With the Southern Zone regular big-game opener kicking off Saturday, look for decreased fishing pressure in WNY waters. There are still plenty of fish around. However, if you are fishing off the beaten path, it’s not a bad idea to wear some fluorescent orange. Better to be safe …
Lake Erie and tributaries
According to Drew Nisbet, fishing manager with The Orvis Shop in Williamsville, the Lake Erie tributaries have been fishing well with recent influxes of rain and snow melt. With each drop and fall of water levels, there seems to be more fish pulled in from Lake Erie. Eighteenmile Creek in Hamburg has been giving anglers the best opportunity at fresh steelhead and even a few wild Coho salmon in recent days. Heading farther south, Chautauqua Creek also has been producing but pods of fish have been fewer and further between. Look for steelhead migration and activity to slow down as water temperatures drop to less than 40 degrees. “Typically soft-hackles, nymphs and egg patterns become more effective in the colder water,” says Nisbet, “but that doesn't mean a steelhead won't clobber a swung streamer.” Off the mouth of some of the creeks such as Cattaraugus, opportunities exist for casters using Cleos or spinners. Orange produced a few fish for one area angler. Out in the lake, you can still try to catch perch or walleye. Dave Adrian of Blasdell hit some ‘eyes in 27 feet of water using a deep diving crankbait in black and silver to take fish off Hamburg. However, the water was turbid. It should improve as far as water clarity is concerned.
After a full week of mud water, the color was slowly starting to improve Tuesday. Some boats hit the water in Devil’s Hole and Artpark, and they found that 3.0 MagLips in gold, egg sacs and beads would catch a mixed bag of fish. Nothing spectacular, but steelhead, brown trout and lake trout all were hitting their offerings from a boat, fished off three-way rigs. Shoreline casters can still use spoons, spinners and eggs or egg imitations. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was tossing a pearl zoom swimtail off the NYPA fishing platform to take a couple walleye Tuesday as the water was starting to clear to 3-4 feet visibility. He also hit a couple of late king salmon on No. 4 spinners and managed to catch a small rainbow on a jig the same day. Remember that the normal shut down date for the Fishing Platform is Dec. 1. However, if the platform becomes icy, it will be closed earlier. The NYPA reservoir also will be closed at the same time. No word on upper river musky action, but as the waters clear, you should be able to catch fish again. The season closes Nov. 30.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Reports have been good from almost all Lake Ontario streams. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott says that any tributary with a dam has fish stacked up – both trout and salmon. Egg, jigs tipped with wax worms and spikes, crystal meth and sucker spawn, beads and more beads. Colors seem to be changing every day. White woolly buggers, pink and orange eggs, egg sacs with a white bead – plenty of options to use and many seem to be working. Ron Bierstine at Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge reports good action with fish spread out. Brown trout fishing has been good. Quite a few Atlantic salmon have been caught by fishermen there. Some black salmon are still hanging around, with an occasional fresh one showing up to surprise fishermen.
There have been some reports of walleye catches from shore after dark, according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. This is like the spring night bite. Try using floating Rapalas, and Smithwicks are working, too. Also, walleyes are still being caught vertical jigging the deeper holes in the north basin. Rapala Snap Raps, jigging Raps and Gotchas are working. Water temp was 44 degrees at last check and it is probably lower now.
Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Contest
There’s still some time to fish in Capt. Bob's Outdoors Contest run out of the Clarence store. You can sign up and measure fish for the friendly contest all the way up until the final day on Dec. 22. Only change this week was Conor Shelby of Williamsville reeling in a 29-inch brown trout from the Oak to take over second place in that division. The fish hit an egg pattern fly.