The first king salmon started showing up in slightly more reliable numbers as anglers prepare for May fishing contests. However, sharing information as far as locations and details is a bit more difficult. Best to try in 80 to 100 foot of water with sticks or spoons at the Niagara Bar drop to Olcott according to some reports. Remember that a study on king salmon will be starting up on May 1. The primary focus is three year old kings with an adipose fin clip. Be sure to save the head of any king with a clip and deposit them into the freezers located at Fort Niagara at the fish cleaning station; Bootleggers Cove and Wilson Boat Yard in Wilson, as well as at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park; in Olcott at the Town of Newfane Marina. That said, the county Fisheries Board is looking to collect a bit more information including the total number of salmon caught during the month of May. Pick up at copy of the form at the Town of Newfane Marina or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
As the waters slowly start to warm, the perch and panfish action will continue to improve along the river shoreline and around Grand Island. Bass fishing is all catch and release with no live bait so if you are targeting largemouth or smallmouth, keep that in mind. Fishing for panfish, though, Emerald shiners are the bait of choice. Buffalo Boat Harbor is seeing a fair amount of keeper perch being caught on shiners, too.
Trout are still cooperating for anglers drifting and casting in the lower river, but some trips produce more bass than steelhead or lakers. Minnows or small egg sacs are the top enticement for drifters and are also working for shoreline casters. Spinners are another top casting lure. Boaters have been taking trout in the Devilís Hole area, but the lower river sections can also be productive if the winds cooperate out in the lake at the Bar. Itís been a little lumpy out there. For all you smelters, the smelt run is still going on but it seems to be on the downhill slide but they are getting a few.
Erie perch fishing continues to be good to very good Ö if you can find the fish and stay on them. Fish can be found between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek in 40 to 60 feet of water. Count down has started for the walleye and special trophy bass seasons Ė they open up next Saturday, May 7. For the bass contingent, the 2016 Spring Border War Open Tournament for two person teams will be held on May 7 out of the Buffalo Small Boat Harbor. No preregistration. Sign up on site starting at 5:30 am. Start is at 7 am and 3 pm is weigh in. Best two fish total per team and it is a live-release event. Remember with the trophy season the sizes of the fish need to be 20 inches or better.
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.
Boaters are still catching a mix of steelhead and lake trout, with increasing numbers of smallmouth bass. Shore anglers can target trout from Whirlpool, Devils Hole and Artpark State Parks. The Whirlpool stairs are closed for repairs, so access is from the adjacent Devils Hole State Park. The smelt run has been tapering off and is likely done.
The fishing platform and parking at the base of the NYPA power project is now open.
The piers are often good spots to target trout in spring. Casting spoons and spinners, or fishing a live shiner under a float are good offerings for trout. Bullhead are biting in harbor and inlet areas. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers, leeches or dead minnows fished on the bottom work well for bullhead, with better catches often after dark.
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