Niagara River Salmon Run Peaking Now

By: Ted Kessler

The salmon run started slow on the Niagara River, but it’s at par right now. We are seeing the same success we had last season, which is good. The last week or so has been really good. We are hooking roughly six to eight salmon per trip. Some days it’s even better. We are at the peak of our run right now.

I’m expecting two more weeks of good fishing. Then it will start to taper off. We are still getting fresh pushes of salmon each day. Once we stop seeing fresh salmon it’ll be a clear sign that the run is slowing down. Then we’ll move to steelhead fishing. The good news is some of the best salmon fishing of the season will be here for the next week and boat traffic has been less this year. I think that’s because the Lake Erie walleye bite has been so good that some anglers are still targeting them.

The bite has been so hot that a lot of the boat anglers have been limiting out in the first three to four hours. This has enabled me and other guides to do two trips a day. The bite has been stronger in the morning, but we’ve been able to catch fish throughout the day. The pattern should continue.

We are catching a lot of larger fish this year. To be honest, in our early push of fish we saw some large males coming in. Meanwhile, the size has averaged out recently. Overall the average is 18-22 pounds, which tends to be a four-year-old fish. This week we are catching more three-year-old fish, which are roughly 12-14 pounds.

There are fish from the base of Niagara Falls down to the Art Park drift. Anglers on the US and Canadian side are catching them. As always, Devils Hole and the Whirlpool area harbor the highest concentrations of salmon. The Whirlpool is only accessible to bank angers, but boats congregate in Devil’s Hole.

Bank anglers are catching their fish using bobbers and eggs whereas boaters are bottom-bouncing skein. The highest concentrations of our salmon are on the edge of the current breaks. I don’t know why but the salmon have been keying in on a darker egg this season. All the guides are experiencing this. To get this color I’m mixing Pink, Natural and Red Fire Cure, but I’m using about 60 percent red and 20 percent pink and 20 natural to achieve that color. Meanwhile, on super sunny days a lighter color egg is still producing.

Bait is always the top producer for our salmon. Some anglers are using large globs of skein, but I’m having success with quarter size pieces. The shore anglers prefer larger chunks. I’m fishing mine on 15-pound P-Line fluorocarbon leader and a 20-pound mainline. I’m using a No. 2 Gamakatsu octopus hook to fish bait.

Editor’s Note: Ted Kessler operates Rivermaster Fishing Charters. For more info on his guided Niagara River salmon trips please visit