By BILL HILTS
Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby kicked off on Friday, offering competitive anglers 10 days of action for salmon and trout, as well as walleye – now that the season opens today. Timing should be perfect for the lake action to be taking off. In the St. Catharines King of the Lake tournament last weekend, the winner produced eight king salmon over two days to take the top prize. Lake trout are turning on at the Niagara Bar off the mouth of the river and conditions are near perfect from the green buoy marker out for more than a mile.
Along the shorelines at Wilson and Olcott, brown trout and coho salmon lead the way for anglers inside of 40 foot depths, but lake trout are also available along with the occasional king salmon out to 60 feet according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker.
Most of the king fishing is taking place west of Wilson. Wilson Harbor is holding a mix of perch, pike and panfish (Pike opens on Saturday), and off the piers you can cast for browns or cohos in either Wilson or Olcott. Spoons, spinners, worms or minnows will all catch fish. Eighteenmile Creek is still holding fish but now it’s a mix of warm and cold water species.
The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association will be holding its next meeting May 9 at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara in Lockport starting at 7 p.m. Guest speaker will be Capt. Paul Czarnecki of Free Spirit Charters talking about spring fishing out of Point Breeze and the Oak. And speaking of Point Breeze, local support is being tossed their way for the Ultimate Fishing Town contest that was won by Olcott Beach last year. Be sure to start voting!
2. Lower Niagara River
In the Niagara River, action has been good for trout like steelhead and lake trout, with the occasional brown trout thrown in. The surprise catch last week was a 24 pound salmon taken from Devil’s Hole by a South Carolina angler on an egg sac treated with Pautzke cure. The smelt run is starting to dissipate.
Catch of the week was a 28 pound laker caught by Jon Gwara of Newton Falls, Ohio while fishing with Capt. Jeff Draper of Grand Island on the Niagara Bar.
3. Upper Niagara River
Perch fishing off Ontario Street has been hot of late according to Larry Balch of Ransomville. They were catching good numbers of fish as well as good size. Pike season opens on Saturday which means that places like the marinas around Grand Island, Woods Creek, and the Erie Canal up around creek mouths like Tonawanda and Ransom may be good spots to target. Walleye season opens, too. Panfish should be snapping in many of the marinas and bays around Grand Island and along River Road. Trout are still available at the head of the river off the Bird Island Pier and Broderick Park, as well as the head of the rapids in Niagara Falls.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
Walleye season opens on Midnight Friday night so trollers will probably be pounding the shoreline with stickbaits off Hamburg. Perch action has been great out in the lake. Perch fishing continues to be good between Evangola and Foxes Point in 45 to 55 feet of water. Dunkirk Harbor trout has been good for steelies and the occasional brown at the fishing platform, the city pier and by boat. Saturday is also the opening day for the special early bass season on Lake Erie.
Anglers are entitled to one bass over 20 inches long (if they wanted to keep one)per day, but catch and release is encouraged. Trout are still available in all of the tributaries and Cattaraugus Creek should be fishable by the weekend.
5. Chautauqua Lake
Walleye season opens on Saturday and Craig Robbins reports that a good bet for the opener might be trolling the weed edges in bays like Warner and Dewittville with worm harnesses or stickbaits in perch color. Crappie action has been good in the canals around Ashville Bay, Burtis Bay and Lakewood. Also the open waters in 6-10 feet of water around Mayville and Bemus Bay. Use a small jig head with a one inch tube or grub tipped off with a minnow.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters
Oneida Lake – The walleye opener is Saturday so look for a good number of anglers to descend on the lake. In the meantime, bullhead have been hitting all around the lake. In Big Bay, Bullhead and crappie are hitting. Toad Harbor has crappie cooperating.
Cayuga Lake – Trolling in the top 15 feet of water is producing a mix of Atlantic salmon and brown trout on stickbaits and spoons. Try off the tributary mouths where a combination of colored water and warmer temperatures could be attracting fish. Lake trout jiggers are working 125 to 150 feet of water. In the northern part of the lake, perch have been snapping but lots of little ones.Bill Hilts Jr. is the outdoor sports specialist with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.