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The Fishing Beat (April 3, 2019)

It should be a great weekend for trout action, whether it’s the newly opened inland season, the Great Lakes tributaries of Erie and Ontario or the Niagara River. There’s a little something for everyone. The NYPA fishing platform officially opened for the season on Wednesday morning.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Danny Jankowiak of Buffalo reports that tributary fishing has been good this week. White jigs, zonkers and other minnow-pattern streamers have been producing feisty steelhead when you find fishable waters. Drew Nisbet with The Orvis Shop in Williamsville reports that tributaries are in a good, fishable condition, but the suckers far outnumber the steelhead at this point. Expect fresh runs of fish here and there but with the influx of suckers, picking through the rough fish to find the silver fish can be difficult. The smaller streams will offer the best conditions. Don’t forget the State of Lake Erie public meeting at the Southtowns Walleye Association clubhouse on April 11. See Scattershots this week for details.

Niagara River

Lower Niagara River action has been good for a mix of steelhead, brown trout and lake trout depending on where you are in the system and which baits you use. Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reports that steelhead fishing has been improving. Large minnows have been a hot bait this week, but shore guys are picking up trout in the gorge on spoons, spinners and egg sacs. The water is still clear, but the overcast days have helped the cause considerably. Capt. Jim Rores of Grand Island reports that minnows and egg sacs were both working for him on Sunday and the trout fishing was outstanding. The NYPA fishing platform failed to open on April 1 or 2 due to wintery conditions, but officially opened on April 3. Call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to find out if it’s open other days when winter weather could be an issue.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

There are reports that bullheads were being caught at Wilson, which is perfect timing for the 7th Annual Niagara County Bullhead Contest being run by the Wilson Conservation Club. The contest starts on April 5 at 5 p.m. and runs through April 7 at 1 p.m., with weigh in Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the club located on Route 425, Wilson. Prizes are based on the best two fish combined, total weight. Call Eric at 628-6078 for details. Some nice brown trout and steelhead catches have been coming in for tributary casters. Bags and beads are working, along with jigs. Most of the creeks are high and stained, but fish are available for the taking. Pier casters can do well with spoons or spinners. Casting the mouth of a tributary from shore is an option and it’s been working for some. Shoreline trollers also are picking up fish by running spoons or stickbaits. The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association will put the group’s pens together on Saturday, April 6, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott.

Chautauqua Lake

That tip we received last week in the south basin of the lake was right on. According to Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors, the crappie run started last Friday. The canals at the marinas have a bunch of fish in them. Best bite is early in the morning. Minnows under a bobber and tube jigs offer the best chance for success. Nearby Goose Creek has been producing brown trout. Mealworms, salted minnows, and small spinners are working. The rain over the weekend has helped, according to Sperry. The south basin is ice-free. The ice on the north end is 99 percent gone, according to Skip Bianco at Hogan's Hut. Calico fishing has been wonderful at Bemus Bay and will pick up in other areas after the warm up.  Perch fishing has also been good.

Inland waters

After a cold and snowy opening day for inland waters, this weekend is setting up to be a good time kicking off the trout season. Nisbet reports that the inland creeks are in great shape with good flows and turbidity. Many of the most popular inland waterways have received their first round of stocking and are primed for catching through increased angler effort. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that many streams are high and turbid but the window to catch them is now and for the next two days. Fish the high dropping water with big flies and get them down to the bottom. DEC will continue to stock inland waters and you can always call the Randolph Fish Hatchery stocking hotline at 358-2050.

Naples Opening Day Trout Derby

The 58th annual Naples Opening Day Trout Derby was held April 1 out of Naples Creek and this year’s contest was one of the most successful. More than 100 fish were caught (many of them catch and release) by the 341 participants in the one-day competition. William Perkins of Rochester won the top prize with a 10.76-pound rainbow trout. In the men’s division, Jason McConnell of Plattsburgh set the pace with a 7.6-pound rainbow. The top women’s catch was a 6.54-pound rainbow reeled in by Katrina Brooks of Olean. In the youth division, Brook Years of Naples won with a 6.41-pound rainbow.

In the catch and release division, Brandon Ball of Naples caught a 27.5-inch rainbow for the overall prize. The top woman was a 18-0 3/4-inch fish reeled in by Charlotte Hines of Naples. The top youth was Hunter Kremmin of Naples with a 27-inch rainbow that was released.

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