Share this article

print logo

Fishing Line by Will Elliott (April 27)

A warm weekend heated things up for boaters on the big lakes, a lack of rainfall helped some streams and harmed others, cool nights keep trout comfy and either spawning or feeding in feeder streams and along lake shorelines, and panfish schooling is making another start after that late-April chill.

Pike and walleye anglers have to wait until May 7 for the season opener, but trout, perch and assorted panfish are a major draw on many area lakes and streams.

Raingear might be as essential as a tackle box in coming days, but some rain might help stream movement and overcast skies during the peak solar-lunar periods this weekend could increase the bite and catch count.

Lake Erie

Perch are the main attraction. Feeder streams hold trout in some stretches, but waters have warmed enough to turn on smallmouth bass and suckers, with a few nice catfish showing in Cattaraugus Creek.

The boat-trailer count at Sturgeon Point Marina was just under 150 at mid morning on Sunday.

“And just about every boat got fish,” said Lee Weber at Weber’s Bait & Tackle in Evans. Weber stocks certified emerald shiners, bait that is working well on perch right now. “And they can be taken anywhere to fish,” he added.

Fewer boats were launched at Cattaraugus Creek for lack of access. Side docks have yet to be set at the state launch. Farther up stream, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers began dredging from the lower end of the island up to the Hanover Bridge on Monday.

Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving expects the project to be completed this week, but check before heading to a launch site at the Catt. All streams along the Erie shoreline could use some rainfall, but Miller suggests that the Catt’s catfish run should show much better with a rise in water flow and levels.

Depths of mid 40s to 56 feet were most productive between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek. Some good schools of perch showed off Buffalo Harbor at depths of less than 35 feet.

Niagara River

Chill waters keep a steady trout run in both the upper and lower river. Cool nights have kept temperatures in the lower 40s, with a 42-degree reading at Devil’s Hole in recent mornings.

Most of the boat traffic has been in Devil’s Hole, with anglers successfully serving a meat menu.

“It’s a tossup between minnows and egg sacks right now,” said charter captain Chris Cinelli. He added that caught fish are spitting out rainbow smelt in every direction.

Dippers are getting some smelt from shore, but the take is iffy most nights. Schools show just at dark or well into the night. One promising plus is that most smelt cleaned are males, which could signal a heftier run of females shortly.

Lake Ontario

“Things are good when they can get out,” said Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott about boating options along the Ontario shore. Trollers are hooking up with brown trout at depths of less than 50 feet, with pre- and post-spawn steelhead trout moving into or out of feeder streams.

Lake trout hold close to bottom at 30- to 80-foot depths and hit lures run at slower speeds than for kings and other trout. Kings have made an onshore showing at 80 to 100 feet, hitting closer to bottom.

Wiscoy platform

Department of Environmental Conservation Region 9 officials dedicated a universally accessible fishing pier at Pike on Earth Day Friday. During the ceremony, DEC Regional Director Abby Snyder said, “We encourage the public to take advantage of our region’s excellent fishing opportunities and enjoy some quality time outdoors.”

The 12- by 20-foot platform provides access to Wiscoy Creek, a popular trout stream that flows through the Town of Pike and the Wyoming County Fairgrounds. Survey estimates have 400 to 1,100 wild brown trout inhabiting each mile of Wiscoy stream waters in Wyoming County.

Angler achievements

Each year, the DEC conducts an Angler Achievement Award program, with categories for both weigh-in entries and for length measurements in a Catch-and-Release Category.

A summary of the program, minimum weights and lengths, and an entry form can be found on pages 60 to 64 in the “New York Freshwater Fishing 2016-17 Official Regulations Guide,” or visit

Trout stockings

The Randolph and Caledonia Hatcheries this week have stocked trout at sites around Western New York in time for fishing this weekend. All stockings are yearling unless noted as 2-year-olds.

Alleghany County: Genesee River (Amity), 3,150 brown trout and 350 2-year-old brown trout; Genesee River (Wellsville) 650 brown trout, 450 2-year-old brown trout and 1,000 rainbow trout.

All other stockings this week were into open waters of Lake Erie and Cayuga Lake; all stocking deliveries are subject to change due to water conditions.