Action in the big lake has improved out deep but near shore fishing has been tougher due to an influx of cold water. That could change with the recent southwest winds, so keep that in mind if you head out to target salmon and trout. Capt. Jim Gordon of Appleton was doing well in the top 70 feet over 450 feet of water with N&D Cut Bait, a Pacific herring strip that is really taking the local fishing scene by storm. Best area for fishing has been from the 24 line to the 27 line for a mix of kings and trout.
Bass action continues to be the most consistent fishing available. Shiners and crabs work best, but worm harnesses will also catch fish. Tube jigs or drop shot rigs also work. Use three-way rigs to entice bass to hit. Some musky are also available for anglers and John Syracuse of Newfane connected with a nice fish around Strawberry Island recently using a black spinnerbait with an orange blade. Unfortunately, he had local pastors Dave Emmons and Nate Hlad of Newfane in charge of the netting. In classic Laurel and Hardy style, they managed to miss the fish and watch it swim away unharmed ... sporting new jewelry to show off to its friends. Sounds like they need to read the Book of Peter again. No reports on shore fishing but be aware that there is some construction going on at Broderick Park.
Bass have been snapping consistently thanks to the influx of cold water along the Lake Ontario shoreline. When that happens, smallmouth will scramble into the warmer Lake Erie waters flowing down the river. On Monday, Chad Brachman of Sanborn was fishing with his 9 year old daughter Olivia and Jay Danielwicz of Sanborn using crabs along the Coast Guard drift. Their smallest fish was three pounds. The biggest was 22 inches long! Similar success was being enjoyed by several of the local guides taking advantage of the situation. The same general area also produced some monster muskellunge in the past week – one 51 incher and a second 52-1/2 incher.
Several reports have come in from anglers stating that some decent walleye are still being caught out of Cattaraugus Creek in 75 to 80 feet of water targeting suspended fish. Worm harnesses are the top lure to entice fish hits. A lot of smaller fish but fish up to 9 pounds have been reported. Some suspended catfish have been caught in the same area up to 15 pounds. If you are looking for perch, move in a bit closer. Some reports have come in from boaters targeting 50 to 65 foot depths off the Catt.
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.
Anglers are still catching walleye in the lower river and out on the Niagara Bar. In the river, anglers are picking up some walleye from multiple drifts by drifting with a 3-way bottom bouncing rig and worm harness. River anglers saw some improved smallmouth bass catches this week. The cold nearshore waters of Lake Ontario pushed smallmouth bass into the lower river. Smallmouth can be found all the way up to Devils Hole, but the catches were best near the mouth of the river, off Fort Niagara State Park and in the Coast Guard Drift. Drifting with a bottom bouncing rig and crayfish, shiner or tube is a good bet.
With colder nearshore water temperatures, the better trout and salmon bite continues to be over deeper water in Lake Ontario's western basin. Out of Olcott, trollers are catching steelhead and king salmon (chinook salmon) of mixed ages in 250-450 feet of water. Trolling with large spoons, flasher fly combos and especially cut bait in the top 70 feet has worked well. Oak Orchard anglers see similar catches over depths of 300-500 feet, on gear run between 40-90 feet down.
Catches of mature king salmon in the nearshore areas has been few and far between. However, over the next couple weeks, increasing numbers of staging king salmon should show in shallower water of 40-100 feet. Look for kings at the shallower end of that zone at first light and work progressively deeper water as the sun climbs in the sky. J-plugs, flasher-fly combos, cut bait rigs and large spoons are good offerings for staging king salmon.
King salmon catches at the Niagara Bar's drop-off, well, dropped off. This week, action has been better on the bar for lake trout and walleye. Some nice catches of large walleye have come on worm harnesses trolled near the bottom in the vicinity of the green buoy.
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