Niagara Gazette — Fisherman’s Park, located at Burt Dam and operated by the Town of Newfane, will usually see 40,000 to 50,000 fishermen every fall during that September to November timeframe. Stop in during the prime of the salmon and trout run and check out the license plates on the vehicles – Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts … the list goes on. It’s very impressive to say the least.
Out in the lake, the fishery normally extends from April to October with a few exceptions. One is the Niagara River, where the Niagara Bar can be fished (barring severe weather and wind) throughout the winter. According to DEC’s lake creel census, the last 10 years are the best 10 years ever for Chinook salmon fishing, based on catch rates. The survey, started by the Department of Environmental Conservation in 1985, uses agency personnel to conduct interviews of fishing boats from April 15 to Sept. 30 each year. In 2012, Lake Ontario fishermen and women experienced the fourth consecutive year of the best total trout and salmon fishing ever.
In looking at the overall picture, it was the tenth consecutive year of the highest Chinook salmon catch rates; fifth consecutive year of the highest rainbow trout catch rates; the second best year for brown trout action; the third best year for Coho salmon fishing; and the second consecutive year for lake trout catch rates compared to those observed in the 1990s.
Even with the excellent fishing, though, the estimated fishing effort was down nearly 20 percent compared to the previous five year average with just over 56,000 boat trips being recorded. Of that total, 82 percent of the boats focused on salmon and trout. Part of the problem was a fewer number of boats the end of April and a decrease in the number of boats in August. With fishing as good as what it’s been, we need to take more advantage of this in the promotional tourism arenas. While we have made some headway in trying to get DEC and I Love NY Division of Tourism on the same page, the process is a slow one. In other areas we seem to be taking a step backward. One is how the water levels are being addressed, including the need for dredging in the shallow draft harbors around the Great Lakes – but especially in Lake Ontario.