Buffalo NY Fishing Report – Observations from 12/04/2023 – 12/10/2023
Here’s our latest Buffalo NY fishing report: Mother Nature gave us a little reprieve from chaotic conditions this past week. Although we had a couple days of chilly temperatures and inconvenient winds, every day was fishable, and I managed to fish all 7. It was an excellent week where we boated every prized game fish in our system – some real giants too. Keep reading for more details.
Days on the Water: 7
Who we fished with: friends/clients
Where we fished: Lake Erie, Lower Niagara, Lake Ontario
What we caught: smallmouth bass, lake trout, brown trout, steelhead, walleye, king salmon
Tactics: 3-way rig with live bait, beads, or plugs; drop shots, bucktail jigs, swimbaits
Episode 71 of Two Angles on Angling: It was a week of wonderful weather (for the most part) in the Buffalo Niagara Region. I fished every day and Jordan managed to spend a lot of time outside, keeping tabs on what’s happening on the terrestrial side of things. As the harshest days of winter approach, we get deep about our winter fitness protocols – what we do and why. https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/two-angles-on-angling
Detailed Reporting/Daily Observations
Monday – Fished the Lower Niagara with a group of new clients. The forecast called for a wet morning, NE winds, and chilly temperatures. These guys were game regardless. I was VERY happy when they arrived wearing the right gear for the conditions. I was even happier after the first drift when I saw that these guys were good anglers. Excellent day!
Tuesday – I had the day off, but the forecast going into Tuesday looked excellent for Lake Erie. So, I called Ron and we made plans to do some smallmouth fishing. It was a chilly morning but we got into fish right away. It felt good to be out there, bending a rods with an old friend. Excellent numbers on drop shots and bucktails.
Wednesday – The Whisperer, the Silent Assassin, and I fished Lake Erie. The forecast was way off. We were supposed to get some light winds out of the north and the snowfall was supposed to be fleeting…and only for the first hour or so. That’s not what happened. We caught fish almost immediately when we got to our first spot…then the snow and wind kicked up. Before long, we were battling NW winds gusting over 20mph, 1-3’waves, snow, and frigid temperatures. It hurt – we bailed early.
Thursday – Jason, Bernadette, and Drake fished with me for the first time last December. When they were here last, the weather was BRUTAL – well below freezing temperatures, snow, wind, and generally harsh conditions. However, they are a team of hardcore anglers and they endured and caught fish. I felt horrible and disappointed about their first Buffalo Niagara experience. Luckily, they understood that I can’t control Mother Nature and they booked another trip for this year. We decided to call it the redemption trip…and they got theirs. WHAT A DAY! We caught ridiculous numbers of steelhead and lake trout.
Friday – Fished the Lower Niagara and the Lake Ontario bar with Jason, Bernadette, and Drake (day 2 with the crew). We had south winds and temperatures in the 50s – hardly a normal December day in the Buffalo Niagara Region. Considering the weather for their last visit was so brutal, we were excited about NOT freezing out assess off. We got our redemption the day prior, so this outing was icing on the cake. We decided to fish the Lake Ontario bar at the start of the day (like a few dozen other boats). Action was even crazier than the previous day. We doubled up on nearly every drift. Bernadette solidified her title as “Big Fish Bernadette.” We finished the day upstream and had almost the same action as the day prior. Insane session!
Saturday – Fished the lower Niagara with Dave – a long time friend/client up from Clarion, PA. Highs were in the low 60s, with partly cloudy skies and winds from the south (it’s December in Buffalo Niagara btw). Yeah, there were folks out fishing in short sleeve shirts. Seemingly everyone with a boat that wasn’t winterized was on the water. It was more crowded than I’ve ever seen it. We picked away through the crowds all day.
Sunday – Fished the Lower Niagara with a great group of new clients. Unfortunately, it was a super grind. I’m not sure why – likely because of the pressure the day prior, but who knows. I’m sure/I hope it was an anomoly.
Seasonal Assessment/General Observations
On the Conditions
I don’t have much to delve into this week as I think the daily descriptors listed above captured much of the week’s happenings. However, I have a handful of observations after having fished Lake Erie, the Lower, and Lake Ontario throughout the week. In short, the bite continues to be ridiculously good, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
I managed one successful session on Lake Erie this past week. With the water temperatures in the mid-40s, I suspected just about anything I put in a smallmouth bass’s face would get eaten – especially if it was white. I was right.
We spent all our time fishing water in the 35-45’ range. Covering a mix of sand and rock piles, when we found fish, we didn’t stop catching them. YES! It’s that late fall/early winter pattern where they get super concentrated and feed like crazy. I fished a JDO Lure Co 1/2oz white bucktail jig the entire time and they hammered the hell out of it.
I missed spending time with the smalljaws – it had been weeks since I spent a day on Erie. It’s comforting to know nothing has changed in the annual pattern. Go deep, patrol the edges of rocks and gravel, jig aggressively and you’ll get a reaction. Once you do, get ready, because it won’t stop for awhile.
The lower Niagara continues to fish VERY WELL. There are still MANY lake trout and brown trout in the river and EXCELLENT numbers of steelhead too. The Lake Ontario bar also continues to be insanely good with lots of lakers and browns around as well as the occasional king salmon. It’s wild out there – but the word is out and the crowds are nuts.
As far as the pattern goes – the spawn is pretty much done. I’m sure there are a handful of fish still dropping eggs, but I didn’t catch a single female lake trout or brown trout that still had eggs in her – all were deflated. As I’ve mentioned a few times in recent reports – when the spawn ends, the fish will convert to eating minnows. We’re at that point now.
Quick example of this phenomenon – the first couple drifts I did on Thursday were with beads. We didn’t get anything. So, I switched one of the rods to live minnows and it got bit within minutes. Then I switched another rod to minnows – same thing. All 3 rods ran minnows the whole day and I don’t think we went more than 2 drifts without catching a fish for the rest of the day. Bottom line – beads will still produce, but that bite is on the wane. Fish live minnows or something that imitates them and watch your catch rate climb.
Buffalo NY Fishing Report – Forecast for 12/11/2023 – 12/17/2023
The forecast for the upcoming week looks very similar to what we had this past week – except a little colder with a little more wind – nothing prohibitive though. In other words, it’ll be more like December than September. Every day looks like it’ll be fishable. I have a few dates booked, but I’m getting some work done on the boat (cosmetic improvements) so I won’t be on the water daily.
If I get the opportunity to do so, I’ll fish Lake Erie at least once this upcoming week. Likely, just prior to the weekend if the forecast holds. Otherwise, the Lower will continue to be the office for much of the sessions on the docket.
The year is winding down, my friends. Days are getting shorter and shorter and before long, we’ll be locked in Mother Nature’s icy grip for a couple months. I’ll provide my annual warnings about shack nasties soon, but before most of you get into hibernation mode, start making plans for spring. My spring schedule is packed already, so if you want to get out during prime time, please contact me soon.
Stay healthy my friends – mentally and physically,