Anglers, many from out of state, make trek to Orleans for big salmon and trout

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 October 2023 at 7:18 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

WATERPORT – Lucas Bodinez of Pittsburgh stands in the fast-moving current of the Oak Orchard River on Friday, trying to catch a Chinook salmon or a steelhead (rainbow trout).

Bodinez traveled to Orleans County in a group of 10 of his friends.

“We’ve been coming here for years,” Bodinez said.

They venture down the stream where there are less people.

“We like to get away from the crowds,” he said.

Many fishermen converge near the Waterport Dam to try to land one of the big salmon and trout.

Orleans County sees a big influx of fishermen this time of the year, with many out-of-state license plates in the parking lots. They are trying to catch big fish that are in the Oak Orchard and other tributaries to spawn and deposit their eggs.

Dustin Cowen, 37, of Michigan made the trip to Orleans County for the first time. He joined his father.

“I’ve never seen this many fish in one spot,” Cowen said. “The fishing here is phenomenal.”

Cowden had already caught a brown trout, and had many fish on the line.

Fishing is big business in Orleans County, according to survey by the state Department of Environmental Conservation that put the total economic impact at $27,989,393 in 2017.

Out-of-state anglers account for 70 percent of the fishing economic output in Orleans County, $19,620,488 of the $27,989,393, according to the survey that was released in 2020.

County residents who fish accounted for $1,767,334 in economic activity while other New York state residents outside Orleans represented another $6,601,571.

Oswego which includes the Salmon River is the highest-ranked county with $192.7 million in total economic impact from fishing.

This angler from Pittsburgh enjoys a fall day in the Oak Orchard.