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Fishing Line /

Lake Erie

Ice prospects still remain more on the horizon than on water surfaces right now, but feeder streams continue to consume a steady diet of steelies.

Cattaraugus Creek can get muddy fast with each passing rain and snow fall. But recovery (clearing waters) comes quickly and newly arriving rainbow/steelhead trout enter the creek steadily.

Fly anglers keep asking for wooly buggers for either main Cattaraugus Creek currents or for the smaller streams either side of the Catt.

Canadaway Creek west of Dunkirk Harbor has to be the feature feeder stream of the week, according to Jeff Pippard at Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda.

"I've been hearing Canadaway more than any other name on Lake Erie," Pippard said of stream waders who stopped for bait at his shop this past week.

Other feeders also have a good number of steelie options, size and degree of silvery sheen showing their fresh arrival from open lake waters.

Small stuff is big when waters settle out and become clear. Along with darker wooly buggers (purple, black and maroon) single-egg imitations both irritate and tempt tight-mouthed trout.

Boaters have finally given up on perch schools off Cattaraugus Creek.

"The [Cattaraugus] Creek is hot and everybody is headed there," said Rick Miller at Miller's Bait & Tackle in Irving.

Smaller streams, Silver and Eighteen Mile creeks have had mixed reports of both numbers and sizes of trout, but the fishing gets better when angler pressure is down there.

The Dunkirk Pier has yet to turn on in low-water conditions, but predawn starts for steelies from the fishing platform at the west end of the harbor often end with fun finishes.


Lower Niagara River/Lake Ontario

"Lake trout on the [Niagara] Bar is the big draw on Ontario," Pippard said of Lake Ontario. North winds and stained waters slow -- and at times cancel -- bar drifting. But when the winds and currents cooperate, bar drifting with light lines and big chubs or minnows can be fun.

Laker season reopened in New York State waters Jan. 1 and boaters can keep these trout now, but be sure to either remain in U.S. waters or have all on board carry a 2007 Province of Ontario license when venturing just a few yards west of the outflow current at the river mouth.

Lower river drifters can find good fish numbers at both Devil's Hole and along the Artpark drift. Water clarity has varied with each change in Lake Erie wave action. Check with a river source before heading to this fishery. Outcomes span from exceptional to shutouts, depending on mud-stain levels.

Just about every Lake Ontario feeder holds steelies now, but Eighteen Mile Creek, especially the current just below Burt Dam, can be crowded with both fish and fishermen most mornings.

Perch continue to be a big draw in every larger bay along the Ontario shoreline from Fort Niagara to east of Rochester. Wilson Harbor, Olcott Harbor, Oak Orchard Creek, Braddock Bay and Irondequoit Bay all produce fair to good perch prospects.


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