When the winds cooperate, some boaters are still venturing out into the lake targeting two distinct fisheries. The first focuses on mature king salmon that are staging off creek mouths like Olcott and 18 Mile Creek. Concentrate your efforts inside of 80 feet of water all the way to the pier heads with J-plugs, spoons, J-13 Rapalas, cut bait or flasher-fly. You can also target steelhead and immature salmon in the 250 to 350 foot range with spoons and flashe--fly. For pier head fishing for salmon, try fishing at night or early morning under low light conditions. Spoons, rattlebaits or large stickbaits will catch fish. Under cloudy days you can catch fish all day long, but not in any large numbers. The harbor and up the creek is a good place to troll or cast J-13 Rapalas. Remember that if you use treble hooks the lure must float in the creeks. Fishing egg skein under a float is another popular method for salmon. A few fish have been showing up at Burt Dam but they donít stick around very long at this point. Again, low light conditions. Some browns and steelhead are also starting to show up.
Good bass fishing is continuing around Strawberry Island with crayfish, shiners and tubes. You can fish those baits from boat and shore to do well. The same Strawberry Island area is producing some musky, as well. Try casting and/or drifting large 8 to 10 inch tubes. Large body baits or spinnerbaits will also catch fish.
The salmon fishing has been decent in the Devi'ís Hole area of the lower river - from the fishing platform, from shore and from boat. That said, two important notes on shoreline access. One, the NYPA fishing platform will be closed on Friday, Sept. 26 while they pave the access road. The shuttle service from Lot C at the Visitors Center will resume on Sept. 27 - so it will only be closed for one day. The shuttle service will continue to run from 7 am to 5 pm every half hour. Also, the stairs at the base of Artpark is now open for shore anglers. Good news for sure. Casting spoons, spinners, body baits and floating egg skein are all popular shoreline methods for salmon. From boats, the treated egg skein tops the list of fish enticements, fished off three-way rigs to bounce bottom. Use a long leader of 6 to 8 feet, but not longer than your fishing rod. Kwikfish will also work under the right wind conditions. A few of the captains have been reporting limit catches, which is three fish per person. If there's only one person in the boat - that's three fish. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown reports that most of his guys are averaging 2-3 fish per person but other guys have been doing better. These salmon look for chinks in the armor so make sure your equipment is running at peak efficiency. The drags need to be smooth and the line in good condition. Matt likes to keep his clicker on when using the reels because then he knows what the fish is doing and can adjust his boat accordingly. Check your hook and eggs often to make sure there is no grass or the eggs are in good condition. Fish like to hold in the deeper water at the tail end of the main drift. Bass fishing continues to be good downriver near the Coast Guard station.
Yellow perch action tops the list of fishing activity in the big lake, just in time for the 4th Annual Richard Brauer Memorial Charity Gala and Perch Tournament, Pendleton. Fishing until 6 pm. Scales open at 3 pm. Minimum size is 9 inches. Any questions call Eric at 698-4505. Best action has been off Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 60 to 70 feet of water. That's all the info you get because of the contest. Walleye are still showing up west of Cattaraugus Creek from 70 to 80 feet of water; west of Dunkirk the best depth has been from 80 to 110 feet. Put your baits down 60 to 80 feet. Worm harnesses or stickbaits. Bass fishing has been spotty, but you can still get into some nice bronzebacks in 20 to 40 feet of water on tubes, shiners or crayfish. Don't give up just yet as the bass are starting to go on their fall feeding frenzy. Steelhead are still moving into the creeks like Cattaraugus in increasing numbers. Cast the mouths of the creeks with spoons or spinners to pick up some trout, too.
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.
Charter boats working the Devils Hole drift continued to see good king salmon action through this week. On Thursday, charters were returning with 4 to 5 king salmon on average. Drifting with a three-way rig and cured salmon skein (nickel to quarter size) has worked very well, but a three-way with Kwikfish is also effective at times. Keep in mind that conditions are hazardous in the Devils Hole drift, and only the most experienced boaters should attempt to fish there. Smallmouth bass are still available around the mouth of the river and on the Niagara Bar.
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. Shore anglers can also target king salmon from shore at Whirlpool and Devils Hole State Parks 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
Boaters still have good opportunity to catch king salmon (chinook salmon) and trout off tributary mouths. Near dawn and dusk, the staging kings have been caught from just off the piers, out to 80 feet of water. Good spots to try include the waters off Olcott, Oak Orchard, Sandy Creek and the Genesee River. Off Olcott, boaters have caught some nice silvery kings much of the past week. Heavier trolling traffic has tended to shut things down. Boaters have done better by casting spoons or drifting skein. Another option after nightfall is to anchor in 15-30 feet of water (off tributary mouths) and cast glow spoons or deep diving stickbaits.
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