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The Fishing Beat

It was almost like Mother Nature skipped spring entirely when temperatures hit 74 degrees in the bright sunshine earlier this week. That will certainly influence the fish and the fishing, as well as the attitudes of anglers. We’re ready for some nice weather.

Niagara River

Trout action has been good for steelhead and lake trout according to Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls. Lower river drifters were doing well again. On Tuesday his crew hit steelhead and lake trout using minnows, egg sacs, MagLips and Kwikfish throughout the river, all fished off three-way rigs.The New York Power Authority fishing platform reopened last weekend and Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls managed to toss some homemade jigs to take four steelhead off the structure. No consistent reports of smelt in the river although there was a stray report off Artpark a week ago. There was another that came in as this was being written, but nothing firm. The Lewiston Smelt Festival is May 4 at Lewiston Landing starting at 5 p.m.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Flows were back to normal at 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam according to Wes Walker of The Slippery Sinker in Olcott. However, the water was still a bit stained and temperatures were in the mid-40’s in the creek. Out in the lake, it’s been a tougher go with the winds. A mud line extended to 120 feet off Olcott on Tuesday. Winds have kept people off the piers and smaller boats from chasing salmon and trout. Remember that some of the bigger fishing contests have been pushed back by a week or two. The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby ( for the spring will be held from May 11-20. The Wilson Harbor Invitiational Tournament is May 19 ( and the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament is June 1-2 out of Wilson and Olcott. Check out

Lake Erie and tributaries

According to Danny Colville with Colville Outfitters in Hamburg, a small run of medium to large fish came into the creeks last week with the high waters. These fish are picking gravel in some of the first areas of the creek that presents itself. “There are a good number of suckers also in and the steelhead that are dropping back have plenty to feed on,” says Colville. Sucker eggs, steelhead eggs and aquatic insects provide good amounts of food. Colville says look for spawning suckers or steelhead and then look for drop backs feeding on eggs below them. Small yellow or orange death roe or steelhead stalker soft plastic beads have been the tickets according to Colville. If the bead bite is slow, Colville likes to thread on a pink or white worm up to the bead and it mimics a small lamprey sucking on an egg – a trigger for steelhead. He also like to wacky-rig these worms in the spring. Marabou jigs have been very effective in black, olive and white in the lower ends of the tributaries for the immature springers and for drop backs. Check out Sturgeon Point or Dunkirk Harbor for the spring fish schooling up emerald shiners. “The Buffalo River has had slow but steady action in the lower end for the immature chromers,” says Colville. “Please do not disturb spawning fish. Also, there is a bunch of small stocked fingerlings in the tributaries. Please handle the little guys with care.”

Out in the lake, some perch action was being reported in 50 to 55 feet of water off Evangola State Park according to Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla. There was a fair number of boats out over the weekend, but boats seem to be crowding each other out. Emerald shiners were available at Miller’s and Weber’s tackle shops, the best bait for those that were successful. However, there are plenty of yellow perch available in the lake according to DEC surveys. You don’t have to fish on top of one another. A side dock was installed at the state launch at Cattaraugus Creek, but the Hanover launch was dock-less. Sturgeon Point is silted in and is still a problem.

Chautauqua Lake

The canal fishing is still on according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Crappies are still hitting good early in the day and after dark. Not too much to report on the lake yet. Some crappie action is being reported in Bemus Bay but it’s still a little early. Lake temperatures are still cold. Sperry went out for a test run over the weekend and found that water temperatures ranged from 42 to 46 degrees.

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