With many people off work between Christmas and New Year’s, look for fishing action to pick up in the way of numbers on the water and along the shoreline, as well as those you prefer wading the streams. It looks like fishing should be good, giving ample opportunity for testing out that new fishing gear you received for Christmas.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla received an early Christmas present when he found favorable conditions last week on Lake Erie. He uncovered his boat and headed out from Cattaraugus Creek, working 8 feet of the water column in 55 to 57 feet of water. He found perch were scattered, but using emerald shiners he had picked up from Miller’s Bait and also dipped himself, he ended up catching his limit of 50 perch and one bonus walleye. His biggest perch was 13.25 inches long. There were no side docks in at any of the launches so he needed hip boots to take care of business. He only used one rod and believed his lifting action on his spreader, rigged with chrome blades, made the difference. He connected on a variety of depths off the bottom, jiggling his rod tip along the way. Tributary action is starting to pick up again after last week’s rain. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that fish have been getting a lot of pressure with reduced fishing areas due to the high, muddy water from last week. The smaller creeks are the first to clear. Be respectful of your fellow fisherman. Also keep your fish in the water as long as possible if you are taking a photo to reduce the stress to the fish. Don’t put your fingers in the gill area of the fish to reduce mortality. Ken Jackson of Sanborn found near-perfect conditions on some of the Lake Erie tributaries, catching 10 fish on Christmas Day using a mix of egg sacs and jigs.
In the Upper Niagara River, there were reports of some good walleye fishing at the head of the river at night. One group of four had a limit of ‘eyes – 24 fish. There were also some reports of walleye in the Thompson’s Hole area of the upper river. Shore guys have been catching walleye for several weeks at the foot of Ferry Street. There are serious concerns over what is happening with Grass Island, important fish nursery habitat near Woods Creek and Buckhorn Island State Park. There is a restoration effort underway starting in the Summer of 2019 to help the process along, to be completed in the summer of 2020. Check it out at https://parks.ny.gov/parks/attachments/BuckhornIslandNiagaraRiverRestorationProjects.pdf. To send a letter of support and to make comment, contact David Spiering with State Parks at David.Spiering@parks.ny.gov.
In the lower Niagara River, fishing action has been good. Not as good as it was a week or two ago, but consistent to help keep you warm by fighting fish. Brown trout and steelhead are still your primary targets, but walleye fishing has been decent and, if you want to target bass, some pretty good smallmouth action has been surprising some anglers willing to use swim baits or minnows. It’s been pretty much a mixed bag for drifters, as well as shoreline casters up in the gorge area of the river around Devil’s Hole. Booker spinners, beads, jigs, egg sacs … all were working from shore between Devil’s Hole and the Whirlpool, as well as off Artpark in Lewiston according to Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Remember lake trout season opens in the lower river on Jan. 1 in New York waters.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Ray Richards of Amherst has been hitting the tributaries several times a week, picking up browns and a few steelhead. When the water is stained, he will use a jig, normally tipped with a wax worm or a salted minnow. However, this week when he went out, he thought he forgot the waxies and still produced a big brown on his marabou jig. The rain should pull some fresh fish into the system. When the water is clear Richards prefers beads and egg sacs. He caught fish on a smorgasbord this past weekend, using a white jig, white bead, pink sac and orange sac to all take trout. The bigger streams were still high and muddy after last week’s rain this week, but the smaller streams were starting to clear first, producing a mix of steelhead and brown trout. The Oak Orchard River had about a foot of visibility with medium flows as of Tuesday. More rain is in the forecast for Friday into the weekend.
Ice Fishing Update
Joe Franchini of Buffalo found safe ice in Hamilton County in the Adirondacks, locating a lake with 8 inches of ice. Using minnows he managed to take several lake trout to scratch his ice fishing itch. To him it was worth the 4-1/2 hour drive. We could use some more consistent cold to lock things up here, but with some more warmer weather and rain in the forecast for this weekend, it probably won't happen any time soon.