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The Fishing Beat (April 10, 2019)

Bullheads were hitting, some salmon have been caught and the ice boom probably will be in place for at least another week. In the meantime, recognize that walleye season is closed in New York. Some casters in the Tonawanda Creek system have been targeting big females filled with eggs. It is illegal to target a species that’s out of season.

Lake Erie and tributaries

The State of Lake Erie meeting is April 11 at the Southtowns Walleye Association’s clubhouse in Hamburg starting at 7 p.m. The Lake Erie tributaries have had a trickle of fresh steelhead entering streams with the occasional hungry drop back being caught, according to Drew Nisbet with The Orvis Shop in Williamsville. Suckers far outnumber steelhead at this point, but numbers of both species will ebb and flow over the next three to four weeks. Steelhead fishing has been hit or miss depending on who you talk to. Success this time of year often comes down to being in the right place at the right time. Fish occupying a pool one day likely will have moved on the next as females are highly motivated to spawn then get out to the lake at this time of the year. Some of the first migratory bass of the season have been caught at the mouth of some smaller creeks. Smallmouth bass fishing in the tributaries is water-temperature dependent. Early in their run, look for warm, sunny days when water temps are approaching 50 degrees for spawning bass to be drawn into the creek mouth from much colder nearshore waters of Lake Erie.

Niagara River

There was still over 400 square miles of ice in the lake as of Monday. It needs to be 250 square miles or less. Some ice chunks have been coming down the river system, serving as obstacles in the upper and lower river sections. Lower river trout action has been more difficult due to winds and clear conditions, although not as clear as previously, according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Minnows and egg sacs have been producing steelhead and browns in the river. Cast spinners or jigs from shore. No reports on smelt yet.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

King salmon are starting to show up in the lake. Check out the trophy king reeled in my Chris Kempf of Cheektowaga, a fish he reeled in over the weekend while fishing with Capt. Joe Gallo of Amherst. They were fishing a flasher-fly 70 feet down over 125 feet of water when the bruiser hit while fishing out of Wilson. Kempf also caught lake trout in 100 to 130 feet of water on spoons and flasher-fly. Brown trout have been hitting closer to the shoreline on stickbaits and spoons. Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane was focused on 10 to 14 feet of water around Olcott with Bay Rats and Live Targets off the planer boards. On the riggers, it was Dreamweaver SS spoons producing nice browns, and a mix of other species, including an Atlantic. In the tributaries, the action has been consistent for steelhead and brown trout according to Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters. He caught some nice browns Tuesday on a Lake Ontario tributary west of Rochester. Water quality on the creeks is pretty good, reports Feltrinelli. The rain last night should help raise water levels and add a light stain. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports decent pier action off Wilson and Olcott.

Chautauqua Lake

The crappie bite was on Monday, according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Action was mostly in the canals. Several limits were caught by anglers using a mix of minnows, tube jigs, Soco Baits, jigs and Mini Mites. All were working under a slip or fixed bobber. He also heard of some good catches in Bemus Bay from fishermen in boats. Lots of perch are being caught, but you have to weed through the short ones. The walleye are spawning, so avoid them if you can.

Inland waters

The 5th annual Tri-County Trout Derby is set for Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., based out of 228 Main Street in Arcade. About 400 fish have been tagged in a nine-mile stretch of Cattaraugus Creek with values of $25 to $1,000. Up to $10,000 in available prize money. Sign up at for tickets. Call 585-492-2114 for more info.

Letcher wins bullhead contest

Wilson has long been known for it’s excellent spring bullhead fishing. However, after last weekend’s performance by Roy Letcher of Olcott and Jeff Herman of Newfane, Olcott Harbor might vie for the bullhead title in Niagara County. The bullhead contest ran from 5 p.m. on Friday to 1 p.m. on Sunday. Letcher and Herman caught 350 bullheads and cleaned 200. The best weight of Letcher’s best two fish was 4.36 pounds. Red worms and night crawlers were the baits of choice.

There was a tie for second place between Brud Holly IV of Wilson and Jeff Budziszewski of Newfane with two-fish totals of 3.68 pounds. Holly won the tie-breaker based on length of the fish. Holly used crawlers and shrimp in Wilson-Tuscarora Park and Budziszewski used the same baits in 12 Mile Creek. A total of 93 entries participated, including 14 kids. The youth winner was Jace Greene of Newfane with a two-fish total of 3.55 pounds. The runner-up was Olivia Lampman of Newfane with a two-fish total of 3.33 pounds.

NMA Top 10 muskies for 2018

The Niagara Musky Association recognized the Top 10 muskellunge caught by its members for 2018 at the group’s Silver Anniversary Awards banquet held April 6 at the Pearl Street Grill. The anglers and their catches were:

  • Josh Ketry of Tonawanda, 51-inch; 2. Scott Kitchen of North Tonawanda, 50-inch; 3. Andrew Lawson of Snyder, 49.5-inch; 4. Bill Weber of North Tonawanda, 49-inch; 5-7. Tom Reinhardt of Buffalo, Carl Schenk of Cheektowaga and John Pensyl of Lockport, 47.5-inch; 8. Anthony Scime of Tonawanda, 46.5-inch; 9. John Miller of Lackawanna, 46-inch; 10. Chris Kempf of Cheektowaga and Bill Gliss of Akron, 45.5-inch. All fish were released.
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