Cold temperatures have created some shoreline ice for the tributary guys, but open water is still available - especially when we hit those warming trends like we did this week. Water flow has been decent and trout is the primary target - both browns and steelhead. Try using egg sacs or small jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float. Chartreuse jigs were working for Greg Stanley of All in the Same Boat Tackle Shop in Newfane, both at the dam in Burt and the dam in Lyndonville. While things have been a little slow, it did seem to pick up a bit. Some perch were also being reported at both Wilson and Olcott. Irondequoit Bay perch fishing has been good the past couple of weeks. Look for structure in 20-40 feet of water, using minnows or shiners on the bottom. Johnson and Oak Orchard creeks to the east are also reporting decent fishing with medium flow and good conditions.
Musky season is over now for the upper river and Lake Erie, but there is one more item to report - results of the Tim Wittek Memorial Tournament conducted by the Niagara Musky Assn. First place angler was John Pensyl who measured a 45 inch fish before it was released last Saturday. Cory Krawczyk was second with a 40.5 inch musky and third place was a 39 incher reeled in by Adam Kazmark. The final part of the season proved productive for Capt. Larry Jones by drifting Red October tubes near Strawberry Island. Right now casters and drifters can still target trout, bass and perch. Bass fishermen must use artificial baits during this catch-and-release season. Trout casters off Broderick Park or Squaw Island can do well by tossing spoons, spinners or egg sacks. The same will work at the head of the rapids near Niagara Falls.
Fishing in the lower Niagara River has been very good for trout this week. The Artpark area is loaded with steelhead according to Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island, along with lake trout and a few browns. At the mouth of the river near Fort Niagara on the Niagara Bar, trout action has been outstanding there, too - when northernly winds don't make it too uncomfortable for boaters. Best bait to use has been minnows or Kwikfish on the Niagara Bar; egg sacks and Kwikfish in the river. Shoreline casters are doing well with spoons, spinners and egg sacs. If you do venture down into the gorge, wear the right gear. Sneakers are not the shoe of choice and one angler found out the hard way this week when he slipped and broke his ankle. Musky season is still open until Dec. 15 in the lower river and in the John Henning Memorial Tournament held last Sunday, Frank Alcorn earned top honors by catching and releasing a 45.5 inch musky. Second place was John Pensyl with a 44 inch fish. Third place was Cullen Vieders with a 39 inch fish. Capt. Larry Jones of Buffalo sends word that lower river musky fishing was best by either jigging Red October tubes along the bottom or trolling Legend Perchbaits. This is the last weekend for the NYPA fishing platform , if the weather cooperates.
Tributary action continues to be good in most streams. Sometimes it just depends on the day. From the bigger streams like Cattaraugus Creek, good reports for the time being all the way up to the dam at Springville. Small to medium streams don't see as much attention, but can be real sleepers as far as fish activity. Egg sacs or egg imitations top the list of preferred baits but jigs tipped with wax worms and fished under a float is always good for some fish. If you can make it out on the lake for perch, it will probably be hit or miss. Look for schools inside of 40 foot depths.
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.
Trout action has been very good for boaters in the lower river this week. The Artpark drift has produced excellent catches of steelhead, with some lake trout and brown trout mixed in (Keep in mind that lake trout season is closed until January 1st, so all caught lakers should be promptly released). Boaters have seen good action in the Devils Hole drift and on Niagara Bar as well. Drifting egg sacs, Kwikfish lures or minnows off a 3-way bottom bouncing rig works well. Clear water conditions have resulted in lighter catches for shore anglers. Shore anglers target trout from Whirlpool, Devils Hole and Artpark State Parks. Fishing egg sacs, egg pattern flies and minnows under a float or casting medium-sized spoons and spinners are good bets for shore anglers. Exercise extreme caution when shore fishing in the lower river, as icy access stairs, slippery rocks, strong currents and water level changes make these areas hazardous.
Good water conditions on many Lake Ontario tributaries and low angling pressure make this a good weekend to go trout fishing. Oak Orchard and Eighteenmile Creeks both have medium flow with a slight stain. Anglers have seen some decent catches of brown trout and steelhead, with some off days mixed in. Trout catches have been better for some anglers fishing the smaller streams. Johnson, Sandy and Marsh Creeks have moderate, murky flows and are good options for the weekend.
Egg sacs, single eggs, trout beads, bugger patterns, streamer patterns and grub-tipped marabou jigs are good bets for brown trout and steelhead. When fishing clear conditions, downsize your tippet, hooks and baits for finicky steelhead.
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