for some trout action in the Niagara River just before the Christmas holiday.

Earlier this week, a hand full of boaters were catching steelhead using minnows off three-way rigs. Shore guys were using spinners, jigs, and streamers to take steelhead, with the occasional brown trout also being caught. Lake trout season opens in New York on Jan. 1, 2020, but it’s open already on the Canadian side of the river.

Captain John DeLorenzo with a Lower Niagara River steelhead.
Captain John DeLorenzo with a Lower Niagara River brown trout.

The brown trout action that was hot earlier at Fort Niagara has slowed down.

In the upper Niagara River, Denis Kreze of Fort Erie has been hitting some lake trout using a Venom Donkey Snatcher in 18 feet of water. Lake trout season is open in the upper river all year long.

Roy Letcher of Newfane sends word that the water flows have been high with muddy conditions for most tributary streams running into Lake Ontario. Those streams could be in good shape by the weekend.

With cold weather in the forecast, we could be looking at some of the Niagara County harbors, like Wilson and Olcott, starting to turn to hard water soon.

Ric Davila of Wheatfield took a couple of steelhead before work on Tuesday using his two-handed Spey rod and a white bunny leech.

Good water was being reported in some of the smaller streams like 4-Mile and 12-Mile, but Keg Creek is closed at the mouth, preventing any fish from entering the stream. After the high water/rain event last week, the water levels have lowered, and fish have come in from the lake.

Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters with a Lake Ontario tributary brown trout.

December runoff is a no brainer to catch big lake-run fish on the move. Use a large size 6 white Zonker with copper flash. Slush ice can be a challenge when temps hover around freezing. Waiting it out can pay off big. “The sun recedes and with it the conveyor belt of slush ice,” says Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters.

Some last-minute stocking stuffers include a season pass for the LOC Derby at Save $20 ($10 off the regular price).  A 3-day pass for the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is available from the website at The Expo is set for Jan. 17-19, 2020.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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

Big Browns at Olcott Trib’s, Musky in Upper Niagara River

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Nov. 6, 2019, from Destination Niagara USA
Aaron Woods of Ransomville with a dandy brown trout he caught at a favorite Lake Ontario tributary.

For Lake Ontario, lots of rain late last week and part of Saturday caused turbid conditions in the bigger creeks. Smaller creeks are producing browns and steelhead right now. Egg patterns and streamers work well according to Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters. Try using egg patterns in orange and natural color buggers.

Brian from Ohio with another nice Lake Ontario tributary brown trout from last weekend.

Many fish are spawning on the redds right now, so those fish have had lockjaw. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports good action on egg sacs, artificial eggs, marshmallows, beads, and wooly buggers. Pier action has been slow, primarily due to the winds keeping people off of them.

The Niagara River was still very stained as of today, but we’re getting close to fishable conditions for boaters. Use scent or something with vibration. Steelhead and brown trout top the list, but a few out-of-season lake trout are showing up, too. There are still bass and walleye around, too, according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle.

Lower river fishing has been better for the shore casters than the boaters for sure with the condition of the water since the storm. The shoreline usually clears first when you have conditions like this, allowing for better fishing close to the rocks. Egg sacs or imitations, spoons, spinners will all work. It should continue to improve the closer we get to the weekend, barring any further wind events.

11-year-old Nick Adam of the Town of Tonawanda caught this 39-inch musky in the upper Niagara River last week using a perch-colored shallow raider – his first musky ever!

If we see some snow and ice, there’s a good chance that the New York Power Authority fishing platform will be closing temporarily. Call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to find out if it’s open.

Dan Woods from Ransomville caught this lake trout and released it while casting off the NYPA fishing platform.

In the upper Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor, musky fishermen are chomping at the bit to get out there and target these toothy fish. The season ends there on Nov. 30. Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters reports that we need some green water for fish to start turning on, and they should be hungry. Fishing was good in the river prior to the storm. When the water finally clears, it should be game on in Buffalo Harbor, just in time for the re-scheduled Tim Wittek Memorial Musky Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 10. The contest is sponsored by the Niagara Musky Association.

Remember that there will be a meeting hosted by DEC to discuss the Lake Ontario forage base on Wednesday, Nov. 13 starting at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will take place at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, 4487 Lake Avenue, Lockport and it is free and open to the public.


John Antone from Niagara County caught this 47-plus inch muskellunge from the upper Niagara River while fishing with Capt. Connor Cinelli of Grand Island just before the storm blew in last week.
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 Report

  • Forecast for March 21, 2019 from Destination Niagara USA
  • Clear waters, active fish in river and streams
  • Shore casters and boaters doing well

Happy Spring!

Rich Pisa of Kenmore, NY was fishing the lower Niagara River gorge and caught this steelhead this past week.

Stream and river action are both strong right now and this week’s weather doesn’t look too bad as of right now, especially on Sunday.  In the lower Niagara River, Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield has been doing well in the Niagara Gorge from shore casting spoons.  Water has been very clear there. Hopefully we will see a little snow melt and rain to help stain that water up a bit.  Still, he’s been taking some nice steelhead from shore.  Boaters have more opportunity to move around and steelhead and brown trout are both producing consistently by anglers drifting shiners, egg sacs or plugs like Kwikfish or MagLips off three-way rigs.  If you are looking for browns and lakers, try drifting the Niagara Bar with a shiner near the green buoy marker.

Greg Schloerb of Amherst with a Burt Dam steelhead.
Ricardo Davila hit the Artpark area from shore in the lower Niagara to take steelhead like this one casting spoons.

The tributaries are opening up nicely and if there’s good flow, there will be some fresh trout in there.  The most popular area in Niagara Falls USA off Lake Ontario is 18 Mile Creek near Burt Dam.  Egg sacs and jigs are working to produce some feisty steelhead with an occasional brown trout. Don’t forget about the piers in Wilson and Olcott, too.  Those should start to turn on soon. And speaking of Wilson, the 7th Annual Wilson Bullhead contest is coming up soon, April 5-7.  Make sure that’s on your fishing radar screen.

Speaking of brown trout, it appears a few boats have been trolling the shoreline out near Fort Niagara and picking up some browns in 6 to 8 feet of water.  Use small stickbaits, either flatlining off the back or working the shoreline with in-line planers.

Brad and Terry Harris of Missouri hoist up some steelhead they caught in the lower Niagara River last weekend fishing with Capt. Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston.
Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston holds a steelhead and Bill Blanchard of West Seneca shows off a walleye on the final day of the walleye season in the lower Niagara River last Friday.

On Saturday March 23rd, there will be a Lake Ontario Fisheries Symposium sponsored by NY Sea Grant and the Lake Ontario Sportfishing Promotion Council from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Finger Lakes Mall (adjacent to Bass Pro), Auburn. Expert panels and presentations on Lake Ontario will be offered up. Register for free at

Also, on March 23rd, the 8th Annual Fisherman’s Paradise Flea market and Swap Meet will take place at the Alexander Firemen’s Rec Hall located at 10708 Route 98 in Alexander.  Admission is just $2.  Kids 12 years of age and under are free.  For more information, call Joe Kugel at 440-0004 or Jim Thompson at 585-591-0168.

April 1 is opening day of the inland trout and salmon season.  DEC does plenty of stocking in its inland waters.  Call the Randolph Hatchery stocking hotline at 358-2050 for details.  Stocking will take place in Niagara Falls at Hyde Park Lake and Gill Creek, as well as Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield on April 11.

Capt. Matt Gantress of Amherst, NY shows off a Niagara Bar brown trout.

The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association will be assembling and floating the net pens for the 2019 project season starting at 9:30 a.m. on April 6.  This will take place at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott.  In addition to holding over 67,000 salmon in pens, they will also be holding 7,000 steelhead in pens to improve survival rates and imprint the fish to these waters. 

Remember that April 6 is also the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs annual awards banquet starting at 5:30 p.m. at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara in Lockport. Call Dave

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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

Missouri State Record Brown Trout – CAUGHT and RELEASED ALIVE!

  • Hooked, Landed, Weighed, Transported, Released ALIVE!
  • Incredible True Story of a Passionate Sportsman and Friends
  • Lilley’s Landing Tournament Site is Home to New State Record Brown Trout at Lake Taneycomo


Paul Crews and friends with the new Missouri state record brown trout, 34 lbs – 10 oz, released alive back to Lake Taneycomo.  CLICK PICTURE FOR VIDEO. Ryan Miloshowski Photo      

An incredible true story of a memorial fishing tournament named after an honored friend, a new giant state record fish hooked under adverse conditions, landed, transported, weighed, transported, then released alive to swim away and fight another day.  

Because there are so many facets to this Lake Taneycomo trout saga, it’s hard to know where to begin.  The prime fact is that Paul Crews of Neosho, MO, landed the biggest brown trout Saturday that anyone has ever caught in the state of Missouri to date.  It was officially weighed by Missouri Department of Conservation Fisheries Biologist Shane Bush and documented at 34 lbs-10 oz. That beat the previous state record by a little more than six pounds, caught by Scott Sandusky of Arnold, MO, in November 2009, also on Lake Taneycomo.

Crews and partner, Jimmy Rayfield of Salem, MO, were fishing together in a trout tournament hosted by Lilleys’ Landing Resort & Marina on upper Lake Taneycomo.  It’s called the Vince Elfrink Memorial, named after Vince who was an avid sportsman, husband, father, and friend to many of the participants of the contest, including Crews and Rayfield. Vince passed away in 2011 of brain cancer at the age of 52.  And just so happens that the pair won last year’s tournament, sealed by a 21-inch brown trout Rayfield had caught.  The pair beat out 36 other teams to win this year’s event.

The day started out foggy and wet, but the afternoon brought out the sun and wind.  We all were watching for thunderstorms early, but anticipating the high winds forecast for later in the day that did arrive about 2 p.m..  Fishing in wind gusts up to 40 mph is not easy, especially tossing a small 1/8th ounce, sculpin-colored jig around.  Working a lure that small in high winds is tough, even with four-pound line, but feeling a bite is virtually impossible, unless it’s a huge fish, I guess.

Crews and Rayfield had had a good day up to the minute the big fish was hooked. They had been fishing down from Lilleys’ Landing most of the day but ventured up to the mouth of Fall Creek to make a drift, working their jigs along the east bank. Crews said they were in shallow water, able to see the bottom under their boat as they drifted. Table Rock Dam was releasing water at a rate of 6,850 cubic feet per second, generating two units at 3 p.m.  Even with the difficulty of the wind blowing his line, Crews still felt a “tap” and set the hook. That’s when the excitement started!

The fish came off the bank where it was hooked and ran toward the duo, swimming under their boat. Crews had to scramble his new rig, spinning it around so that his line didn’t catch the edge of the boat or trolling motor.  The trout stayed down almost the entire fight, so Crews didn’t really know what he had until the very end, but he knew it was big enough “to probably win the tournament” if he landed it.  Little did he know . . .

“Frank” eventually headed across the lake to the bluff bank, then switched back to the middle and eventually returned to the inside bank where docks dot the shore.  Yes, the fish has a name explained later in the story.  Frank then headed to places he’s probably familiar with — the docks. Crews said he swam under at least two docks. That heightened the high risk that the line might be cut on the dock itself or on the boats at the docks. Crews, a seasoned angler, kept his rod way down in the water to keep the line from rubbing on anything that would end his fight.

The giant brown trout named “Frank” was carefully handled, weighed by state officials and released alive back into Lake Taneycomo to live into the future. Ryan Miloshowski Photo

At one point, Crews said that Frank quit moving. He thought for sure Frank had wrapped his line around something and escaped, but Frank was just resting and a fish that big can do whatever he wants to do. Eventually he came out, tired and ready to give in. Rayfield worked the net over his head and the pair hoisted the fished into the boat. They were just above Short Creek when the fight ended.

Crews had just bought a new boat and this was its maiden voyage. Fortunately, the live well was just big enough to fit Frank in, but he filled every bit of it. Word got back to me that they were coming in with a huge fish, so we had everything ready to receive the package. Frank was immediately placed in a large, aerated tank on our dock to rest after his ordeal.

We determined right off the bat that we’d try to keep Frank alive regardless if he was a new record or not. Once he uprighted himself and was swimming around, we pulled him out and recorded a quick, unofficial weight of 33.4 pounds. He was easily a new Missouri state record. Now we had to come up with a plan to transport him to the hatchery to be officially weighed.

We filled a stock tank full of lake water and that’s where Frank rode, guarded by admirers in the back of my truck on the five-mile ride to the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery. Shane Bush was there with hatchery personnel, ready with their official scale to see if Frank made the record books or not. Everything was done quickly and carefully, pulling him out of the stock tank to the scale, verifying his weight at 34 lbs-10 oz, and then moving him to the aerated tank in Shane’s truck. We still had no pictures out of the water, just shaky videos, but the goal was to return him back in the lake as quickly as possible.

We caravaned down to the boat ramp access, less than a mile from the weigh-in site. Shane needed to get some official measurements before release: 38 inches long, 27-inch girth. He confirmed our observations that the adipose fin had been clipped, which identified Frank as a triploid brown trout. I’ll explain what that means later.

The sun was about to set over Table Rock Dam, so we hurried to the edge of the water to take a few pictures: Crews and Rayfield with the new Missouri state record brown trout. We slipped Frank into the water and Crews gently held him there until he swam out of his hand. We followed him a little ways downstream until he turned and swam close to the bank, holding his own in the swift water.  Frank dashed the record books, survived being fought, handled, trucked, weighed, trucked and photographed and back in Lake Tanneycomo before sundown. We hope he keeps growing and maybe, just maybe, give someone else a chance to catch a state record fish.

Crews lives with his best friend and wife, Rita, and their son Matthew in Neosho, Missouri. They own Crews Construction and specialize in wastewater treatment plant construction. He is an avid outdoorsman, but his home waters are the Spring and Neosho rivers as well as Grand Lake, so he rarely fishes for trout except in the annual tournament honoring his fishing buddy.

Frank’s story – we’ve always had trout hovering under our dock, feeding on pieces and parts of fish discarded from our fish cleaning facility. On occasion, there will be a big trout, either brown or rainbow, to stop by for a treat.  They move up and down the lake seeking out the best meal, never staying in one spot very long.

One day about three years ago, Duane Doty (dockhand and guide for Lilleys’ Landing) spotted a very large brown. He stood out from the other trout. He was a brute. Duane called him Frank. Shortly after Frank showed up, another brown trout showed up and he was much bigger! Duane changed Frank’s name to Frankie and called the new addition Frank. We have since videoed and photographed Frank many times when he has trolled by, so we have good records on him.

To sum up this incredible story, fishing in a memorial tournament named after his best friend, Paul Crews hooks a fish in extremely adverse conditions, fights a 34-pound fish on four-pound line for 20 minutes around docks, logs and boat traffic, then lands it using a small trout net. He fits it in his live well and keeps it alive while transporting it to be officially weighed, measured and photographed, then released back in the lake successfully to keep the story alive.

And Crews says, “Praise the Lord!”

Brown Trout, Walleye, Steelhead Dominate the Niagara Region Winter Fishing Action

Buffy Frank of Lockport with her 34-inch, 15-plus pound brown trout caught on a jig.

The Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Dec. 13, 2018 from Destination Niagara USA beckons to all anglers.

Richard Pisa of Tonawanda caught this 16-pound upper Niagara River lake trout on a jig.

Brown trout and steelhead are dominating the Niagara Region fishing report this week, with walleye not far behind. Buffy Frank of Lockport caught a monster brown trout yesterday while fishing a favorite Niagara County Lake Ontario tributary. Using a black marabou jig tipped with wax worms, she hauled in a 34-inch brownie that tipped the scales at better than 15 pounds. She didn’t get an actual weight because she wanted to get it back into the water and release it as quickly as possible. She did get a quick photo though. Nice fish!

Buffy Frank of Lockport with her 34-inch, 15-plus pound brown trout caught on a jig.

Tributaries seem to be offering moderate to medium flows. Egg sacs, single eggs, egg imitations and a variety of flies are all working to take fish. Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a lot of fishing pressure the past week. We could see a little bit of rain and temperatures into the 40’s over the weekend.

In the lower Niagara River, fishing was good from both boat and shore. Brown trout, steelhead and walleye have all been caught with consistency.

Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston used a jig to take this nice Devil’s Hole steelhead.  

Boaters are using three-way rigs to entice fish to hit with MagLips, Kwikfish, beads, egg sacs and minnows. A minnow is what worked for Matt Gerhart of Spring Mills, Pa. when he was fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. He reeled in an 11-pound walleye fishing the lower river.

Matt Gerhart of Spring Mills, Pa. caught this 11-pound walleye in the lower river on a minnow.

Some nice browns and steelies into the double-digits have also been caught by drifters. Shoreline casters in the gorge are using spinners, jigs and egg sacs to take trout and the occasional walleye, too. Even a few late salmon are hanging around.

Musky season ends on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Above Niagara Falls in the upper river, Rich Pisa of Kenmore grabbed his boat and hit some favorite spots with his dad, Richard of Tonawanda. Using jigs, they managed to catch 3 lake trout up to 16 pounds, 10 walleye and some silver bass. Water conditions were near-perfect.

Rich Pisa of Kenmore hit the lower river gorge around the Whirlpool to take some nice steelhead like this one, using a pink egg sac.

We’re only a month away from the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo, set for Jan. 18-20, 2019 at the Conference and Event Center in Niagara Falls. Check the website out at and see what all the buzz is about.


Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston used a jig to take this nice Devil’s Hole steelhead.


Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
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Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303

Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Thursday, March 15, 2018 – from Destination Niagara USA

Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston, NY, shows off a Niagara County steelhead he caught this week on an egg sac.

It’s March 15 and it’s the final day of walleye, northern pike, tiger musky and pickerel fishing seasons in New York. We’re also less than a week from the arrival of spring. However, someone forgot to tell Mother Nature. We were dumped on again, with another 6 to 8 inches of snow in Niagara. Despite the late white stuff, there are trout in most all of the streams and in the Niagara River.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been crawling around the rocks in the gorge area and he picked up a few fish in the lower Niagara River this week using a white and silver jig in the Devil’s Hole area. Water was high with visibility at about 10 feet. Water clarity has been an issue for Capt. Mark McGranahan of Sparky’s Charters, too. He was offering trout some egg sacs, minnows and plugs like Kwikfish and MagLips and managed to hook into a few. Action was not consistent though. It appeared there was a large amount of bait in the river, too. If this weather continues to stay cold with a chance of snow or ice, they may not open the New York Power Authority fishing platform or the NYPA reservoir access points. You can check by calling 716-796-0135 Ext. 45.

March 18th is the 13th Annual John Long, Sr. Memorial Raffle and Feast to be held at Niagara Active Hose on Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. This is the big fund raiser for the year with the Niagara River Anglers Association. Call Paul Jackson at 731-4780 for more information.

In the Lake Ontario tributaries, conditions have been fair to good for trout. White flies and jigs have been working well. Jig tipped with a wax worm also have been catching some fish.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls his this nice steelie casting a white and silver jig in the Niagara Gorge.

Next rain or melt-off should produce a solid push of fish. Water has been cold, so fish low (deep) and slow according to Scott Feltrinelli, a local fly fishing guide out of Rochester area. Both steelhead and brown trout are being caught, depending on where you are fishing. If you can make it on the lake, you can troll the shoreline for browns with stickbaits.

The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association is looking for some volunteers to help put their pens together and get them ready for the salmon and trout stockings in April. On April 7, volunteers will be meeting at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott at 9:30 a.m. to work on the pens. For more information contact Alan Sauerland at 504-7789. Incidentally, the first meeting of the year for LOTSA will be April 12 and it will be on tournament spring king fishing. The meeting is in Lockport at 7 p.m., Cornell Cooperative Extension.

If you are looking for an opportunity to buy, sell or view antique fishing tackle, the 29th Annual Antique Fishing Tackle Show is the ticket. This is the longest-running event of its kind in the state, giving you a trip down memory lane as it relates to the fishing industry. The show is slated for March 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge No. 41 located at 6791 North Canal Road in Lockport. Admission into the show is $5 for adults. Kids 16 and under are free. Tables are still available if you are interested in displaying for $15 before March 17, $20 after. This is a great chance to get an appraisal on some old fishing tackle that may be lying around your basement or in your garage. For more information contact Dan Bedford at 713-9410.

Antique fishing lures will be the focus of a local show in Lockport on March 24 to be held at the Elks Lodge No. 41.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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

Niagara Falls USA: Steelhead, Brown Trout, Late Coho Salmon MOVING with Late Winter Weather

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Feb. 22, 2018 – Destination Niagara USA
  • Stream & River Levels, Coloration – Subject to Weather Swings
  • Fresh Fish are Entering Streams
  • Use Caution if Going Ice Fishing
  • Activities: Boat Show NOW, Outdoor Expo – Mar. 8-11, Alberto Rey at Orvis, Feb. 25 – NOON
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a nice steelhead he caught in the Devil’s Hole area of the lower Niagara from shore. He was casting a yellow jig.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for sure – from the fishing end of things, due to the ups and downs associated with the weather.  Earlier in the week, record-breaking temperatures shot up to 66 degrees. It’s back down to the 30s but back up to the 50s by the weekend.

Lower Niagara River action for trout had been good. The tributaries off Lake Ontario and Lake Erie opened back up again and anglers were catching trout consistently – before the rains came.

All the tributaries were high and muddy, but as of this morning, both 12 Mile Creek in Wilson and Keg Creek were flowing nicely according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott.  

Over at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek, water flow has already started to come down and there was about a foot visibility.  

There should be some fresh fish around.

Ice fishing is questionable. Caution is advised any time you are heading out onto the hard water due to the wind and rain we received last go-round of warmth.  

Captain Taz Morrison caught a nice steelhead on the lower river while drifting a Kwikfish. The next day he was at Burt Dam catching late-run Coho salmon on Lick-em-lure eggs.

Getting back to the Niagara River, the water condition was affected by the dirty water coming out of the streams, but there was no indication that fishing had stopped.  Condition was stained from the power plants on down, but was more manageable above the plants.  

Shore fishermen like Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls have been casting yellow jigs to take steelhead and brown trout.

For boaters, use eggs or minnows when the wind isn’t out of the south or southwest.  When it is, use a MagLip or a Kwikfish off a three-way rig.  Conditions should be better by the weekend downriver of the power plants.

The WNY Boat Show is underway right now at the ADPRO Training Center located at One Bills Drive in Orchard Park.  It’s a great way to dream about spring and also check out some of the boats that are available on the market now.  After all, we are surrounded by water here in WNY. It continues through Sunday, Feb. 25.

If boating isn’t your thing, the next big indoor event on the outdoors is the WNY Sport and Travel Expo at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg March 8 to 11.  There’s free parking and displays in four different buildings covering everything from fishing to hunting, tourism destinations to outdoor-related products.  Check out for more information.  

If you want to learn about fly fishing in the Great Lakes streams, check out Alberto Rey at the Orvis Shop in Williamsville on Feb. 25 starting at noon. Call 716-276-7200 to reserve your spot.

Bill Hilts, Jr.- Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303; p: 1-877 FALLS US; 1-716-282-8992 x. 303; f: 1-716-285-0809;

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King’s, Coho’s and Brown Trout Wacking Baits from Boat & Shore in Lower Niagara River

  • King’s, Coho Salmon on Niagara Bar ON-THE-MOVE to Devil’s Hole
  • Browns Biting at Night from Shore
  • Rainy Weather May Cause Big Run
  • Bass & Walleye Biting in Upper Niagara/Lake Erie
Mike Rzucidlo with an October brown trout casting from shore in the Lower Niagara River.
Jon Gwara with a nice King Salmon fishing with Captain Frank Campbell.
Ricardo Davila with a King Salmon caught from shore.

Get ready for another slug of fish to arrive in the lower Niagara River and area tributaries off Lake Ontario! Both wind and rain are in the forecast and that could be the trigger to bring some more fish into area waters.
In the lower Niagara River, Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters called me at 9:30 a.m. to say he had limited out for his two customers. That’s six salmon in just a couple hours. Not every day is like that, but if the rains in the afternoon trigger a run, there are a bunch of fish – kings and Coho salmon – hanging out on the Niagara Bar waiting for a push from Mother Nature.
We haven’t seen good numbers of Coho salmon in the fall in a number of years. This is great news! For boaters, the Devil’s Hole area is the place to be. Pautzke-treated egg skein is the ticket for taking Pacific salmon, fished off three-way rigs.
Shore fishermen have been doing pretty well too. Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield has been tossing glow-in-the-dark spoons and spinners to take salmon early in the morning. When that sun comes up though, fishing gets a bit tougher in that Devil’s Hole area.
From shore, Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been using the same kind of hardware. He’ll also toss a Rat-L-Trap. Today he started catching some brown trout mixed in with his salmon in the Whirlpool area. He also reported some good bass fishing along the shoreline at Artpark.
If you enjoy fishing around the Schoellkopf Site near the Discovery Center (yes, there’s an elevator there), this new access point will be closed Oct. 11-12, next week, as they use a crane to complete some work.
Over at Olcott and 18 Mile Creek, Burt Dam has seen more fishermen than fish. Hopefully that will change soon. Some fish are being caught from boats anchored around the harbor, as well as around the piers.
Pier casters are only picking a few fish up now, but hopefully that will change, too. Spoons and spinners will work, but harbor boats are using treated egg skein and fished under a float.
Boat trollers are still pounding the mature salmon with flasher and fly or meat until they hit. Sometimes it’s tough getting them mad enough to strike, but when they do you have your hands full. If the weather cooperates, you can always run out deep off Wilson and Olcott to take a mix of salmon and trout.

Captain Chris Cinelli with another nice walleye rom the Upper Niagara River / Lake Erie.

Capt. Alan Sauerland of Instigators Charters out of Wilson found some salmon and trout in 450-plus feet of water, but he had to go deep to find the right temperatures. His riggers were from 75 to 110 feet deep, the divers were 280 and 300 feet back and he needed 500 feet of copper line to hit the fish zone with spoons and flasher-fly presentations.
In the Upper Niagara River, bass and walleye are still the primary focus. Capt. Chris Cinelli has been hitting some nice fish at the head of the river with shiners and spinner-worm combos.
Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions
Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
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Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!