The Southern Zone big game opener is Saturday and there are a half million hunters that are excited about that. However this is also a good time for fishing! If you aren’t part of the hunting fraternity, this time of year is a perfect time to head out into the rivers, streams or lakes. Not only can fishing be pretty darn good, but with hunters chasing deer and bear, it also lessens the pressure on the fish and fishing in the prime areas.
Mild temperatures on the water in the lower Niagara River actually created some congestion among boaters. More Canadian boats than American boats on Tuesday saw the fishing shut down a bit for trout, making fishing a bit more difficult. While anglers are waiting for steelhead and browns to show up in greater numbers, lake trout continue to be the most cooperative – a fish that is currently out of season.
The top enticements are wobbling baits such as Mag Lips or Kwikfish, fished off three way rigs. Shore bound anglers are also catching mostly lake trout, with an occasional steelie showing up. Salmon are at the end of its run and a few musky have been caught. Glenn Strzelczyk from the Town of Niagara has been tossing in-line spinners, swimbaits and fishing egg sacs under a float to take his trout. With water temperatures hitting the 50 degree mark this week, it won’t be long before the steelhead start showing up in greater numbers.
In the upper Niagara River, muskellunge action has been decent if the winds aren’t too bad. Andrei Ponomarev of Brookland, Ontario had double the fun on Tuesday fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. He caught back-to- back 45-inch muskies for his first catches ever of this species. There are only a few weeks left in the musky season, closing on Nov. 30.
Lake Erie and tributaries
According to guide Damon Newpher, who operates out of Adventure Bound on the Fly in Ellicottville, stream fishing continues to be challenging with big rewards. Most of the smaller Lake Erie tributaries are low and clear with a few fish scattered throughout the systems. Anglers willing to walk and stalk are catching some nice steelhead according to Newpher.
Cattaraugus Creek continues to produce fish all the way up to the dam at Springville. Cooler conditions with rain in the forecast should make for better conditions in the next week. Use traditional low water techniques in the meantime, wearing drab clothing, limited wading and more delicate presentations. Newpher has been doing well with nymphs, no indicator and smaller streamers.
In the main lake, Bruce Cavage of Marilla did well earlier this week by first finding some large emerald shiners. His reward was his best haul for big fish of the year with a limit of 12 to 15 inch ringbacks. He had been told about a small drop-off in 55 feet of water off Sturgeon Point and capitalized on it. Others fishing the same area didn’t do so well, catching mostly gobies. Cavage felt that they did not work the bottom enough with the minnows. Others did well in 68 feet of water, but many of the fish were smaller males.
Bass action was also good in 30 to 40 feet of water off Sturgeon Point according to Capt. Jim Hanley of Angola. Large golden shiners were his best bait.
Inland Trout Streams, Lakes
Damon Newpher also reported that the inland trout fishing has been good to excellent in waters that are still open to catch-and- release. One of his favorites is Mansfield Creek, just north of Ellicottville. Quaker and Red House lakes in Allegany State Park have been producing trout. Streamers or nymphs twitched under an indicator have been working great for him.
Those lakes are still open for fishing if you wanted to catch a trout or two for the frying pan. Consult your regulations guide for waters that are open for regular fishing or for catch-and- release only. There are a fair number in Western New York’s Region 9.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Nothing too much changed in the tributaries off Lake Ontario. There are a good number of brown trout in 18 Mile Creek, but the steelhead have been slow in coming according to Glenn Strzelczyk of the Town of Niagara. There are some steelies around but you have to work for them. A few bonus Atlantic salmon have been reported from the creek. Trout beads, egg sacs, egg sucking leech flies and black nymphs will all work on trout. Casting the mouths of creeks with hardware like spoons and spinners could work to take a trout (or trolling off the creek mouth if conditions allow) are additional options.
Creeks like Keg and Four Mile offer little flow (if any) and targeting the mouth should produce some fish.
Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors sends word that crappies are being caught in the canals in the evening and early morning hours. Use small jigs and minnows. Walleye action continues to be good to the north, jigging Gotchas, Rapalas and Vibes in 30 to 60 feet of water. The musky bite has been decent for trollers and casters. Trollers are working crankbaits in 12 to 30 feet of water; casters are tossing jerkbaits and glidebaits to take their fish. Remember that musky season closes on Nov. 30. Water temperature is around 50 degrees.