Niagara Gazette

November 21, 2008

FISH FORECAST: Murky waters clearing in Niagara River

By Bill Hilts Jr.

1. Lake Ontario and tributaries

There was a lot less fishing pressure this week with the opening of the regular deer season, but for those that tackled trout and salmon, the place to be is still below Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek. Some more Coho salmon, steelhead and brown trout have made it into the creek and up to the dam the past week. Wes Walker at The Slipper Sinker in Olcott took his wife, Amy, up to the dam recently and she did well scoring on a seven pound brown and an 11-pound steelhead while working a small jig tipped with a wax worm. Wes managed to catch three browns in the 5 to 8 pound range on the same bait in just a couple hours of fishing. Egg pattern flies, egg sacks or single eggs will also work to take fish. Tinsel jigs or rooster tails with a single hook have been working on the Cohos. Off the piers, when the winds cooperate, casters are using spoons and spinners to take these same fish as the move into the system. There are plenty of pike in the harbor, which hinders the perch fishing. When the pike move away, the perch fishing picks up. Ditto for over in Wilson with trout off the piers and a mix of pike and panfish in the harbor.

2. Lower Niagara River

With the storm that blew in last weekend, murky water conditions hampered lower river trout action until mid-week when things started to clear back up. By Wednesday, the action took right off with fish active all over the river. Capt. Frank Campbell reported good catches throughout. On the Bar, a mix of trout were hitting Kwikfish and minnows. Egg sacks, yarn balls and Kwikies were producing fish in Devil’s Hole and along Artpark. If the winds hold off, the fishing should be good in the lower river for trout from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar. Shore fishermen along Artpark should continue to do well, but be careful of your footing with the recent snow and cold snap. It’s not a place you want to stumble.

3. Upper Niagara River

Trout at the foot of Ferry Street on egg sacks, spoons and spinners; muskellunge at the head of Strawberry Island on monster tubes or swim baits. There was a report of a nice 48-inch tiger musky that came from that same area this week, 20 feet down on a large gold Ninja tube. Heidi at Big Catch reported that the perch fishing has really been good in the river, both at the foot of Ontario street and off Squaw Island. Use perch goldens. Bass have also been active in most places that fishermen have been casting a line.

4. Lake Erie and tributaries

Tributary action was affected by the rainfall last weekend and then the Lake Erie snow machines started to dump a bunch of the white stuff south of Buffalo. The Cattaraugus will probably be out, but you might be able to catch some trout in streams like Canadaway, 18 Mile, Cazenovia, Cayuga and Buffalo. Yellow perch is still an option if you can brave the weather off the Catt in 60-70 feet of water. You can still launch small boats at the marina there. Details are being worked out at the Buffalo Boat Harbor to launch boats through November 30 there, too. You can still do well on bass, too, by working live bait or plastic baits like tubes fished slow.

5. Chautauqua Lake

Not too much fishing action going on with the opening of deer season. However, Craig Robbins reports that some crappie have moved into the canals around Smith Boys and in Ashville Bay with the lowering of the water temperatures. Try casting a one-inch tube or grub tipped off with a minnow and fished under a float or bobber.

6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters

Oneida Lake Walleye fishing has finally turned right on according to local guide Ted Dobs. This past week, two different evening adventures resulted in the catching of over 100 eyes. Every cast produced a fish for over 2 hours once they dialed in the correct baits and adjusted retrieve speed. Hot producers were the higher end 3-1⁄2 inch Lucky Craft Pointers; 4-inch Challengers, and Yo-Zuri crystal minnows. The secret was to use a file on the lips to thin them out to get the most wiggle at the lowest speed possible. Also suspend dots were added to the floating version baits in the front to add to the action and to keep the nose down in a dead slow retrieve. All hooks on the Yo-Zuri’s needed to be changed because the standard salt water hooks they use do not hook up as well. Also, removal of the split ring in the front is vital. Using a simple snap, without a swivel, will allow the bait to pivot with amazing action while at a slow retrieve. They did catch fish on other non modified baits, but they didn’t even come close to the customized versions. Also some minnow baits are true jerkbaits and have no wiggle and are designed to be jerked all the way in. Make sure you check all of your lures by dragging them in the water in front of you before you cast. Rods were 7-foot medium action with the use of 4 to 6 pound Fireline or braid. He prefers to use Fireline as it seems to cast a bit further. The longer you use, it the more supple it gets. Most of the time he ties direct to the snap and, if the line begins to lighten up, he will take a marker and dot the line near the lure which makes the line less visible to the fish. In extreme flat, super clear nights he employs a 2 foot section of fluorocarbon as a leader by using an Albright knot. This knot is superior because, if by chance it is reeled in too far past the guide, it will not catch like a surgeon’s knot when casting out again. Great tips, Ted. Thanks!