By BILL HILTS
Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
Salmon fishing on 18 Mile Creek is starting to pick up from the piers to the dam at Burt. Casting the piers with spoons or deep diving stickbaits in firetiger or chartreuse is working morning and early evening; glow in the dark works at night. Egg skein is another approach that has been getting fish to hit. In addition, brown trout are being caught off the piers at Wilson and Olcott. Some of those browns have been caught at the dam, too. While 12 Mile Creek in Wilson is in need of a good rain, 4 Mile Creek was filled with water from a blockage at the mouth. Thanks to local angler Chuck Booker of Amherst, he was able to open the creek back up so that it is flowing again. There should be fish in the creek this weekend.
Boat trollers are hitting the pier heads and a bit deeper with J-plugs and large J13 Rapalas. In the 100- to 200-foot range, target the top 60 feet for a mix of cohos, kings and steelhead. Steelhead are still hitting out deep, too.
Tip of the week comes from Sir Glenn Bird of Barkershire who decreed that if you are taking your boat up the creek, be sure to make sure you have petrol in your gas tank – especially if you are attempting to motor up before sunrise.
Remember that a new license year started up on Oct. 1 for sporting licenses. Also, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is closed until further notice – whenever Washington, D.C. gets their act straight.
2. Lower Niagara River
Local fishermen will have to suffer the consequences for the actions of a few people when the New York Power Authority announced that the Fishing Platform in the gorge will be closed week days through the remainder of the fall. After a few close calls with construction trucks by fishermen anxious to get to the platform, it was announced that the platform will only be open on weekends for the next month. The stairs to the shoreline is also closed at the South Access Road. Salmon fishing continues to be good in Devil’s Hole and this past week produced some big ones in the 30 pound class. Treated egg skein seems to be the ticket. A mid-day bite was working for some in the 11:30 am to 1:30 pm range, so don’t go in too early if it’s been a slow morning.
Bass action continues to be decent at the lower drifts as well as on the Niagara Bar. Perch fishing off the corner of the Lewiston Landing area has been very good the past week.
Congratulations to 7-year-old Bella Carr of Lewiston who won the kids fishing contest at the Wildlife Festival with a .13 pound bluegill from Bond Lake. She beat out her two-and-a-half year-old brother Jackson by .03 pounds. Like she said at the scales: “You have to be in it to win it!”
3. Upper Niagara River
Bass fishing has been the hottest action for anglers drifting live bait around weed edges in the west river, as well as around Strawberry and Motor islands. Also at the head of the river. Shiners, crayfish or tube jigs work best.
A recent electroshocking survey by DEC revealed good numbers of northern pike just east of the southern tip of Grand Island along the weed edges there. Yellow perch have been hitting around Buffalo at places like Ontario Street and off Broderick Park.
Musky action should improve as waters start to cool, but the recent nice weather has not contributed much to lowing temperatures. Try using large eight- to 10-inch tubes to entice a musky to hit.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
The yellow perch bite is still the hottest thing going on the lake with good fishing being reported from Sturgeon Point to Dunkirk in 60 to 70 feet of water. The best depth seems to change daily but once you find the sweet spot, limit catches are the norm. Live minnows or emerald shiners have been the best baits to use.
No reports of walleye, but the bass fishing is slowly changing to shallower areas. Reports coming in show that 15 to 35 feet of water around structure is the place to be for bass.
All of the tributaries are back to low and clear so your best bet for a steelhead is Cattaraugus Creek. Rain is needed to for the other tributaries and that could happen this weekend. Casting or trolling the creek mouths with spoons or stickbaits are good options for trout, too.
5. Chautauqua Lake
Perch action has started to pick up again all around the lake on small minnows. Walleye are also starting to show up in some of the deeper holes. Try vertical jigging with spoons, jigging Rapalas, shiners or hair jigs tipped with a crawler. Bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, can be caught along weed edges. Some musky catches have been reported around those same weed edges by casters in 10-16 feet or water or by trollers seeking out suspended fishing over 25-35 foot depths. Use large six- to eight-inch stickbaits.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters
Oneida Lake – Big Bay was reporting good perch action in 10-20 feet of water recently. Dunham and Frenchman’s islands enjoyed similar success. Small jigs, minnows and worms were the best baits to use. For walleye, the fall shoreline bite is slowly starting to improve, but it’s far from consistent yet. We need some cooler temperatures to trigger that action. In the main lake, look in 25-30 feet of water with black and purple jigs tipped with a crawler.Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.