Action in the big lake has been hot and cold as far as fishing catching... even though the weather has been HOT! Joe Yaeger of E. Amherst and president of LOTSA noted that the best king fishing has been in 100 to 250 feet of water with flasher and fly combos off Olcott. While a fair number of boats were out at mid-week off Olcott between the port and the power plant, fish were being caught out to 400 foot depths and magnum spoons were doing well for Capt. Bob Cinelli of Newfane. Outdoor scribe Will Elliott of Pavilion and Christian Hilts of Grand Island traded some nice catches back and forth on Tuesday with spoons - NBK and Wonder Bread. Elliott caught several off a 350 foot copper line including a 10-plus pound steelhead; Hilts caught kings up to 20 pounds for the day. Fish were found in the top 70 feet of water. Look for bait with decent water temperatures. The day before Cinelli hit three kings over 20 pounds - a nice catch that was part of his customer's limit for the day. The next day it took them a while to wait for salmon and trout to start hitting. Be patient!
Bass, musky, walleye and perch are all available throughout the river system. You do have to work for them, with bass and walleye coming with the least amount of effort. One of the best spots has been the head of the river. Also around Strawberry and Motor islands. It's important to emphasize that the Canadians have been enforcing live bait regulations and writing tickets to fishermen who are using minnows, shiners, crayfish and leeches that have not been purchase in Canada. It is illegal to dip bait in Canadian waters if you are a non-resident. It is also illegal to use nightcrawlers that is in dirt, but bedding is okay.
Best action the past week has been for walleye according to Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston. The walleye bite was good for them three days in a row at the mouth of the river where it empties into Lake Ontario. Joe Wisenbaler of Morgantown, West Virginia was fishing with his son Tyler earlier this week and managed to catch his first walleye ever - an 11 pound, 9 ounce monster that hit a charteuse worm harness with six beads and a No. 3.5 silver willow blade. According to Drabczyk, the leader material was Stay Straight and it's been working great. The fish came from 25 feet of water and it wasn't the only walleye they caught. The lunker has already been taken to Nature's Way Taxidermy for a fish mount. Later that same day, Drabczyk went out with Joe Oliverio and Cal Neff, both of Lewiston, that they continued catching 'eyes - including a 12-plus pounder that was released unharmed. Stay inside of 30 feet in the lake. As soon as you hit 30 feet, you will have problems with silver bass. Bass fishing in the river has been tough. Artificials seem to be out-producing live bait right now.
Walleye have been moving around so you may have to look around a little to find the bigger schools of fish. A good case in point was Bob Hubler of Niagara Falls who was the waters between the departure buoy and the Canadian line in 40 to 50 feet of water with worm harnesses earlier in the week. One day he boated 61 walleye; the next day it was just two fish. If you can find the fish you can do well. Good reports are still coming from Dunkirk and west from 70 to 80 feet of water. Bass fishing continues to be decent from Barcelona to Buffalo. Find structure and you will find fish. Tubes, drop shot rigs, shiners and crayfish are all working. Target 20 to 40 foot depths. Perch fishing has been spotty but some fish have been caught out of Cattaraugus Creek over 60 foot depths.
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!
His column is seen in the Niagara Gazette on Fridays. The Niagara Gazette is the area's leading outdoors sports information newspaper.
The smallmouth bass bite has cooled off lately. Bottom bouncing rigs with live bait have produced catches of smallmouth bass, sheepshead, white bass and the rare walleye. Casting stickbaits towards shore will also produce bass catches. There has been a good walleye bite around the mouth of the river and out onto the Niagara Bar. Drifting with a 3-way bottom bouncing rig and worm harness or yellow sally rig (with worm) are traditional river walleye tactics
Trout and salmon fishing in Ontario's western basin continues to improve. Off Olcott, trollers are catching some mature king salmon (chinook salmon) at daybreak, 60 feet down over 80 feet of water. As the morning progresses, the better action shifts to 150-250 feet of water where anglers catch a variety of trout and salmon. Run lures 90-120 feet down for mature kings. Trollers working depths of 250 feet plus, are catching a mix of steelhead, coho salmon and king salmon in the top 70 feet. Large spoons, flasher-fly combos and meat rigs are all catching kings. In addition, brown trout are hitting spoons inside 80 feet of water
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