Anglers needed an ark to survive the muddy-water floods of streams, inland lakes and Great Lakes shoreline areas earlier this week.
Perch and steelhead trout looked more promising than Chinook salmon and walleye this week, but continued warm water temperatures and runoff settlement makes it look better for weekend boaters and trout stream waders.
Weekend boaters picked up a few scattered walleye before the heavy rain and winds, and both trout and salmon were holding in 18-foot depths off the creek mouth. Since the heavy rains and runoff, feeder stream casters have been awaiting a possible influx of those salmonids staged in shallow lake waters.
Lower river salmon waters showed good numbers for early-morning drifting, but the heavy rain and stain has slowed things at Devil's Hole since the weekend.
Salmon fishing gets difficult at both extremes in water clarity. Drifters now wait for churned and muddy waters to settle out. Once clean, the problem becomes excess clarity.
Guides and steady drifters have been going with Stren's High Intensity Fluorocarbon Leader material in shallow, clear waters. Stren line expert Mike Fine attributes their success to fluorocarbon's refractory (visibility) index. Clear water reads 1.3 and regular monofilament goes to 2.0 on the index. Fluorocarbon drops the refractive level to about 1.6, which means it is less visible and harder for fish to see. A 25-yard spool is pricy and the line diameter is no smaller than regular monofilament line of the same weight, but the payoff has been more hits and better results at the end of each salmon drifting.
Between high-wind storms, the steelies still strike at spoons trolled in the top 50 feet off shore from all of Niagara and Orleans County. Most early-morning runners make a flatline pass or two around feeder mouths before heading out to deeper waters each day. Trollers off the Niagara River mouth and eastward now have to release lake trout, which often show up among schools of kings and steelies along the outer edges of bars and deeper shoreline dropoffs.
Pier casters can enjoy sunny days at Wilson, Olcott or Oak Orchard Harbors, but the heavy action starts on pierheads after dark. Egg sacks or skein works better than most artificials at night. Now that the new licensing period has begun, shore anglers must be careful not to cast like a snagger, and all shore casters must fish on the lake section of public piers. Fishing in feeder streams is illegal after sunset.
Walleye responses rise and fall, but good numbers of big perch can be found along north basin weed edges from Long Point to Mayville.
Many anglers discount Chautauqua perch because of their slight size. Next time out, go with the larger fathead minnows instead of the smaller "perch" minnies. Set the bait below a bobber/float so that it holds just above bottom along the weeds, and place as close to the weed line as possible.
Boaters who have put big fatheads right next to the fish have culled out some nice (9- to 12-inch) perch from places that usually produce runt ringbacks.
It's not too early or late to start thinking about ways to interest kids and families in the fun of fishing. These programs can help:
SAREP (Sportfishing and Aquatic Resources Education Program) holds its fall Instructor Certification weekend Oct. 17-19 at Camp Huntington on Racquette Lake in the Adirondacks. For details of the teaching program, write: SAREP; Cornell University, 108 Fernow Hall; Ithaca, NY 14853-3001; or e-mail email@example.com.
Zebco and Brunswick Outdoor Recreation Group is offering a free brochure, "The Single Parent's Fishing Guide," and a free 20-minute loaner video titled, "What to do when you child says . . . 'Hey Mom, I Wanna Go Fishing.' " Both are available by writing: Single Parents Fishing, Zebco, Box 270, Tulsa, Okla. 74101.
A free "derby kit" can sent to clubs and groups interested in organizing a kids fishing derby during National Fishing Week (June 1-7, 1998). Write to: Kids All-American Fishing Derby; Hooked On Fishing International; Box 249; Disney, Okla. 74340.
Fish for stocking
The Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District will be taking orders for rainbow, brook and brown trout until Saturday. These trout species require spring-fed pond waters which remain below 72 degrees throughout the year. Deliveries are scheduled for 10 a.m. at the district office in East Aurora.
For order forms, information sheets and license applications, call LuAnn Freeman (652-8480).