BY BILL HILTS
Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
The Southern Zone regular big game season is here, opening on Saturday, and prospects are good this fall for both deer and bear in specified areas. If you are not a hunter, then this could be a great time to go fishing because there will be a lot less pressure in places like Eighteen Mile Creek and Burt Dam. Water flow is good and the water is stained so use brightly colored egg sacs or egg imitations to try and get salmon and trout to hit. Hopefully some fresh fish will be coming from the most recent rains. A few fresh salmon are still being seen along with a fair number of brown trout. Steelhead are starting to arrive in the scene in modest numbers.
Johnson Creek to the east was offering some good action for Greg Stanley of All in the Same Boat Tackle Shop in Newfane – lots of fish and not many fishermen. Pier casting is another good option with spoons the number one hardware – off either Wilson or Olcott.
2. Lower Niagara River
In the Niagara River, the water is off color but it was not too stained to fish last weekend. Just ask Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston, who was fishing the Niagara Bar on Sunday with customers. Dr. Mark Nartatez from Pittsburgh, PA was the lucky angler reeling in a monster 45-inch lake trout that tipped the scales at nearly 40 pounds! It attacked a Kwikfish lure fished off of a three-way rig in 25 feet of water. Lake trout season is currently closed so it was released unharmed to fight another day. It was caught on 10-pound test line. Had they been using 8-pound test line, it would have been a catch-and-release line class record!
Steelhead and lake trout were both hitting in the river, as well, with golden shiners and Kwikfish the top two enticements to get fish to hit from boats. Boat action seemed to be shut down during the week because of the stained water, but the weekend looks good for water to clear a bit – if the high winds on Thursday do not pose a problem.
The hot spot from shore was Artpark, but getting down there is a bit tricky since they removed the stairs from there this week – be forewarned! Greg Stanley of All in the Same Boat Tackle Show in Newfane reports he did extremely well in a short amount of time there using white colored egg-pattern flies. Joe Yaeger of Amherst and Paul Yaeger of Grand Island worked trout beads to take a pile of fish. Joe managed to catch six lakers while Paul did better close to where the old stairs were on steelhead and browns.
Bass and perch fishing should improve as the waters clear. Musky season in the lower river extends through Dec. 15. The regular bass season ends on Nov. 30, but the catch and release season takes over.
3. Upper Niagara River
Not much fishing from boats this week because of the off-color condition of the water. More wind was in the forecast on Thursday, from the southwest. With musky season closing on Nov. 30 (as well as the regular bass season), if the waters clear enough you’ll want to be on the water taking advantage of the situation.
This is crunch time for musky fishermen. If you prefer live bait, large common shiners are one bait of choice. Artificial baits are large tubes or large body baits. With the poor water clarity, trout fishing was all but shut down for most. That should improve again this weekend if the winds aren’t too bad.
Last weekend’s report was just prior to some strong winds arriving, messing up the fishing for some. Some panfish action was being reported from some of the traditional shore fishing spots up towards Buffalo.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
Vince Tobia of Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters reports good to very good trout fishing in most of the small to medium-size streams along the Lake Erie shoreline thanks to plenty of rain. In fact, he says it’s the best he’s seen in several years. Cattaraugus Creek is still high and muddy, but when it starts to clear there will be plenty of fish to go around. Not much lake fishing for perch this past week because of wind, but if the weather cooperates you should be able to find an active school around the 50 foot mark either side of Sturgeon Point. Look for bait pods … or boats.
5. Chautauqua Lake
With musky season closing on Nov. 30, this is one of the best times to be “hunting” for them – trolling large jointed stickbaits along the edges of weed beds. One favorite area is from the bell tower to Prendergast Point. Walleye action has been slow, but some success can be gained through jigging deer hair jigs or blade baits tipped with a minnow or worm. Perch fishing has been fair, but most of the fish have been smaller in size.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters
Cayuga lake – In the northern end of the lake, anglers are using spoons to take bass, pike and pickerel. Some lake trout are being reported off Taughannock Point. Recent rains brought in some trout and salmon into the tributaries.
Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at email@example.com.