The recent weather rollercoaster has been tough on fishermen. Many areas received a pile of rain this past week, creating higher flows in the streams like 18 Mile Creek below Burt Dam and into the Harbor at Olcott. The water was pushing 170 cubic feet per second down the creek, which should attract some fresh fish into the system. The water is stained, though, so use brightly-colored jigs fished under a float, salted minnows, live emerald shiners or nightcrawlers to try and trick a trout to hit. Steelhead, brown trout and the occasional Coho salmon are still showing up. The harbor is wide open, thanks to the rain and temperatures in the upper 50's this past week. Both pike and perch should be available if you want to try and chase them.
Ice is still coming down the river and the water is stained – two strikes against anglers from both boat and shore. The ice was causing some problems for drifters and casters, ice coming down from Lake Erie after the high winds and rain really created quite a turmoil. We'll have to play it by ear when anglers can get back on the water again. Steelhead and lake trout top the list of targets right now, but you have an outside chance at catching a brown trout or a walleye, as well. Shore casters are using spoons and spinners in bright colors; boaters are drifting plugs like MagLips and Kwikfish lures; egg sacks or egg imitations; as well as minnows. Use those baits from three-way rigs from boats, once the ice has disappeared. If the winds cooperate, take a drift or two out on the Niagara Bar to see if there are any active trout around.
Everyone we spoke to didn't have anything positive to say about any of the Erie tributaries. And with the weather calling for an inch of rain or more on top of the snow the area saw south of Buffalo, flood warnings are in place for the next few days.
Bill Hilts Jr. is a past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Hilts is an avid outdoorsman, an outdoor writer who has contributed articles to numerous national and local magazines, newspapers, and other publications. Hilts is also responsible for Niagara County Tourism Sportfishing Programs. He freelances from his home in Sanborn N.Y. Hilts was inducted in the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame in the Spring of 2007!
Tough fishing conditions on the lower river at present due to floating chunk ice and murky conditions. The amount of floating ice should dissipate with each passing day. Boaters in the upper drifts have recently been catching a mix of steelhead and lake trout with the occasional walleye or smallmouth bass. Controlled drifting with a three-way rig and egg sac or flatfish style lure is the top technique. Shore anglers can target trout along Artpark, Devils Hole and Whirlpool State Parks. Egg sacs, egg pattern flies, shiners and jigs with plastics fished under a float, or casting medium-sized spoons and Vibrax spinners are good trout offerings.
Lake Ontario stream levels are up, but not blown out like the Lake Erie streams. Currently, Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks have slightly high, stained flows with about 1 foot of visibility. Anglers previously reported some catches of fresh steelhead, and its possible the current slightly higher flows could draw in more fish. Some brown trout, coho and Atlantics have shown as well. Flows came up a bit in the smaller streams and opened up some patches. However, ice is still a problem in spots. Egg sacs, egg flies, trout beads and grub-tipped marabou jigs are good trout offerings. Use bright colors when fishing turbid conditions.
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