Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek are still holding fair numbers of trout. Best bait is a jig tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float, but egg sacs or egg imitations will also work for you. We received roughly a foot of snow on Wednesday and Thursday this week and temperatures will be forecast into the 40ís soon so that should melt the white stuff and possible stain the water a bit and add a bit more flow. It was low and clear as of this report. It should also bring in a few more fish. The Niagara River Anglers Christmas meeting is Dec. 15 at the Sanborn Farm Museum located on Route 31 at 7 pm and the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs will be meeting at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, Route 78 in Lockport at 7 pm on Dec. 17.
The waters finally cleared again but another snow storm this week will probably limit the amount of fishing going on. Musky season is closed, bass is catch and release, but there is some trout and perch fishing going on. Broderick Park, the northern tip of Squaw Island and Ontario should produce both. Minnows for perch; spoons, spinners or egg sacs for trout. Casting the upper rapids area along the Robert Moses Parkway is another good trout hang-out this time of year.
The Lower Niagara River turned muddy again last weekend with the high winds on the previous Wednesday night and that could happen again this week if the wind directions and severity of the blowing is right. Right now, with wind out of the north, it shouldnít be a problem. However, that direction does make for some tougher fishing conditions. Fishing was good when things finally cleared last weekend, especially at Artpark and the Niagara Bar, and it continued to be good when north wind wasnít blowing too hard. Steelhead, browns and lake trout were all cooperating in the river; browns and lakers on the bar. All the traditional baits will catch fish including minnows, wobbling baits like Kwikfish and MagLips, and egg sacs or egg imitations. Devilís hole was producing some fish, too. Shore fishermen are back to catching fish, as well. Spoons, spinners, beads and egg sacs are good to use. Tip of the week comes from Capt. Jeff Draper of Grand Island. Make sure you have oil in the oil reservoir for your outboard. If your motor starts making a strange beeping noise, be sure to check the oil first.
All of the streams were in good fishing shape earlier this week according to reports from local trout fishermen. Cattaraugus Creek was a bit stained but fishable. If we do get some significant snow melt after this most recent snowfall that could slow things up for a day or two.
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.
Muddy waters shut down lower river fishing last weekend. Conditions have steadily improved this week, and the river is again in good fishing shape. Boaters have been catching a mix of steelhead and lake trout in the Devils Hole, Artpark and Stella drifts. Live minnows, egg sacs or Kwikfish lures fished off a 3-way bottom bouncing rig works well. Shore anglers are catching the same species at Whirlpool, Devils Hole and Artpark State Parks. Fishing egg sacs, egg patterns, trout beads or shiners under a float, or casting medium sized spoons and spinners are good bets for shore anglers. Keep in mind that lake trout season is closed until January 1st, so all caught lakers should be promptly released.
Muskellunge and tiger muskellunge seasons extend to December 15th on the lower river, offering two more weeks of fishing opportunity than most other regional waters. The NYPA fishing platform has closed for the winter season.
Low and clear conditions are the norm for the Lake Ontario tributaries in Niagara and Orleans Counties. Anglers fishing low flows at Eighteenmile Creek are catching modest numbers of brown trout, steelhead and coho salmon. Oak Orchard anglers see the same mix of fish, primarily caught out of the deeper holes. The smaller tributaries are low, icy and the fishing is slow. There is about 10-12 inches of snow on the ground. Snowmelt should aid stream flows when temperatures climb into the 40s at the start of the next work week. When fishing clear waters, it is best to downsize your presentation with small baits or flies and light fluorocarbon tippet.
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