Every week since the first of the year (or so it seems), we attempt to give you the best information we can going into the weekend. And each time the report comes out, Mother Nature swoops in to throw a little wrinkle into the “beat” in any given week. With an open Lake Erie, the water has been very susceptible to wind and rain, sending muddy water through the Niagara River. Rain and snow have been alternating, affecting the streams flowing into Erie and Ontario. Ice fishing has also been a hit or miss. Caution is advised if you try your luck on hard water.
Waller Wins NRAA Contest
You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone! The Niagara River Anglers Association held its annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest on the lower river and in Lake Ontario tributaries during some pretty adverse weather conditions. Despite cold temperatures, stained water and gusty winds, some fish were caught during the friendly competition. At the top of the list at the end of the day was Ed Waller of Lewiston, who hauled in a 9.62-pound steelhead from Devil’s Hole while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. He was drifting an emerald shiner on a three-way rig, with a chartreuse bead above it. Second place was an 8.08-pound steelhead reeled in by Norm Deitrich of Haverford, Pa., caught on a minnow. He was using Waller’s boat along Artpark at 1:50 p.m. when the fish hit. Third place was Fran Szovati of Cold Springs, Ky., with a 7.88-pound steelhead. He caught it on an emerald shiner-trout bead combination, fishing with Capt. Ted Kessler of Grand Island – also in Devil’s Hole. Down on 18 Mile Creek near Burt Dam, a few brown trout were caught. Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga hauled in a couple nice trout, including a fish that was around 9 pounds. However, he thought that it would never place in the money so he released it. The only fish he brought to the scales was a 5.82 pound brown trout for a special brown division. He missed by .02 pound to place in the money. Winning brown was a 5.84-pound trout reeled in by Capt. Tyler Morrison of Barker. He was using a jig tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Water was flowing nicely over the weekend and according to Taz Morrison of Barker, the best two streams have been 18 Mile Creek and the Oak Orchard River. Trout have been scattered throughout the systems and look for some fresh fish to migrate up soon. The warm rain on Tuesday night into Wednesday could be the catalyst for pulling in some fresh steelhead. Best bait has been a jig fished under a float and tipped with a wax worm. Egg sacs will also work.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Nick Sagnibene of Ellicottville’s Adventurebound on the Fly sends word that most inland streams were in decent shape. Some were even a little too clear. That is going to change with the rain, increasing flows and stain. Look for good fishing this weekend. Sagnibene likes smaller nymph patterns like stoneflies and pheasant tails. If the water is a little more stained and higher, black or olive wooly buggers are a good option. One of the better creeks off Erie has been 18 Mile and egg sacs have been a good bait to use.
Ice cover was back on Chautauqua according to Rich Davenport of Tonawanda. Look to the northern end for the best chance at getting on the lake this weekend. That would be my bet, but I also bet on Atlanta. It looks like colder temperatures are arriving so give it a few days to freeze up. Off Maple Springs, Davenport had 3 inches of ice over 15 feet of water – not quite enough … but close. As always, exercise caution when ice fishing. It may be thick enough in one spot but not thick enough in another. Never fish alone and carry ice picks and a rope. It may take a little longer in the south basin with strong currents posing a problem.
Ice Fishing Update
Steve “Hawk” Hawkins of Capt. Bob’s Tackle in Clarence sends word that some decent fish have been coming in through his shop this week from Silver Lake. Nice pike came to the scales by several area anglers. Tim Hughes of Amherst caught a 34-inch northern pike on an ultra-light jigging rod using golden shiners. His is 12 years old. He was fishing with his brother Jerry Hughes, who had similar success on pike. The big one was a 10.69-pound, 36.5-inch pike to take over the lead in his derby, reeled in by Mike Grzelewski of Cheektowaga. Check out this week’s gallery online. Hawk also reports good ice the south end of Honeoye, Cuba Lake, the eastern basin of Oneida Lake and Black Lake. It was all before the rain.
Tim Thomas with the Winter Classic and the Ice Pro Am Series sends word that they won’t make their decision on the team tournament set for Feb. 12 on Sodus Bay until Thursday. Check their website at www.nysiceproam.com. Chaumont Bay is slated to hold its event Feb. 19 and Oneida is set for Feb. 25. Chaumont Bay has upwards of 10 inches of ice and the bite has been fairly good. Just ask Casey McIntosh of Camillus, who weighed in a 13.95-pound walleye through the ice this past week to take over second place in the Winter Classic tourney. He caught it with a Buckshot. There is also a new first place pickerel, 6.38 pounds and weighed in by Bill Kinne in Pulaski.
Lower river trout action has been inconsistent. Anglers have really had to work for their fish. Kwikfish, egg sacs, emerald shiners – with or without beads above the offering – have all been catching steelhead and lake trout with other fish thrown in for incidentals. Walleye, brown trout, sturgeon were all reported last week. Water was off-color but fishable on Tuesday, but the high winds and rains will undoubtedly have an effect on water clarity and fish-catching. Rick Kustich of Getzville has been having some luck from shore using his two-handed fly rod with white or purple spey-style flies. His new book, “Hunting Musky with a Fly” is now out if you are interested in a reel challenge.