By BILL HILTS
Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
In Lake Ontario, action is slowly starting to turn on as the waters continue to warm. With 42 degree water coming into Lake Ontario from the Niagara River and the shoreline temperatures even warmer – especially off creek mouths – trollers have been picking up a mixed bag inside of 40 foot depths that have included brown trout, Coho salmon, lake trout and the occasional king salmon according to Capt. Bob Cinelli of Newfane. Stickbaits and spoons are both catching fish.
Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker reports that pier action is still available for trout and coho salmon off the piers at Wilson and Olcott. Harbor action in Wilson has been for bullhead, perch and the occasional northern pike. Perch and pike can be caught in Olcott. Some trout are still hanging out at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek. The rain on Wednesday will probably bring water levels up and create turbid conditions for a few days. The pen project will be receiving their steelhead this week and their salmon on April 30.
Remember that the Lake Ontario Counties spring trout and salmon derby is just around the corner, from May 3 to 12. Check out their website at www.loc.org for all the details including registration outlets and weigh stations.
2. Lower Niagara River
The big news is that the smelt are running in the Niagara River, always a popular activity in the spring. They actually started running just prior to last weekend and many dippers along Lewiston have been enjoying limit catches. The daily limit is eight quarts per person.
The Greater Lewiston Smelt Festival is next Friday, May 3 starting at 6 p.m. at Lewiston Landing along the river. Once again, the Niagara River Anglers Association will be cooking up hundreds of pounds of smelt for the general public. River fishing has been a bit tough because of the combination of water clarity and excessive amounts of bait in the river.
Some steelhead, lake trout and brown trout have been cooperating, but the bite has been difficult. One the Niagara Bar, a mix of trout and coho salmon have been reported, but that bite has been a bit off, too.
3. Upper Niagara River
The river was off color a bit, probably due to recent wind events. Trout are still available at the head of the river in places like Bird Island Pier and Broderick Park. Perch and panfish can be found all around Grand Island in bays and marinas, as well as along River Road. These backwater places will also be good for the opening day of northern pike season on May 4.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
The spring perch bite is on with the best areas being between Foxes Point and Evangola State Park in 45 to 55 feet of water. Use emerald shiners just off the bottom. Some trout are being caught in Dunkirk Harbor, off the platform and the city pier on live bait. The bullhead bite is turning on there, too. Remember that the opening day of the early trophy bass season is May 4. Until then, it’s catch and release for bass. All the tributaries will have come up after the rain on Wednesday and things should settle in nicely by the weekend in all tribs but Cattaraugus. Drop back steelhead are being caught with the occasional fresh fish.
5. Chautauqua Lake
Crappie fishing has been outstanding so far this spring according to local fish expert Craig Robbins of Jamestown. Good catches of crappie have been reported from most of the canals. On the open lake the bite has been best in 6 to 10 feet of water in sheltered bays with green weeds such as in Burtis Bay, Ashville Bay and off Mayville. Dusk through dawn is the best time on minnows or small 1/32 ounce jigs tipped with a minnow and fished under a float. Perch are starting to snap in the narrows between the bridge and the ferry, with the Bemus Point side doing the best. Use a minnow under a bobber and target just outside the weed edges.
6. Finger Lakes - Inland Waters
Oneida Lake – Right now, shoreline anglers are catching bullhead along the shoreline. Black crappie are starting to hit in Toad Harbor on minnows or small plastics. The anticipated opening of the walleye season on May 4 has angler emotions running high after a very good ice fishing seasons for walleye – at least when they could get out there.Bill Hilts Jr. is the outdoor sports specialist with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at email@example.com.