Winter finally arrived in Western New York, accentuated nationally through last Sunday’s Buffalo Bills snow fight. There’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned lake effect snow storm to play in. For fishing success you will need to find open water or water that is not too stained to fish. It may be a challenge.
Lake Erie and tributaries
There are a lot of trout available in the Lake Erie tributaries according to Danny Colville of Colville Outfitters. Getting to them is another story. If you can find open water and deal with the slush, you can catch fish. The run this fall has been one of the best in 10 years according to Colville. He attributes the improved run to mild winters the last two years. In fact, he believes some fish are starting to drop out of the system already because of the warm fall. All of the traditional baits are working for this time of year. For Patrick Vinh Truong of Buffalo, the Erie tributaries are doing well. He’s been using brown trout eggs tied up in pink and chartreuse.
With more wind showing up on Tuesday night and cold temperatures chilling the region, the mud bath could continue in the river system. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls hit the lower river on Monday and found about 3 feet of visibility from the shoreline around Devil’s Hole. Using egg sacs, he was able to go 5 for 8 on trout – all steelhead except for a lake trout. Mark Plennert of Niagara Falls used a different approach from shore, casting Kwikfish lures in the stained water. He caught some lake trout over the weekend along Artpark. Shoreline casters can do very well when the water is too stained for boaters. Yes, boaters. Despite the frigid conditions, drift fishing from a boat can be very productive when the conditions are right. However, the water could be shot again after this next round of wind and winter weather. If you are a musky fisherman, that is not good news – the season ends Dec. 15 below Niagara Falls and out into the lake. On the flip side, lake trout season will be opening up on Jan. 1 in New York waters. It’s already open on the Canadian side of the river below the falls and into the lake.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Some fish were being caught this week and over the weekend, but it hasn’t been on fire. At the top of the fishing news was a 30-inch brown trout reeled in by Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga while fishing between 18 Mile Creek and the Oak Orchard River using an egg sac. While that catch is normally not that unusual (although it is a nice fish), it was big enough to take over the lead in the Brown Trout Division of the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors contest that ends on Dec. 16. Will it hold up? Check out this week’s gallery of fish catches to see the leading brownie. Shawn West of Lockport sends word that he’s been doing very well using black marabou jigs tipped with wax worms to take advantage of a late run of Coho salmon. There have been quite few around in all of the bigger waters. Trout action has been slow for the most part. Fish are spread throughout the systems. In an interesting fishing note, some of the perch caught in the Oak in the lower stretches of the river had gobies in their stomachs. Greg Schloerb of Amherst says patience has been a virtue at Burt Dam. He's been doing quite well despite the water being stained, low and slow. Beads have been his best bait, along with his own hand-tied jigs. There are still quite a few Cohos in the creek and the browns and steelhead are slowly making their way in with limited fishing pressure.
Not too much going on right now. Early reports are showing the first signs of ice starting to form on the lake. The cold temperatures could accelerate further progress.