It is estimated that roughly 13 million people visit Niagara Falls each year. Peak season is June through August.
Yes, quite a few of them do.
The rapids above the falls are full of oxygen and nutrients, which is a big draw to fish. Although they are built for swimming in turbulent waters, the rapids above the falls do cause a bit of disorientation. Fish will plummet frequently, most of the time without harm. They may hit rocks along the way or smash into a boulder in the plunge pool, but for the most part they slip right into foamy waters at the base of the falls. Of course at the American Falls the plunge pool is past a gauntlet of deadly boulders. Although it’s less likely for fish to survive this plunge compared to the Horseshoe Falls, the sheer difference in volume of flow ensures that most fish take a dive over the “safer” falls.
Fish have evolved to handle strong pressure from water. Freshwater fish especially are better adapted to getting knocked around streams and rocks. They are very resilient animals.
Once they make it down they may be stunned and further disoriented; some even float at the surface for several minutes. This is where the real danger is. The gulls and terns that inhabit the cliffs of the Niagara Gorge have an easy snack if they seize the opportunity.
Once the fish regain their bearings, they head downstream through more rapids and eventually make it to calmer waters. That is if they survive the gauntlet of fishermen at the various parks along the way.
Niagara Falls acts as a natural barrier that prevents fish from downstream ecosystems from easily making it upstream. So the variety of species upstream from the falls is different from downstream. Of course the construction of canals, migration of boats, and human stocking efforts have offset this quite a bit.
Above the Falls you’ll find healthy populations of Lake Erie fish: Perch, Small and Largemouth bass, Walleye, Muskellunge and Northern pike.
Lake Ontario species are generally found below the Falls: Lake trout, Rainbow rout, Chinook (King) salmon, Coho Salmon, Brown trout, Muskellunge, Walleye, Smallmouth bass, Channel catfish, White bass, Northern pike, and perch.
Carp can be found within the power plant reservoir downstream from the Falls. Numerous other species can be found throughout the length of the river, but numbers may be insignificant.
The Niagara River is considered one of the best Rainbow Trout fisheries in the nation.
The best spot to fish the Niagara is by boat, but there are plenty of options for fishing from land. Here are some options close to the Falls and Whirlpool Rapids.
Devil’s Hole State Park allows for fishing from the rocky shore along the lower Whirlpool Rapids. A stairway leads from the parking lot to a path along the river, or follow the path north from Whirlpool State Park. Map
New York State Power Authority Reservoir, is 1,900 acres of water trapped behind the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant in Lewiston is an excellent carp and smallmouth bass fishery. Map
Click here for information on fishing seasons and catch limits for Zones 19 (Lake Erie) and 20 (Lake Ontario). Regulation summaries can be found here. Be sure to obtain the appropriate license (click here for non-resident licenses).
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