Snowfall hasn't been a snow job for feeder-stream waders along the Lake Erie shoreline from Hamburg to Ripley.
Water levels rose high enough in all feeders to draw good to great numbers of rainbow/steelhead trout this past week. Open-water areas of the lake remain stained from high winds and runoff, but streams are main on the menu of angling.
New arrivals of lake-run steelies have found their way up the entire Cattaraugus Creek flowage, including side feeders, up to the Springville Dam. Water color has most waders going with egg sacks, but spinners and wooly-bugger flies get major mention.
Casters at the Cattaraugus Creek mouth, Dunkirk Harbor and Barcelona Harbor do well with blue Cleo spoons. All three sites draw slews of steelies, but Barcelona has been best for spoon shooter as lake temperatures drop into the low 50s.
Canadaway Creek has seen the greatest fishing pressure, but good trout numbers show at Eighteen Mile, Silver and Chautauqua Creeks as well.
Rain upstream muddied the Catt through the weekend, but began clearing Tuesday morning, said Rick Miller at Miller's Bait & Tackle in Irving, "and they're getting a good number of trout well up the creek," he added.
High winds and bitter cold fronts have kept boaters off the perch grounds between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point. Before the weekend, ringback runners did well at 56-foot depths from Foxes' Point to well east of Sturgeon on both live and salted minnows.
Lower Niagara/Lake Ontario
Scratch the salmon and set up for steelies. Lower river drifters have switched to lighter lines and egg offerings to hook into steelhead trout, mainly in the Devils hole area, says Capt. Chris Cinelli. Until Saturday, Cinelli had averaged a dozen steelies during a morning drift run in the hole.
Heavily stained Lake Erie waters canceled lower Niagara drift trips after Saturday, but clearing waters could have boater bunches drifting above the power plants this weekend.
Lake Ontario feeders need a water feed. Low levels along the entire shoreline from Rochester to St. Catharines has stream waders crowding to Waterport Dam on Oak Orchard Creek and Burt Dam on Eighteen Mile Creek. Most other feeders are low or impassable to incoming trout and salmon.
The Newfane parking lot next to Burt Dam was full last weekend, as lingering kings and an odd mix of steelies and brown trout move upstream. Anglers' ethics and practices have improved greatly since the abolition of snagging some two decades ago, but snagging-like practices still remain an issue in some places.
Regulations in the NYSDEC Fishing Guide refer to the practice as "snatching" and anglers will be cited if officials observe "repeated or exaggerated jerking motion of the fishing rod" (page 14).
Have fun and fish fair out there.
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