Muskellunge and bass seasons both closed on Nov.30, generally speaking, in New York. However, there are a few caveats to consider with both of those species.
For musky, the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario offer an open season through Dec. 15 – perfectly timed by the Niagara Musky Association to hold the annual John Henning Memorial Musky Tournament on Dec. 4 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Give Adam a call at (623) 205-9939 for details.
For bass anglers, Dec. 1 starts up a catch-and-release season that requires the use of artificial lures – until the Lake Erie special trophy bass season the first Saturday in May (May 6, 2017) or the first Friday before the regular-season opener on June 17, 2017 in the rest of the state.
If you have any questions on either, visit the state’s fishing regulations section at www.dec.ny.gov or pick up a hard copy at any state license issuing agent.
What the week’s winds whipping up on Lake Erie will do to water clarity is a coin flip right now. Water conditions below Niagara Falls were clear for the most part in the beginning of the week, making it a bit more difficult for shore-bound anglers along the main stretch of Artpark in Lewiston. However, making the trek up to the bridge did make a difference for some. Jeremy Kane of Kenmore did well using a chrome and orange Acme Little Cleo spoon. Other local favorites include the BC Wobbler and Little Gem spoons that Ricardo Davilo of Wheatfield has been using. Sizes are two-fifths ounce and half-ounce. Boaters were doing better. Capt. Ted Kessler of Grand Island was doing well using yellow or chartreuse trout beads in an 8 mm size off of three-way rigs. Kwikfish and MagLips will also work with the same set-up. Steelhead are starting to show up in greater numbers and one spot working well is Devil’s Hole on small pink and yellow spawn sacs according to Kessler. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls took
advantage of the diversity of the lower river fishery with Kyle Kraft of Akron, Ohio. One day they caught trout in the river and then hit the Niagara Bar to see what was swimming out there. Kraft caught a 44-inch musky while drifting a MagLip lure on a three-way rig. They next day they used tubes and minnows to take some nice smallmouth bass, including three over 5 pounds. In the Upper Niagara River, Ryan Welch of Hamburg was fly fishing with Ryan Shea of Brookdog Fishing this week. He was rewarded with his first muskellunge on a black and red streamer fly – stretching the tape 42 inches long. What a way to close out the season. Its memories like these that last a lifetime!
Lake Ontario and tributaries
A fresh run of salmon showed up in 18 Mile Creek this week according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott. They were mixed in with browns and steelheads. There are plenty of trout around, but fish have been wary with the clear waters. Downsize your baits, hooks and line if you want to increase your chances for hooking up. Perch can be found in Wilson and Olcott harbors, but you will have to weed through the smaller ones. Some browns and perch are being reported from the piers at Wilson. Two Orleans County fish took over the lead in the trout divisions of the Captain Bob’s Fishing Derby going on right now. In the Steelhead Division, Charlie Stahl of Williamsville took the early lead with a 27-3/4-inch steelie taken from the Oak Orchard River on a jig. Johnson Creek produced the leading brown trout, a 26- inch fish, that hit a spike on a No. 14 hook in low, clear conditions - reeled in by Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga. Mike Waterhouse of Albion is reporting moderate flows in the Oak that should be getting some additional water flow from the canal as it is being de-watered for the season. Brown and steelhead action is good.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Nicholas Sagnibene of Ellicottville, guiding out of Adventure Bound on the Fly of Ellicottville, reports that most small- to medium-sized tributaries off Lake Erie were fishable on Tuesday. There should be a fresh run of steelhead in all with recent high waters. Cattaraugus Creek is high and muddy right now. As soon as water levels start to recede, it should pick back up again in the Catt. Sagnibene also commented on some of the inland trout streams that are still open. Those open waters are producing a good number of big browns in spawning colors. With a decent amount of water in those streams, fish are cooperating nicely. Nick cautions when walking the streams to stay out of the redds (spawning areas).
With the closing of the musky season, anglers will be focusing on walleye and panfish. Focus your attention around Ashville, Bemus and Burtis bays with a quarter-ounce black hair jig tipped off with a worm according to local guide Craig Robbins. Keep the bait on the bottom and moving with a jigging motion. A good spot for perch and bluegills has been in front of the launch at Bemus Bay in 8 to 12 feet of water with a crawler.