Evil witchcraft, in the form of foul weather, and nature's tricks -- early trout arrivals -- have done little to spook ardent anglers in pursuit of steelhead trout.
Feeder streams along both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario have seen early and good numbers of steelies, following recent rains that raised stream levels.
Perch, bass, walleye and muskellunge add to the bag of treats possible this Halloween weekend.
Mark and Mike Scoville of Angola caught 67 Cattaraugus Creek rainbow trout between Oct. 16 and Oct. 25. Mark estimates 50 weighed above the 8-pound mark. After taking a few for smoking, the brothers released the rest.
Most Cattaraugus anglers wade the creek, but the Scovilles prefer trolling in a small boat equipped with an electric motor. They go with small (Nos. 5 and 7) floating Rapalas and some jointed bodies. Orange or the new clown finish (a red and chartreuse oddity) have been good trolling colors.
"When waters get clear and low, we run the number 5's to stay off the bottom," Mark said.
Unusual catches, not just steelie numbers, have been reported. Along with the steelies, Mark caught a 6-pound walleye and Mike caught a burbot. They also pick up the occasional perch and Chinook salmon.
Farther upstream, Clem Worosz of Dunkirk enjoyed a 25-minute fight with yet another uncommon species -- a 16-pound, 34-inch lake trout. The laker went for an egg sack drifted in the current between the lower bridges. Worosz took advantage of the last day of Daylight Savings Time on Saturday to fight this fish with a 10 1/2 -foot noodle rod strung with 4-pound test line.
"I landed the fish just before 5 p.m.," he said.
Even farther upstream (above Gowanda), casters go with the clarity flow. Egg sacks or silver/blue Super Vibrax spinners do well, depending on water depth and staining.
Farther west, both Canadaway and Chautauqua creeks have drawn exceptional numbers of trout during the past two weeks of rainfall.
Musky, which should be moving into the upper river, continue to hold along the outer breakwaters of Buffalo Harbor, with some smaller fish starting to show in deep channel areas of both east and west river sections of the upper river, according to Capt. Tom Slomka. One of his clients, Tory Roberts, 10, of Fulton, boated and released a 51-inch, 36-pound musky taken while out with his dad and uncle Saturday along the breakwaters.
Bass have moved onto the 25-foot depths along much of the Erie shoreline, but the big push of heavy fish into the shallows has yet to start.
Steelies have made an early appearance in the lower river, taking over shoreline lanes before the last of the kings has disappeared. Even bass casters around the mouth of the river and out on the Niagara Bar hit into steelies while casting spoons and jigs.
Boaters have drifted Kwikfish or lighter colored salmon eggs or yarn balls for the steelie run. The changing temperatures have also attracted lake trout close to shore and into the river. Carefully release these intruders; their season reopens on Jan. 1.
Rainfall perked the steelie run at Olcott and Oak Orchard. ECO Dick Lang is impressed with the early appearance of trout in Eighteen Mile Creek. Many good fish have been taken below Burt Dam.
Lang confirms there have been just a few kings caught, but they are big and taken from the piers. The fish look enticing when they porpoise before entering the creek, but only a few anglers hook and catch these monster (mostly above 25 pounds) Chinook.
Bait still take walleye from the deeper holes at the north end, but vertical jigs began connecting during days when boaters could get on the water this past week. Bass have yet to move onto the shallow rock shoals of the south basin, but look for better numbers of keepers from the edges of holes off the Long Point bathhouse, Victoria Point, Dewittville and the Bell Tower.