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Fall Fishing Program

Each fall, the Canal Corporation makes releases from the Erie Canal as it is drained for the winter into Lake Ontario tributaries. In addition to kicking off fall fishing season, this release strengthens the population of local species and provides a longer, more bountiful angling experience. 
Three young anglers proudly hold up a large, spotted trout, the focal point of the image. Behind them, the autumn leaves along the riverbank boast a spectrum of fall colors, echoing the joy and success of youthful fishing adventures in the crisp autumn air.

Fall Fishing Video


Flow Releases Benefits

To create better angling opportunities, water release flows are periodically increased between September and December along specific waterways, resulting in improved spawning conditions for brown trout, steelhead and salmon. Refer to the table below before browsing fishing areas.

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2023 Flow Release Schedule

New Schedule Announced Each September

EARLY SEASON LATE SEASON
WATERWAY COUNTY INCREASED FLOW RELEASES ADDITIONAL INCREASED FLOW RELEASES FLOW RELEASES*
Eighteen Mile Creek Niagara ------> 09/21 - 10/12 10/13 - 12/15
Oak Orchard Creek Orleans 09/15 - 10/12 10/12 - 10/26 10/27 - 12/15
Sandy Creek Monroe & Orleans 09/15 - 10/12 10/12 - 10/26 10/27 - 12/15
Johnson Creek Niagara & Orleans ------> 10/12 - 10/26 10/27 - 12/15

*From about Nov 1-30, during Late Season, higher releases to these Lake Ontario tributaries are anticipated to extend fishing opportunities even as winter approaches. Water levels are kept elevated in the Erie Canal, so increased releases similar to Early Season can be repeated. From about Dec 1-15, releases continue as water levels are lowered in the canal for draining and then gradually end for the year.

Find Your Fishing Spot

The four creeks shown receive additional flows of Erie Canal water during the fall months.

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Fishing Locations

Each fishing location along the NYS Canals is unique. Get to know each one before choosing the spot that’s right for you.


Live Conditions Tracker  

Stay up to date on natural occurrences that may impact fishing conditions with data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Water flow rates can affect species availability so always check here before casting a line.
Fall Fishing Program
Download Fishing Guidelines

2024 Calendar

Free Fishing Days - No License Required

  • Sat Feb 17 & Sun Feb 18, 2024 – Presidents Day Weekend
  • Sat Jun 29 & Sun Jun 30, 2024
  • Sat Sep 28, 2024 – National Hunting and Fishing Day
  • Mon Nov 11, 2024 – Veterans Day
Young kid wading in the water, wearing fishing gear, including waders, sunglasses and a hat. The kid is hold a large fish and smiling.

Fall Fishing Resources

Learn about the local environment, the various types of fish you may encounter, as well as what you can do to help prevent the spread of invasive species with help from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Fall fishing gallery

Get a glimpse of the environment and wildlife you might encounter while fishing along the New York State Canals
A child, attentive and geared up for fall fishing, casts a line under the watchful guidance of an adult on a river brimming with fellow anglers. The backdrop is a stunning mosaic of autumn colors painting the trees along the banks, reflecting in the water's surface and setting a picturesque scene of outdoor education and recreation.
A young angler proudly holds up a large, spotted trout, the focal point of the image. Behind him, the blurred autumn leaves along the riverbank boast a spectrum of fall colors, echoing the joy and success of youthful fishing adventures in the crisp autumn air.
An angler in waterproof attire cradles a large, speckled trout with striking pink lateral lines, a testament to the rewarding experience of fall fishing. The catch is displayed against the shimmering, flowing waters of a serene river, capturing a moment of success during the autumn angling season.
Anglers stand in the gently flowing river, surrounded by the splendor of fall, with trees ablaze in oranges, reds, and yellows. One fisherman in the foreground practices his cast, while others are scattered in the background amidst the vibrant autumnal setting, all enjoying the quintessential fall fishing experience on a clear, crisp day.
A serene view of Oak Orchard Creek, lined with trees showing off the full array of fall colors, from vibrant yellows to rich reds. Anglers are wading in the gentle waters, spread out along the winding river, engaged in the peaceful pursuit of fall fishing.
The focus is on the delicate interaction between an angler and a stunningly spotted trout, just caught during a fall fishing trip. The fish's golden-brown scales are dotted with a constellation of black spots, and it’s cradled above the river's rocky bed, ready for release.
Three young anglers proudly hold up a large, spotted trout, the focal point of the image. Behind them, the autumn leaves along the riverbank boast a spectrum of fall colors, echoing the joy and success of youthful fishing adventures in the crisp autumn air.
Aerial view of a waterfall and dam. The yellow and orange foliage on the surround trees suggests that the image was captured in the fall.

Access & Conservation Easement (ACE) Program 

The Canal Corporation is dedicated to improving the health of our waterways through multifaceted sustainability efforts. Learn more about the Canal Corporation’s partnership with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and what we’re doing to ensure public fishing access for generations to come.

On The Canals

Think you’ve seen all that the New York State Canal System has to offer? Learn about thrilling adventures and more On the Canals!