Fishing conditions have been horrible to say the least. Frigid cold combined with snow and winds have limited the amount of angling activity - even for the ice fishermen. There should be a little bit of open water at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek and when conditions do improve in the temperature department fishing should be good. In the meantime, look for ice fishing to be your most viable option in Wilson and Olcott. Pike and panfish are leading the way for the kinds of fish being caught.
Not too much changed from a few weeks ago. Target the harbor off Buffalo or the marinas around Grand Island for the best ice action.
The cold temperatures and the ensuing ice have posed major problems for anglers in the lower river below Niagara Falls. Most of the guides have cancelled trips the past couple of weeks but it looks like many of them will be working again starting on Friday of this week, Feb. 27 ... if it's not too cold. Lows are forecasted to be in the single digits. The launch ramp in Lewiston is now open and the ice has moved away from that staging area. Those fish should be hungry, but you will have to deal with clear water conditions. Minnows will probably be your best bet, but Kwikfish or MagLips will also catch fish when the winds are right, preferably out of the south or southwest. Use a three-way rig to maintain contact with the bottom and use smaller hooks and line to adapt your presentation to the clear water. You may have to lengthen your lead, too, off the three way swivel. Next week we should have temperatures in the 30's!
Tribs are all frozen up and the only open water was a small area off the fishing platform in Dunkirk Harbor. A few trout are being reported there. Everything else is ice fishing and Barcelona and Dunkirk harbors are producing a few fish here and there. Use jigging spoons tipped with a wax worm or a minnow for trout. Out in the main lake, mixed reports and conditions are being reported. Off Sturgeon Point, fish seem to be scattered and some anglers were stranded out there recently when some ice shifted. Caution is advised. Catch rates there had not been too good anyway.
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.
There has been practically no fishing activity on the lower river this week, due to the arctic blast and lots of floating ice. Steelhead, lake trout and brown trout are available for the hearty, or just wait until temperatures moderate.
Steelhead fishing is on hold as almost all waters are frozen. Even the areas below the dams on Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks are mostly iced over.
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