Fishing continues to be very good out in Lake Ontario off the shores of Niagara County for both salmon and trout. According to Capt. Dan Evans of Wilson, fish can be found in the 60 to 140 foot range from 30 Mile Point to the Niagara Bar. While spoons are the primary lure being used, a fair number of fish are also being taken on flasher-fly rigs. Find the river current and locate baitfish to find active fish. Some trout are still available in 18 Mile Creek below Burt Dam, but warm water fish like pike, bass and perch are starting to trun on, too. The Ĺ inch of rain earlier in the week helped conditions a little bit.
Waters in the upper river are finally starting to heat up enough to turn on some warm water fishing like perch and crappies. Small tubes, minnows or plastic shadpoles will catch fish for you in any of the bays that offer a bit warmer temperatures from the main river. Excitement is running high with the new proposed muskellunge season in New York. Inland waters musky will open up on the last Saturday in May (May 30 this year), with a minimum size of 40 inches and a limit of one fish if you wanted to keep one. However, this new season does NOT include the Niagara River (upper or lower), Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Great Lakes regulations will continue to be an opening day of the third Saturday in June (June 20 this year). In addition, the minimum musky size for all Great Lakes waters will be 54 inches in length with a daily limit of one. Scott McKee, president of the Niagara Musky Association, was worried over the possible confusion and asked that we emphasize this a few times in our reports so that anglers better understand the changes. The DEC press release was not clear on the Niagara River.
Steelhead are still available throughout the system but the best spot has been in Devilís Hole according to Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls. Fishing three-way rigs with a small minnow or small egg sac has been the most productive method. A small yellow float in the sac is working, like an Oregon cheese color. That same color has been working with small pieces of yarn. A few lake trout have been found throughout the river, but the majority of them have been stacked up at the mouth. Loads of bass around Fort Niagara, too.
Perch action has been good to very good from Sturgeon Point to Cattaraugus Creek. When you launch your boat just look out onto the lake and you can see where everyone is fishing. The 50 foot mark has been a good starting point with limit catches of yellow perch being reported by anglers. A few walleye are starting to show up on some of the reefs and shoals. Night time trolling off Hamburg Beach has been a bit spotty. Work harnesses or stickbaits. Bass action has been a bit slow, but that still means some decent action and some trophy-sized fish. Working the breakwalls is one way to catch fish, using tubes, jerk baits or live bait. Some trout are still available in the tributaries.
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.
Attention anglers: Walleye, northern pike and pickerel seasons opened on Saturday, May 2nd.
This year's smelt run never really materialized, with very light catches on the best nights. Now that river temperatures are over 50 degrees, its unlikely that any more will show. Boaters are still reporting some good steelhead action in the popular drifts, with Devils Hole leading in catches. Target steelhead with a three-way bottom bouncing rig with live minnows or egg sacs. Plenty of smallmouth bass have moved into the river, with good action reported from Fort Niagara down to the mouth. Lake trout are thick on the Niagara Bar and action has been exceptional at times
Anglers are reporting good king salmon (chinook salmon) catches off Niagara County in 60-140 feet of water. Wilson trollers are doing well between the harbor and the Niagara Bar. Olcott anglers are heading 1.5 miles west off the red barn or when conditions permit, running east to the waters of Golden Hill State Park. Large spoons have worked best, run 50-60 feet down. Catches have been of mostly 13-19 pound kings with the occasional fish over 20 pounds, and plenty of lake trout mixed in. Now that the kings are biting, effort for nearshore browns has dropped off. Some of the smaller boats are still working waters inside 30 feet for a mix of brown trout, coho salmon and lake trout.
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