Niagara River

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Fishing in Niagara River

Many know the Niagara River for its mighty waterfalls, but this natural border between the United States and Canada also has a lot to offer passionate anglers. Niagara River fishing is some of the best in New York state, and understandably so, seeing as it hides the most popular freshwater game fish in its waters.
 
This winding, gorgeous river is divided by the famous Niagara Falls in two parts – the Lower and Upper Niagara River. You’ll find the Lower Niagara in the north, stretching from the falls all the way to Lake Ontario. The Upper Niagara flows from Lake Erie to the Grand Island and is home to fish that prefer warmer water conditions. With its amazing diversity and year-round fishing action, the Niagara River is a magnet for all freshwater aficionados who want to hook copious amounts of Bass, Trout, Salmon, Muskellunge, and Northern Pike. When you’re looking for breathtaking scenery paired with even better fishing, the Niagara River is the place to be.
 

Fishing Spots

 
If you take a look at any Niagara River fishing report, you’ll understand why many anglers have a blooming fishing affair with this powerful river. With countless excellent fisheries to explore, both from shore and from a boat, this productive body of water just keeps on giving.
 

Lower Niagara River

 
Local fishermen will all tell you the same thing: Do not underestimate the power of the Lower Niagara River. These turbulent, even treacherous waters are teeming with impressive-sized fish, but they’re not easy to navigate. The whitewater in these parts shouldn’t be trusted because the water levels fluctuate significantly and the river bottom is uneven. It’s highly recommended to go fishing with a local guide who knows this area inside and out.
 
The fickle waters don’t stop anglers from heading out and catching trophy Chinook and Coho Salmon, Steelhead, and Walleye year after year. The spring run on this part of the river yields good number of Lake and Brown Trout, while May and June bring Walleye and Muskellunge. If you come anytime from August until October, make the most of the fall Salmon run and save late November for the superb Steelhead fishery. Some of the best fishing spots in the area are Fort Niagara State Park, Artpark in Lewiston, and of course, the infamous Devil’s Hole.
 

The Devil’s Hole

 
There’s nothing that you can’t catch in the Devil’s Hole, as long as you have the skills and luck on your side. Here is where Niagara justifies its native name – thundering waters. This fishing spot is tricky to reach because of the steep Niagara Gorge that surrounds it. The waters are fast and unreliable, but the fish that live here are well worth the risk.
 
Colossal Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, Brown and Lake Trout, and Smallmouth Bass are like a siren’s call to avid anglers and, year after year, they come back for more. The fall Salmon run is spectacular, with fish regularly weighing over 10 pounds. Many Niagara River fishing charters specialize in guided trips in these devilish waters, which allows you to leave the navigation to an experienced captain and make the most of your time on the rod.
 

Upper Niagara River

 
This section of the river from Port Erie up to Grand Island is an angling dreamland. This is the place to be when you’re on the lookout for hefty 40 lb Muskellunge. Smallmouth Bass fishing is excellent around Staley’s Reef, and the Walleye bite is very good as well. If Northern Pike is your prey of choice, you’ll have the best chance of hooking one on the south side of Strawberry Island, around the weed beds. These are warmer and calmer waters where you can catch healthy amounts of Salmon and Trout, especially if you decide to go out in the fall.
 

Fishing Tips

  • To attract Walleye, Trout, or Salmon on the Lower Niagara, a three-way bottom bouncing rig is your best option. Pair it with live bait like salmon eggs, shiners, or leeches, and you’re good to go.

  • The locals use Kwikfish lures when going after Salmon, as well as wobbling bait. If you’re going after Trout, minnows will bring you success.

  • If you’ve set your sights on Muskellunge, then clearwater trolling and big trolling lures will give you the best chance to land a lunker.

 

Need to Know

 
Niagara River fishing is an exciting affair – with so many species to target and hot spots to explore, one lifetime wouldn’t be enough to get a taste of it all. But, it’s up to you to try.
 

Regulations

 
The easiest way to get acquainted with the laws and rules of the area is to go fishing with a local guide. They will take care of your fishing license and clue you in on all the details on weight and size limits. In case you prefer to be self-reliant and fish from land, buy a New York state fishing license in the nearest tackle shop and you’re ready to go.
 
Since the river acts as a border between the US and Canada, be sure to pack your passport along with a valid Ontario fishing license if you plan on drifting into Canadian waters.
 

Budget

 
Whether you choose to spend four or eight hours on the Niagara River, you’ll have plenty of fishing stories to tell when you return. Four-hour trips are available at the price of around $300–$400, and the price range for eight-hour fishing excursions is $350–$500. If you prefer using live bait, there might be a small additional charge for it, but it will be well worth it when you hook something epic.
 

Getting There

 
Buffalo is the biggest city in the area, followed by Niagara Falls, Tonawanda, and North Tonawanda. Each of these are no more than a 20-minute car drive away from each other. Witness the grandeur of the Niagara Falls and remarkable beauty of nature that surrounds it. Above all, the fishing diversity of the Niagara River is enough to make any angler get hooked on it after one day on the bountiful waters.
 
Niagara River
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Niagara River Fishing Seasons

January

The ice is slowly starting to thaw. On the Lower Niagara River, you can hook Steelhead, Walleye, and Lake Trout, especially if you fish in the gorge.

February

The annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest is on its way, and the temperatures are slowly rising. You can expect Steelhead, Brown and Lake Trout, and Chinook Salmon at the end of your line.

March
The water visibility is improving, and Trout, Chinook Salmon, and Steelhead are biting. With the right lure presentation you can hook Walleye as well, it will just take a bit more patience.
April

Both Upper and Lower Niagara are teeming with good-sized Lake and Brown Trout, and Steelhead is also a regular catch, along with Chinook and Coho Salmon.

May

The Walleye and Northern Pike season opens on the first Saturday of May, and Smallmouth Bass, Trout, and Chinook Salmon are all giving anglers along the river a proper fight.

June

If you were waiting for the best Smallmouth Bass and Walleye fishing, this is your month. The Upper Niagara produces good amounts of Northern Pike, and there’s White Bass swimming around too.

July
You’ll find plenty of Smallmouth Bass and Steelhead in the Lower Niagara, but if you’d prefer to chase Muskellunge and Walleye, then moving south toward Lake Erie is a good decision.
August

The Annual Bass Derby is in the cards mid-August, but Smallmouth Bass action is good on the whole river. You can also reel in a massive Chinook Salmon and have yourself a royal dinner.

September
When September comes and the weather starts to cool down, head out to the Devil’s Hole to look for Chinook Salmon. You can also find Northern Pike here and there.
October
Salmon fishing is all the craze on the Lower Niagara, and Coho and Chinook Salmon are the stars. Muskellunge and Smallmouth Bass fishing is excellent on the Upper Niagara.
November

Muskellunge season is open until November 30, so this is your last chance to catch a big one. Lake and Brown Trout fishing is very good in the Lower Niagara, and Steelhead is present as well.

December

Steelhead, Walleye, Brown and Lake Trout – you can catch them all in December. If you’d like to hook a Perch, it’s possible to do it now, especially around harbors.

Niagara River Fishing Calendar

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Reviews of Fishing in Niagara River

A Half-Day With Captain Barry
Kevin R. fished with Schultz Sportfishing Charter on September 17, 2020
The fishing is plenteous and exciting. However, prepare for swift currents, a tremendous undertow, and do not take the river and lakes lightly.
Fishing with Paul
Natalie T. fished with Niagara River Guide Service on August 18, 2020
Be prepared to deal with the mighty waves of Lake Erie
Full day with captain joe
Melissa B. fished with Niagara Falls Fishing (NRGS) on July 28, 2019
Just be ready to adjust to weather conditions. In our case, just wind.
Whole day trip with Paul was WELL Worth we learned so much!!
Michele G. fished with Niagara River Guide Service on March 27, 2019
Dress for weather...Trust your guide Our guide Paul he knows how to catch fish!!
August fishing trip
Barbara K. fished with Schultz Sportfishing Charter on August 2, 2018
Barry is well versed and knowledgeable, friendly and helpful
Don't underestimate the freshwater drum
Lonnie D. fished with Niagara River Guide Service on June 27, 2018
Two days ... one targeting walleye and the next smallmouth.

Top Targeted Species in Niagara River