The ice boom removal began Monday. How fast the ice chunks will dissipate will be up to Mother Nature based on wind direction, temperatures and precipitation. As the ice flows through the Niagara River and into Lake Ontario, be careful as you negotiate the frozen chunks. Fishing is still good!
Lake Erie and tributaries
“It's been good in the streams when fishable,” reports Danny Colville of Colville Outfitters in Hamburg. A few larger mature spring spawners have been caught on the lower ends and the drop backs have been plentiful if you can find them. You need to bounce around often to find the pods. The DEC stocked lots of smaller fish in the tributaries so it's hard to avoid catching those. The best baits have been 3-inch micro worms rigged wacky or paddle tail worms in 3-inch. Pink, natural and white have been the ticket. Cattaraugus Creek was fishing well prior to the blow out that resulted from rain. Once it drops down, there should be plenty of fish moving in and coming down with the colder night temps we have had, Colville said. In the lake, Mike Fox of Lewiston hit the waters off Cattaraugus Creek in 50 to 55 feet of water to score some dandy perch, including four more than 15 inches long. It was his best perch day ever, using shiners on the bottom.
No smelt yet for night dippers, but boats are continuing to mark pods of bait on the bottom in the middle of the river. We’re only a little over a week away from the Lewiston Smelt Festival on May 3 and the smelt fry provided by the Niagara River Anglers Association, Tops Lewiston and the Niagara River Region Chamber. The action kicks off at 5 p.m. with live music, a smelt eating contest and more. As far as trout action in the lower river, Artpark is a good spot to be from boat and shore. Steelhead are the top target using large emerald shiners, according to Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. Boaters are averaging 8 to 10 fish per trip. The haul includes brown trout and lake trout. Egg sacs also work for trout. If you get the right wind direction, such as from the southwest, pulling Kwikfish or MagLips using three-way rigs can work well.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Capt. Joe Gallo of East Amherst managed to hit Lake Ontario for a short trip Easter morning. Due to time constraints, they gave up on brown trout fishing because there was only one very small pocket of warm water right outside Wilson Harbor and the rest of the water was ice cold. After pulling one fish from the warm water, they headed to 65 to 70 feet of water to fish lake trout. The Two Bulls crew went 20 for 29 on lakers using glow flashers and blue/purple spoons. Jim DeGirolamo of Derby hit 7 to 10 feet of water between Wilson and Olcott to take a mixed bag of browns and lake trout using 3-inch firetiger Renosky stickbaits. Matt Tall of Wilson used a stickbait off Wilson in 48 feet of water to take a beautiful 13-pound Atlantic salmon that was caught and released. There are some steelhead and brown trout in the tributaries, but bass are slowly replacing them. Pier action has been spotty off Wilson and Olcott.
LOTSA on-water education for members
To branch out on the club’s “teaching fishing” philosophy, the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association will move from the classroom to the lake in an effort to provide hands-on experience for interested anglers who are club members (join at www.lotsa1.org for $10). On June 9 out of Wilson, Capt. Gallo will take six anglers (at a cost of $75 each) from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., showing off the daily routine of a charter captain from start to finish. The proceeds will benefit the club’s pen rearing project in Olcott. Call Gallo at 998-2296 to reserve your spot. Space is limited.
The crappie fishing slowed in the canals, according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. The lake bite should fire up soon, though. Timing could be good for the inaugural Youth Crappie Fishing Contest on Saturday on the lake from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. in any open water in Chautauqua County. It is being sponsored by Hogan’s Hut in Stow, where the weigh-in will take place. This is for junior anglers 15 years of age or under. First place will win a lifetime fishing license. There are reports that smallmouth fishing is good. Don’t forget that May 5 is the Chautauqua Lake Walleye Tournament, sponsored by the Chautauqua Lake Bassmasters, out of Long Point State Park. Call Matt Fish at 720-2388 for details on the two-person team event.
Nick Sagnibene of Ellicottville's Adventure Bound on the Fly reports that inland streams are in good shape. Most have decent flow and some off color in the deeper pools. Depending on the day, you could see some bugs coming off the water and a few risers, according to Sagnibene. Water temperatures are hovering around the 50-degree mark and fishing nymphs and streamers will work just about anywhere right now.
Quite a catch by ECOs
DEC’s Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) ran a bit of a sting out of Beaver Island State Park when several calls came through the violation hotline (1-844-DEC-ECOS) claiming illegal activity. ECOs from Erie County hit the upper Niagara River at Beaver Island and managed to score on an illegal catch that resulted in numerous violations. Three guys were dipping emerald shiners with nets when they started catching perch, which is illegal to do. They ended up with 3,537 yellow perch, way over the limit of 50 per person. They also netted carp (187), rock bass (14), and sunfish (2). If you see illegal activity going on, make the call. It works. Many of the fish were still alive due to the quick action of the officers and a large number were successfully released.