Water was flowing nicely over the weekend and according to Taz Morrison of Barker, the best two streams have been 18 Mile Creek and the Oak Orchard River. Trout have been scattered throughout the systems and look for some fresh fish to migrate up soon. The warm rain on Tuesday night into Wednesday could be the catalyst for pulling in some fresh steelhead. Best bait has been a jig fished under a float and tipped with a wax worm. Egg sacs will also work.
Lower river trout action has been inconsistent. Anglers have really had to work for their fish. Kwikfish, egg sacs, emerald shiners – with or without beads above the offering - have all been catching steelhead and lake trout with other fish thrown in for incidentals. Walleye, brown trout, sturgeon were all reported last week. Water was off-color but fishable on Tuesday, but the high winds and rains will undoubtedly have an effect on water clarity and fish-catching. Rick Kustich of Getzville has been having some luck from shore using his two-handed fly rod with white or purple spey-style flies. His new book, "Hunting Musky with a Fly" is now out if you are interested in a reel challenge.
Nick Sagnibene of Ellicottville's Adventurebound on the Fly sends word that most inland streams were in decent shape. Some were even a little too clear. That is going to change with the rain, increasing flows and stain. Look for good fishing this weekend. Sagnibene likes smaller nymph patterns like stoneflies and pheasant tails. If the water is a little more stained and higher, black or olive wooly buggers are a good option. One of the better creeks off Erie has been 18 Mile and egg sacs have been a good bait to use.
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!
Free Ice Fishing Weekend: President's Day weekend (February 18-19, 2017) has been designated as a free fishing weekend in New York, to encourage more people to try ice fishing. Residents and visitors age 16 and older will be able to fish the waters of New York State without a license, providing great opportunity to learn about this popular activity.
Bouts of muddy water and chunk ice has made for tough fishing lately. Currently, river waters are murky, but improving. When conditions permit, boaters are catching lighter numbers of steelhead and lake trout with the rare brown trout or walleye mixed in. Drifters are running three-way rigs with egg sacs, Kwikfish lures or emerald shiners to entice bites. Floating chunk ice packed along the shoreline leaves limited fishable slots for shore anglers. The New York Power Authority fishing platform is closed for the winter season.
Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks are currently the top steelhead options. Flows are moderate to slightly high with a very slight stain. Muddy water from rain and snowmelt has not impacted these dammed streams, at least yet. There has been relatively light fishing pressure lately. Anglers report fair catches of steelhead with the occasional brown trout. Eighteenmile anglers also report yellow perch catches all the way up to the dam. The smaller creeks are currently higher and muddy, but all ice has been flushed out. Egg sacs, egg flies, trout beads and grub-tipped marabou jigs are good trout offerings.
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