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A Sportsman's Tale: Did this bass take the fall?

From Chris Cinelli

As a charter captain, I fish the Niagara River a lot – both above and below Niagara Falls.

One thought that goes through everyone’s mind who fishes this mighty river is: How many fish go over the falls … and survive?

About two weeks ago, I was chartering Tyler Vargo from Vermont when something strange happened. As we drifted the Lower Niagara along Stella Niagara using a drop-shot rig, with Strike King soft plastics as bait, Tyler set the hook on a nice smallmouth. He fought the fish for a few minutes and as I netted it, we could see there was a green tag attached to the back of the fish.

Tyler Vargo displays a catch.

I called the number on the tag and found out that the bass had been tagged during the Canadian Tire Lake Erie Classic Bass Tournament from October of 2015. According to the tournament director, they tagged and released it in Chippewa Creek – off the Upper Niagara River.

So what accounts for the fish ending up in the lower Niagara? There are two options. It either swam upriver into Lake Erie, took a right and made another right at the Welland Canal, then proceeded to swim the canal to Lake Ontario, take a right and then take another right into the Niagara River, again swimming upriver, or …

It took a short cut and dropped over the falls and ended up just north of Lewiston. I believe it’s the latter.

Niagara River fishing adventures surprise anglers time after time.

Submissions to A Sportsman's Tale can be emailed to and should not exceed a maximum of 350 words. 


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