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FEWER ANGLERS MEANS MORE FISH TO FRY

Anglers who are not hooked on hunting have more open waters and even solitude at spots often crowded during warm-weather and ice fishing seasons.

Turkey season began Monday, archery deer season started Oct. 15, trapping season (for most species) begins today and Canada goose season reopens Saturday. That means anxious anglers now have fewer fellow fishermen with which to enjoy excellent perch and trout fishing during what Solar-Lunar Tables forecast as peak periods this weekend during early-morning hours.

Jumbo perch school in many area waters and steelhead are on their fall run.

Lake Erie

If you can get out on a day with waves under four-foot heights, 60-foot depths between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek might be a good place to perch.

High wind gusts churn Lake Erie's Western New York waters too often this fall season, but during those brief periods of mild breezes perch searchers have found their ground. Usually, perch schools sneak into relative shallows (30- to 40-foot depths) at mid fall, but those few boaters who have kept track of the pack go to 60-foot depths west of Sturgeon Point or slightly east of Cattaraugus Creek mouth and head out to deeper water.

Perch, when they are hitting, can be active at all hours of the day, but an early-morning departure can provide a couple of extra hours of relative calm before winds kick up waves.

Usually, deep-water perch move continuously and boaters can park over reliable perch beds and wait until they move through. But this season, better odds go to movers and shakers. If a spot does not shake out in 20-30 minutes, most regulars pull anchor and cruise around with sonar units turned up to spot perch packs close to bottom.

Usually, jigs, perch eyes and nightcrawler sections do well when fish are schooled and actively feeding, but a live minnow holds as a ringback ringer, even when the bite is right. Try shaking a jig or popping an eye or two, but keep a bucket of lively minnows for best results.

"Clear water keeps these trout finicky," said Dave Watts at Dave's Bait & Tackle in Derby. Recent rains have turned Cattaraugus Creek muddy, but smaller streams such as Eighteen Mile Creek still remain low with clear water, Watts said.

Fine, non-visible line and smaller baits or flies do better on incoming rainbow/steelhead trout, but Watts suggested abandoning a reliable, pet lure or bait selection in these high-visibility stream waters.

At the other extreme, rainfall inland has pushed Cattaraugus Creek feeders and main current up to muddied levels. Live and fresh egg baits get attention where fish have a limited view of forage.

Lake Ontario/

Lower Niagara River

"A few salmon are still in the river, but most boaters are going for steelhead trout now," said Kim Quarantillo at Down River Bait & Tackle in Lewiston.

Art Park has been the biggest draw lately. A few boaters still push into Devils Hole and check for kings, but most drifters drop down to Art Park and work bottom near the edge of shore as currents hook around and into the Lewiston sand dock area.

Oak Orchard Creek waters bring on the kings not seen in smaller, nearby streams. Steelhead and brown trout also make their moves in water still somewhat low but rising well. Even Atlantic salmon, often confused with brown trout, make a showing. Atlantics must be 25 inches in New York State waters.

Egg-like offerings, real or contrived, do best on trout and salmon. Sacks and skein do well for bait casters; woolly buggers and that egg-sucking leech pattern work for fly flingers.

Fly assembly

A full weekend of programs will be dedicated to all aspects of area fly fishing during a three-day Chautauqua Fly Fishing Assembly, which begins Friday and includes workshops for beginners, advanced anglers and presentations of general interest on fly fishing photography, gourmet cooking, bird watching and identification. For details, call 357-6389.

e-mail: wille@pce.net

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