Nearly an inch of rain fell on Nov. 30 and into Dec. 1, helping along some of the tributaries. The best spot to be is still 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam for trout and, believe it or not, there was a fresh run of salmon that arrived this week. Browns, steelhead and salmon are still available, but water was low and clear for the most part before the rain. Downsize your baits to single eggs, small sacs or smaller streamers and wooly buggers in more natural colors if the water is still clear. However, with the recent rains, it could stain the water up a bit and it will give you some more options.
More steelhead are starting to show up every day! Devil's Hole is the best spot for your best chance at a steelie, but Artpark is producing a few, too. Eggs or egg imitations in yellow, pink or chartreuse are all good colors to try. Kwikfish and MagLip wobbling baits will also catch you trout. Remember that lake trout season is closed in New York until the end of the year, but if you venture over into Canadian waters, laker season opened on Dec. 1. The lower river is the only body of water (along with Lake Ontario) that still has musky season open. That season is open until Dec. 15.
With the closing of the musky season, anglers still have the option to catch other species like the catch-and-release bass season, walleye or trout that might be starting to find their way into the upper river. Make sure you mark your calendar for the 4th Annual Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Report set for Jan. 20-22, 2017 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. A huge ice fishing section is included in a packed house of vendors and education.
Nicholas Sagnibene of Ellicottville, guiding out of Adventure Bound on the Fly of Ellicottville, reports that most small to medium-sized tributaries off Lake Erie were fishable on Tuesday. There should be a fresh run of steelhead with recent high waters.
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!
Steelhead hook-ups are on the rise in the lower river. Boaters see the best trout action in the Devils Hole and Artpark drifts, while shore anglers report catches along Artpark, Devils Hole and Whirlpool State Parks. Expect to catch some incidental lake trout as well. Keep in mind that lake trout season is closed until January 1st, all incidentally caught lake trout should be promptly released. Egg sacs, live shiners or Kwikfish lures on a three-way bottom bouncing rig is the typical trout tactic.
The Erie Canal de-watering is currently underway, and Oak Orchard and Eighteenmile Creeks are receiving some supplemental water flow as a result. Oak Orchard Creek currently has moderate to slightly high flow with a slight stain, while Eighteenmile Creek has moderate flow with a slight stain. Fishing pressure has been lighter on both creeks lately, despite good trout action. Anglers are catching mostly brown trout and steelhead with the odd fresh king salmon mixed in. Johnson and Sandy Creeks have lighter numbers of trout spread throughout their reaches.
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