Fishing Updates

A warmer day yesterday settled the snow pack quite a bit.  Now we are back to cold temps expected right thru the weekend.  Access parking spots on the Oak like at the dam are all plowed and wide open.  Just one or two guys out mostly at the dam.  For now downstream slow water spots are still open but look for the ice cover to likely be closing in there by the end of this week/weekend.  Most water that would represent a winter holding spot is prob iced over or will be shortly in the smaller area tribs under low to mod and clear flows.  Flows in the Oak are about mod and clear.  There is some bank ice like around the Archers Club.  Look for staged up steelhead mostly at the dam or the deep water holding spots downstream.  Long and light drifts or swings and usually small presentations plus bait should bring some hookups.

There’s lots of good fishing for salmon, steelhead and brown trout ahead! Stay at the shop lodge (Licorice Lodge) close to the Oak Orchard River fishing action! Or for the fall stay at our new well appointed private ground floor lodge (Garage Lodge) located just 6 miles east on Route 18.  The new lodge is convenient to eastern tribs like Sandy Creek. Call 585-682-4546 or email for a reservation ASAP!

The Oak Orchard Pen Rearing Association receives steelhead and salmon from the NYSDEC placed in net pens in the Oak lower watercourse each spring. Approx 100,000+ King salmon and 10,000 – 15,000 steelhead are placed in the net pens for hopeful imprinting on the Oak Orchard. These numbers represent just some of the total number of salmonids (brown trout too!) stocked in Orleans County waters annually. Many thanks to local stakeholders for their efforts of securing, feeding and monitoring the fish. More tributary anglers are invited to help with feeding the fish and cleaning the pens. Contact us for how and where to help out each spring. Be sure you contact NYSDEC with comments on the predation from over-abundant cormorants and the impacts on the young stocked salmonids.  The NYSDEC Region 8 office in Avon, NY would in-fact love to hear from more anglers showing concern for trib issues.  Its ok and encouraged for out of the area anglers to verify their economic impact for the upstate NY tourism economies!

The Sportsmen Archer’s Club Fly Fishing Only Catch and Release Contest was held October 16, 17, 18 – 2019. Everyone enjoyed the great hospitality and convenience of the Archer’s Club and experienced some good fishing. The Club’s cooperation with out of the area fishermen is truly above board and greatly appreciated by all!  All non club members are reminded to act as courteous and responsible guests so that we may all enjoy the fishing access there now and in the future.

We encourage all anglers and users to follow the site rules for access and fishing on the Brookfield Power Company lands. We cannot speak for the power company or interpret their site rules. We have an aerial map highlighting the PFD zone just downstream of the dam and on the overflow channel on the Oak. A PFD is not required to fish all of the Oak, only on the Brookfield Power Company areas below the dam (about 600 feet) where wading is permitted.  We can also forward you a copy of the Brookfield Power Company brochure highlighting that area via email. For specific questions about the Waterport dam site rules you can email . We continue to lobby for water access on the far side or west side of the Waterport dam hydro pool and the rest of the Oak.  We encourage you to do the same with Brookfield, NYSDEC and/or Orleans County Tourism.

We changed the name from Orleans Outdoor to Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge going on 3 years ago! We have a new logo that cleverly looks a lot like the old one!  Watch for other changes soon like more content to this website. If you’re reading this you should be at the right spot on our new fishing conditions page.  There’s probably still some old Orleans Outdoor content out there on the web and Goggle.  We hope to go live with more info soon! We look forward to another 20 years as WNY’s longest running trout and salmon speciality fly, spin and float trib shop!

Its all about water flows…  Water flows are the single biggest factor in encouraging upstream movements of fish during the fall, winter and spring trib seasons.  The Oak benefits from 24/7 spring, summer and fall supplemental flows from the Erie Canal.  In our fishing conditions tabs below we use a simple system to describe the water flows on the Oak and oftentimes  other area smaller trib flows too.  We are generally most confident in our Oak interpretations, less so in the other area smaller tribs.  Remember use caution in interpreting the upstream USGS gauging stations on the Oak that can mean little or nothing for flows downstream of the Waterport hydro – especially in considering both the turbine channel and overflow channel.

Real low, low, mod, mod to med, med, slightly high, slightly high to high, high, real high, blown.  Intrepid anglers are capable of catching fish on the Oak in all of these flows, except for maybe blown AND dirty.  Remember the turbine channel can only get so high due to how much flow can pass thru the hydro plant.  That flow is still actually fishable – unless its high AND dirty.  Blown flows typically come from the overflow channel.

Remember you still have to get out and fish… Come experience great fishing as it takes place instead of solely relying and waiting on internet reports. Anglers who find the best fishing often anticipate when the right conditions will come together. Internet bragging seems a lot less prevelant then it was a few years ago, and our reports tend to be even keeled – not reporting fish numbers great enough that they would be jumping in your waders – even if they were! Good water flows will be the biggest factor for trout and salmon migrations in the Oak Orchard River and in the area smaller tribs and pushing them upstream. Weather and the calendar is the biggest factor for angling pressure and bringing more fishermen out or keeping them indoors. There are always some exceptional fish caught in the trib season, just check out the pics below and in the archives. Come on out and get in on some trophy action this fall, winter and spring and add to the photo collection!

What does the Oak Orchard River, the Lakeshore and other WNY tribs offer? The chance to fish from your own two feet for trout and salmon you measure in pounds, not inches, for 7 – 9 months depending upon weather and water conditions. A trip to the Oak Orchard River and WNY to fish for World Class trout and salmon is still easily the best bargain in trophy fishing. The working man’s big trout and salmon trip is still here, and it’s not even a contest compared to the other exotic, far off angling destinations. We believe our web reports are the straightest poop by far about Oak Orchard and most WNY conditions. We are living and experiencing all the fishing action directly or thru trusted reports of other die hard anglers as it happens. So how do you know if trophy trout and salmon will be catchable upon your travels to the Oak Orchard and WNY area? All the best web info, bulletin boards, angler skill and top notch equipment cannot replace getting out there and actually fishing! The nuances of fish migrations is an inexact science and we cannot predict the future. Fish as soon as reasonable conditions allow instead of waiting for supposed better conditions that may or may not materialize. Be one of the lucky few that experiences good fishing as it takes place instead of hearing that famous quote, “you should have been here yesterday!”

Tight lines and smooth drags!
Licorice Man

Latest Catch Photos

Courtesy of Country

Nice big fresh King drifting action on the backside of high flows from end of Sept rains.  What more could you ask for for small area trib action!?  Likewise find Kings steaming up the Oak too with good slightly stained flows all around.  Reasonable fishing pressure with fair to good numbers of Kings spread from near shore big Lake O waters to upstream fast water spots, in some cases right past anglers not there yet to intercept with a drift.  Start of Fall 2021 action end of Sept!

Rivermouth action has been slow to start but might be picking up as near shore waters cooled down a touch after couple days of med E winds.  I little color to the water at dawn and just after – a pair of reasonably fresh males come to the net for the Licorice Man.  Spoon grabbing fun hard fighters with a dark skein wagon thrown in too for mid/end Sept 2021 at the Oak Orchard Rivermouth.  Kings are coming, are you ready?!

Still some steelhead action hanging on in the Oak thanks to a return to good high flows without any real spike in water temps yet.  Water temps have remained downright cool late into this season despite up and down flows.  If you stayed patient and made some drifts or swings when the good flows returned by mid Apr you could be rewarded with a hungry drop back steelhead.  Must be the the cool Bauer and GLoomis spey gear that made it happen for Chuck the Swinger end of Apr 2021!

Out of winter hibernation just to keep the pinners honest a med fresh pretty steelhead comes to the dead drift.  Backside of higher and dirtier early spring flows means some hard fighting steelhead.  Anglers often find flows still a bit high and a bit stained and for sure cold but that’s the nature of steelheading and the chance for a multiple hook up day.  Get the drift or swing down and checked and slowed a bit and you can find a head shaking steelhead on the take.  Beats a zoom webix facetime remote lockdown covid scene anytime for the Licorice Man!  Begin Mar 2021 Oak Orchard River.

Chris Megan from “On the Water” mag gets a top notch net job from Bill to land this trophy early in the season fresh male brown trout!  Water flows and trout and salmon migrations are looking good thanks to bolstered Erie Canal feed to the Oak and other waterways.  Many thanks to all involved in the “Reimagine the Canals” fishery benefits for WNY and esp NYS Canals outstanding cooperation.  Ron Bierstine task force member.  Oak Orchard Oct 2020.

Ron is in salmon jail but managed this med male at dawn at the Oak Orchard river mouth Sept 6 on a glo spoon.  Furlough was just long enough for a few casts!  Look for improving action thru the month with cooling weather or cooperating wind and waves and water color.  Come get in on some hard striking fresh fish action at the river mouth and downstream areas.  Oak Orchard River begin Sept 2020.

Oak Ochard Tackle & Lodge Fish

Some big steelhead are still in the Oak!  A little rise in flows and some stain to the water makes for a willing biter with this nearly 20 pound hen steelhead.  Spawning fish like this can be found in the gravel runs if you choose to target them or else find the real action in adjacent holes for the staged or drop back fish.  Little to no fishing pressure because of the recent events, with the few anglers out enjoying action like this for early Apr 2020 steelhead in the Oak.

Oak Ochard Tackle & Lodge Fish

Shorebound casters get in on the brown trout action at the break of spring thru Mar, Apr or May.  Hungry post spawn browns like this semi golden male are eager to bite your spoon, plug or fly.  The presentation is not that technical, just look for favorable winds and water color.  Pitch a retrieve and wait for the hard jolt!  Fresh silver browns too and chance for bonus steelhead or salmon.  Good case for earlier season catch and release and reasonable creel limits…  Point Breeze Oak action March 2020.

Oak Ochard Tackle & Lodge Fish

March 2020 steelhead chrome action on the Oak!  Watch for that high and stained water flow and hit it as soon as you can.  Catch it back on the drop with that slightly high and slightly stained flow and find fresh fish scattered thru the River, esp upstream areas.  Deep and slow drifts and swings are rewarded with hard fighting fresh steelhead.  Solo angler snaps a quick pic and the hardy cold water fish is released for action another day!

Oak Ochard Tackle & Lodge Fish

Early season Oak rivermouth action for a nice brace of med female Kings for the Licorice Man.  Can anyone say some skein please?!  First week of Sep 2019 with lots more chances ahead.  In shore warm water but it didn’t stop hard strikes at dawn – not much left in the fight afterwards.  Cool nights and cooperative winds should make for better battles with more staging Kings and trout chances as well.  Follow them up from the Rivermouth, lower river, frog water, fast water stretches, Waterport dam.   Fly, spin or float – all fun!

Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge Fish

Shoreline casting action Apr and May for hungry brown trout.  Land lubber casters or small boat trollers or canoe/kayakers can all get in on hard striking action for mostly browns with occasional steelhead or salmon or smallmouths in the mix too.  Near shore big Lake O waters and pier head light tackle spoon or plug or streamer fly fun when wind and waves cooperate for slightly stained green or brownish trib runoff.  Oak Orchard River mouth mid Apr 2019.

Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge Fish

Mid week at dawn 1 for 2 with this nice fresh hen landed at the Oak rivermouth.  No consistent cool down or big freshets yet so the action has been on and off.  Some persistent casting in the low light or at night periods should provide chances for hard strikes and good fights.  Look for better rivermouth and lower river action each day on cool or wet weather.  Oak Orchard rivermouth King, second week Sep 2018.

Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge Fish in Net

High and stained flows gives up some fresh Oak Orchard chrome for the Licorice Man.  Fresh steelhead chances for late winter, early spring usually means high and stained and cold water challenging drifts.  Waiting for supposed “better” conditions could mean missing out and finding even worse water conditions later on.  Late Feb 2018.

Ronald Bierstine with Fish

Even lucky, old and not pretty casters like the Licorice Man can get in on the early hard striking and fighting fresh King action at the Oak Orchard rivermouth!  IMO one nice silver fish is worth a whole bunch old upstream darkies.  Early Sep 2017.

Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge - woman with Fish

Erica finds it hard to hold up nearly 20 lbs of fresh King caught at the Oak Orchard rivermouth!  Early silver fish like this are a good sign for the upcoming trib action.  No trolling gear required, you can get in on this action casting or drifting! Early Sep 2017.  No sore shoulders or headache now – Erica will be forever casting for her trophy 4.  Send one my way once and awhile 12.  I’m so sorry, sorry you needed a helmet to fish with me 20…

Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge Fish

Steelhead glory to the swung fly in the OOrchard for end Jan 2016/begin Feb 2017.  Will you be there when a chromer moves upstream?  Don’t wait for Apr and ask if the steelhead are in yet!

Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge - man with fish

Good steelhead action for fresh fish up and down the OOrchard River on retreating and clearing flows for begin of Mar 2017.  Savvy trib anglers anticipate good hook-up chances on the backside of high flows when reasonable weather and water conditions coincide!