As far as the salmon run in the tributaries, there's been some improvement over last week. A modest increase was realized in 18 Mile Creek and other tribs are starting to see some more fish with the influx of fall weather. The best fishing has been for brown trout at Burt Dam with a few salmon and steelhead mixed in. Better fishing for salmon has not been at the dam but down the creek in the lower sections from boat or off the piers at night. Some night fishing has also been taking place out in the lake by anglers casting glow in the dark spoons or rattlebaits - anything that can get their attention. Trolling large J-13 Rapalas in the harbor early morning or just before dark is another good approach, as is drifting treated egg skein in some of the deeper holes. Smaller egg sacks or egg imitations will work on the trout, too.
Bass fishing is still going strong in the upper river and musky action is starting to pick up a notch, too. For bass, live bait like shiners, crayfish and worm harnesses will all catch fish. Tubes, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastics will all catch fish as well. Local fly fishing expert Rick Kustich has been picking up a few musky up to 42 inches long on the fly by targeting the outside weed edges where the bottom drops off. Large tubes or body baits can also produce some fish this time of year. Some perch are being caught off Broderick Park and around the Ontario Street boat launch area on shiners.
The lower river run seems to be slowing down a little but some good fishing still exists. Options are available from boat and shore for salmon, with a few trout also being reported. From shore, hiking into the gorge at the Whirlpool or Devil's Hole are great options for those that like to rough it. The New York Power Authority fishing platform is another easier option to deal with thanks to a shuttle service that runs daily from 7 am to 5 pm from Lot C at the Visitor's Center up above off Lewiston Road adjacent to Niagara University. Access is also available along Artpark, but most of that area is best for trout. Boaters can work the Devil's Hole area for the best salmon options, drifting treated egg skein from three-way rigs. Just ask 16 year old Ben Bailey of Youngstown who was fishing with his dad Stephen last Sunday. Using some “magic eggs” from Creek Road Bait and Tackle, the young angler reeled in his first salmon - a 20-something pound king. With fishing pressure down from boats in Devil's Hole, action has actually improved in the past week. Downriver, some bass action is still an option - especially around Fort Niagara and the Coast Guard station. Live bait, spinnerbaits or tubes will all catch fish this time of year.
Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport couldn't wait to get back on the lake after some fantastic fishing before the high winds and storms that blew through. That could happen this weekend. Bass, walleye and perch were all on fire. Best bass was from 28 to 45 feet of water; best perch was 60-70 foot depths between between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point; walleye could still be caught in those same general areas off Sturgeon Point and the Catt. In the tributaries, Cattaraugus Creek is still the best bet, all the way up to the dam in Springville. Other tributaries were low and clear. Casting the creek mouths at the lake with spoons or spinners should also catch you a few trout. Small stickbaits will also work.
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.
Your 2013-2014 Freshwater Fishing Licenses (purchased before February 1st, 2014) expired on September 30th. Fishing licenses purchased after February 1st, 2014, are valid for 365 days from date of purchase.
The king salmon run is holding up on the lower river. Decreasing numbers of charters are working the Devils Hole drift, but those who remain are still doing well. Drifting with a three-way rig and cured salmon skein (quarter size) is a good bet for king salmon. Keep in mind that conditions are hazardous in the Devils Hole drift, and only the most experienced boaters should attempt to fish there. Increasing numbers of steelhead are showing up in lower river catches, making the Artpark drift another option for boaters.
Salmon action has been good for shore anglers at Whirlpool and Devils Hole State Parks. Up through last weekend, anglers reported a handful of hook-ups with 1 or 2 kings landed per day. Steelhead have also shown up in shore anglers catches, with the rare brown trout mixed in. Target salmon by casting large spoons, Vibrax spinners, rattle-traps and jigs with twister tails, or by drifting egg sacs or cured salmon skein under a float. Anglers fishing from shore at the state parks generally do better near dawn and dusk. Shore anglers are catching some king salmon from the NYPA fishing platform, with a few brown trout, steelhead and smallmouth bass mixed in (see user info for NYPA platform below). Spoons, spinners and jigs with mister twisters have been good offerings for platform anglers.
Despite lower water conditions, king salmon (chinook) numbers are on the rise in the popular Niagara and Orleans County tributaries. Oak Orchard and Eighteenmile Creeks lead the way in numbers and catches, so expect plenty of company. At Fisherman's Park on Eighteenmile, anglers are catching good numbers of king salmon and brown trout, with some steelhead mixed in. Salmon numbers are heavier at Oak Orchard Creek, with decent catches of browns and steelhead as well. The Genesee River has moderate flow and very good numbers of king salmon showing below the falls. Smaller streams like Johnson, Marsh and Sandy Creeks have low and clear flows. However, kings are pushing their way up through. Expect fish to be scattered in those streams. Egg sacs, salmon skein, egg pattern flies and streamers work well for migrating salmon
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