On the fishing scene, a decent run of salmon came into 18 Mile Creek as well as most major tributaries along Lake Ontario. The key seems to be water flow. Fair to good reports are coming in from Burt Dam where a mix of salmon and trout are being reported. Some monster brown trout have been reported, too, both in the creek and off the pier in Olcott. Fish to 20 pounds have been scaled. Egg sacs, single eggs, egg imitations and woolly buggers have been working on browns and steelhead. On the piers, spoons and spinners will also work for you when you can get out there. Water levels have fluctuated in 18 Mile Creek a bit. Water was coming over the dam at Burt at mid-week. When there is a north wind, water levels come up a little. Over in Wilson, perch have been hitting off the piers along with some trout and northern pike.
Bass are still going on their fall feed in all the traditional areas – smallmouth and largemouth. For smallies, use shiners, crayfish, tube jigs and the like in spots like Strawberry Island, Motor Island, the Huntley Power Station and the head of the river. The largemouth bass can be found around docks and weed beds around the river. Musky action has picked up a tick with the cooling water temperatures as fish get ready to winter over. Large tubes or body baits will work to catch fish.
In the lower Niagara River, salmon are still available but that run has started to die down, being replaced by trout. For those targeting salmon, boat drifters are using treated egg skein off three-way rigs in the Devil's Hole area. Shore casters are working the shoreline in the gorge - off the NYPA fish platform; Whirlpool State Park or Devil's Hole State Park. Casting spoons, spinners or jigs will catch fish; so will egg sacks fished under a float. More trout are starting to show up so add in the Artpark shoreline as a good shore/boat option. Some trout are also being caught downriver. By trout, we mean steelhead/rainbows, browns or lake trout. Remember that lake trout season is closed until the end of the year. There is some good walleye and bass fishing available, too, if you are looking for a mixed bag of fish. Live bait like shiners or worm harnesses will produce fish. Jigs like tubes or spoons will catch fish, too.
Yellow perch action continues to be good when the wind cooperates. The magic depth has been 60 feet - both inside and outside, too. DEC trawls have found perch out to 80 foot depths. There have been no reports on bass, but action can usually be good this time of year and they start to bulk up for winter. Target 25 to 40 foot depths. Tributaries are producing some trout if they have decent water flow. Trout are being caught in Cattaraugus Creek from the mouth to the dam in Springville. The lower ends of 18 Mile, Chautauqua and Canadaway creeks are holding fish but more rain is needed to help those streams along. Remember that DEC Region 9 fisheries is still looking for diary cooperators in the streams.
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.
Your 2013-2014 Freshwater Fishing Licenses (purchased before February 1st, 2014) expired on September 30th. Fishing licenses purchased after February 1st, 2014, are valid for 365 days from date of purchase.
Boaters and shore anglers are still catching a few king salmon, but that run has been tapering off. The Devils Hole drift is the best bet for those still seeking salmon. Drifting with a 3-way rig and cured salmon skein (quarter size) is a good bet. Keep in mind that conditions are hazardous in the Devils Hole drift, and only the most experienced boaters should attempt to fish there. This is generally the time of year where catches transition from salmon to trout. Look for increasing numbers of steelhead, brown trout and incidental lake trout catches. Keep in mind that lake trout season is closed until January 1st, so all caught lake trout must be quickly released. With the influx of trout, also look for catches to expand into the Artpark State Park section of the river. Egg sacs or egg pattern flies fished under a float, or casting medium-sized spoons and spinners are good bets for trout from shore.
There are plenty of king salmon (chinook salmon) around the streams that have water, so it looks like we are still at the peak of the run. Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks are in decent shape with moderate flows with just a touch of color. The dominant catches on both streams are king salmon and brown trout, with overall numbers better at the Oak. Smaller steelhead are increasingly showing as well. Johnson, Sandy and Marsh Creeks have low flow, but still have king salmon pushing up through. Sandy Creek has the best numbers of the smaller streams. Egg sacs, salmon skein, egg pattern flies and streamers work well for migrating salmon. The action for trout can be good for those fishing salmon egg sacs, single eggs, beads or egg pattern flies directly downstream of actively spawning salmon.
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