All the Lake Ontario tributaries continue to be low and clear across the board for anglers pursuing trout in the streams. The only hope for an increase in water flow (outside of some significant rain and thatís not in the cards right now) is in 18 Mile Creek where the promise of increased water could come from the de-watering of the Erie Canal, which has already started. How much of an impact we will see from that remains to be seen, but Burt Dam and Fishermanís Park on 18 Mile Creek will be the first to see any benefits from it. Hopefully that will pull some more browns and steelhead into the system. With warmer temperatures around the Thanksgiving Day holiday, it should bring a few more non-hunters out to sample the local waters.
With the water clearing finally, musky fishermen will be hitting the water for sure to try and take advantage of the last few days of the season in the upper river and Buffalo harbor areas. Trolling large body baits or drifting tubes are the way to go, but some use large suckers or chubs off three-way rigs to try and target these fish. Some trout are available for casters at Broderick Park or off the Bird island pier areas. Along Ontario Street, some shoreline action for a mix of perch and panfish is available. Bass, too, but if you are planning on keeping any remember the regular season closes on Nov. 30 for smallmouth and largemouth. The Erie Canal is de-watering from the dam at Fiegel Road in Pendleton to the east.
Boats were out in good numbers of Wednesday to take some trout finally after several weeks of turbid conditions. Silver Kwikfish and MagLips are the way to go right now, taking advantage of southwest winds and some cleaner water. Fish those baits off three-way rigs. Lake trout, steelhead and the occasional brown trout will all be showing up. Remember that lake trout season is closed in New York waters of Lake Ontario and the river until Dec. 31. However, the Canadian side of the river will see Dec. 1 as an opening date. Shore fishermen are still doing well from Artpark to the Whirlpool on spoons, spinners and eggs or egg imitations. Remember that the NYPA fishing platform will be closing down on Dec. 1, as will the upper reservoir. Bass season closes on Nov. 30 but musky season will continue until Dec. 15 in the Lower River and Lake Ontario.
Lake tributaries are still low and clear with the best bet being Cattaraugus Creek. How much that creek (and the others for that matter) will be impacted by Friday's rains remains to be seen. Downsize on your line, hook and bait when conditions are clear. On the Catt, fish can be caught from the lake to the Scoby Dam. You can also cast the creek mouths with spoons and spinners to take trout. If you can get on the lake, yellow perch is still an option and the first place to start will be 50 to 60 foot depths between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek.
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.
Lower river waters are currently stained, but fishable. Boaters and shore anglers have been catching plenty of lake trout with some steelhead and the occasional brown trout mixed in. Keep in mind that lake trout season is closed until January 1st, and all incidentally caught lakers should be quickly released. Shore anglers have seen the best bite along Artpark, but Devils Hole and Whirlpool State Parks are also good options. Egg sacs and chartreuse trout beads have worked well. Live shiners, jigs with mister twister, spoons and Vibrax spinners are also good offerings. Boaters are catching trout in the Artpark and Devils Hole Drifts. Controlled drifting with a three-way bottom bouncing rig with Kwikfish, egg sacs or shiners works well. Some trout have also shown at the NYPA fishing platform. NYPA has announced that the platform elevator is now closed due to the start of a project to replace the elevator. The remainder of the fishing pier remains open until December 1st, or the onset of ice and snow.
Recent fishing on western New York's Lake Ontario tributaries has been fair at best. Eighteenmile Creek is running low and clear and fishing has been slow, with light catches of brown trout and steelhead. The trout bite has been slightly better at Oak Orchard Creek. Currently, Oak Orchard has a moderate, clear flow. De-watering of the Erie Canal could start this week. When this occurs, Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks will see a bump in flow. Hopefully this will draw more trout upstream. All other western tributaries have very low and clear flows. Egg sacs, single eggs, trout beads, egg patterns, bugger patterns and grub-tipped marabou jigs are good trout offerings. When fishing clear conditions, downsize your tippet, hooks and bait to trick finicky trout
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