Mark Romanack of Michigan reported that his son, Jake Romanack of Fishing 411 and Jarod Higginbotham of Yakima Bait fished the Niagara Bar Tuesday morning while filming an episode of Fishing 411 TV. The much anticipated salmon bite kicked into high gear. The crew boated three kings over 20 pounds, plus three bonus coho and countless lake trout. The Yakima 3.5 Mag Lip plug stole the show producing all the big kings and lakers. The top colors included NFL, gold/orange flame and Pay Day. Most of the fish came in 100 feet of water, east of the Red Can. Riggers 50 to 60 feet down produced well as did 300 foot wire rigs fished with Off Shore boards. A few coho were in the top 20 feet of water. That's the best piece of information that we can give you with what is happening starting on Friday. If you are looking for lake trout, they seem to be all over the place. Bill Fekete of Ransomville was fishing with his son, Corey, every chance they got and have been doing well on lake trout. Fire tiger pattern has been working the best – spoons or sticks. Best depth was 50 down over 70 feet of water on the Niagara Bar for them. Friday, May 6 kicks off the spring Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby – a 10 day contest that focuses much of the angling effort on the waters off Niagara County. This is the spot on the lake that offers the best chance at winning the $15,000 Grand Prize for the biggest salmon. There’s another $25,000 in other prizes, too, with divisions for salmon, brown trout, lake trout and walleye – the latter starting at one minute after midnight on May 7, the opening of walleye season in New York. Check out www.loc.org for details. Also on May 7 is the start of the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament. Best six salmon for the day wins the big bucks, based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound. Less than two weeks after that one is the granddaddy of trout and salmon tournaments, the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament, held out of the ports of Wilson and Olcott May 20-22. Deadline to register is May 16
The head of the river at the Buffalo Harbor was really starting to turn on for bass fishing Tuesday. Buddy Prause, VP of Sales and Marketing for Yo-Zuri, was in town from the Florida office, along with three factory reps from Japan. They were testing some new baits that really seemed to work wonders on the smallmouth, despite 43 degree water around the breakwalls. All they used were hardbaits – specifically the Hardcore Longbill Series in 90 mm Orange Tiger and Ayu, as well as the Hardcore Spin in several different colors. The blade seemed to mimic the flash of the emerald shiner. Prause caught is two personal best smallmouth on the trip and they were amazed at how good they worked in the cold water. The bite was tough overall, too, and plastics did not seem to be as effective. At least on this day. May 7 is the opening of walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger musky seasons throughout the state. However, tiger musky is still closed on the Great Lakes until the regular musky season opener on June 18 this year. Also remember that the Erie Canal is now open and ready for fishing action.
Plenty of excitement around town for the Smelt Festival on Friday, May 6. Things kick off at 5 pm at Lewiston Landing. Trout fishing has been holding on, but it hasn't been easy for sure. Steelhead and lake trout are still available with minnows or egg sacs. At the mouth of the river, the bass are just starting to turn on (catch and release only, no live bait) and Capt. Bruce Blakelock of Lewiston was guiding Mitch Grant and George Thomas of Virginia, co-owners of the Trailer Hook Pal. They were in town for a media event that was going on all week and they had some new products to use. Best baits were tubes and swim baits in a green pumpkin color. The tubes were rigged with Tube Mate Spinners by Trailer Hook Pal, a new added enticement that really seemed to trigger the fish to hit. They were just starting to turn on Tuesday and it will continue to improve as the waters continue to warm. Several fish were over 5 pounds.
Perch bite has been on and off depending on who you talk to. Find the fish in 45 to 60 feet of water and stay on them. Walleye season opens at 12:01 am on Saturday morning and the best place to be is in the shallows off Hamburg. In the tributaries, Cattaraugus Creek is the best bet for a late season trout. However, some bass have started to move up into the tribs. With the opening of the special trophy bass season on Lake Erie on May 7, don't forget the Spring Border War co-hosted by WNY Bassmasters and St. Catharines Bassmasters out of Buffalo Small Boat Harbor 7 to 3 pm. Contact Keith at 818-7350 for more info.
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.
Boaters are still catching a light mix of steelhead and lake trout, with increasing numbers of smallmouth bass. Shore anglers can target trout from Whirlpool, Devils Hole and Artpark State Parks. The Whirlpool stairs are closed for repairs, so access is from the adjacent Devils Hole State Park. The smelt run has been tapering off and is likely done. The fishing platform and parking at the base of the NYPA power project is now open.
Trolling for king salmon off Niagara County has produced the occasional mature king salmon and plenty of lake trout. Typical spring king starting points are in 70 -100 feet of water, with spoons and stickbaits run at mid-water depths. Spoons run closer to the bottom work very well for lake trout. The salmon bite along Niagara Bar's ledge is heating up. Trolling in around 100 feet of water with large spoons run mid water column produced some mature king salmon with coho salmon and lake trout mixed in. Target brown trout inside 20 feet of water on stickbaits run 75 to 100 feet behind planer boards. Try to seek out murky waters or troll along mud lin
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