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The Fishing Beat (Dec. 7)


Bill Hilts Jr.'s Outdoors column

Outdoors Calendar

Scattershot: Outdoors news & notes

Fishing options for the weekend will probably be hindered a bit by a good old fashioned winter storm. You may have to pick and choose where you will want to wet a line if you brave the elements.

Niagara River

A half-dozen media mavens came into Lewiston this past week to sample the winter fishery and this awesome natural resource didn’t disappoint. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charter Service had a few pen pushers on board – Chuck Smock of Nebraska with the promotional arm of Cabela’s and Joe Cermele, fishing editor with Field and Stream magazine. They managed to catch some nice steelhead up to 10 pounds, bass up to 6 pounds and a mix of other fish that included lake trout and even a brown. They fished from Artpark to the Niagara Bar using minnows for the steelhead, swimbaits and jigging spoons for the bass and one of the guys even brought along his fly rod and used a clouser minnow to catch a few lake trout. Yes, lake trout are out of season but you can’t help catch them in this river of fish. That said, the lake trout season is open on the Canadian side of the river and New York’s season opens on Jan. 1, 2017.

Chuck Smock of Nebraska was part of a media crew that fished in the lower Niagara River this week. He caught this nice 10 pound steelhead on a minnow fished off a three-way rig. He was fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls.

Chuck Smock of Nebraska was part of a media crew that fished in the lower Niagara River this week. He caught this nice 10-pound steelhead on a minnow fished off a three-way rig. He was fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls.

We mentioned bass. Remember that’s a catch-and-release season and you must use artificial baits. Musky season is still open in the lower river and the lake until Dec. 15. In the John Henning Memorial Musky Tournament hosted by the Niagara Musky Association last Sunday, the father and son team of Andrew (father) and Daniel (son) Lacko of Kenmore placed 1-2 with a 38- and 34-inch fish – the only two fish caught under turbid conditions with about 2 feet of visibility. Andrew caught the bigger fish by casting a rubber creature bait; Daniel was casting a jerk bait to take the shorter fish. Both were released unharmed. The group celebrated the memory of Henning, originally from Newfane, who is often regarded as a musky pioneer in the lower river. Jimmy Fee of Massachusetts, one of the editors with On The Water magazine, came into town over the weekend to sample some lower river trout fishing from shore along Artpark. He was doing some center pin fishing and was amazed at the angling action despite some poor conditions overall. Fishing with Ryan Bibeau, they used chartreuse beads and white marabou jigs fished under a float to take trout. They also noted that quite a few fish were also coming on inline spinners and spoons in the area that they fished. One area we haven’t mentioned yet was Devil’s Hole.

Lou Gentile of Harrisville, NY caught this nice steelhead in Devil's Hole while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island this week. They were drifting a pink egg sac.

Lou Gentile of Harrisville caught this nice steelhead in Devil's Hole while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. They were drifting a pink egg sac.

Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reports decent steelhead action on pink and chartreuse egg sacs fished off three-way rigs using leads of 6 to 7 feet long. Water conditions were good on Tuesday, but that was before the wind and the rain hit the area. It’s important to note that the N.Y. Power Authority announced that the fishing platform, as well as the reservoir access off Upper Mountain Road, will be closed starting Dec. 8. Danny Colville of Colville Outfitters reports Scajaquada Creek is seeing a good run of trout. Some steelhead and walleye can also be caught at Thompson’s Hole, the Huntley Plant and around the Peace Bridge. The first-place rudd in the Captain Bob’s contest out of Clarence came from the upper river, reeled in by California Joe Pavalonis of Buffalo. It was 13 inches long, caught on a crappie tube jig.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

A fresh run of king salmon showed up in 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam this weekend, in part because of a strong north wind. According to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott, water conditions are still low and clear, running about 100 cfs with a little help from a draining Erie Canal. A north wind will hold the current up enough to restrict the flow. When the winds subside, the water releases and attracts fish. There are browns and steelhead in the creek, as well as perch – a bit of a nuisance for those anglers targeting salmon and trout with small jigs tipped with wax worms and spikes. Single eggs, beads, yarn balls or any egg imitation should catch you fish. Downsize your baits, hooks and line when the water is clear. You can catch fish off the piers in Wilson and Olcott when Mother Nature allows wind-wise. Alex Colon of Orchard Park took over the lead in the Steelhead Division of Captain Bob’s contest that ends Dec. 17. It was caught on a bead and was 29 inches long. Bob Rustowicz of Buffalo is still in first in the brown division with a 26-inch Johnson Creek fish taken on spikes.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Everything is clear again in the tributaries according to  Colville with Colville Outfitters. However, that’s about to change with lake-effect storm warnings in place for the next few days. A fair number of fish were being caught with fish in various stages – spawning fish, drop-backs and fresh-run trout. Sacs and marabou jigs are working best for the Erie tribs; soft beads and pink worms are also tricking some fish to hit. Cattaraugus Creek was on the verge of being fishable, but we’ll have to see what happens with the storm. If the conditions are fishable in the Catt, use large egg sacs or large, bright streamers according to Colville. Probably some of the best areas for large chromers is the Buffalo River tributaries. A big run of fish finally made their appearance. A few boats ventured out into the main lake over the weekend and there were scattered reports of some perch being caught near the Canadian line. Bass fishermen seemed to fare better according to Bruce Cavage of Marilla, who was fishing out of Sturgeon Point. He noted some difficulty in getting out of the harbor due to a sand bar.

Chautauqua Lake

The walleye bite has picked up in the northern basin of the lake for trollers running straight stickbaits in 18 to 30 feet of water according to local guide Craig Robbins. Target from Tom’s Point to We Wan Chu cottages for walleyes, too. Perch and crappie are being reeled in at Ashville Bay in the evening.

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