Local fishing action is really starting to heat up again after things shut down after muddy water in the Niagara River and high, turbid conditions in 18 Mile Creek made for some tough fishing last weekend. Despite the less than ideal conditions, some nice fish still came to the scales during the Niagara River Anglers Associationís Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest out of Lewiston. Because of the muddy conditions in the river, some anglers opted to fish the tributaries and the winner was a repeat performer. Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga used a small egg sac in the Oak Orchard River to take home the top prize this year with a 12.22 pound steelie.
Casting spoons and spinners off Broderick Park is still an option but with the cold snap there could be some ice chunks to contend with if you want to try and tackle a trout or two. Look for water temps in the lake to drop a few degrees from the 36 degree mark at the time of this report.
A 16-1/2 pound brown came from Troy Zokey of Pennsylvania while fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters. Fishing was a little slow on Sunday but the action slowly started to improve on Monday and they picked their way through steelhead and lake trout most of the day. Capt. Jim Rores was reporting some excellent success earlier in the week using minnows and one day reportedly hooked up with over 20 trout for the day. That said, the condition of the water is susceptible to quick changes when a storm blows in due to the fact that Lake Erie is completely open. Water temperature at the beginning of the week was 36 degrees in the lake. Water clarity can change overnight. When water does become murky, shore fishermen can do well by casting spoons or spinners. Eggs or egg imitations tight to the shoreline where the water is a bit clearer can also improve your chances at hooking up.
High, muddy water flows were reported in the tributaries last weekend and the recent cold snap will probably contribute to shelf ice along the shoreline and slush. Lake effect snow was also in the forecast with up to a foot of white stuff being predicted south of Buffalo. It will certainly make for tough conditions this free fishing weekend.
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.
River waters have been murky, but fishable most of the week. Boaters saw a good trout bite Saturday through Tuesday, with all boats catching a mix of steelhead and lake trout. Fishing effort has been low since the temperature dropped two days ago. Drifting with a three-way rig with egg sacs or shiners has been productive in the upper and mid-river drifts. Shore anglers can target trout at Artpark, Devils Hole and Whirlpool State Parks. Drifting egg sacs, egg flies, minnows or jigs with grubs under a float, or casting spoons and spinners are common shore tactics. Exercise extreme caution when shore fishing in the lower river, as icy access stairs, icy shoreline rocks and swift currents make these areas hazardous.
During the past warm up, anglers were catching trout on all of the popular Lake Ontario tributaries. The smaller creeks are now starting to ice back over. Oak Orchard and Eighteenmile Creeks should remain open through the weekend. Oak Orchard anglers saw good steelhead action last weekend and good fishing continued with the mild temperatures. There has been little fishing effort since temperatures dropped.
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