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The Fishing Beat: Plenty of salmon action on Lake Ontario and Niagara River

Lake Ontario

Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek saw a huge amount of salmon and trout show up overnight Monday according to Scott Scheffler, manager of Fisherman’s Park. While the water was a bit high from all the rain, conditions should be good by the time you read this report – unless we receive large rain amounts Wednesday. There’s plenty of fish in the system for anglers to catch. He also noted that they have been using a Ranger ATV to haul people to and from the fishing areas, a benefit for those fishermen who could use a little helping hand for access.

Fresh fish can be found in all of the deeper holes further down towards the harbor and fish are still being caught off the piers and in the lake according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Casting spoons, spinners or stickbaits are all good approaches off the piers or from anchored boats. Another popular method is to use treated egg skein under a float. Oak Orchard has been fishing well with a nice mix of king salmon and steelhead making their upstream migrations according to Drew Nisbet, fishing manager with Orvis Buffalo. Water levels in the Oak are slightly higher than normal for this time of year. Crowds have remained on the thin side but expect them to increase with the start of the Archers Club Catch and Release Fly Fishing Tournament Oct. 18-20.

“Effective methods for fly anglers includes dead drifting egg patterns under an indicator and swinging bead head buggers in black and purple and zonker style streamers in white and olive,” according to Nisbet. A 9-foot 8 weight or 9 weight rod adapts well to the crowded fishing conditions and larger fish. Over in Wilson, Terry Swann of Wilson sends word they are picking up some perch off the piers, as well as some nice trout. Use spinners and spoons for trout; live bait for the perch.

Niagara River

The lower river salmon action has been continuing on a consistent clip to the delight of boat fishermen and shoreline anglers. Casting glow in the dark spinners and Little Gem spoons under low light conditions work best. Rat-L-Traps can also produce salmon, but some brown trout started showing up in the gorge this past week according to Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls and they hit the rattlebaits and spinners. With the heavy rains on Monday, one would have thought a larger slug of salmon would have been it into Devil’s Hole and the gorge area. Anglers off the NYPA fishing platform have been struggling of late. Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield has been doing very well on salmon under low light casting Little Gem spoons.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Bass action was tough for the Canadian Tire Lake Erie Open Tournament last Saturday hosted by St. Catharines Bassmasters out of Chippewa. The big factor was probably the full moon, allowing bass to feed all night. A total of 85 boats competed in this year’s contest and, once again, it was a husband-and-wife team from Canada that took top honors with 25.26 pounds of smallmouth. Simon and Melanie Frost won the tourney for the second time in three years, placing second last year. The angling duo also had big fish for the day, a 6.25 pound smallies. All of their fish came on a drop shot rig or dragging tubes in 28 to 50 feet of Canadian water. Mike and Sue Watson, also from Canada, place second with 25.08 pounds of bass. Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport, fishing with Larry Mazur of Lancaster, had a rough start when Fonzi’s boat was rear-ended on the I-290 and they had to pull a switcheroo with Larry’s boat. They still managed to catch 20.88 pounds of bass, placing sixth. They were using drop shot rigs in the same depths as the winners but in NY waters, wiggling Jackall cross tails and Gajo baits. Due to the moon’s effects, they only caught seven fish, but one was the second biggest at 6.08 pounds. The winners only caught 10 bass.

In the Richard Brauer/DB Memorial Perch Contest held last weekend, the two person team of Bill Soellner and Justin Printup set the pace with 50 fish. Second place was Dave Muir and Mike Eschborn with 27 perch, followed by Steve Perriello and Tom Allen with 19. A total of 20 people competed in the contest, raising $3,000 for Mason’s Mission Foundation (creating a handicapped accessible playground in Pendleton Park). All the fish were caught in 65 to 70 feet of water off Cattaraugus Creek using live bait. Cattaraugus Creek has been fishing well despite lower than average water levels and slightly high water temperatures according to Drew Nisbet at Orvis Buffalo.

The lower water levels all changed this week. Trout are staging at the mouth and have been trickling into the creek daily, with the best fishing found on the Seneca Nation Reservation. Fishing has been good as far upstream as Gowanda with numbers of fish tapering off the further you go. However, Danny Colville at Colville Outfitters reports that there are fish all the way up to the Scoby Dam. Nisbet reports that effective techniques for fly anglers have been swinging olive and white zonker style flies on 11-foot, 7 weight switch rods or nymphing with large stonefly patterns on 3x fluorocarbon tippet and 10-foot, 7 weight single hand rods. Smaller tribs like Eighteenmile in Hamburg and Canadaway Creek in Fredonia have been suffering from a lack of water, but the recent rains have helped. When levels come down, action should be great if it isn’t already.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye jigging action in the North Basin of the lake has improved considerably according to Capt. Frank Schoenacker of Infinity Charters. Try snap jigging in 28 to 38 feet of water, drifting along. Water temperature was 66 degrees on Monday in the north. To the south, trolling with crankbaits off of lead core is working. Target 14 to 18 feet of water at about 2 mph. Hot-N-Tots, Flicker Shads, Flicker Minnows and J9 Rapalas are working according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors.

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