April 23, 2024

Hardcore Game Fishing

Game Fishing News

The Complete Guide To Fishing in Buffalo

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Let’s be honest, the first two things that come to mind when someone mentions Buffalo are chicken wings and sport. But the second-largest city in the state of New York is so much more than that. The “City of Good Neighbors”, “City of Light”, “City of the Trees”, and “Queen City of the Lakes” – Buffalo goes by many names. And each tells a story.

But we believe that Buffalo deserves one more nickname on its already long list – the “City of Angling”. Fishing in Buffalo is so good, that it would be a shame for this story to remain untold.

The city boasts its own fantastic four – the Niagara River, the Buffalo River, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie – so Buffalo’s angling story will prove itself worthy of your attention. And we took it upon ourselves to give you a full account of what fishing in Buffalo can be like. Hopefully, we’ll do it justice and by the end of this post, you’ll be planning your vacation in what should be known as the City of Angling. Let’s dive in.

What fish can I catch in Buffalo?

The main advantage of angling in Buffalo is that you don’t have to worry about returning empty-handed. Buffalo’s fisheries are synonymous with abundance. This also means that you’re bound to cross paths with some of the most famous fish species in the world. Let’s take a look at the headliners together.


What if we tell you that Buffalo was in with a shot at being the “Walleye Capital of the World”, too? Lake Erie is known globally as the Walleye epicenter, and guess what city peacefully rests on its shoreline? You’ve got it – Buffalo! Rest assured, with Lake Erie as its ally, Buffalo is a premier Walleye fishing destination.

Now, while Walleye are the protagonists of our Buffalo fishing story, you’re more likely to perceive them as your adversaries. Big and strong, Walleye possess all the qualities you’re typically looking for in an angling opponent. Plus, they’re tasty. So, outsmart them and a delicious dinner awaits you.

Outwitting them means knowing their habits. They love gravel and rock bottoms with weedy patches they use for cover. Small fish such as shad and alewives are a Walleye’s favorite food. Drifting or trolling with live bait gives results, but Walleye are susceptible to a variety of angling methods, so you may want to experiment and try jigging and casting crankbaits, too.


If you thought Walleye were challenging, wait to see what Muskies have in store for you. Muskellunge, better known as Muskies, are muscular predators and worthy rivals. They aren’t easy to locate, but you can usually find them lurking in thick underwater vegetation while waiting for the opportunity to attack their prey.

An angler in an orange cap smiling and sitting on a charter boat while holding a big Musky

Unlike their neighbors Walleye, Muskies prefer slightly bigger fish in their diet. Actually, it’s quite common for Walleye to be on their food list. As for your angling approach, either try casting large jigs or trolling with diving plugs. Bear in mind that Muskies are elusive fish, so don’t be discouraged from pursuing them if you don’t hit the jackpot on your first run.

Smallmouth Bass

Often overshadowed by bigger names in Buffalo, it’s time for Smallmouth Bass to shine. They understand the assignment and they won’t allow Walleye and Musky to take over Buffalo’s fishing scene completely. They’ve worked their way to the top of the angling list and they have no intention of stepping down. But why should you go after Smallies instead of awe-inspiring Walleyes or Muskies?

An excellent shot of a Smallmouth Bass caught in Buffalo, with an angler showing it off while standing on a charter boat

Smallies have earned their place among Buffalo’s A-listers thanks to their fighting abilities. Their stubbornness makes up for their lack of intimidating looks. Small but mighty, Smallmouth Bass are worthy opponents. And luckily for you, Lake Erie is brimming with Smallmouth Bass.

You’ll find Smallies meandering rocky bottoms and to lure them your way, use minnows or crayfish. Even crayfish-like crankbaits can work wonders. Drifting will maximize your chances of attracting them and spinning gear will help you lock your prey and come out victorious.


Our next celebrities don’t need any extensive introduction. They’re well-loved worldwide and Buffalo is no exception. Thanks to its enviable geographical location, Buffalo taps into Lake Erie and is extremely close to Lake Ontario. Both fisheries are known to be popular Salmon fishing destinations. It comes as no surprise then that Buffalo is home to two prominent species – Chinook and Coho Salmon.

Four anglers standing on a fishing charter boat with a Salmon each in their hands

Chinook and Coho spawn in the Great Lakes’ tributaries but they mostly inhabit colder parts of Lake Ontario. Finding them in deeper waters can be difficult without fish-finding devices and a proper boat. So, first-timers might opt for teaming up with a local guide. For better results, hit the Buffalo area in late summer or early fall and bring alewives, smelt, eggs, flies, or spoons with you.

… And More!

With such prolific fisheries under its belt, Buffalo doesn’t lack for species. What’s more, abundance is its forté. Apart from Smallies, Salmon, Walleye, and Musky, you can expect to cross paths with Pike and Perch. Less popular than their relatives Musky, Pike are equally ferocious and brag-worthy. Perch, on the other hand, aren’t as impressive as Pike, but they make for mighty good eating.

A high-quality photo of two anglers posing during a sunny fall day with their Trout catch

And let’s not forget about Lake, Brown, and Rainbow Trout. Their spawning season sparks a fishing frenzy. Luckily, both the immediate and wider Buffalo areas boast a number of tributaries where you can target Trout species. Oh, and where there are Smallmouth Bass, there are Largemouth Bass, too. Long story short, fishing in Buffalo guarantees an action-packed angling adventure.

When can I fish in Buffalo?

Generally speaking, fishing in Buffalo is a year-round activity. And indeed, you can cast your line in its fisheries any time of the year and end up with a fish or two. However, not all fish species are available for keeping throughout the year. Likewise, some months are more productive than others. But the period between spring and fall is Buffalo’s unofficial angling season.

A group photo of four young anglers smiling and posing with their fish caught while fishing in Lake Eerie

Some catches such as Perch and Trout wait for you from January to December. Others, like Pike and Walleye, are up for grabs as early as spring. Meanwhile, the Musky season is the best between summer and late fall. So, if you’ve set your mind on landing a specific fish, make sure to align your vacation with the high season of your target catch.

To stay informed, keep an eye on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website for regulations regarding fishing seasons.

How can I fish in Buffalo?

What’s your preferred method of angling? Just name it, and the chances are that Buffalo can offer it. Below, you can read more about the most commonly practiced ways of fishing in Buffalo’s waters.

Charter Fishing

Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned angler or beginner, if you’re fishing in an area for the first time there isn’t a better bang for your buck than hiring a local guide. These guys have grown up fishing in Buffalo’s waters and not only do they know where to find fish but they also know how to secure that catch. And that isn’t always as easy as it may sound.

An older angler standing next to the bait and tackle while fishing from a charter boat and looking at the water

You have to remember that the same fish don’t behave exactly the same in different regions. This means that Walleye in Minnesota won’t follow the same patterns of behavior as Walleye in New York. For this reason, local insight is invaluable. So, team up with a Buffalo fishing charter if you want to get the most out of your Buffalo fishing adventure.

Kayak Fishing

Another popular way of angling in Buffalo is via kayak. Kayak fishing allows you to explore these fisheries at your own pace. If you’re unsure how to go about kayak fishing in Buffalo, don’t venture out there alone. Find a local professional and either consult or pair up with them. Kayaking and angling at the same time can be challenging. So, better safe than sorry.

A side view of two anglers fishing from their kayaks on calm lake waters against fall scenery in the background

While this way of fishing is mostly reserved for experienced anglers, kayak fishing in Buffalo can be suitable for novices as well. First-timers can stay closer to the shore and try their luck at landing small Perch. The best kayak launching site is Buffalo Small Boat Harbor, offering easy access to Lake Erie.

Shore Fishing

If you prefer casting your lines from shore, Buffalo’s got you covered. Depending on the area where you’d like to wet your line, you’ll have different options at your disposal. For example, you can fish the Niagara River from several spots – Broderick Park being one of them. You might not catch trophy fish, but you’ll certainly enjoy the view.

A photo of an angler standing on the shore and holding his catch in one hand and fishing rod in the other, while posing against the jetties in the background

If you’re fishing Lake Erie, try Buffalo Small Boat Harbor. There are a couple of solid docks you can fish from. And nearby Lake Kirsty in the Tifft Nature Preserve offers decent angling opportunities for families with kids. And an added bonus is the privilege to spend some quality time with your loved ones in this gorgeous wildlife refuge.

Where can I fish in Buffalo?

The hotspots are numerous. So, don’t be afraid to just show up and consult the locals on where the best fishing spots in Buffalo are. But until you get there, we’ll share a few corners to get you going. Here’s a quick breakdown of several places you can use as your starting points for exploring these waters.

An aerial shot of Buffalo during a bright and sunny day, with a harbor populated with boats and charter operators in the foreground
  • Buffalo Small Boat Harbor. This well-maintained harbor is the ideal place for kayak fishing or casting from the dock in Lake Erie. The harbor is home to top-tier Buffalo fishing charter operators as well.
  • Tifft Nature Preserve. Just behind Buffalo Small Boat Harbor lies Tifft Nature Preserve. This wild refugee boasts several ponds, but only Lake Kirsty offers angling opportunities. This place is perfect for family-oriented trips.
  • Bird Island Pier. Moving north, you’ll come across where Lake Erie meets the Niagara River – Bird Island Pier. Broderick Park, from which you can also fish, is your ticket to reaching this pier fishing heaven.
  • Red Jacket River Front Park. Let’s not forget that you can fish in the very center of the city, too. Red Jacket River Front Park gives you a wonderful view of the Buffalo River and is dotted with shore and kayak angling spots.
  • Fort Niagara State Park. Fort Niagara State Park is situated at the crossroads of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario and is less than an hour’s drive from Buffalo. The place is deeply rooted in history, so apart from fishing, you’ll have plenty of sightseeing.

Buffalo Fishing Regulations

An infographic including the New York state flag and a vector of a boat, with text stating "Buffalo Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a blue background with the FishingBooker logo in the bottom-right corner

Regardless of whether you’re fishing on your own or with a certified charter operator, you’ll need a fishing license. So, before you wet your line in Buffalo’s waters, make sure you’re in possession of a valid permit. Depending on your residency status and the duration of your angling adventure, you have different options to choose from. For more information, visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.

Besides the necessary permits, you’ll want to pay attention to size and bag restrictions, too. Make sure that your catch is a keeper and don’t take more fish than the daily limit allows. So, if you’re fishing alone, double-check the Statewide Freshwater Fishing Seasons, Sizes, and Catch Limits page before snatching that fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

A photo of a happy kid wearing a pink cap and a matching pink life vest while proudly holding a fish in one hand
  • Where can I purchase my fishing license?

    There are three ways in which you can obtain your Buffalo fishing license. You can order your license online, by phone, or buy it at an official License-Issuing Agent.

  • Can I fish for free in Buffalo?

    Each year, New York State announces free fishing days. During these days and/or weekends, you don't need to purchase a fishing license and you can fish for free.

  • What is the best Buffalo fishing trip to book?

    The answer to this question depends on your skills and preferences. If you're a beginner and would like to cast a line or two while on your vacation, you may start with a half day trip. If you're a passionate angler, then an 8 hour trip may be more suitable for you.

  • What should I bring on my Buffalo fishing trip?

    Apart from your fishing license and personal items, bring some snacks. Also, as the weather can be unpredictable, layered clothes and season-appropriate clothing are recommended.

  • Are Buffalo fishing charters child-friendly?

    Yes. Children of all ages are welcome aboard Buffalo fishing charter boats. Just make sure to let your captain know the age of your child in advance, so they can provide life jackets that fit.

Fishing in Buffalo: A Story to Tell

An angler posing happily next to two ice boxes full of Perch on a Buffalo fishing charter

After reading this article, wouldn’t you agree that Buffalo deserves the nickname, the “City of Angling”? Vivid history, a vibrant fishing scene, and a metropolitan vibe – is there a better combo for your next vacation destination? Be it an adventure on foot or by boat, Buffalo has them both! So, go ahead and book your Buffalo angling trip and tell us all about it. We’d love to hear your Buffalo fishing story.

Have you ever been fishing in Buffalo? What are your favorite hotspots? Do you have any questions for us? Hit the button below and share your Buffalo angling experience with us.

The post Fishing in Buffalo: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Tanya
Title: Fishing in Buffalo: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/fishing-in-buffalo/
Published Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2023 11:23:44 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…

Share This