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SUCCESSFUL ANGLERS ARE UP A CREEK

Anglers can give thanks for a good run of trout -- and a few good salmon -- in feeder streams for both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Great Lakes feeders will be cool but busy throughout this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Drops in temperatures draw increased numbers of steelhead trout into large creeks and smaller streams each day.

Dress warmly and start early to check out typically crowded areas close to public access sites. A hike to pools above or below pressured waters might be more rewarding -- and help in working off some of that holiday food frenzy.

Lake Erie

Cattaraugus Creek can be fished anywhere from the breakwater tip on the west side of the creek's mouth to riffles under the Springville Dam next to the new Scobey Hill access site.

Shore casters and waders can reach steelies with hardware (spinners spoons and weighted plugs) in deeper waters near the creek mouth. Boaters troll small minnow-bodied lures up and down open stretches from the mouth up to the rail bridge. Flyrodders send small and large streamers, wooly buggers and assorted Spey flies to entice fish in both pools and rills when waters turn clear.

Eighteen Mile Creek has drawn steelies up both branches. Timing can be more critical than presentations here, when waders converge near the mouth and up stream.

Smaller streams all have enough water to draw steady streams of incoming trout, and most waders know it. Both bait and hardware can be effective in Silver, Walnut, Canadaway and Chautauqua creeks. Carry lightweight samples of both when heading upstream.

Before heading for any of these streams, prepare -- and psyche -- yourself for some extra walking to avoid crowds and get away to good fishing spots.

Lake Ontario

The bar is open.

Niagara Bar drifters usually hold off until after lake trout season reopens in January to bump minnows over and around the bar off Fort Niagara. This year, the same steady number of lakers has shown, but brown trout have moved in and feed heavily along with those lakers.

Waters of the lower river and around the mouth pump relatively warm Lake Erie water, which has been holding above 45 degrees. A good mix of bait and trout has brought boaters out to work drifts around the green buoy on days without waves from northerly breezes.

Niagara River

Musky season ends Saturday, and upper-river trollers have found a few cooperative fish at the head of the river and into Buffalo Harbor. While most anglers catch these fish for sport and release them after taking measurements, new regulations (begun Oct. 1 this year) now set minimum lengths of 48 inches in upper Niagara River waters and 54 in Lake Erie.

Lower river steelies still shine. Lake trout get in the way of egg offerings sent from shore or along drifts from a boat. Laker season reopens Jan. 1, which requires anglers to carefully unhook and release these fish as quickly as possible.

Drifters can work waters from Devils Hole down to the mouth for steelies, which hold well in all the main drifting areas. Small egg sacks, single egg (real or imitation) rigs and Kwikfish all draw strikes.
e-mail: wille@pce.net

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