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Fishing report: Tips to prepare for tributary, inland stream fishing

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landon noon olcott king salmon lake ontari

Landon Noon of Olcott caught this king while fishing out of Olcott in Lake Ontario.

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Saturday is a free fishing day as the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of National Hunting and Fishing Day. No one needs a license to fish on Saturday, but you must abide by the regulations for the body of water you fish. Stop by the Elma Conservation Club on Saturday or the NYPA Wildlife Festival on Saturday or Sunday for NHF Day.

Get ready for tributaries/inland streams

With astronomical fall arriving this week, rain and cold are set to filter into Western New York. Nick Sagnibene of 716 Fly Fishing says this should help kick off the fall season. This weather will bring the first push of fish to all the major tributaries. As of Tuesday, fish entering the river systems has been stagnant. The fish that pushed in during last week’s rain events are tired of the warm, low flows but help is on the way according to Sagnibene. With temperatures in the 50s expected, a good rain day or two will get things going. Cattaraugus Creek has been warm, hovering around 65-70 degrees. Fishing has been slow, but a few fish have been picked up on the Cattaraugus Reservation. The lower end will see the first push of fish once those temperatures decline. If clarity comes, try fishing the heads of the pools, right where the riffle enters. “Early season steelhead tend to sit in the faster water, waiting for their next opportunity to move up the streams,” Sagnibene said. “They are energy packed and healthy from the summer in the lake, and flow depending, we may see some fish make it to Gowanda by the end of next week.”

Eighteen Mile Creek and other small tributaries have very few fish now, but Sagnibene guarantees that once those water levels come up, we will see pods of fish making their way through the lower ends of the creeks. Some adults and jack steelhead should make their way up a majority of the main stem by the end of next week. A desired fly rod for lake run fishing would be a 10-foot, 7-weight rod matched with a 7/8 weight fly line. Make sure you have white and black streamer patterns, like a bunny leech or wooly buggers. These will get the aggressive fish to eat. If you’d like to nymph, egg patterns and standard nymphs in the feeding lanes will catch not-so-eager fish.

For inland trout fishing, once water levels begin to rise and cooler water temps stick around, large and mature brown trout will begin pre-spawn feeding. Some of Sagnibene’s favorite fishing occurs in high, off-colored water in the fall. Main tributaries like the upper Cattaraugus or Elton Creek become prime targets. Streamer fishing can be unbelievable during the right conditions. Big browns are aggressive and feisty, and a well-placed streamer will get their attention.

The next meeting of the WNY Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be at Orvis Buffalo, 4545 Transit Road, Clarence, from 7 to 9 p.m. Preregister at orvis.com/buffalo. Guest speaker will be James Markham, cold water biologist with the Lake Erie Fisheries Research Unit giving his State of the Steelhead presentation for Lake Erie.

Blizzard Bait and Tackle, located at 65 N. Main Street in Angola, will hold a “Fly Fest” on Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with Chuck Booker of Big Chinook1Fishing Tackle supplying fly-fishing needs for the fall. Holder of 58 line class records, Booker will have flies on hand for salmon, trout, steelhead and bass.

Lake Erie and tributaries

The perch bite has been steady around 60 to 75 feet of water according to Shub Stevens with Catt. Creek Bait and Tackle in Irving. Golden shiners and salted emeralds are working best for anglers. Walleye action is slowing. Of course, recent wind events haven’t helped matters. The best time to fish for walleyes has been late afternoon into the evening in 75-90 feet of water. Eye-Fish Colorado Harnesses are the ticket. Steelhead have started their run up Cattaraugus Creek. Many smaller jacks were caught at the Routes 5 and 20 bridge recently, as well as further upstream. Drifting egg sacs is catching a lot of fish according to Stevens. Catfish are very active overnight in 15 to 30 feet of water using cut bait and night crawlers. Stevens and some friends they landed 11 cats in a couple hours, the biggest at 25 pounds, over the weekend.

Steve Haak of South Wales did well on perch last Friday out of the Catt. He did a slow, methodical search with his electronics, stopping first in 48 feet of water and again in 55 feet. His third stop was the charm as he found a large school in 66 feet of water. He filled the cooler with perch using golden shiners. His electronics screen was solid all morning. Mark Dzimian of Lake View found perch off Sturgeon Point in less than 60 feet of water recently. He used golden shiners and a few small emeralds and found 10 perch in 57 feet. The scuttlebutt around the launch ramp was that some fish were in shallower depths – usually the case when compared with the Catt according to Dzimian. He will try a bit shallower next time the winds allow him.

Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla went searching off Cattaraugus Creek for walleyes, finding plenty of marks in 65 feet of water on his electronics but he could not get them to bite. Using a 3-way sinker rig, he caught one fish before he moved to 90 feet of water west of Silver Creek. Fish were stacked between 65 and 80 feet down so he put out his diver and lead core rods. The diver produced a couple fish, and he replaced the lead core with another diver. He ended up with five walleyes and a big perch. He reported that a friend had worked Myers Reef and boxed a limit of walleyes the same day.

Brodnicki wins TBF Tournament

Brad Brodnicki of Buffalo came from behind last weekend to win the Bass Federation District 14 National Semifinal Championship held on Lake Erie out of Presque Isle, Pa., and qualify for nationals. Find out how he did it Sunday on the outdoors page for The Buffalo News.

Niagara River

Salmon are being caught in the lower river, but it’s a little sporadic according to Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls. He has caught a couple from shore, but he has been losing more than he is catching due to their feisty attitude and size. They appear to prefer oxygenated water. Ziehm has been using chartreuse spinners, but red also works on occasion. Water has been clear with 6-plus feet of visibility. As waters continue to cool, there should be a decent run of fish making their way up the river soon. A few salmon and walleye are being caught at the NYPA Fishing Platform. Use blade baits for walleye, jigging spoons and skein for salmon. Walleye and bass are cooperating on the Niagara Bar and around Fort Niagara according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Tackle. She noted that one angler caught a 23-pound salmon from his kayak while fishing near Joe Davis State Park.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

The warm weather isn’t helping staging fish. Eighteen Mile Creek, the Oak and Sandy Creek are receiving assistance from water releases in the Erie Canal. The big news is that the water release program is no longer a pilot program. Some salmon and brown trout are being caught off the piers in Wilson and Olcott, but it seems only at night. In the harbor, bass, carp and dogfish are being caught on a variety of baits. Lake action has been tough with recent winds. The most stable water is out deep, but only if you can get there. The inshore bite is early in the morning. Staging salmon are being taken off the Oak Orchard in 40 to 60 feet of water but timing is critical, says Capt. Jonathan Ross of Route 18 Tackle. You need to be on the water before the sun rises with flasher-fly combos, meat rigs, J-plugs and glow spoons. Some males are being caught directly north of the piers early morning or at dusk into the night. Casting glow spoons at the pier heads can be fun. The Oak Orchard River Brawl began Tuesday and runs through Oct. 30. Prizes for the biggest salmon include $500 for first, $300 for second and $200 for third. Sign up at Route 18 Tackle, 4447 Roosevelt Highway, Holley. For more information, call 585-615-0229. Ron Bierstine with Oak Orchard Tackle reports that better tributary flows from rain and canal releases will encourage more salmon and trout migrations into the creek. There have been reports of brown trout being caught at the river mouth and upstream at the dam. He caught a king salmon at the river mouth early morning at the Oak.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye picked up some last week according to Capt. Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. It is still hit or miss, but there were a couple days when there was some nice fish jigging on the north basin. Fish are scattered and moving around so you keep searching. The best depth has been 20 feet of water while vertical jigging off the points. The fish should start bunching on the edges of the deeper holes soon. Lures like No. 7 and No. 9 jigging Rapalas are working. The musky casting bite is showing signs of improvement. Sperry is hearing good reports on musky, with anglers casting weed lines on the north basin. Leo Jerkbaits, and Suicks cast tight to weeds, and deep diving crankbaits cast parallel to weed lines are working. Many fishermen target perch this time of year. Jigging spoons and fathead minnows seem to be the most popular tactics. You must sort through a lot of smaller fish to get bigger fish.

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