Every fall, after the leaves are gone and we start to see winter creeping up, we discuss the topic of shack nasties. See here for the definition. This year isn’t going to be any different. Consider it an annual public service announcement. If the shock of cold weather hasn’t hit you yet, it will soon. The forecast for the next week or so is looking somewhat grim for those that fear freezing weather. Use this shock and seasonal adaption period to kick you into action – start making plans to stay moving over the next few months.

Shack Nasties are Starting to Set In

I can already feel the crazy crawling up my spine. I went from fishing 20+ days per month for 6 months to suddenly…a couple days per week. The weather here in Buffalo Niagara has been a bit rough for a few weeks now and I wasn’t ready for the transition to frigid temps and numerous unfishable days.

Leading up to the start of November, it seemed like it rained nearly every day of salmon season yet almost every day had fishable conditions. Then, things got a bit more challenging. Big wind, rain, snow, ice, mud, and waves became the norm. The big water only had a 2-day window earlier this week where clarity was good enough to fish from the boat. Other than that, it’s been in rough shape for nearly 2 weeks. The tribs, both Ontario and Erie, have been hit or miss as well (unless you want to fish the shoulder-to-shoulder water).

Fighting them off the only way I Know How

Exercise and bowling are my cures for the shack nasties when fishing isn’t an option. Sure, I’ll get out to do some site seeing, take part in a seasonal Tonawanda pub crawl, go out to eat, see some movies, etc. but those aren’t routine activities. At best, most of these activities will encompass a few hours in any given month. What about all the rest of the time you aren’t sleeping, working, or on the water?

The best cure for shack nasties is an activity that forces you to move vigorously every day coupled with an activity that’s somewhat new for you. This new activity should be a challenge to learn and extraordinarily difficult to perfect. Exercise and bowling are my choices but there are countless options.


The next 4-6 months will present ample time for you to get in peak physical condition. When the weather is frigid or downright hostile, gyms or exercise clubs are a great place to spend an hour. I recently joined an Orange Theory gym near me. I’m not necessarily a devotee to their philosophy however, it’s something new and committing to classes is a way to hold myself accountable. Daily vigorous activity…check!

Get into a routine. Occupy that space once filled with after work fun in the sun during the summer months with something that taxes you physically. If a gym isn’t possible due to your location (don’t use budget as an excuse, there are countless gyms around that charge $10/month), train in your house/garage. You can build an ample gym in your garage for less than $200. Don’t believe me, shoot me a message and I’ll show you what I did.


I only bowl from November through April. I’m horrible but I enjoy it. By April I am OK but it all falls apart during the other 6 months. I particularly enjoy going by myself at 10:00AM on a weekday. I go at this hour for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I’m nearly guaranteed to encounter a variety of interesting patrons. Second, the prices are usually cheap. Finally, because so few people will be there, you can get a lane for yourself…away from everyone.

Bowling is one of those activities that, if taken seriously, can be therapeutic. Something akin to target shooting. Yes…I just compared bowling to shooting weapons. Balance, proper mechanics, control, aim, poise, etc. all play a roll in these kinds of activities. One must engage the mind and the body to achieve maximum effect. Done in conjunction with an exercise routine, mind-body engaging activities will keep your mind sharp and your body limber. This is crucial for keeping the shack nasties at bay.

Whether it’s 25 or 95 – it’s Just Another Day, Dress Accordingly

In my opinion, getting outside for an extended period during the winter months is the best cure for shack nasties. After all, it’s the shack that’s making you nasty. During casual conversation with summer clients or friends of friends, etc. people frequently comment how crazy it must be to fish in the winter. The conversation usually goes like this:

Random “Non-Winter” Angler: “You fish in the winter around here? That’s crazy? Don’t you freeze?”
Me: “Do you think it’s crazy to attend outdoor sporting events in the winter?”
RNWA: “No.”
Me: “So why is it crazy to go fishing?”
RNWA: no response…but hopefully a ponderous look.

Understandably, people have a hard time associating outdoor winter fun with water-oriented activities. Sliding down snow- and ice-covered hills with a board or 2 sticks attached to your feet is somehow sane, but fishing isn’t. It’s also perfectly sane to consume alcohol (a body temperature lowering substance), in a snow-covered parking lot for a few hours followed by consuming more alcohol while sitting around an arena watching large humans move a ball up and down a field for a few more hours. Bottom line, if you dress accordingly and manipulate your environment to make it as comfortable as possible, it doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside (within reason – safety first), you can make a good time happen.

Winter Fishing in Buffalo Niagara

The winter solstice is officially a month away. That means the fall is 2/3s over. The temperatures lately have the feel of winter through and signs of the winter pattern are emerging. All the tributaries are already full of trout as is the Niagara River. Brown trout and lake trout are in spawn mode and are about to become ravenous. Steelhead are around in huge numbers in the lower Niagara River, starting to show up more and more on the Ontario tribs, and are flowing well into the Erie tribs.

Typically, winter fishing in Buffalo Niagara will yield the biggest and hardest fighting fish of the year. This winter will be no different. We’re very encouraged by what we’ve seen so far. If you want to experience it first hand instead of reading the fishing reports on a tiny screen, give us a call. Tight lines.

Late Fall Fishing in Buffalo Niagara