1. Lake Ontario and tributaries

Local anglers were excited by what the prospects of a good hard rain could do to streams like Eighteenmile Creek below Burt Dam. A modest rain last week raised the water level and stained it enough for fishermen to catch some salmon and trout. However, many surmised that we’ve been dry for too long and that the Tuesday rains weren’t enough to make that much of a difference.

As of Wednesday, water conditions were still low and clear at Burt Dam. The rain did attract some new fish moving through the system via Olcott Harbor, according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Brown trout, steelhead, king salmon and a few coho salmon are being reported by casters — from the piers at Olcott to the dam at Burt. Because the water continues to be low and clear, use smaller baits and lighter line. Single eggs are a good approach in this type of a situation. Chris Fest of Boston was proud of a 15-pound brown in beautiful spawning colors he caught going onto last weekend at Burt Dam. He was using eggs. Spoons are still getting a few fish off the piers and some of the cohos that have been reported the past week have been in the 12 to 14 pound class — nice fish.

Small boaters have the option of trolling the harbor for salmon and trout with body baits; drifting with treated egg skein; or casting with lures like spoons, spinners, Rat-L-Traps or stickbaits. A few have ventured out into the lake when the weather cooperates to take a mixed year class of salmon and trout. To the west, Wilson Harbor has yielded a few salmon and trout of late. Panfish are also being caught in the harbor there. Brown trout are still being caught off the Route 425 short pier; perch are also starting to show up there. Perch were also being caught in Olcott Harbor. To the east over in Keg Creek, we need a real good slug of water to break the creek open at the mouth and let the fish in. Ron Bierstine at Orleans Outdoor reports that there are good numbers of salmon present and spread throughout the river. Water flows there have been supplemented by the power plant in Medina

2. Lower Niagara River

The lower river will become more susceptible to stained water conditions as we move further into the fall. The high winds last Saturday created muddy conditions on Sunday and fishing was next to impossible. By Monday, the water was fishable again and a few salmon and steelhead were caught in the Devil’s Hole area. New York Power Authority fishing platform anglers were still catching fish despite the muddy water. Remember that the platform will be closed starting Monday. The trout fishing should slowly start to improve as the salmon action drops off. Both bass and walleye fishing is an option for anglers in the river.

3. Upper Niagara River

Bass fishing continues to be the best fishing option above the Falls. The best area is still the head of the river to either side of Strawberry island for smallmouth on crayfish, minnows and jigs. Largemouth are still available, too. Spinnerbaits are one approach to use; topwater baits another.

4. Lake Erie and tributaries

If you’re looking for trout, Cattaraugus Creek is still the place to be. Drifting eggs around the Route 5/20 bridge has been a great spot for steelhead and the occasional brown trout or salmon. A few cohos and at least one king salmon has been caught that has been reported. Fish can be found all the way up to the dam in Springville. In addition to the creek, working the mouth with casting spoons or spinners is an option for small boaters or breakwall casters. Perch fishing in the lake is still producing a few fish off Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek in 68 to 74 feet of water. Smallmouth bass can be found from Buffalo to Barcelona in 20 feet of water or less on live bait like minnows, leechs and crayfish; artificials like stickbaits, tubes, jigs and drop shot rigs. These fish are starting to bulk up for the winter.

5. Chautauqua Lake

Smallmouth bass are hitting at the G-3 buoy marker in Whitney Bay, just outside of Warner’s Bar. Use crayfish, crayfish imitations or three-inch tubes. They’ve started to pick up some muskellunge more consistently between the Bell Tower and We Wan Chu cottages in 14 to 26 feet of water.

Troll your body baits down 10-12 foot. Ditto for the trolling between Ashville Bay and the bridge. Work the trough with deep-diving crankbaits - the best colors being black and silver; black and white; and perch colored.

6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters

Oneida Lake — Shoreline casting is starting to pick up for walleye with black and chrome or blue and chrome stickbaits. The best fishing time has been from one-half hour before sunset to 8 p.m. at night. Bass fishing continues to be good around the Route 81 bridge on tube jigs and shiners. Yellow perch have been hitting small crayfish and fathead minnows in 12-15 feet of water.

Cayuga Lake — Lake trout fishing has only been so-so for boaters in 80 to 135 feet of water. Jig or troll with spoons or plastics. However, lake trout fishing has improved from shore off Taughannock Falls State Park. Egg sacks have been the bait of choice. Landlocked salmon and rainbow trout are being caught 60 feet down over 100 feet of water on spoons. Yellow perch have been hitting minnows, worms and small crabs.

Owasco Lake — Lake trout fishing has been good to very good in 75 to 110 feet of water, with 85 feet being a magic depth for many. Perch or white colored jigs or plastics have been the way to go. Walleye fishing along the shoreline at night is picking up, too. Black-silver or blue-silver stickbaits work best. Bass fishing has been decent in 15 to 20 foot depths.

Bill Hilts Jr. is the outdoor sports specialist with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at bhiltsjr69@cs.com.

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