Your complete guide to fishing in Western New York for those searching for fishing spots, techniques, and beginners tips in the Buffalo and Western New York region

Fishing in Western New York (WNY) is a staple for many who live throughout the region. When I was about ten years old, my dad introduced me to fishing as he was just learning the basics himself. Together, we navigated the shores of local waterways including many ponds, streams, and lakes.

When he became more confident, he bought his first boat, and this allowed us to truly explore the beauty of WNY waterways. WNY boasts a variety of scenic waterways throughout the region that provide world class fishing for a variety of freshwater species. For beginners and experts alike, WNY is a fantastic place to wet a line whether you are a solo angler or with friends and family. Fishing is an age old pastime that is both challenging and relaxing in some of the area’s most serene settings. It is my hope, that through this site, fishing in Western New York can become a favorite hobby of your own!

Fishing in Western New York
Northern Pike in Lake Erie
Fishing in Western New York
Walleye in Lake Erie
Fishing in Western New York
Smallmouth Bass in Niagara River

Gear & Tackle for Beginners

Fishing gear and tackle is very important for those looking to take up fishing. Fishing in Western New York can be difficult at times, but rewarding if you are utilizing the right gear and tackle. Many people who are learning how to fish do not thoroughly research. There are many resources at your fingertips including YouTube videos and blogs. Additionally, representatives in local fishing outfitters such as Cabela’s and other local tackle shops can be invaluable.

For those concerned about the cost of fishing gear and tackle, my advice would be to start light. As you gain more experience, you will learn what you need and what you don’t need. There is no need to grab a large haul of gear and tackle before your first outing. I have outlined a few of the basic gear needs below. As mentioned, consult YouTube videos (links coming) as well as your local tackle shop for advice on what you should buy before your first fishing trip in WNY.

What You’ll Need:

  • A medium-heavy fishing rod (this will work for many species including smallmouth bass, walleye, and perch) – Brands: Cabela’s, Bass Pro, Ugly Stick, St. Croix
  • 6-10 lb test fishing line – Brands: Bass Pro, Trilene, Vanish
  • A fishing reel rated for a medium-heavy rod
  • Light tackle including hooks, sinkers, jig-heads, swivels, and lures
  • Live bait: worms (night-crawlers), minnows (shiners), crayfish
  • Pliers for cutting fishing line and removing hooks
  • A net
  • A tackle box or bag
Fishing in Western New York
Tackle Box & Bag, Fishing Rod & Lures, Fishing Line, Pliers

Where to Go: Fishing Spots in Western New York

Western New York boasts a wide variety of ponds, rivers, lakes, tributaries, and streams. For beginners, I would recommend finding a nice shore spot in the Niagara River. This includes docks such as Niawanda Park in Tonawanda or Fisherman’s Park in North Tonawanda. From these shore spots, anglers typically reel in Smallmouth Bass, a local favorite in WNY. It is said that these are the hardest fighting freshwater fish – pound for pound.

Aside from the occasional keeper (fish kept to eat), I am a proponent of catch and release fishing. This is beneficial for the local fishery and allows species to continue to thrive in their natural environment. Many local fishermen feel it is up to the fishing community to maintain local fish populations and to provide for a sustainable future of fishing in WNY. Make sure to do your part!

If you aren’t quite ready for the swift current of the Mighty Niagara, I would recommend a local pond (there are many in Clarence, Amherst, and the various suburbs of Buffalo). Ponds often hold a variety of panfish species, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Catfish, Carp, and others. Pond fishing often requires the use of a bobber to keep your hook and sinker off of the bottom. Bobbers are relatively inexpensive and an easy addition to your tackle box.

Western New York Fishing Lures

If you are not using live bait when you are fishing in Western New York, there are numerous options when it comes to lures that you will be able to choose from. Find yourself a nice tackle shop, go online, or to the bigger chain stores such as Cabela’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Below are a few of my local highlight lures that I use most often when fishing for common species throughout the region. As with the tackle suggestions, there is no need to spend an arm and a leg in preparation for your first outing. Simply buy a few of the recommended lures, see what you like and what works for you, then proceed from there.

A Few of my Favorite Lures for Fishing in Western New York:

The Tube Jig and Jig-Head

Fishing in Western New York

Tube jigs have stood the test of time for a variety of local species in WNY. They are fantastic for Smallmouth Bass and have even been known to attract the attention of Walleye and Northern Pike. Simply slide the jig-head through the body of the tube, and poke the eye hole through the tube to tie onto your line. The tube jig pictured is 3.5″ long and the jig-head is 3/8 oz.

The Swimbait and Swimbait Jig-Head

Fishing in Western New York

Swimbaits are known for their tail spinning action through the water and are great for targeting Smallmouth Bass and Walleye. For this rig, hook the lure through the nose and body and bring the hook out about 3/4 way through the lure. The swimbait pictured is 3.5″ long and the jig-head is 1/4oz.

The Blade/Spoon

Fishing in Western New York

This lure is great for bouncing along a rocky or sandy bottom. It is not so effective in areas with a lot of bottom vegetation as it has a pair of treble hooks on either end. This lure is phenomenal for Walleye and Perch. The Lure pictured above is 5/8oz. There are three eye slots on the top of the lure to connect a swivel clamp to. The swivel can then be tied to your line.

The Crank Bait

Fishing in Western New York

The Crank Bait features a lip on the mouth of the lure allowing the lure to take a diving action in the water. Crank Baits have great action through the water as their weight and the lip causes them to swim in a side-to-side motion. I have had great luck catching Smallmouth Bass with these lures. The bigger the lip, the deeper the dive. This Crank Bait is good in about 10-15 ft. of water.

I hope you have found this information on fishing in Western New York to be helpful. As spring time moves forward into summer, there is no better place to be than on the water. Good luck and go fishing!

Yours in fishing,