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Niagara River/Lake Ontario< Trout: Lower Niagara River drifts have improved for steelhead, but the biggest bonus fish -- when waters clear -- has been brown trout.

Bigger brown trout have moved into the lower river from the U.S. Coast Guard Base at Fort Niagara up current to corners of Devil's Hole.

Capt. Bruce Blakelock -- between chartered outings -- did a reconnaissance run Tuesday from the fort to the hole in search of whatever was biting. Browns proved most cooperative, hitting on small egg sacks fitted with one small, yellow float bead.

Steelies were only so-so this day, but hitting at times along the Jackson and Art Park drifts.

Clearing waters and mild temperatures have been bringing out both boaters and trout lately. With trout holding close to shore while moving up Niagara's powerful water flow, shore anglers have as much of a chance casting to trout as drifters do in boats, said Kim Quarantillo at Down River Bait & Tackle in Lewiston. Most shore casters head to either the power plant platform or to the Art Park access at Lewiston.

Salmon: The run is all but done in the river and smaller feeder streams along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Lake Erie

Trout: Feeder streams are in good shape and waders can walk up current to the first impassable barriers on every creek and brook from Buffalo to beyond Erie, Pa.

Fresh runs of steelhead trout appear in Cattaraugus Creek daily and even the smallest of feeders -- Halfway and Big Sister, for example -- see shiny steelies move into pools and riffles.

Fishing pressure in all major feeders push fish up or away from main streams. Waders willing to walk or fish off hours can find nice fish -- both steelies and some brown trout -- well upstream.

Perch: Yes, perch are still hitting off shore. Boaters headed out of Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek earlier this week. Best catches -- 12 to 18 fish per boat -- came from 53-foot depths directly off Sturgeon, said Lee Weber at Weber's Bait & Tackle in Evans.

Meeting note

Tom Owczarczak, a premier perch and walleye expert will offer techniques for area anglers to improve catches during his presentation this evening at the Southtowns Walleye Association meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Newton Abbott Fire Hall, 3426 Abbott Rd. in Orchard Park.

Owczarczak, known by his VHF handles "Mr. Bill" or "Tommy O," has fine-tuning tips and tricks for rounding up ringbacks and focusing on 'eyes when fishing from a boat or through the ice. For details, call 825-7619.

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