There wasn’t as much precipitation or wind to create much an issue in the Niagara River, and the tributaries are back to fishing decent. The WNY Sport and Travel Expo starts Friday at the Erie County Fairgrounds. Check out www.wnysportshow.com.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Fishing in the Lake Erie tributaries was good for local guide Justin Warriner of North Tonawanda. He got out with six of the University of Buffalo Bassmasters over the weekend for a class on float fishing, and when he says fishing was good, that was an understatement. They each landed a fish and hooked multiple trout on the tributaries using beads, jigs, pink worms and egg sacs. It did not seem to matter. The spring run continues to be strong in all Erie tributaries, but Warriner has a feeling it will end early this year. Bruce Kowalski of TAAR Outdoors in Lake View reports that before the blow out on Saturday, creeks where hot with steelhead action. White bags and jigs were the ticket, producing double digit numbers on many creeks. Action was good on 18 Mile Creek earlier this week, and the smaller tributaries should be fishable again. Shub Stevens with Catt. Creek Bait and Tackle reports that Clear Creek has been a hot spot, with lots of people catching steelhead using pink egg sacs, night crawlers and pink worms. Cattaraugus Creek was back to fishable with some great looking runs in the rapids. In the lake, some perch are being caught around 50 feet of water west of Cattaraugus Creek, but the bite is slow. Some perch also were reported off Myers Reef. The best is yet to come. In the meantime, Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla relieved some cabin fever by fishing the Small Boat Harbor off Buffalo to catch around 20 perch, keeping the biggest for a Friday fish fry. It’s starting.
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Capt. Jim Rores of Big Greek Charters fished over the weekend, and he had to work for any fish his crews boated. The best catch was a brown trout that was just under 14 pounds, caught on a spot tail shiner in Devil’s Hole by Steve Carpentar of Arkansas. Most guides have been recording between two and six fish a day, depending on the water clarity and the wind. It has been a mixed bag of steelhead and lake trout, with an occasional brown trout. Conditions were perfect Friday, and anglers did better, but as the run-off and snow melt contributed to murky conditions, it progressively got worse. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters reports that the river has been tough to fish of late. Some lakers have been biting in Devil's Hole. Some steelhead can be found in all drifts, but stained water is slowing the action. No one has reported being out in the lake yet. Cold, muddy river water pushing east down the shoreline has been the issue, and it has been too windy. We need a break from the wind, and things will get going. A mild winter isn't good for river fishing, and we need some sunshine, Yablonsky insists. In the gorge, Mike Ziehm and Mike Rzucidlo, both of Niagara Falls, worked their casting versatility using No. 5 spinners from shore. Chartreuse and white worked for Ziehm, casting his homemade spinners with water clarity that fluctuated from two feet to five feet above the power plant, where he was finding the most consistent action. It depended on the day as far as where and how he fished, adapting to the water conditions. Rzucidlo alternated between pearl tube jigs, KO Wobbler spoons and spinners.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Ron Bierstine with Oak Orchard Tackle reports that thanks to a few days of previous warmer temperatures with snowmelt, the tributaries are up, with nice flows. Given the time of the year and milder water temperatures, it should be a good trigger for fresh fish migrations. Flows in the Oak are slightly high, with a strong head of turbine water and no overflow water. Visibility is about 2 feet and slightly stained, but might color up some the rest of the week. Smaller tributaries east and west of the Oak have high flows with about 1 foot of visibility. Look for those waterways to turn and drop now and offer some good drifting chances. It can change quick. Wade Rowcliffe of Rochester hit Sandy Creek on Saturday when he saw flows through USGS were good. Starting at 2:30 p.m., and fishing until 5 p.m., he landed four or five browns and four or five steelhead. The next day, fishing with his buddy Dan Robinson of Leroy, they managed only one fish each. The creek was that dirty that quick. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that it is this time of year that "ice out" conditions bring fish into the tributaries. This only lasts on Lake Ontario tributaries for a few weeks to, maybe, a month. Steelhead tend to run in decent numbers during these snow melting events. When snow melts, the creek conditions change and create high water and turbid conditions, with water temperatures fluctuating towards colder temperatures. When the water is cold, fish your offering "low and slow." Roy Letcher of Burt reports that brown trout and lake trout have been showing up around the piers in Wilson and Olcott on Little Cleos and stickbaits. To catch a mixed bag of crappies, perch, pike and browns, target the harbor around the marinas and inside the piers. Minnows and jigs are working, too. At Burt Dam, look for steelhead and browns, with the occasional walleye on egg sacs, beads and jigs fished under a float.
Crappies have been running up the boat canals and small feeder creeks for a couple weeks now, reports Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors in Lakewood. They’re moving in and out based on the weather, so some days are good and some are slow. From reports, catches include a bunch of shorter fish up to 9 inches, with some larger fish mixed in. Just a reminder that the minimum crappie keeper length is 10 inches now. Use 1/32- and 1/16-ounce jigs under a fixed or slip bobber. Tubes, Mini Mites and Crappie Magnets are working. Emerald shiners and fathead minnows will work, as well. Anglers will catch yellow perch the same way, too.
Capt. John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports he was guiding lake trout Sunday on Cayuga Lake and caught fish. The report is still pretty much the same as last week, since the winter patterns don’t alter much until there is a warm-up. On Cayuga Lake, there is fair to good action for lake trout in 120 to 170 feet of water. Fish are still dormant, with limited bite windows. On jigs, plastics in white and chartreuse both worked on lake trout. On Seneca Lake, landlocked salmon fishing is good in the southern third of the lake. Stickbaits, jigs, swim-jigs and streamers all work well, according to Gaulke. On Keuka Lake, lake trout are scattered throughout the lake both deep and shallow. Use 1 1/2-ounce jigs in the deep water using white and chartreuse colors, as well as a darker smelt/alewife colors, which can be good. Tube jigs, blade baits and swim jigs work well for fish in less than 20 feet of water. Again, expect decent perch fishing throughout the region.
Ice fishing update
Vic Thibault of Newfane hit Lake of the Isles over the weekend and found the pike and bluegill bite great. He caught perch and bass, too. Minnows and wax worms were his bait of choice. There was more than a foot of ice.