The throes of winter returned to Western New York this week and who knows what will happen to the local fishing scene as an end result of the rain, snow and wind. Before the storms hit, though, Mother Nature let her guard down and let anglers have some spectacular fishing action in Lake Erie tributaries and the lower Niagara River. Sometimes all it takes is a little exploring and trying some new sections or different waters. Sometimes it’s simply using different lures or baits. That’s part of the fun of it, making it an angling adventure.
Lake Erie tributaries
Reports came in from numerous anglers having banner days casting the tributaries of Lake Erie. One common theme we heard time and time again was not to be afraid to explore. Try some new waters and seek out back waters where pressure is not an issue. Have some fun. Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga had one of his top five fishing days the tail end of last week, fishing some waters he wasn’t really familiar with. While the fishing reports were nice to hear, everything will probably be wiped out from the storms blowing in. Rain and snow will combine to form some nasty conditions. When things do clear, though, keep that in mind when you hit the water. You might have to head inland to find some cleaner water this weekend. Check out some of the smaller feeder creeks. Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla enjoyed some success the past week casting Little Cleo spoons in blue and nickel to take some steelhead off the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek.
Boaters were on fire as they targeted trout from Devil’s Hole to the mouth of the river. Capt. Ryan Shea of Tonawanda did well with customers using beads fished off three-way rigs along Artpark and in Devil’s Hole. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls used MagLips in silver and chartreuse along with egg sacs and Kwikfish, trying to figure out what the steelhead wanted in any given location. At the Niagara Bar off the mouth, they even hooked a couple teenage king salmon on the prowl for a quick meal. Musky season ends on Dec. 15. Incidentally, musky season is also open on the Canadian side of the river both above and below Niagara Falls, closing on Dec. 15. Shore guys and gals struggled a bit the past week with a few exceptions. Mark Plennert of Niagara Falls caught a pile of steelhead off the NYPA fishing platform in the gorge using a No. 6 spinner on the final day of its operation last Sunday. He was the only one there for most of the time. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls hit some lake trout in Devil’s Hole along the shoreline (the trail at the park is now open) that were quickly released. Lake trout season is closed through the end of the year, but it’s now open on the Canadian side of the river. Above the falls, Rzucidlo hit three small trout casting the upper rapids area.
Lake Ontario tributaries
The streams have been stained but fishable. Some big bomber browns have been reported from the Oak Orchard River the past week including a 21-pounder. Streamers, flies, beads, egg sacs, jigs fished under a float and tipped with wax worms or spikes – all will catch fish under the right conditions. In addition to steelhead and browns, some late Coho and Chinook salmon are still being caught, too. Recent rains should help the smaller streams with a little more flow.
There’s been some perch action around the lake with the closure of the musky season but most anglers have been keying in on the final couple weeks of deer season.
Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Fishing Derby Update
As of earlier this week, Wayne Breissinger of Darien Center is setting the pace in steelhead division with a 3- inch steelhead caught from shore in the lower Niagara in the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors contest being run out of the Main Street, Clarence store. Top brown is a 28.5-inch fish caught by Tom Roll of Lancaster while fishing the Oak Orchard River with a Voodoo jig. First-place rudd is a 15-3/4-inch upper river fish reeled in by Jay Brudz of Amherst. He was using a trout magnet. Barry Ball of Alden just entered the first-place perch this week from Lake Erie, a 12-1/4-inch fish caught on a minnow. The friendly contest continues through to Dec. 16. Stop in and say hi to Hawk.
John Henning Memorial Musky Tournament
It was a good day on the lower Niagara River last Sunday for the John Henning Memorial Musky Tournament hosted by the Niagara Musky Association. Henning, of Lockport, was a past member who spent many hours on the lower river pursuing muskellunge when he was alive. In the end it was Frank Alcorn of Mount Jewell, Pa. trolling a Legend perchbait in a lower section of the river reeling in a fat 47-inch musky. He was fishing with Mike Deponeau of Wilcox, Pa. Second place was Josh Kane of Buffalo with a 45-inch musky. He was fishing with John Pensyl of Lockport, trolling with a Legend Plow. Third place was a 43.5-inch tiger musky caught by Andrew Lacko of Kenmore while fishing with his son, Daniel. They were trolling a homemade bait called the Mutt.