Fishing opportunities are extremely limited right now due to some crazy weather that included excessive rains, high winds, snow, ice, sleet and unseasonably cold temperatures. Despite all these problematic conditions, we still received a note from Ron Kryszak of Alden, who fished Chautauqua Lake in a snow storm and did quite well in the crappie department. I guess if there's a will, there's a way.
No one has been able to get on the lake to work the shoreline for browns, steelhead and Coho salmon. The piers have been empty because of all of the northerly winds and every tributary is high and muddy. It should bring in any remaining steelhead attempting to spawn this spring and open up any creek mouths that have been closed because of earlier northerly winds. Bullheads should still be available around Wilson in both branches of 12 Mile Creek and when the waters start to clear, perch should be available again, too, in both Wilson and Olcott harbors and off the piers. Everything is in a holding pattern right now.
Just prior to this last round of severe weather, some decent trout fishing was reported in the lower Niagara River for boat drifters and shoreline casters. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was tossing some No. 3 spinners to take some steelhead in the Devil's Hole area and boaters were drifting minnows on three-way rigs to take a mix of steelhead, brown trout and lake trout. There was a report of some smelt taken along Artpark earlier this week, but most of the reports are showing very limited numbers if any at all. Some of the boat captains have reported seeing large pods of baitfish showing up on their fish finders and they suspect smelt.
Lake Erie tributaries are all blown out right now due to the excessive rains from Silver Creek to Buffalo according to Danny Jankowiak of Buffalo. Just prior to the wash-out, he was tossing his homemade Janky Jigs to take double-digit steelheads with a fish favorite being olive and white. Check out the online Catch of the Week gallery to see what the lure looks like. He said that some anglers tossing spoons were also catching fish. Things should start to settle down by the weekend.
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!
Personal Floatation Device (PFD) law: As a reminder, between November 1 and May 1, anyone underway in a boat (less than 21 feet long) must wear a securely fastened PFD. This includes canoes, kayaks, rowboats and motorboats.
Upper river waters are in good shape and is mostly clear of ice. Harbor, bay and inlet areas are good spots to target yellow perch and sunfish. These areas warm quicker than the main river, attracting both bait and panfish. Boaters had to maneuver around some floating ice to target trout this week. Bottom bouncing with shiners produced decent catches of steelhead with some lake trout and brown trout mixed in. Most of the ice has now cleared out. There have been some dippers targeting smelt, but very few smelt have been caught so far. Water needs to warm up just a few more degrees to hit the optimal smelt dipping temperatures of 39-40 degrees. The NYPA fishing platform will re-open on Saturday, April 21st and is open from dawn till dusk.
The Lake Ontario tributaries were producing decent steelhead catches before the blow-out. The smallest tributaries are the best bet for the weekend, some of the medium sized streams should come around in the next day or two. Eighteenmile Creek has slightly high and stained flow, and Oak Orchard Creek is high with less than a foot of visibility.
Inclement weather kept boats off Lake Ontario most of this week. It is expected that the good brown trout bite will resume along the shoreline from Fort Niagara to Rochester. Previously, trollers were catching lots of brown trout in the 2 pound range, with the occasional lunker mixed in. Key on depths of 10-30 feet near stream/harbor mouths, in murky waters or in areas with a slightly higher temperature. Trolling with small to medium sized stickbaits or spoons run 75-100 feet behind planer boards is the top tactic. Lures run directly behind the boat get less trout attention.
Steelhead fishing was slowing down prior to the latest blow-out, but there were still decent numbers of fish around. Creeks were blown out on Monday and the smaller streams dropped back to fishable levels over last couple days. The Chautauqua County creeks are in good shape today. The Erie County creeks have moderate flows and are still a little murky, but OK. Cattaraugus Creek remains high. With any luck, the latest high water event brought a slug of fresh fish in. Steelhead smolts have recently been stocked in the Lake Erie tributaries. If caught, handle these small steelhead with care, so they may return to the creeks as large adults.
Cell: (716) 550-0413
Email: e-mail Wet Net Charters