A touch of frost, a flake or two of snow, but it’s still a go for trout, some salmon, perch, bass and muskies.
Feeder streams are well nourished with incoming trout and fishable water levels. Ontario’s streams still draw an occasional king salmon. Bass and muskies are active in the upper Niagara River, and perch can be found in open water in the Great Lakes and on many an inland lake.
Winds keep boaters off the big lakes at times, weather calls for additional clothing layers and standard time darkens things earlier each evening. But the bite is on for many popular species.
The statewide bass and musky season will continue to Nov. 30. Most access sites and key fishing areas have seen reduced numbers of anglers, the result of hunting seasons, cooler weather and fewer reports of where the fish are biting. They are. Good luck finding sound advice from active anglers and bait dealers close to popular fishing sites.
Boaters working New York State waterways are required to wear a PFD (personal flotation device or “lifejacket”) at all times if a vessel 21 feet in length or less is under way. The PFD must have all straps fully functional and attached. That rule applies to all boats (canoes, kayaks, and rowboats) as well as motor boats. The only exception is for passengers aboard a licensed charter boat.
All youths under age 12 are required to wear a PFD at all times except when in a fully enclosed cabin aboard a vessel.
The under-way regulation began Nov. 1 and continues to May 1, but officials recommend PFD use whenever possible.
Smaller streams have enough water flow to draw trout. Cattaraugus Creek was stained on Tuesday but looks good for later this week. Live and meat baits have been effective (minnows, nightcrawlers, egg sacks and skein), but try a fly, spinner or spoon to see how they run in ebbing currents and clearing waters.
Stream conditions change daily. Fishing pressure, though diminished, can still be a factor each time a wader heads up or down a stream. Trout have been as far up the Catt as they can go. Anglers have taken silvery, newly-arrived steelies under the Springville Dam for weeks now. But like waterfowl flights, arrivals have a so-so schedule.
Perch anglers have all kinds of arrivals, but the locations change regularly. Boaters out of Sturgeon Point have been heading west and working depths of 50 to 52 feet for schools of bigger fish. The bite appears at different locations daily. Some days the schools are tight to the bottom with no bait schools moving at mid depths. Sometimes bait moves schools and holds so that a boater can anchor in one place and pull a decent catch, limiting out or not.
On days with mild breezes, a good perch start often begins with a drift over likely waters to see if the fish are actively feeding on bottom or moving off to hit up bait rigs.
Off Cattaraugus Creek, a 52-foot depth has been good either side of Foxes Point. Off Buffalo Harbor, depths of 40 to 46 feet have produced some nice ringback numbers.
Upper river boaters are having fun with bass and muskies, but shore anglers mainly cast for perch. Trout occasionally take a perch rig, and lure casters targeting steelies can take a trout on occasion, but the bucket-filler right now is the ringback.
Lower river waters have dropped to just over 50 degrees and the bass bite continues, but charter and recreational boaters have started seeing an increase in the steelie count this past week. At Devil’s Hole, an egg sack has done slightly better than a live minnow. Try both.
Time your arrival. Steelies have shown in just about every feeder stream from the Niagara River east to the Genesee River. Fishing pressure dictates successes more often than fish movement.
Perch prospectors have to dig their way around incoming schools of trout and some salmon. The shore bite has slowed at Irondequoit Bay but boaters still have seen good numbers along shore-edge structures at depths of less than 20 feet.
With a lull in salmonid movement, perch have shown well at Wilson, Olcott and Oak Orchard. Braddock Bay still sees a slightly better bite than Long Pond most days, but try both if time allows. Shoreline bite reports are good as far east as the head of the St. Lawrence.
“They’ve had a good year on the muskies,” said Tom Murray at Bemus Point Lodge. Trollers have regularly connected on the toothy tribe both sides of Bemus Point in waters less than 15 feet in the South Basin and rarely over 25 feet in the North Basin.
The walleye bite picked up slightly, but perch has been the biggest draw all season, Murray added.
More sports on Page D6