Lower Niagara River steelies started kicking in last Friday, according to Capt. Mark "Sparky" McGranahan of Sparky's Charter Service. "Skein, brown-trout eggs in sacks and Kwikfish all do well on steelies now," McGranahan said of fishing the popular drifts in Devil's Hole.
Just a few, darkened king salmon remain in the river, but bass fishing continues to produce bronzebacks along drifts close to the mouth and out on the Niagara Bar. Water temperatures remain above average for midfall. Monday's high winds sent more muddied Lake Erie water downriver, but waters began clearing at midweek. For condition updates, check Sparky's Web site at: www.sparkyscharters.com.
Upper river waters remained clear enough for some nice steelie action at the foot of Ferry Street. Other casting sites have yet to produce.
That northern pike fishery around Strawberry Island continues in warmer upper river waters. Bass numbers have slowed, but a few good smallies still show up where baitfish schools move closer to shore.
Sturgeon Point finally began producing perch. Way too late for the peak boating season, this late run had some 15 boats anchored over 50-foot depths off the point. Not all hit into limit catches, but most boats logged at and above a dozen plugs -- perch over the 10-inch mark.
Rainfall has lifted creek-water flow, but Cattaraugus Creek still has the greatest number of incoming trout. Wall casters at the mouth do best at sunrise and just before sunset, but hazy afternoons can bring steelies close enough to the breakwater.
Either bright orange or red casting spoons produce the best numbers, but a solid silver or gold finish often gets the hits.
Upstream, waders have mainly seen steelies, but brown trout move in to check out egg presence. Smaller flies, spoons, spinners and egg-cluster offerings, often the single-egg pattern, all work well on this rainbow run.
Some smaller feeders got enough water to bring in trout -- and lingering, late-run salmon -- at Oak Orchard Creek. Activity below Waterport Dam includes a mix of salmon and trout.
Conditions may improve for trout and salmon when Erie Barge Canal officials begin releasing water next Thursday. Outflows from Oak Orchard and nearby streams draw more fish into feeder streams for their fall runs of either spawning or feeding.
Salmon, some still bearing eggs, hold under Burt Dam in Eighteen Mile Creek. Casters go with smaller baits and lighter lines to get hits in clearing waters below the dam. Smaller sacks, skein and single-egg patterns attract both salmon and trout.
At both Olcott and Oak Orchard, perch numbers and sizes show well in harbor areas. Oak Orchard also has a fair run of northern pike closer to the mouth.