Wilson bullhead action is starting to turn on, just in time for the Wilson Bullhead Derby sponsored by the Wilson Conservation Club April 10-12 starting at 5 pm on the 10th. Best two fish in total weight wins the cash. Sign up at CMC Auto in Wilson or The Slippery Sinker in Olcott. For more info call 638-4158 or 751-0505. According to local source Terry Swann, best bait has been worms; best spot is the West Branch of 12 Mile Creek; best time has been at night. A fair number of trout have been reported in the East Branch of 12 Mile Creek, too. At Burt Dam, decent numbers of steelheads have been reported with some brown trout mixed in according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. The flow was still good with a medium tea color stain of about 1-1/2 to 2 foot visibility. Egg sacs were at the top of the list, but jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float was not far behind. Egg imitations, too. Pier casters are still using spoons or spinners, but the top bait continues to be a minnow fished under a float. Shoreline trollers are starting to pick up a few more trout but the recent northeast winds blew out the warmer waters.
Locals are anticipating trout stockings from the state in places like Oppenheim Park Pond, Hyde Park Lake and Gill Creek. According to the Caledonia hatchery where these fish would be coming from, it will be on April 16. In the meantime, casting the shoreline in the upper rapids area could produce a few trout with an egg sac, spoon or spinner. Bird Island Pier and Broderick Park are also good spots for trout casting. The NYPA Reservoir is now open for fishing access, off Reservoir Park and the stairs off Upper Mountain Road in Lewiston.
Water color below the power plants was stained most of the week, making fishing a bit more difficult. Good fishing was reported in Devilís Hole on egg sacs and minnows for three-way drifters from boats. Shore fishermen have also been doing well, too. Just seek out clearer water. Egg sacs are a good bet. Egg imitations, spoons and spinners will all catch fish, too. Donít rule out the mouth of the river off Fort Niagara for a little shoreline trolling action. A few browns and the occasional Coho are starting to hit. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters says that the lake trout have started to show up on the Niagara Bar in small numbers. Kwikfish or minnows work best. The NYPA fishing platform in the gorge is now open.
Tributary action has been fair for many of the streams off the lake, with a mix of fresh fish and trout that are spawning. Egg sacs are a good bait to use right now, but minnows and worms will also catch fish. Egg imitations work, too. Best creeks have been Canadaway and Chautauqua but that could change with the recent rains. Dunkirk Harbor off the city pier and the fishing platform is producing a few trout.
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.
Tributary run-off has added a stain to the river. Clarity and steelhead catches have been better above the power plant discharge. Drifting with a 3-way bottom bouncing rig with minnows, Kwikfish or egg sacs works well. Shore anglers can target trout at the state parks by drifting egg sacs or minnows (under a float) and by casting spoons or spinners. River water temperatures are still in the low 30s, due to the extensive ice covering that remains on Lake Erie. The smelt run that is usually starting up about now, will likely be delayed by the cold water temps. Out on the Niagara Bar, boaters are starting to catch some brown trout and lake trout, with the occasional Coho salmon mixed in.
Following recent rains, all of the Lake Ontario tributaries are running high and muddy today. The high stained flow will likely persist at Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks through the weekend. Smaller streams such as Fourmile, Keg and Hopkins should shape up and offer some fishing opportunity this weekend. Previously, anglers were catching steelhead in all the creeks. With warming stream temperatures, spawning should be in full swing this week. Spring run steelhead will hit egg sacs, egg pattern flies, trout beads, jigs with grubs, streamer patterns, bugger patterns, minnows and nightcrawlers.
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