By BILL HILTS
Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
Fishing in the tributaries received some benefits with the recent rains. Combined with the fact that Capt. Jim Gordon of Appleton finally pulled his lake fishing boat for the season in Olcott, better runs of salmon and trout have started to arrive at Burt Dam. Gordon insists that the fish wouldn’t swim by his boat into 18 Mile Creek for fear of being caught! Salmon and brown trout are the most popular catches, but a few domestic rainbows have arrived on the scene, too, according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott. The water flow is good and the water is stained but fishable at the Dam. Egg sacs, skein or egg imitations are the best baits to use.
It seems like fresh fish are showing up every couple of days and the cold rain will help for sure. If the salmon are in heavy, the browns seem to stay away. When salmon numbers are lighter, the browns come in – or so it seems. Also, Olcott Harbor browns seems to be doing better the first couple of hours of reduced light. Pier fishing has been tough because of the north winds. When you can get out – either Wilson and Olcott – you can catch fish on spoons or spinners. Eggs under a float will also work. Perch will hit when the minnows are in and the waters are clear.
2. Lower Niagara River
Over in the Niagara River, Danny and Caroline Monteon of California were treated to some pretty darn good fishing for a half-day of action earlier this week. They had won a trip with Capt. Frank Campbell as part of a Today Show contest to fish the lower river and they ended up catching six different species of fish including a nice 10-pound steelhead, a 15-pound salmon, several four-pound smallmouth bass and a 12-pound lake trout – which was released immediately due to the fact that the season is closed. In fact, all the fish were released to fight another day. They used Kwikfish in the river with a silver body and chartreuse nose the most productive.
Out in the lake at the Bar, shiners worked best on the bass. Outside of that flurry, fishing has been tough. Shore fishermen have been doing okay in Devil’s Hole, especially in the slower water area at the head of the drift. Some action was reported off Artpark.
Remember that the NYPA fishing platform is only open on weekends due to the construction and the facility normally closes down the first sign of ice or Nov. 1 – whichever comes first.
3. Upper Niagara River
Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be decent around Strawberry Island and near the Huntley plant with live bait like golden shiners preferred by fish and fishermen. With water temps dropping six degrees this week, look for musky fishing to pick up. Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reports up to three hook-ups a day using big common shiners in the seven- to nine-inch size range attached to his quick strike spinner rig. Slow trolling them down stream over hump and other bottom structure works best. Others like to use large eight-to 10-inch tubes drifted along weed edges or drop offs.
Broderick Park, the Bird Island Pier and the foot of Ontario Street are all good spots for a mixed back of perch, panfish and bass from shore.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
Bass action can still be productive according to Capt. Jim Hanley. With water temperatures dropping below the 60 degree mark now, it should turn these fish on. He has had some success in 16 to 25 feet of water this time of year, targeting shallower depths a bit later in the day, such as in the afternoon after 1 p.m. Golden shiners are his bait of choice, fished off three-way rigs.
Perch action continues to be good to very good, dependent upon finding the schools off shore from Sturgeon Point to Cattaraugus Creek. Best depths have been from 40 to 65 feet of water, depending on where the bait is.
Tributary action has been good for trout. There was a slug of trout reported in some of the pools after this most recent rain, with 18 Mile Creek talked about as holding a fair number of trout. The Catt will be muddy initially but when things clear you should find fish all the way to the dam in Springville.
5. Chautauqua Lake
Musky action is starting to increase with the focus around weed edges. The best method this week was trolling large body baits on the edges of those weed lines. One good spot to target is the stretch of water along the Bell Tower to Prendergast Point. Jointed stickbaits will also work for you. Bass are hitting in the same areas with live bait. You might hit some perch in those same areas. A few crappie are still being caught on small minnows.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters
Lake Alice – The fishing has slowed a bit but bluegill, crappie and smallmouth bass are still available. Live bait works best. You do have to work for them.
Seneca lake – Lake trout are being taken by trollers working spoons or flasher-fly combos 50-80 feet down over 115-130 foot depths. Yellow perch action has been good around the lake with small minnows or worms working best. Top rod bending has been taking place in the northern section of the lake in 20 feet of water and deeper between Glass Factory Bay and Geneva.
Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.