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Fishing Line / Dec. 2

Seasons change, but bite prospects remain similar if not the same.

Bass and musky seasons ended Monday, Great Lakes feeder streams remain open and look good on many fronts with some water and no solid freezing, perch prospects vary from site to site.

A virtually snowless November with some rainfall near the end gave steelie stalkers some hope for the holiday season and winter outings to follow. Despite a poor showing of salmon along Lake Ontario’s feeder streams, the late-summer run of matures and two-year-olds allays fears of a Chinook crash in years to come. Boaters at the east end of Ontario saw good numbers of kings as well, so area anglers can be consoled with the showing of steelies and good numbers of brown trout in all but the lower Niagara River so far.

Niagara River

Upper river shore casters take the mile-long walk out to the former Squaw) Island for a good mix of trout and walleye. Bass and musky season closed and the perch bite as been so-so, but casters have had fun with trout taking Vibrax spinners and Little Cleo spoons. The walleye bite has been mainly on nightcrawlers, but a minnow has been helpful for both steelies and ‘eyes.

The lower river has cleared up, and boaters are running banana baits (Kwikfish and MagLips) along with yarn balls for a trout run that now approaches 50-50. That is, half lake trout and half steelhead trout. Musky season stays open in the lower river until Dec. 15.

Shore casters are all over the park (Artpark and Devils Hole) when it comes to baits and approaches. The bite has come at all hours of the morning, depending on current and bait movements.

Egg offerings connect, but the river is overrun with bait fish, which should be good for casting spoons or spinners. Every caster has a pet piece of terminal tackle, but catch reports have five anglers hitting on five different lure offerings with successes one day and shutouts the next. Ice anglers usually head out with the greatest amount of lure options. Lower river shore casters may have to work up a program that exceeds aura of ice jigs that get plinked under the hard water.

Lake Ontario

The farther anglers head east, the better the perch bite. Ringbacks have been so-so and slow at Wilson and Olcott, with a few fish caught. Oak Orchard has seen better schools at the point, below the big bend and above and below Waterport Dam.

Irondequoit Bay even has an eastward aura. Most boaters have had better luck along the east side of the bay at varying depths for schools of bigger perch, says George at S&R Bait & Tackle in Rochester. Minnows are a must for perch anywhere along the Ontario shoreline.

Browns have yet to take over, but they are showing in good to almost equal numbers with steelies along the Ontario shore. Feeder streams still need more rain and flow depth, but where trout can move into streams, the browns have been close to the steelie count at Oak Orchard and in fair numbers at Eighteen Mile Creek.

Casters were going with mini or single-egg offerings earlier in the season than usual. Now, the mini (bead head) jigs with a marabou body have become the rage, says Sharon Narburgh at Narby’s Bait & Tackle in Kent.

Lake Erie

With the main lake temperatures just below 50 degrees and warming, sunny days along feeder mouths, the trout run is running but not on schedule. A steady rainfall stained Cattaraugus Creek but lifted nearby feeders to fishable levels.

The Catt has settled out and smaller feeders have seen some good runs of rainbows, despite the early-fall-like air and water conditions. Regulars rue prospects for an ice-fishing season on Erie with days seeing 48-degree waters warm to 53 by day’s end.

A scant few boaters still get out for good perch outings at 56-foot depths off the Catt, but side docks have been pulled from every launch site from Buffalo to Barcelona Harbor. What are the chances of Santa seeing anchored perch anglers from his sleigh?

Light jigs and single-egg setups are working as well on Erie feeders in places where currents are down and clarity has improved. Fly anglers like short, round bodies such as the wooly bugger, but those mini jigs with puffy bodies have gotten some attention in the mixed flow and stain levels this warm autumn.

Size is another attraction on the Catt right now. Ricky Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving said, “They were getting some of those small ones (1- to 2- pounders) early in the season, but most of the trout now are 5- to 7 pounds.” Like the bass addicts, many of the rainbow-steelie stickers on Erie’s feeders go for the fun rather than the fillets when fishing for these trout.