Snow melt and rain probably will affect many of the streams going into this weekend. It also will negatively impact the ice conditions that have started to develop in area lakes. Be patient. Merry Christmas.
Lake Erie tributaries have been fishing relatively well over the last two weeks with a mix of fresh female steelhead, darker males and even a good number of lake-run brown trout being caught, according to Drew Nisbet, fishing manager with Orvis Buffalo in Williamsville.
There have been several precipitation and melting events that have brought rising/receding water levels, encouraging upstream migration of fresh steelhead and keeping those fish that have been in the creeks happily hidden in slightly turbid flows. “Eighteen Mile Creek in Hamburg has been fishing the best followed up by Canadaway and Chautauqua creeks to the south,” Nisbet said.
With a lack of snow pack in the Southern Tier, look for Cattaraugus Creek to possibly drop in flow and turbidity on the door step of our next cold snap. “Egg patterns under an indicator this time of year always produce, but those chasing a more exciting strike can fish olive over white streamers for an explosive grab from those more aggressive fish,” Nisbet said.
Chautauqua Creek in Westfield has a good number of steelhead, mainly smaller jacks, but good water flow was reported by Skip Bianco of Hogan’s Hut.
Lower river action has been a bit spotty for some, good for others. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls reported good success over the weekend using swim baits to take bass and walleye, minnows and egg sacs to take steelhead and salmon. Two Grand Island 16-year-olds – Eddie Verost and Parker Cinelli – celebrated their birthdays by fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island (Parker’s dad) and hit the lower river last weekend. They did well on walleye and steelhead. MagLips worked for steelhead, shiners worked for walleye. Chris managed to catch a 36-inch pike on a shiner, too (see the online "Catches of the week" gallery). Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports that water clarity has been good. Egg sacs and beads are working to entice fish to hit three-way rigs. In the shiner department, Emeralds and Goldens have been working.
In addition to the river, the Niagara Bar around the green buoy marker has been good for trout. The countdown is starting for the opening of lake trout season. They are legal to target Jan. 1, which also is the start of a new license year in the Province of Ontario. Shore fishing along Artpark and from Devil’s Hole to the Whirlpool is producing some trout and walleye using Booker spinners, jigs and egg sacs.
Snow melt and run off made for some stained conditions and fishing has slowed a bit. Brown trout are still leading the charge, but some steelhead are hitting egg sacs, egg imitations and jigs tipped with a wax worm, according to Karen Evarts with the Boat Doctors in Olcott. That should change with the forecast of rain heading into the weekend. This could be the trigger that steelies needed to pull more fish into the streams and rivers. Initially, the water could be high and muddy depending how much it rains. Smaller streams will clear first. Test the waters and seek new areas where there isn’t as much fishing traffic.
The upper end of Chautauqua Lake remains open, according to Bianco. Bemus to Celeron was covered with a thin layer of ice that is not fishable, but that could be history with the forecast of warmer temperatures and rain. Some anglers went to the north end last weekend with the warmer weather, but reports have been spotty. Night fishing for walleyes has been good, casting floaters and stickbaits.
Best locations have been Long Point State Park, Maple Springs, Bell Tower, Prendergast boat ramp, and the public park at Mayville. Perch fishing has been good from shore at Long Point State Park Marina, and you should try the Bell Tower or any open water where you have access. No open water on the south end and the ice is unsafe.
Bianco said there are some fish in the tail waters at Kinzua Dam and the river downstream.