The winter storm that hit last week impacted water clarity adversely for most of the week. One report that came through on Tuesday came from Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters. He motored around the river to find active fish and his best spot was Devil’s Hole. However, while they had over a dozen bites and water clarity was good, they managed to catch only lake trout. Fluorescent green fire dye minnows did the trick, using a Pautzke cure that tipped the action to their favor. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters used emerald shiners and egg sacs to pick up some nice steelhead, so conditions are definitely improving. No reports from the shore fishing ranks, but spoons, spinners and beads or other egg presentations should work for you. Anglers have their fingers crossed that water color remain clear enough for the Niagara River Anglers Association’s Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest set for Saturday Feb. 4 in the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario tributaries starting at sunrise. Find out more information off the group’s website at www.niagarariveranglers.com; of the NRAA Facebook page, stopping in at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston or The Slippery Sinker in Olcott, or call 731-4780. The new steelhead division leader in the Capt. Bob’s contest was weighed in from the lower river – a 31-inch fish caught by Zack Kozlowski of Cheektowaga on a Voodoo jig. He released the fish.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Fishing has been fair to good below Burt Dam on 18 Mile Creek. The water at Burt is slowly improving according to Greg Schloerb of Amherst. It seems every time it starts to get nice we get more rain and runoff and it muddies it up again. “Same with the water levels,” says Schloerb . “It's been a real rollercoaster this year. But at least it's not freezing like it has in past years. Well not yet at least. There have been some nice fish caught but the big ones are few and far between.” There have been quite a few smaller- to medium-sized fish. Greg caught eight fish in one day, including two nice steelhead. But he also caught browns and two Coho salmon. Everything came on his hand-tied white jigs. He tried some beads and brown trout eggs with no luck. Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott reported 120 cubic feet per second coming out of the dam. Lots of perch around along with a few pike. Skim ice was starting to reform over in Wilson Harbor. Oak Orchard River action has also been fair to good for a mix of trout. Shoreline ice was starting to hinder fishing a bit. Johnson’s Creek produced some fish last week.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Eric Heater, one of the principles on the Fishing Nerds Facebook page, sends word that action has been a little slow in the Erie tributaries. Fish are scattered, but you can find fish if you put your time in. Shelf ice and slush is starting to pose a problem to the south of Buffalo. Your best bet is to find a deeper hole and fish slow. Best bait has been eggs – sacs or singles. Jigs have been hit or miss. Salted minnows have not been as effective as anglers would like. We’ve also heard that some of the smaller streams and creeks have been producing better than the bigger ones. With temperatures on the colder side this week, Ken Jackson of Sanborn sends a tip to use Chap Stick on the guides to keep them from freezing up. Other favorites include Stanley’s Ice Off, Armor All, Pam and Vaseline based on input from anglers.
Rich Davenport of Tonawanda reports that the lake is showing open waters across entirety of the North Basin, and most of South Basin. Bays still have ice, but nothing safe. Areas between Long Point and Stow are frozen over, but not safe, either. He believes this is not bad news because the snow events happening down there have been hitting open water. Ice was starting to reform and with colder temperatures in the forecast, it shouldn’t be long before safe ice will be back. Davenport also hit nearby Allegany State Park and Quaker Lake was wide open but ice was reforming near the mouth of Quaker Run Creek and the bay. Red House Lake had more ice, but nothing was safe yet. Ice was reforming there as well.
Lake Simcoe (Canada)
While the ice around here has not been safe, Scott Brauer of Gasport reports that Mark Targus of Middleport guided him out to Mark’s favorite spot off of Pefferlaw on Lake Simcoe in Ontario Province for some hard-water action. They brought home some of the best quality limits of perch they have ever caught (see the “Catches of the Week” gallery). Most of the perch were 10 to 11 inches long, but each of them managed double digits of 12 to 13 inch fish with six to eight fish each of fish between 13 and 14 inches in length. It was a weird bite that you had to figure out but, in a nutshell, you had to switch baits or jigs every three to four fish to keep the better quality fish biting. Best depth was 28 feet of water with minnows, shrimp and mayflies being spit out of the fish when they were iced. The key color for Brauer was brown over the weekend because of the food connection, but white, red and glow plastics caught fish as well. They had to work hard but the rewards were great. They were out about 3-3 1/2 miles and needed to only drill two holes! The biggest overall was a 1.31 pound fish caught by Brauer, weighed in at Capt. Bob’s to take over the lead in the division for the store’s winter derby. It ends March 15.