Skip to main content

Oatka Creek

Male falls down creek embankment in Le Roy

By Joanne Beck

A 55-year-old male has reportedly fallen 15 feet down an Oatka Creek embankment behind the post office in Le Roy. Genesee County dispatch has requested emergency response.

UPDATE 10:21 p.m.: The patient is conscious and alert. Rope rescue is not needed.

Three kids reportedly jump off of bridge into Oatka Creek in Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens

A Le Roy police officer has been dispatched to the Main Street bridge over the Oatka Creek to investigate a report of "three young kids" jumping off the bridge into the creek.

UPDATE 5:21 p.m.: An officer is clearing the scene after speaking to the juveniles. 

Genesee RiverWatch's first-ever 'Report Card': overall grade is 'C' and Oatka Creek gets highest grade of 'B'

By Billie Owens

Press release:

ROCHESTER -- April 29 -- Genesee RiverWatch has released the first-ever “Report Card” grading the water quality and usability of the Genesee River and its major tributaries. The Report Card was developed to raise awareness of the environmental challenges facing the Genesee River Basin so that actions can be taken to improve the state of the watershed and preserve its beauty for generations to come.

“We have been developing this Report Card for a long time and are pleased to release it today," said George Thomas, executive director of Genesee RiverWatch. "We hope the public will take the time to read the full report."

To do so, click here.

"We are happy to answer questions about its grades and their implications," Thomas said. "We are even happier to answer questions about how individuals and organizations can help us continue to improve the river’s water quality and its recreational opportunities."

The overall grade for the Genesee River Basin is a “C” based on the quality of the river’s water at Rochester. This, in turn, reflects the cumulative effects on water quality of all the activities that take place along the Main Stem of the River and all its sub-watersheds stretching to Northern Pennsylvania.

Canaseraga Creek received the lowest grade – “D” – of all the sub-watersheds, indicating poor water quality and limits to human usage.

Oatka Creek and Black Creek received grades of “B” -- the highest grades of all the Genesee River sub-watersheds, indicating good water quality and better opportunities for human usage.

The Upper Basin of the river (south of Letchworth Park), Honeoye Creek and Conesus Creek sub-watersheds received grades of “C.”

In summary, there are portions of the Genesee River Basin that are environmentally in good health. However, major portions of the watershed are degraded to varying degrees.

Data used in this first Report Card is taken from reports published by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and focus on Total Phosphorus and Total Suspended Solids as well as the Department of Environmental Conservation’s assessments of suitability for human use.

Future report cards will also include the growing database of water quality measurements being collected by Genesee RiverWatch’s volunteer water quality monitors.

“The Genesee River is a major asset and resource for our region," said Board President Mike Haugh. "Rochester would not be the metropolitan area it is today if it wasn’t for the river. Its environmental, recreational and economic impact is critical to the future success of our region.

Genesee RiverWatch is dedicated to improving, preserving and celebrating the Genesee River and its tributaries and we hope you will join us in this effort.”

Genesee River Facts

The Genesee River flows 157 miles from its sources near Gold, Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario at Rochester, New York. The Genesee Basin drains approximately 2,500 square miles in Monroe, Livingston, Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, Ontario, Steuben, Allegany and Cattaraugus counties in New York and Potter County in Pennsylvania. Twenty-four sub-watersheds of the Genesee contain 5,048 miles of streams.

Current land use within the watershed is approximately 52 percent agricultural, 40 percent forest, 4 percent urban, 2 percent wetlands and 2 percent other developed lands.

The Genesee River has been shaped by its glacial history. The last glacier receded around 12,000 years ago, leaving the spectacular Letchworth gorge and magnificent waterfalls, but also unconsolidated soils that erode easily and produce approximately 420,000 tons of river sediment each year.

Genesee RiverWatch

Genesee RiverWatch improves the water quality of the Genesee River and its tributaries to create environmental, recreational and economic assets for its communities. We also connect people to the river, encouraging them to explore, experience and celebrate the river.

Upcoming: Sixth Annual Genesee River Basin Summit

Genesee RiverWatch will host its Sixth Annual Genesee River Basin Summit on Tuesday, May 7, at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Louise Slaughter Hall. The program will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m.

Admission is free and includes a continental breakfast and afternoon break. A noon break will allow attendees to discuss the program over lunch at several food service facilities on the RIT campus. Registration is requested; click here.

New paddleboat service debuts during Oatka Festival

By Howard B. Owens

When Jay Beaumont and his partners decided to buy the Eagle Hotel in Le Roy in 2012 and open the Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew, Beaumont immediately noticed that the Eagle's back property line included access to the Oatka Creek.

His first thought: Paddleboats.

For the first few years of the Smokin' Eagle, Beaumont had many other restoration projects to work on in the old tavern and hotel at 9 Main St. His idea was to build a wooden dock and that, he figured, would be a lot of work.

As Bill Farmer's restoration project of the Creekside Inn at 1 Main St. progressed, Beaumont put his idea on hold.

"As Farmer started to pick up the pieces, he told me he would build us access to the creek," Beaumont said. "What he built was the Taj Mahal down there. He really advanced my idea."

With further research, Beaumont found a pre-built plastic dock that could be floated into place. That was installed this past Thursday, just in time for annual Oatka Festival and the Eagle's inaugural Paddleboat Regatta.

The regatta started with just enough hardy sailors to power five paddle boats. By the end of the first race, there were enough new entrants for a second race, and by the end of the third, enough for a fourth race. The top two teams from each race then faced off in a finals race.

"It was really exciting," Beaumont said. "It was a big hit."

Beaumont has hired some high school students to help get customers on and off the boats and a college student to manage the business.

"The kids did a great job," Beaumont said. "It's a chance for them to get experience in a small business but it's also fun. What could be a more fun job? What kid wouldn't want to do it?"

The dock also includes a kayak ramp so any kayaker on the creek can stop at the Eagle or the Creekside Inn for a drink, snacks or a meal.

Besides paddleboats, the concession rents kayaks.

Paddleboats are $20 an hour with a weight limit of 460 pounds and children must wear a life vest.

Kayaks are $10 an hour.

For kayakers who want to dock their own kayaks to visit the restaurants, there is a $10 fee, which helps cover the cost of dockside staff assisting the boaters, but the customers will receive a $5 voucher for the Smokin' Eagle.

Beaumont said the service will be open from 11 a.m. to dusk every day of the week, but those hours may be adjusted as they learn to gauge demand.

Rentals will not be available during times of heavy water flow on the creek for safety reasons.

Photos: Sunday morning at the Oatka Festival

By James Burns

The Oatka Festival continues today, in Le Roy, until 6 p.m. This morning started with a 30K bicycle race and a fishing derby.  The festival concludes with the Vietnam Veterans' Annual “Duck Derby” at 5 p.m. 

Fishing judge Paul Campbell.

Sisters Mackenzie and Kelsey.

Jackson waiting for the big one.

Another Mackenzie with her fish.

Photos: Fly-fishing on the Oakta Creek, Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens

During my Friday morning drive, I took a turn down Oakta Trail Road and spotted somebody in the creek tying a fly to a leader. I introduced myself to Bill Westfall of Cheektowaga, who said, "Sure, go ahead and take some pictures." In the 15 minutes I hung around, his every cast hit his spot and he did land one small trout. 

Recalling Joe Mazzarella Sr.: an intro to smallmouth bass


The sun had yet to rise and the 15-year-old angler was already at the water's edge. Standing on a large flat rock beneath a railroad trestle, he cast the surface plug far as he could downstream. The plug landed near the top of the pool. Then, instead of allowing the plug to remain motionless until all the ripples disappeared, the young fisherman began to reel in his line as soon as the lure hit the water. And rather than retrieve it slowly, alternately popping and twitching the plug, he reeled steadily, creating a tiny wake.

Within moments the young man noticed another wake, this one smaller, v-shaped and moving rapidly toward his incoming lure. While the wake may have been small, the fish about to intercept his surface plug was not. The water erupted and the young angler at once had his hands full, realizing he was into a mighty good fish. The fish on the end of his line was a jumbo smallmouth and it wasted no time tearing up the surface of that pool, jumping, somersaulting, bulldogging and ending the early morning calm. And just like that it was gone.

As the bewildered young angler stood with his mouth agape, a voice emanated from within a sleeping bag on the bank.

"Youdidn'tplayitlongenough." The voice belonged to Joe Mazzarella Sr. who could sometimes turn a sentence into a single word. That scenario took place 45 years ago this month on the banks of Oatka Creek where it flows near the Le Roy-Pavilion border. The young angler was yours truly. The action began the previous evening. What began as a simple overnight on the banks of the Oatka, turned into an introduction to smallmouths, aka the feisty bronzeback.

After setting up our camp, Joe Jr. and I helped his father with the crab scoop, seining soft shells from a thick weed bed. After nightfall crayfish began to emerge from their daytime lairs beneath rocks. By lantern light we could easily see them in the clear water, dozens of them on the creek bottom. Soon afterward the bullheads began to bite. Not long after that, a school of jumbo smallmouths invaded the pool.

Thus began my introduction into the world of the smallmouth bass, pound-for-pound one of the gamest fish that swims. Once the action slowed we crawled into our sleeping bags and fell asleep under the stars. My education continued just after dawn the next morning, when the aforementioned big smallmouth put on quite an aerial display before spitting the plug back in my direction. A few minutes later Mr. Mazzarella started a fire and I was able to temporarily forget losing the fish when the aroma of bacon and eggs filled the air.

I've lost numerous fish in my time, but none comes to mind like that Oatka smallmouth all those years ago. And too, whenever I think of that fighting smallmouth, wondering just how big it might have been, I can't help but think of Joe Mazzarella Sr.

A few years afterward, while working on the construction of the GCC Batavia campus, I saw "Joe Mazz" quite often. Whenever our paths crossed, he'd ask, "beenfishin?" or "doinanyhuntin?"

It was in the winter of '71 when Joe Sr. was heading to Silver Lake for a day of ice fishing. Weather conditions weren't good, but that wasn't about to stop him. En route to the lake, he happened upon an accident and, being the person he was, Joe Mazz stopped to help. A snow squall had enveloped the area and in near-whiteout conditions the driver of a truck failed to see Joe Sr. assisting at the scene.

That smallmouth was quite a fish and Joe Mazzarella Sr. was quite a guy.

Photos: Oatka Creek, Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens


I drove out to Le Roy this afternoon to take some pictures of the first Jell-0 Olympics. Unfortunately, it ended earlier than scheduled. Since I was out that way, I figured I'd swing by Oatka Creek in the village and see what I could photograph.

More pictures after the jump:







News roundup: Le Roy may lose $350,000 grant for restoration of Oatka Creek

By Philip Anselmo

Le Roy has two weeks to act on the promise of a state grant for $350,000 to use in the restoration of Oatka Creek, according to the Daily News. One member of the Oatka Creek Ad Hoc Committee (Jack Bradbury) told the Village Board last night:

"Nothing has been done for over two years. New York State Parks has not heard from us in two years and the crisis now is that they said they were considering immediate cancellation of the grant."

Whoa! Two years? That sounds like a bit of a blunder, and that the homeowners in the village are angry with the board for not getting moving on the project only renforces that status. It turns out that the village last worked on the creek in 2004, but there is still much work to be done to "stablize" it.

This grant that may now get nixed was approved in 2006 as a match grant, which means the village would have to put up $350,000 of its own funds. Engineering proposals were approved at the meeting last night, a move "that may stave off the state's threat to cancel the grant."

Congratulations to Scott DeSmit for getting this story together and packaging it well, getting the facts out concisely and without ambiguity.

Genesee County's Economic Development Corporation recently closed on a pair of real estate deals: 200 acres of land in the town of Batavia ($800,000) planned for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park; and another 59 acres of farmland in the town of Alabama ($212,000) to be incorporated into the 1,200-acre Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park.

An increase in recording fees for the Genesee County Clerk's Office was approved by the Legislature last night. Also passed at that meeting was the $1.8 million budget for the county's workers compensation program, which marks an 8 percent increase in that budget over last year.

Batavia Downs will be hosting the top dogs of harness racing every Wednesday for the next couple months in an effort to raise money for the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. Racers such as Howard "Pacing" Parker, who was strapped up and circled the track in eight races yesterday, will donate their driving commissions to the coalition. Silent auctions each week for racing memorabilia such as bobbleheads of the drivers will also help benefit the cause.

We encourage you to get out and pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at

Authentically Local