The inland trout opener was a blow out as over an inch of rain blanketed Western New York. About the only encouraging report we’ve heard was that a total of 52 fish were weighed in at the 56th Annual Naples Creek Trout Derby held April 1. Jacob “Jake” Perkins of Caledonia walked away at top angler with a 6.38-pound rainbow trout. The fish hit an egg sac, leading the charge among 332 anglers.
In the Men’s Division, Eric Fleischman was tops with a 5.75-pound trout; Logan Years weighed in a 4.95-pound rainbow to pace the boys under 16 years of age.
Illyanna Pustulka of Buffalo led the girls under 16 years of age with a 2.60-pound ‘bow, and John Kowalczyk of Rochester reeled in a 3.53-pound trout. First place in the Catch and Release Division was Mark Harrington with a 23-1/2-inch rainbow. The Mert Woodard Memorial for largest female trout caught by a Naples resident went to Ryan Rector; the Jim Grove Memorial for the largest trout weighed in by a male Naples resident was Tom Folts with a 5.31 pound rainbow. Considering the conditions for opening day after the heavy rain Friday, they did quite well.
Meanwhile, streams were shaping up nicely again and some fish were being caught … until the skies opened up again Monday night. Rain is in the forecast off and on until the end of the week. Drew Nisbet, Fishing Manager with Orvis Buffalo, had this to say: “With the extreme amount of rain forecast through Friday, all streams in the region will likely be at or near flood stage for the weekend. Trout fishing will be, at best, difficult this weekend and, at worst, dangerous to be near these medium to large streams in the coming days. If someone were to be brave enough to try and fish, large brightly colored streamers would be the fly of choice, stripped or swung low and slow in the back eddies and margins of the stream bank.”
Things have been a little quiet in the Upper River but just prior to the rain we heard that the perch were hitting on the south end of Grand Island and at the foot of Sheridan. Blue Water Marina (get permission before fishing), Beaver Island State Park, at the foot of Sheridan and at the foot of Ferry Street were all active. All are producing nice sized jumbo perch up to 14-15 inch range. They are hitting on emerald shiners. In the lower river, fishing has been up and down for trout. Devil’s Hole and Artpark are yielding some trout from boat and shore. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls had some luck off the NYPA fishing platform in the gorge on spinners Tuesday – before the water started to rise to a dangerous level and turned muddy. From boats, Kwikfish, egg sacs and minnows seemed to be the bait of choice once again, but with 60 miles per hour wind gusts blowing in from the southwest, it’s a good bet we’ll see muddy conditions for a few days above and below Niagara Falls.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
A few boats made it out into the lake last Sunday and picked up some lake trout and brown trout. The lake just hit 40 degrees so it won’t be long before we see some more activity. The smaller creeks like Keg, Hopkins and 12 Mile were looking good, but the rain has them all flowing high and muddy. The best fishing has been for bullhead. According to Glenn Strzelczyk of the Town of Niagara, the bullhead bite has been hot, averaging 20-30 fish per outing – just in time for the Wilson Conservation Club Bullhead Contest that starts on Friday night at 5 p.m. It runs through Sunday at 1 p.m. Contact Eric at 628-6078. Strzelczyk has been doing his best on night crawlers, but he has caught some on chicken livers. He fishes old-school with a 10-foot long cane pole, a single split shot and a hook. Matt Tall of Wilson has been hitting the bullhead areas, too – both branches of 12 Mile and Eighteen Mile. The best action has been right at dark to 11 p.m.; anything earlier is perch and suckers. Add in cider worms and shrimp to the night crawler option. The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association salmon pens go in on Saturday at the Town of Newfane Marina. If you want to help with putting the pens in, show up around 9 a.m.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Not too much to report in the tributaries or out in the lake with the recent weather. A few boats did some perch scouting but no luck. According to Dave “Nobody” Watts at Dave’s Bait and Tackle in Derby, 18 Mile Creek looked like the Niagara River, but muddy. All the streams were flowing high. In the lake, reports came in that the Cattaraugus Creek launch was in rough shape and the Sturgeon Point launch is closed down due to the sand bar across the opening to the lake. The smaller creeks will clear first. Use egg sacs or white jigs tipped with a wax worm. Remember the State of Lake Erie will be held on April 6 at the Southtowns Walleye Association clubhouse, 5895 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg starting at 7 p.m.
The Crappie fishing has been pretty good for the past week in the canals according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. The action is better early morning and again after dark. Some boats popped some crappies off Bemus Tuesday, the first boat action we’ve heard about.