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The Fishing Beat (Nov. 13)

A snowstorm and cold temperatures hampered fishing action this week in Western New York. And with the start of the regular firearms deer season opening Saturday in the Southern Zone, look for fewer people to be fishing.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Tributary action was good last weekend, but the blast of snow combined with record cold temperatures have mainly kept people off the water and creeks. Danny Colville of Colville Outfitters in Hamburg said some fish up higher are starting to pair up and a couple of drop backs being reported. “Fish are spread out,” he said. “All the tribs now have a decent run of fish in them. The fish are running larger in size and there are a handful of nice native kings and cohos in the Erie streams. Please do not kill those since we are starting to see decent returns.”

The fish seem to be most concentrated around barriers. Colville pointed out that it seems to be more productive to fish either the middle to upper portions of creeks and rivers or down low on the tributaries. With the change of temperature, the fish seem slightly off the bite. He said to focus more on the slower winter holes. The fast water has a couple of fish moving through, but with the high amount of oxygen in the colder water, fish will be on the inside of the runs in walking speed water.

Colville’s first choice of baits would be White Emerald Shiner patterns with the second choice being egg patterns. Soft beads in sizes 9-12 mm in mottled pink clown have been working well for him, but the jig bite has been great running white, combinations of white or Olive patterns. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters said he caught some steelhead last weekend on a white Zonker fly. He also mentioned that the unseasonably cold weather has had some negative effects on the bite.

Niagara River

The waters of the Niagara River have cleared, so it’s back to crunch time in the fall musky fishing. The season ends Nov. 30 in the upper river, Buffalo Harbor and Lake Erie.

In the Tim Wittek Memorial Musky Tournament last Sunday, Josh Kane was the winner with a 46-1/2-inch Buffalo Harbor fish. Runners-up were Dave Gorski and Jay Decarolis with 42-inch Buffalo Harbor muskellunge. Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reports a couple 'skis a trip on average when the weather conditions allow. This week, fishing in the lower river for steelhead was taking up his time and he was doing well with egg sacs around Lewiston.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reported he's been getting a few fish – a mix of steelhead, brown trout and lake trout – on eggs, jigs and spinners. He noted that the NYPA plant has had the No. 1 pump off all week. It’s been slow in there, but trout are jumping. The NYPA fishing platform was closed Tuesday and Wednesday because of icy conditions. Call 796-0135, ext. 45, to find out if it’s open.

Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle reported good action for trout throughout the gorge on beads and sacs. Brown trout have been staging at the mouth of the river. Glow spoons were working for shoreline casters around the Fort.

There are still a few salmon hanging around in the lower Niagara River, like this one hauled in by Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls off the NYPA fishing platform. (Photo courtesy of Mike Rzucidlo)

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Ron Bierstine with Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge said the final Erie Canal water releases was planned to start this week. That water should be reaching Waterport late in the week. Look for higher and slightly off-color water. Bierstine said that this normally coincides with a fresh run of fish – primarily steelhead and browns, but there could be some Atlantics mixed in. Eggs and flies were working in the streams around Olcott, according to Jim Evarts at the Boat Doctors. Action was good if there wasn’t too much fishing pressure. If you didn’t make the DEC meeting in Lockport on Wednesday, an online/phone presentation is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Nov. 14. Visit the DEC website to find out details.

Catches and hunts of the week (Dec. 5) Thu, Dec 5, 2019

Submissions can be emailed to and should include name, hometown and particulars of the catch. One photo will be selected Catch of the Week and be published on the Thursday Outdoors page.

Scattershots (Dec. 4, 2019) Wed, Dec 4, 2019

Chautauqua Lake

Not much going on in the way of fishing with the combination of inclement weather and the bucks going into rut, according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Some perch and crappie have been caught in some of the canals around the lake.

Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Fishing Contest

There have been a few changes on the leaderboard, according to Steve Hawkins at Capt. Bob’s Outdoors in Clarence. California Joe Pavalonis of Buffalo is back, taking over the lead with a 17-1/8-inch rudd from the upper Niagara River that weighed 2.61 pounds. Ethan Bronschidle of Newfane took over second place in the Brown Trout division with a 27-1/2-inch Lake Ontario tributary fish. The new leader in the Yellow Perch category is Barry Ball of Alden with a 14-1/4-inch fish.

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