Warm rains are filling area streams from precipitation on Wednesday and Thursday, which means it will be “trout-on” when things settle back down - probably this weekend. The warm again, cold again roller coaster temperature ride has been both a blessing and a curse for anglers. Places like the piers in Olcott and Wilson open up and become fishable, only to have the combination of cold nights and north winds cover them back up again. Safe to say, after the rain the piers will be ice free again ... at least for a few days. Cast spoons or spinners to take a trout or two. A minnow fished under a bobber is another good way to get a fish to hit. The warmer water coming out of 18 Mile Creek should turn some fish on in the lake, too. Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott reported a few boats heading out and the action was slow as they trolled the shoreline to seek out warmer waters. The rain could be the ticket to pulling in some baitfish … and predators. Up at Burt Dam, good action was being reported for fresh steelies by anglers using egg sacs, jigs tipped with wax worms and live minnows. Keg Creek was low and clear with a few fish being reported from the big pool, but that will change with the rain. Four Mile Creek was showing a few fish and a couple mid-sized trout were caught by one Niagara Falls angler looking to get an early bite. Wilson still had ice in the harbor but it was unsafe. When waters come down in 12 Mile Creek, there should be fish around.
At last report there was still a little ice action going on at Buffalo Harbor, but that will probably history after the rain this week. We’ve not heard anything else this week. Casting the upper rapids area in Niagara Falls could produce a trout or two as one option.
Water color was good according to boats drifting the river and looking for trout. Steelhead could be found through the river. Some lake trout and the occasional brown trout are also being netted at the boat or along the shoreline for casters. Boat fishermen are using minnows, egg sacs or Kwikfish-type lures, fished off three-way rigs. Shore fishermen are using spoons, spinners or egg sacs/egg imitations to take fish in the gorge. Fish can be found from Devil' Hole to the Niagara Bar. Bar action has been a little show.
In the main lake, ice cover is breaking up. A group of diehard anglers were stranded out there recently, and a rescue was required. Some anglers have continued to defy the warnings and perch action off Seneca Shoal was good as late as Tuesday of this week, but with the rain coming in stay off the remaining hard water. Tributaries have fish in them, but they will be high and muddy after a couple of days of rain. Smaller streams will clear first and there should be some fresh steelhead making their way upstream.
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.
Lower river waters have a slight color and minimal floating ice. Boaters are catching steelhead in all drifts, with some brown trout and lake trout mixed in. Drifting with a 3-way bottom bouncing rig with minnows, Kwikfish or egg sacs works well. Shore anglers are also catching some nice trout at the state parks by drifting egg sacs or minnows (under a float) and by casting spoons or spinners. Be very cautious, as there is some shelf ice along the shoreline and the access paths/stairs are very icy
The Olcott boat launch and harbor are free of ice. A few Olcott boaters have been out on the lake this week with limited success. The early spring bite is generally best in the nearshore zone near stream inlets where slightly warmer water attracts brown trout, steelhead and coho salmon. Trolling along mud lines with spoons or stickbaits is a good method.
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