It was perfect timing for the New York Power Authority fishing platform to re-open last Saturday in the lower river. Salmon are starting to arrive for the annual fall run and, according to Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls, there were hundreds of salmon that could be seen in the corner near the tailrace. It’s starting. Casting crankbaits, spoons or Rat-L-Traps can be used effectively. Skein will also work. Rzucidlo also reports good success on glow-in-the-dark Cleos in the Whirlpool area of the gorge. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls caught his first salmon of the river season from his boat in Devil’s Hole using a K-11 Kwikfish, but it's still early. Bass fishing continues to be good in the river. According to Capt. Arnie Jonathan of Lockport, leeches and shiners have been working the best for him, fished off three-way rigs. In the upper Niagara River and around Buffalo there are still plenty of walleyes around. Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reports that he had eight fish by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, dragging a spinner and worm rig. That same general area was also working for Capt. Jim Rores on smallmouth bass. Check out some of these fish in the Catch of the Week gallery online.
The 39-pound, 3-ounce king salmon held up to win the Fall Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby’s grand prize of $25,000. Make sure you read this week’s outdoor column to find out about all of the stories relating to the top prize-winning fish. Check out www.loc.org for a complete leaderboard. The big news is that salmon and trout are being caught right now off the west pier in Olcott. According to Newfane Town Supervisor Tim Horanburg, the east pier will be open by this Friday afternoon, Sept. 8. There were roughly 30 anglers casting the pier over the holiday weekend, in part because of the cold water that had been pushed in close to the shoreline. Some steelhead and browns were also caught off the pier. Capt. Bob Cinelli of Olcott reports that there is a good offshore bite from the 24 line to the 28 line offering up a mix of steelhead and salmon. Spoons and flasher-flies are working there. The inside bite for mature kings is also going on, out to 140 feet of water. Spoons, plugs and flasher-fly or flasher- meat rigs are the baits of choice. Stay away from the other boats to limit pressure on the fish. A few trout are being caught inside, too, according to Cinelli. There will be a meeting next week in Lockport to discuss the spring forage base trawl results on Sept. 13. See Scattershots for all of the details.
Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport reports that the walleye bite has never been better from Sturgeon Point to the Pennsylvania line. And from the Canadian line to 65 feet of water. Good numbers of fish can be located by trollers working the waters from 65 to 105 feet, using divers, lead core line, in-line weights or downriggers to get you into the 60- to 70-foot depth range. Run crankbaits and small copper-backed spoons at 1.8 to 2.7 miles per hour, paying close attention to current and down speed. You can also run heavy bottom bouncers up to 8 ounces using worm harnesses at 1.2 to 1.5 miles per hour. Wind is changing the current daily according to Fonzi. It’s a mixed bag of fish being caught – from sub-legal 14-inch fish to 9 pounds or better. Check the bladder condition of the fish (if it’s legal) before releasing it. If its bladder is visible, keep it as part of your catch. The bass bite has started to turn on again with drop shot rigs and three-way rigs with live bait all working to take some lunker smallies. Capt. Ryan Shea with Brookdog Fishing reports good action in 15 to 20 feet of water with crabs and shiners. In the tributaries, trout are just starting to enter the creeks. Not in big numbers but that could change very soon. Swung flies in black or white are the ticket according to Shea.
According to Frank Schoenacker with Infinity Charters, the hot bite right now is for suspended walleyes in the north basin over 25-plus feet of water. Hot-N-Tots have been working to take the fish. He has picked up a few fish jigging, but that fall bite hasn’t really turned on yet. The best is yet to come.