DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Eighteen Mile Creek (Lake Ontario) in New York

Fly fishing is increasing in popularity with each passing day. This fun hobby offers a lot of different opportunities and fly fishing destinations around the world. You can catch different fish than you would with other types of fishing, and it’s a relaxing way to spend some free time. 

If you’re considering heading to New York for a fly fishing trip, consider planning it yourself. You’ll save a ton of money and be able to create your own perfect trip, no matter what you have in mind. Check out the guide below for insight on fly fishing Eighteen Mile Creek, a tributary to Lake Ontario, in New York.

Holsinger Fly Shop fly fishing for salmon, steelhead and lake-run brown trout on Eighteen Mile Creek, a tributary Lake Ontario in Newfane, New York

Eighteen Mile Creek is situated at the Olcott Harbor entrance to Lake Ontario and is the second-most popular place for fall salmon fishing, only bested by the famous Salmon River nearby. Thousands of anglers access the creek from Fisherman’s Park in Newfane, but that’s not the only access. 

This creek is known for trout, salmon, and steelhead, and the best seasons for fishing depend on the species. Chinook salmon are popular during salmon season, as are King Salmon. This creek offers fairly easy access from the road and plenty of great wading spots and shoreline casting along its length. 

The stream is fairly busy in the fall, full of anglers looking to grab the salmon fresh from spawn. However, once the season settles in, it will be less busy in most areas. Generally, the best fishing is done with traditional fly swinging tactics, while nymph techniques are also useful. 

Eighteen Mile Creek (Lake Ontario) Map and Fishing Access Sites

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Trails lead to the water in many areas and the stream won’t freeze over during the winter months because of the tailwater that features bottom discharge. At Burt’s Dam, anglers will find a short section of drift that’s fishable. However, downstream of the trestle bridge, it gets tricky.

Wading is easy for the most part as long as you don’t step in a hole, and the white water right below the dam can be dangerous for wading, as well. Off-color water can be discouraging to some fly fishermen, but low visibility doesn’t guarantee bad fishing. In fact, even on a clear day, it could still be difficult to get the catch fish. 

You’ll want to consider calling for a water report before you go or at least making sure that you survey the waters before wading in. When done safely, fishing Eighteen Mile Creek can be a great fly fishing excursion.

Best Places to Fish Eighteen Mile Creek (Lake Ontario)

This creek offers plenty of access, as mentioned above. The most popular access point is at Burt and the Burt Dam off of Route 78. Here there is a parking lot and anglers can walk down to the water. Below the dam has some good fishing, but you’ve got to be mindful of the waters. 

To get to the creek, you’ll want to take Route 78 from the south or Route 18 from East or West, which will bring you right into Olcott. You’ll also find creek access along Route 78 heading south through Burt and Newfane, although parking may be limited in some areas. 

This creek is often shallow and tumultuous and is known for changing water levels. As such, it’s not ideal for boating and is best enjoyed by waders or shoreline anglers. Access points that are off of more remote roads will provide more privacy, but may not offer as much in the way of catches. 

This stream is open to public access although it may have regulations during certain seasons, so be sure to check when planning your trip.

Best Time to Fish Eighteen Mile Creek (Lake Ontario)

It’s best to fish for salmon and trout in the fall and winter. Eighteen Mile Creek is known for having a good steelhead season from September all the way through mid-May. The creek is too low during summer for much fly fishing. 

It’s also too warm for trout or steelhead, so save yourself the trouble and go during the cooler months for a better trip. Brown trout are best caught from October to November, and salmon run in the fall. You’ll find king salmon in November in many areas, and plenty of Chinook and Coho salmon throughout the creek. 

In the spring, you’ll have the most luck with steelhead, although brown trout aren’t out of the question. Bear in mind that if you’re traveling during the winter months, Lake Effect weather may impact travel. You should check weather reports and make sure that snowstorms won’t impede your trip. 

Like most of the creeks in the New York area, the cool tailwater feeding provides consistent temperatures during cooler months, which is why they’re ideal for fishing. If you are planning your trip, feel free to contact the NY fisheries department to learn about current conditions so you can plan for the best time.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Eighteen Mile Creek. The USGS stream gauge at Burt, NY provide a good indication of current conditions.

The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions maybe not be ideal.

EIGHTEENMILE CREEK AT BURT NY

  • Water Temp: 56.3 ° F
  • Flow: 102 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 2.94 ft
.
USGS

Fly Box - What You'll Need

In this area, you’ll really need to make sure that you have the right flies. Nymphs are effective and popular. Many anglers also use drift egg flies and strike indicators. Larger dry flies and streamers can also be useful. 

You’ll generally want 5-6 weight line, along with loon floatants and all of your usual tools and accessories. Mayflies and caddisflies are plentiful, and of course, during the cooler months, you can count on the midges to get the attention of the fish. Unlike some popular fly fishing spots, this one might take some bait testing because the fish are fickle.

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Eighteen Mile Creek:

  • Glo Bug (#8 - 16)
  • Sucker Spawn (#8 - 12)
  • Nuclear Roe (#10 - 16)
  • Black Stonefly (#12 -18) 
  • Brown Stonefly (#12 -14)
  • Hare's Ear (#10 - 12)
  • Woolly Bugger (#6 - 10)
  • Muddler Minnow (#6 - 10)
  • Pink Panther (#6 - 10)
  • White Bunny Spey (#6 - 10)
  • Pot Bellied Pig
  • M.C. Hammer (#4)
  • Spawntruder (#4)

Gear Recommendations

A single-hand 10-foot, 6- or 7-wt fly rod with a weight-forward floating line is perfect for fishing for steelhead and lake-run brown trout on Eighteen Mile Creek.  

Similar weight switch rods 10 and 11.5 feet in length are also popular. If you like to swing flies, a 12-foot-6, 6- or 7-weight rod is all you need for steelhead and brown trout.

If you are gearing up for salmon fishing on Eighteen Mile Creek you are going to want a heavier rod such as an 11-foot, 8-weight.

A 9- to 14-foot leader, tapered down to 10- or 8-pound-test is pretty standard.  In super clear water conditions you may need to taper down to 6-pound-test.

A standard leader configuration for use with a floating or intermediate line is:

  • 2 feet, 25-lb monofilament (mono)
  • 2 feet, 20-lb mono
  • 2 feet, 15-lb mono
  • 2 feet, 12-lb fluorocarbon (fluoro)
  • 2 feet, 10-lb fluoro
  • 2 feet, 8-lb fluoro

A standard heavy sink-tip leader is:

  • 2- to 5-feet straight 15-pound Maxima
  • 2-feet straight 12-pound Maxima

Eighteen Mile Creek (Lake Ontario) Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide an Eighteen Mile Creek fly fishing report and update on current conditions are listed below:

You can also call the DEC Western New York Fishing Hotline (716) 855-FISH and the Niagara County Fishing Hotline-(877) FALLS US to check that latest conditions.

Fishing Regulations

The state of New York requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available.

You can purchase a New York State fishing license and learn about the most current regulations through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest towns to Eighteen Mile Creek are Lockport and Olcott. Buffalo is the nearest city, and those flying in can travel through Buffalo Niagara Airport and find the creek with just a short drive. Plenty of lodging and accommodations are in the area, from budget hotels to camping and more. 

This creek is often confused with the Eighteen Mile Creek located off Lake Erie. However, this one is located off Route 78 and 18 in Northwestern New York, closer to Niagara feeding into Lake Ontario. Make sure you double-check your accommodations and directions to get to the right destination.

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in New York

Feature image by Meghan Rogers

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