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Fishing Beat (Nov. 20)

Despite a cold start for November, fishing action has been good across the board for most water bodies. With less than two weeks left for musky fishing in the upper river and Buffalo Harbor, this is a good time to catch a trophy. Lower river trout action is hot.

Lake Erie and tributaries

For the tributaries, Nick Sagnibene reports that fish are spread throughout all main tributaries nicely. There are fresh fish and fish that have been in the tributaries for a few weeks.

Cattaraugus Creek is finally back fishing until the snow melt settles into it this week. With the recent chilly temps, low and slow for both nymphing and swinging flies. Use black stoneflies and general nymphs in size 10-18, depending on water clarity. The smaller tribs are clear and have seen a fair bit of pressure, so presentation is key. Be sure to check out Sagnibene's presentation on fishing for trophy trout Tuesday at the WNY Chapter of Trout Unlimited meeting at the Orvis Store in Williamsville at 4545 Transit Road starting at 7:30 p.m.

Chris Walczak of Amherst reeled in a rare Coho salmon from a favorite Erie tributary, evidence that these Pacific salmon are performing some natural reproduction in the streams.

Out in the lake, Robert Geiger, daughter Rella and uncle Dave Stahura, Jr. of Lackawanna hit Lake Erie around Myers Reef last weekend and caught a bunch of smallmouth bass using drop shot setups baited with KVD dreamshot baits in green pumpkin color. Many of the fish were more than 5 pounds. Best depth was around 40 feet. A few local anglers have been trying for yellow perch, too.

Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla hit the lake out of Cattaraugus Creek on Sunday and Monday and found scattered fish but no takers except for three hits that were only on the hook a short time. Some local perch lovers suspect the bellies are full of baitfish getting ready for winter. However, Denis Kreze of Fort Erie, Ont., managed to head out Tuesday and found some perch, but no other details were available other than that he lost his cellphone.

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

Niagara River

Musky fishing was good the tail end of last week, reports Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. Gary Laidman of South Wales was two for three last Thursday on muskies, including a 48-inch fish that was sporting a 30-inch girth – a personal best for Laidman. Musky season closes in the upper river, Buffalo Harbor and Lake Erie on Nov. 30.

Some big bass were also available on emerald shiners. Lower river trout fishing has been on fire the past week, according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston.

Trout have been hitting egg sacs and beads in size 10 mm in chartreuse and orange from shore in the gorge. For the sacs, use chartreuse or natural colors. Boaters have been drifting MagLips, Kwikfish and egg sacs off three-way rigs. Shore guys are also using glow spoons and sacs for browns near Fort Niagara.

Devil’s Hole has been picking up, according to reports. Water level fluctuation has been severe at times. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was doing well on steelhead using a mix of jigs and spinners in the gorge.

The John Henning Memorial Musky Tournament hosted by the Niagara Musky Association will be held Dec. 1.

Meanwhile, out on the Niagara Bar area, Jeff Pierce of Michigan (now with Scientific Anglers) did some fishing this week. He was fishing faster sinking lines (Scientific Anglers Sonar Stillwater SD SINK5/7 and the Sonar Titan Triple Density SINK3/5/7). These lines allow him to get the fly down a bit in the river current as it flows out into Lake Ontario. He would use the trolling motor to control his drift so that with a long cast, he could get my flies where he wanted them. If he started stripping the fly right away, he could cover the top 10 feet. If he let it sink 10 seconds, he could cover the bottom half of the water column.  He focused his efforts in the 17- to 26-foot range.  Every time he got a strike, he’d hit the waypoint marker on his Lowrance unit. After a few drifts, a pattern would develop and he’d concentrate his drifts on those spots. He was using a few different streamer fly patterns he ties. Double Bunnies, Bunny Strips and Clouser Minnows were all effective. All flies have a little weight on the head (cone or dumbbell eyes) to help them stay down in the current. At times, some salmon were up chasing bait on the surface. The first day he lost a real beauty of a brown, right at the boat as his net wasn’t quite big enough. He estimated the fish at around 16-17 pounds. Immediately after that, he got out his bigger net. Over the course of the three days, he caught brown trout, steelhead, smallmouth bass and lake trout.

Jeff Pierce of Scientific Anglers shows off the flies he used on the Niagara Bar for trout and salmon this week. (Photo courtesy Jeff Pierce)

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Not as much fishing going on the past week with the opening of the regular big game season in the Southern Zone, according to Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctors in Olcott.

Ethan Bronschidle of Newfane had the dam area to himself last weekend on 18 Mile Creek. He reports that it’s been hit or miss for the most part for trout. Conditions were murky but fishable this week for browns and steelhead. Egg sacs and beads work best.

Over at the Oak, Ron Bierstine at Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge reports winter conditions are in place with 2 to 3 feet of visibility. Don’t stay in one spot. Do some moving to locate active fish – steelhead, browns or the occasional Atlantic or king salmon. Smaller streams in the area have medium flows and slightly stained water color.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye fishing is still ongoing on the north basin, according to Capt. Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Try vertical jigging from 25 to 50 feet of water. Jigging Rapalas, Rapala Flat Jigs and Gotchas have been working.

Crappie action was going well last week, but some of the canals froze over so that ended. Sperry says it may start up again with the warmer weather expected.

Inland streams

Guide Nick Sagnibene reports that inland creeks are looking good for nymph fisherman. There are steady flows and it’s clear on most streams; smaller nymphs and buggers will work well. With the warmup, be prepared for some small mayflies that can hatch in size 18-22 on the more spring-fed streams. It’s prime spawning for brown trout so please stay out of the water as much as possible and don’t fish to actively spawning fish.

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