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Taking A Close Look At The Niagara Area Fishing Waters

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Fishing Reports

Captain Matt's  Fishing Reports Archive
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Fishing Report

from Bill Hilts

March 22, 2017

  Lake Ontario and Tributaries

With the opening of the inland trout and salmon season just around the corner on April 1, it's important to note that the Department of Environmental Conservation's fish hatchery personnel have been keeping busy. In fact, they are ahead of schedule thanks to the relatively mild winter we've enjoyed.

Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek were producing fish consistently, both pre- and post-spawn steelhead according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Brown trout are still around, too. According to Walker, egg sacs and grubs were working on the pre-spawn steelies; worms and minnows were working on the post spawn fish. A few have been caught on jigs. Some perch fishermen have been taking a few fish from Olcott and Wilson harbors, but there was some chunk ice around keeping boaters from making it out into the lake. That should be gone this week. Some pike have been active in the harbors, but that season is closed. Piers still had ice on them Tuesday but that should be gone by the weekend. They are forecasting some rain Friday through Sunday.

  Niagara River

The stretch of river below Niagara Falls finally cleared up again after last week's hard blow turned the green water to a brown mud color. Monday, the water changed to a nice green again with about 2 feet of visibility according to Capt. Ted Kessler of Grand Island. With north wind in the forecast, he's hoping it will maintain a viable color for fishing. According to Kessler, there is plenty of fresh steelhead in the river with a decent amount of lake trout mixed in. Best drifts have been Artpark and Devil's Hole; best baits have been pink egg sacs and large emerald shiners. Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield actually took some cautious steps into the gorge early Tuesday morning and he was rewarded with five nice lake trout casting soft plastics. He reported that the water was still a good green color. No reports in the upper river.

  Lake Erie and Tributaries

Most of the tributaries off Lake Erie are slushy, but there are some fish in the upper reaches according to Danny Colville of Colville Outfitters. The Buffalo River tribs have been fishing better. If you can find open water in the lower ends of the streams, you can expect to find steelhead chasing minnows according to Colville. Of course, they will readily grab an egg sac, too. A little further to the south, some of the mid-sized creeks are seeing decent numbers of trout toward Dunkirk. He reports some nice brook trout are mixed in with the steelhead and, if you are lucky, you may just catch a lake-run brookie mixed in with the steelies.

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!

NYSDEC Fishing Report

March 24 to March 31, 2017

  Lower Niagara River

River waters have good color and clarity at present. Anglers have been catching a decent mix of steelhead and lake trout from both boat and shore. Controlled drifting with three-way rigs with egg sacs, shiners or Kwikfish lures is the typical boating approach. Egg sacs or shiners cured with a florescent colored dye product get plenty of attention. Shore anglers can target trout at Artpark, Devils Hole and Whirlpool State Parks.

  Lake Ontario

Harbors are again ice free and open to the lake. Brown trout should be available inside 20 feet of water.

  Lake Ontario Tributaries, Harbors and Piers

Eighteenmile Creek is currently running a little high and stained, with about 8 inches of visibility. Prior to the flow spike, decent numbers of fresh steelhead were reportedly moving in. More fish could move in on the tail of this higher water event as well. Oak Orchard Creek is slightly high and stained with about 2 feet of visibility. Almost all of the freestone streams are currently high and muddy. Keg Creek is one exception with only slight color, but light numbers of fish. Egg sacs, egg flies, trout beads and grub-tipped marabou jigs are good trout offerings.

Ice coverings on piers are melting away. Olcott Harbor's east pier is ice-free, while the west pier is still covered. Ice status of other piers is unknown. Spring casting for trout is often productive at pier sites.

NYS Fishing Reports courtesy New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website. Visit them at NYSDEC

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716) 851-7010. Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 855-FISH.

Capt. Matt Yablonsky

Cell: (716) 550-0413

Email: e-mail Wet Net Charters

Our Clients say ...

"I wanted to thank you for the great day of fishing we had on Sunday. We had over 30 lake trout on, and boated 21 of them! You were great to work with! What amazed me and my friend Mark the most was how there were over thirty boats fishing that day and the most we saw any other boat pull in was two to three fish! It seemed we were constantly drifting by the other boats with fish on while they watched. We enjoyed ourselves tremendously and look forward to many more trips with you"
Randy Hastings | North Tonawanda, NY

  A New York State Freshwater Fishing License is required for adults
(16+ years old).

They can be easily obtained at any Walmart Store in New York State or at

Village of Lewiston Offices. 145 N 4th St., Ste 1, Lewiston, NY 14092
Clerk's Office  716-754-8271.

Ask Captain Matt to help you get yours, when you call to book your fishing charter!

You can also get your licenses online.
For New York State.
Need more information?