For most anglers, the steady fishing of local tributary’s puts a fix on a long awaited journey for the fall Trout Season. WNY Fishing Adventures, alike many other Great Lakes Anglers, tend to extend our boundaries in anticipation of the worlds best Steelhead waters, the ‘Mighty Lower Niagara River‘. If your not familiar with “Devils Hole“, “Art Park“, or the “Coast Guard Drift“, then chances are you haven’t been exposed to this excellent and abundant fishery.
The Lower Niagara River is a very touchy waterway regarding Trout and Steelhead. Many anglers don’t take into consideration certain determinants while planning that next outing. These determinants consist of water temperature, clarity, and outflow from the Power Authority Dam’s up-stream. If your in the hunt for phenomenal angling action, let me point a couple of things out to you regarding the ‘Mighty Lower Niagara’.
First and Foremost, Trout season will not begin until the conclusion of the King Salmon Run. ‘Kings’ will typically run for spawning grounds when water temperatures range from upper the 60’s to the lower 50’s. The time of year varies from late August until mid to late October, with extreme variances depending on seasonal weather patterns. Brown Trout and Lake Trout will be the first species to make their presence known in the Lower River as they immediately proceed the King Salmon. Often times Brown Trout and Lake Trout are found in the mix with running Salmon. Once the ‘Lakers’ and ‘Browns’ are in abundance, the next major determinant will be the water temperatures on Lake Erie. Temperature plays a vital role in whether Steelhead will start their run or stay put until temperatures permit a healthy oxygen for them to flourish. Over the years, the Lake Erie Water Temperature we have found to trigger this run seems to hover around 49 degrees. This usually occurs in the first or second week in November, but may vary depending on weather patterns. Once this cold water is in place, all trout species become activated for a winter long festival of angling opportunity.
As the Editor of WNY Fishing Adventures, I wouldn’t be fulfilling my duties if i did not state the best location for catching trophy Steelhead, monster Lake Trout, and Busting Brown Trout. Fishing aboard “The Big Guy”, which is the Charter Boat for WNY Fishing Adventure’s, always seems to be the sweet spot.
If your not so fortunate to come spend a day with us and are more hands on, there are many areas to access prime fishing real estate from land. Starting with Devil’s Hole State Park and working your way downstream, you will tend to find certain ‘Niche’ spots that produce regularly. Devil’s Hole has a pier that was built many years ago by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, commonly known as the NYSDEC. This platform is located at the foot of the American Power plant on the shores of Devil’s Hole. If the shoulder-to-shoulder fishing isn’t your style, then dare yourself to walk through the state park, and down the treacherous steps leading to the rivers bank. Although this is a daunting task, the rewards out-weigh the risks. Other spots to gain access to great shore angling will be found below Art Park in Lewiston New York. There is general parking in the lot designated for “Art Park”, sometimes having to pay the park fee, but follow the dirt trails to the rivers bank. Anywhere along this stretch of river is superb angling. For a detailed article regarding the Lower River and Devil’s Hole, click on ESPN.
What to Use and How?
Depending on water clarity, rigs will range from 3-way’s with many different baits, spinners, fly’s, or even casting spoons. Whichever method you choose, 3-way rigs tend to take the cake for these explosive fighters. Your rod should be a decent length between 9-13 feet with a very flexible tip for bottom bouncing the rig. Line is a very important feature when dealing with certain types of water clarity. The better visibility the smaller the baits, thin line, and less weight. Fluorocarbon leaders are typically the number one choice when it comes to settling for a flawless presentation. Anglers who are in-experienced with bottom bouncing 3-way rigs aught to know that snagging is a major issue and it will happen. Bring plenty of flexible pencil weights all ranging from 0.5-1.5 ounces. Based on water outflow from the power authority, the quicker the current the more weight you will need to sustain bottom.
As a die-hard angler and conservationist, it makes more sense to learn from the experts at WNY Fishing Adventures. If your interested in doing a “Drift N Fish” boat trip, or simply a casting trip from land, either way the information and lessons to be learned are priceless.
If your interested in booking your fall or winter Steelhead extravaganza in the Mighty Lower Niagara River, please contact either Captain Ryan Thomas or Co-Captain Justin Wekenmann. Remember a phone call is all that separates you from a WNY Fishing Adventure!
Article Written by Justin A. Wekenmann
Editor of WNY Fishing Adventures
Anglers all throughout the Great Lakes region truly wait for that special time of year with pure anticipation, Salmon Season. Western New York’s King Salmon fishery is one of the most abundant in the world. Lake Ontario waters on average produce fish within the 15 to 20 pound range, with the occasional 30 to 40 pound ‘lunker’.
WNY Fishing Adventures has a perfected method when it comes to scouting, finding, presenting, and catching these fresh water monsters. Throughout the fall, the lowering temperatures and sudden exhale of colder Lake Ontario waters, generates a feeding frenzy for those ‘staging’ King Salmon. Lake Ontario King Salmon are among the most popular game fish in all of the world.
On a daily basis people ask, “Where do we go, what do we use, and most of all when”? WNY Fishing Adventures will keep it simple while not revealing all our secrets in one “Splash”. The time of year occurs when water temperatures start to fall from the mid 60’s through the lower 50’s. Lake Ontario waters are known to up-well early in the fall, say August or early September, which permits a pre-mature run of King Salmon. If you can hit this particular day, or stretch of days, there is nothing like fishing in shorts and T-shirts catching the falls’ pride of fish, the ‘King’.
The best times will be in the early morning or late evenings. There really is not a desirable time for salmon as feeding is typically induced by the abundance of schooling bait fish. Baitfish will appear when tides, currents, and winds are all working to bring fish closer to tributary heads. There have been times of casting for hours with no result, then 2am strikes and 5 fish are landed. Locations to access fish include anywhere there is a pier, or of course by boat. If your fishing from boat, stay shallow and anchor at times, while casting. From land, The Olcott Pier is heavily fished this time of year and for good reason. It is not uncommon to hook up numerous times on one outing. Olcott Harbor’s Live Web-Cam will give you a streaming feed of the pier so you can check conditions before making the trip. If your not into fishing from a Pier or a Boat, try out the NYS DEC location at Burt Dam.
Popular Baits range from 5-dot Little Cleos, to any kind of Quikfish, Spoon, Thunderstick, KO-Wobbler, or even Spinner rigs. Most popular colors will be Orange, Fire-Tiger, or Chartreuse. WNY Fishing Adventures will recommend using a medium action rod, approximately 10 foot in length, and a reel that can hold at least 250 yards of line. Pflueger, Shimano, and Diawa all make a solid series of medium to heavy action reels that will be durable enough for a ‘Screaming King’. One point of the wise: in choosing the correct rod you’ll want to make sure that it’s flexible enough to cast a good 100 yards. The stiffer the rod the stiffer your shoulder becomes, then casting becomes a lost cause.
The ultimate fishing occurs out in the lake for fresh run Salmon. A great night of fishing will conclude with 5-10 Kings Landed and many others that simply got away. If your in the hunt for a ‘King Salmon’ to land on your wall, please contact Captain Ryan Thomas of WNY Fishing Adventures for time Slots.
Article Written by Justin A. Wekenmann
Editor of WNY Fishing Adventures
For all anglers alike, every day begins with butterflies stirring within your stomach and the feeling of an unknown catch that lurks. So many times we over look the simple pleasures in life that not everyone has, or seems to enjoy. WNY Fishing Adventures had the rare and amazing opportunity to shed its knowledge and expertise with a young dedicated angler whose battled through many unknowns just to land her first fish.
I’m speaking of an 8 year old girl from Amherst NY, Madison Eberhard, fathered by Mike and Julie Eberhard. Madison has an extremely rare disease called Larsen’s Syndrome, which affects less than 100,000 children of America’s general population. This syndrome is caused from a genetic mutation that prevents the newly conceived baby from forming normal body joints. From the time a new born arrives, these infants already face tough odds with simple locomotion and bodily functions. Madison’s condition was very severe in her early stages of life. She has worn a cast more than 50 times and has endured 8 surgeries in just her short life. In addition, Madison was limited to a full body cast at the age of 1 for a total of four months. With only simple hand and arm mobility, this “Tough Gem” was able to fight through and defy all statistical odds to become a beautiful young lady who now is as mobile as the next person. To the good will and the huge hearts of her parents, Mike Eberhard and Julie Eberhard, they really faced the wall and managed to fight through to make this childs life a success! Madison still must wear full leg braces at all times, but i promise you it doesn’t take away from her beautiful smile, die-hard personality, and her passion for fishing!
Western New York Fishing Adventures has grown close to the Eberhard family over the last couple years and could not resist the opportunity to take Madison and her father Mike on a fishing trip. Upon receiving the phone call from Mike early Friday morning, we were excited to have this once in a lifetime fishing adventure.
Due to Madison’s condition, she has never been able to sustain long boating trips. Through her tough mentality and strong will she was able to not only endure a 6 hour fishing trip, but loved every second of it. Madison showed her true passion for fishing and also gave the WNY Fishing Adventures crew a taste of endurance.
Launching from the docks of Cattaraugus Creek, the weather broke, the sun was shining, and smiles of anticipation were already filtering the 8 year old girl. Madison asked question, upon question, upon question, of what’s this? How does that work? Why do we do this? It truly was special to share information and teach her the simple things us fisherman take for granite. It just goes to show no matter the age, the mind is a very powerful tool. Madison learned so much that I’m fairly certain she will be able to identify any bait fish school, large fish echo, or bottom rock piles that show on any depth finder she views for the rest of her life, watch out fisherman captains!
The winds for the day were very un-favorable for an epic adventure while coming out of the North-North East, but that theory of “East is the least and West is the Best” was short lived. Within 15 minutes of our first drift, the young lady hooked into what we all suspected was a decent size bass. As she reeled and reeled, out came a double header rock bass. WNY Fishing Adventures has been fishing for 27 years, never once have i seen a double header rock bass caught in 25 foot depths off sunset. Quickly we began to see this day was going to be action packed with lots of fish.
As the trip went on and after catching a couple “Tiger Gobies”, we decided on moving locations to an area we had discovered with large perch schools from the previous two days. On the way there we trolled a couple of Hot-N-Tots for trophy Smallmouth Bass. It didn’t take but five minutes, and a special poem Mike wrote, before line ripped from one of the reels and Madison was behind the fight of a trophy Smallmouth Bass. I had the pleasure of holding the rod while Madison worked the reel. I must admit for an 8 year old she was amazing. After a good 5 minute battle, Ryan Thomas grabs the net and curls the fish out of the water. Everyone on-board burst out with a roar of excitement and accomplishment, Madison’s first Smallmouth Bass (Video below). To watch Madison hold her first Smallmouth Bass and take a photo truly was rewarding in itself. The fish measured just over 20″ and was 4 pounds and 3 ounces. Great Job Madison!
Madison’s First Smallmouth Bass Showcase
After a little break in the action, we set up shop on our Perch grounds. This gave Madison another chance to show off her patience and angling ability by out-fishing all of us grown adults. I must say watching her sit in the chair waiting for a bite really brought back memories of my fishing experiences as a child, many of which i will never forget. Madison was able to catch perch after perch, impressively hooking and reeling them in all on her lonesome.
As the day progressed, the sky turned gray and we decided to do a slow troll back to the dock. Along the way we added 5 more Smallmouth and one Walleye that was missed. At the end of the day we had 22 jumbo Perch, 6 Smallmouth Bass, 1 missed Walleye, and memories that couldn’t full-fill us more.
From the crew of “The Big Guy” and Western New York Fishing Adventures, Ryan Thomas and Justin Wekenmann, we would like to say thank you to the Eberhard’s for memories that will never ever be forgotten, and also a story that our fans, friends, and family will never pass by. Madison will always be a first mate on our boat as long as it’s floating.
Our last message to all you anglers…Please take a child fishing and give them a chance to have the same experience Madison did.
Written By: Justin Wekenmann
Editor of WNY Fishing Adventures
Suddenly summer-like heat replaces high winds as an angler’s concern when prepping for Memorial Day Weekend outings.
Spawning cycles move up, lure selection varies to items that either hug bottom for good contact or suspend well to tease/annoy feeding predators. Water temperatures rise much more slowly than air readings. Fish metabolism alters to adjust to warming waters, but they still tend to strike at easy, slow-moving targets until waters reach max/average summer readings.
Warming waters have the night walleye bite active but nearing an end. Trollers hit into ‘eye schools at varying times of the evening — sometimes at sunset, often closer to midnight.
Active hitting depths have been deeper this past week. Since the opener, boaters had been holding inside 10-foot depths for the best bite. Now, the few that pull a limit catch say they picked up their fish at depths of 10-15 feet. Expect boat traffic and work lines to maximize hits and avoid tangles with fellow long-liners.
Perch numbers remain down with a slight comeback spike seen Monday morning. Boaters still do best — for both seeing fish on the sonar screen and hooking fish — at depths of 50 feet plus.
With water temperatures wobbling above and below 60 degrees, smallmouth bass have settled to rocky bottoms for their annual spawning cycle. A few nice smallies showed along rocky drop-offs at depths of 15-25 feet. But the big moves for the bronze-back bite may be a week or more away.
DEC aquatic biologists caution anglers to avoid fishing around known sturgeon spawning areas. Certain bottom areas around breakwaters in Buffalo Harbor are now known for sturgeon spawning activity.
Lt. Frank Lauricella, with the Region 9 DEC office in Buffalo, reminds anglers to try to stay away from sturgeon sites. “Anglers are in violation when targeting any fish that is listed as an endangered species,” Lauricella said of the Buffalo Harbor resurgence of lake sturgeon.
Lower river boaters began seeing the first blooms of moss this past week. Lines have yet to gunk up beyond use, but at times lures come up with slime. Perch schools handle floating and suspended moss well as they move along the shoreline.
Boaters see schooling ringbacks and shore casters can connect better with perch than bass or trout right now.
Trollers have done best on lake trout along western basin waters of Lake Ontario. Despite the sudden rise in temperatures, most good numbers of both trout and salmon come from depths of 50-100 feet.
“They’re setting up deeper,” said Sharon Narburgh at Narby’s Superette in Kent, of trollers working out of Oak Orchard Creek. Most rigs connect at depths of 50-80 feet, with spoons starting to take over near-shore trolling. Silver, in combination with a color on the front or back, gets attention.
Out deeper, the Spin Doctor, a flasher/rotator device set ahead of a lure, draws in salmonids and takes the most strikes.
The salmon run has slowed, but charter folk out of several ports along the entire Ontario shoreline report fair to good numbers of Atlantic Salmon. Atlantics show up in clusters.
The best numbers have shown around the Niagara Bar, with nice spurts of these plucky salmon east of the bar. The New York State length limit is set at 25 inches, and many that have been hitting measure close to the 30-inch mark.
Chautauqua Lake — The night walleye bite has slowed, but dayside casters go with jigs and trollers run worm harnesses in the warmer waters of the South Basin from Bemus Point to Jamestown.
Bass (smallmouth and largemouth) and perch are everywhere. Crappie anglers have to adjust floats and slip bobbers to stay high enough off bottom to attract panfish such as crappie, blue gills, and sunfish/pumpkinseeds. Look for a detailed column on Chautauqua Lake panfishing on the Sunday Outdoors Page.
Silver Lake — The panfish bite is nice, but northern pike get the most mention out of Mack’s Boat Livery at the southeast corner of the lake. Bluegills and sunnies are spawning along weed edges. Pike are on the feed along shoreline shallows.
Honeoye Lake — Bigger bluegill set up at 8-10-foot depths lakewide. Bugs, grubs, or a short segment of nightcrawler can feed hungry ‘gills. At times, just an annoying presence can trigger bigger bluegills, sunfish, and other shoreline spawning species.
Wherever you fish this weekend, watch for crowds, work the midday periods for warm-water species and have an enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend.
NEWS OUTDOORS REPORTER
Published: May 12, 2010, 12:06 am
Anglers keep a sharper eye on wind speeds and directions than spots that might be hot for fishing.
High winds lowered the number of days Lake Ontario Counties Derby entrants could get on the water. Despite frequent winds with a few flurries one day, LOC winners posted impressive catch sizes in all five divisions. A detailed column on derby doings will appear Sunday on the Outdoors Page.
Perch schools in Lake Erie and salmonids in Lake Ontario move under hefty wave action that has hindered boating action on both Great Lakes since Monday. A surprising lull in breezes Sunday allowed for some good outings, especially for LOC Derby entrants.
With water temperatures some five to 10 degrees above average on Great Lakes, on inland lakes, and on larger rivers and streams, the fishing calendar continues to move ahead of typical mid-spring moves right now.
Post-spawn fish and incoming feeders show at sites more typical of Memorial Day than Mother’s Day weekend outings.
All major access sites will be open by this weekend. Erie Basin Marina opens each year on May 1. Buffalo Small Boat Harbor usually begins on May 15. This year, NFTA officials had everything set for a May 1 opening.
Sturgeon Point Marina suffered setbacks with sand removal gear and nasty weather most work days. But Pat Conrad, marina supervisor, announced that all facilities (slip rental, parking, and launch usage) will be officially open on Saturday.
The night walleye bite has been spotty for trollers out of Buffalo and along the Hamburg shoreline. Some boaters box two or three. Best catch mentioned has been five. Like the night trollers along the Lake Ontario shoreline, the best sizes and numbers have come late at night, with 2 a.m. getting the most mention.
Dayside boat runs have been brief forays between wind gusts. The last good report of open-water perch schooling has been 50- to 55-foot depths slightly east of Cattaraugus Creek. Schools move. Boaters must decide whether to hold in an area where schools cruise or do the sonar-read, jump-and-stump ride in search of better perch.
Last ringback successes included a growing number of smaller perch. After setting the hook on a “shaker” (too small to keep) reel up slowly from those 50-foot depths so the fish stands a better chance of recouping and getting back to the bottom.
Bass, the mainstay for most recreational anglers as well as the tourney tribe, have shown well, when waters clear over reefs between Eighteen Mile Creek and Buffalo Harbor.
DEC officials caution anglers to be watchful in coming weeks and avoid hooking sturgeon that have taken up spawning areas around gaps along the Buffalo Harbor breakwater. Sturgeon, deemed a threatened species, cannot be sought while fishing and must be released when caught. Officials suggest removing hooks while the sturgeon is in the water and not lifting the fish by its gill covers or other means vertically.
Best bite so far in this cold, wind-swept period has been bullhead at night.
Lower river boaters get some steelies and too many smallmouth bass on drifts in Devils Hole and down current.
Shore casters saw the end of the smelt run and a slowing in the perch bite this past week. Weather has also slowed the lake trout bite on the Niagara Bar. LOC Derby entrants did well around and off the Niagara Bar, but bitter-cold breezes have cooled angler effort-not fish presence-off the bar.
Wicked winds kept most boaters on or near shore, but trollers can do well over depths of less than 100 feet out of all the major ports: Youngstown, Wilson Harbor, Olcott Harbor, and Oak Orchard Creek.
The Spin Doctor lure has had major mention among derby entrants, charter folk, and recreational anglers. This fish-shaped trolling device, in 8- and 10-inch sizes set ahead of a rig fly, give the right action for the lake’s incoming trout and salmon forays.
Shoreline bays, harbors, and creek mouths account for fair perch numbers and the bullhead bite remains solid. Irondequoit Bay has seen a good run or keeper-sized northern pike.
Trout stocking sites
Last week’s Randolph Hatchery entries were incorrectly taken from a May 2009 listing. Here are the sites and species count hatchery personnel have stocked this week in time for weekend angling:
Allegany County-Dyke Creek (Andover) 670 yearling brown trout; Cryder Creek (Independence) 920 brown trout; Little Genesee Creek (Bolivar) 1,250 yearling brown trout; California Brook (Bolivar) 250 yearling brown trout; and Dodge Creek (Clarksville).
Cattaraugus County-Great Valley Creek (Great Valley) 750 yearling brown trout; Forks Creek (Great Valley) Red House Lake (Red House) 620 yearling brown trout; and Quaker Lake (Elko) 3,500 9-inch brown trout.
Seasons open for walleye, northern pike, chain pickerel and tiger muskellunge at midnight Friday.
Weekend forecasts are for air temperatures in the 70s, but a check of good fishing spots along the Southern Tier on Tuesday morning resulted in more reports of snow than fish catches.
Cold fronts confronted anglers from Chautauqua Lake to Seneca Lake, but prospects looked fair to good for the ’eye opener and for pike prospects along bait-filled weed edges.
The smelt run has peaked. Dippers still do well at times, but buckets fill more slowly than in previous weeks.
The shoreline perch bite has been good; drifters have a fair shot at steelies.
Friday marks the start of the LOC Derby (loc.org) and next Friday evening (May 7) is the Niagara River Anglers Association’s Annual Smelt Dip and Fry at Lewiston Landing as part of the Village of Lewiston’s Smelt Festival (May 7 and 8).
Scattered perch reports came in before the recent high winds, including a couple of good trips off Dunkirk Harbor. Perchers await better (lower) wave activity for their outings. The walleye opener might prove more promising on inland lakes.
Lake trout offer the most action among LOC Derby Division species now. Trollers have been working 50-to 80-foot depths west of Olcott Harbor to and past Wilson Harbor. An occasional king salmon moves in between the laker takers.
That brown trout shoreline run continues from the Niagara River to well past Sodus Bay, with a fair number of Atlantic salmon hitting the shallow brown rigs. The shoreline panfish bite has been spotty. Perch have been up and down in size and numbers with the recent hot-and-cold weather movements.
Among panfish species along Lake Ontario and other stream and shoreline areas, the bullhead bite holds best. While most casters and boaters rig up for the coming walleye and pike season, fair to filled buckets of bullhead are still a promising option.
Chautauqua Lake—Perch continue as a go-to fillet source, but the crappie bite slowed this past week. Crappie moved out of the canals last week and few boaters have connected so far.
Brian Green at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle in Ashville noted Tuesday morning that high winds have kept boaters off the lake of late, but he sees the walleye opener on Saturday as looking good. Predictions of warm weather and fewer rain prospects could put good numbers of anglers on the lake this weekend.
Silver Lake—Cold fronts and bitter winds slowed fishing activity earlier this week. The night bullhead bite continues, but dayside panfishing has been so-so.
Prospects for a warmer weekend could boost bite odds in time for the Old Orchard Beach Fishing Club’s Walleye and Northern Pike Contest staged from the state launch at the southwest corner of the lake Saturday. Registrations can be made that morning. For details, call (585) 356-3418.
Honeoye Lake—Crappie shallow and perch deeper have kept panfishing anglers active. The bluegill bite remains slight, but minnows sent into the shallows or along deeper drop-offs connect on fair numbers of crappie and ringbacks.
Seneca Lake—The better perch bite has been at and well south of Dresden so far this spring season, says Larry Japp at Roy’s Marina south of Geneva on Route 14.
The monster sunfish presence just began showing and lake trout trollers do well with flutter spoons at 160-foot depths off Glass Factory Bay. But the solid perch numbers have yet to show around north-end hot spots between Geneva and Sampson State Park and north of Dresden.
Randolph Hatchery personnel have stocked trout at the following sites this week in time for weekend angling:
• Allegany County—Genesee River (Amity) 3,920 yearling brown trout and 350 2-year-old brown trout; Genesee River (Wellsville), 850 yearling browns, 450 2-year-old browns, and 2,040 rainbow trout.
• Steuben County—Keuka Lake (Urbana) 7,830 9-inch brown trout.
• Tompkins County—Cayuga Lake (Town of Ithaca) 9,690 9-inch brown trout.
Commonly known as “Footballs” Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass have topped the charts as one of the most active game fish in the Western New York region. An average day of fishing may land upwards of 30 Smallmouth Bass, with an average weight of 2+ pounds each. Typically, Smallmouth Bass will not become active until spring water temperatures reach the mid-50’s. Lake Erie, known for cold spring waters and ice flows, will generally hit this range in early May.
Targeting specific areas like rock piles in depth gradients from 25 feet up to 10 feet are generally a good place to start fishing. Most successes will come from live creek chubs, drifted over these structure points with a Three-Way Rig and lead weight. Other methods include Drop-Shotting, Tube Jigs, and any Berkley Power Grubs.
As local angler Ryan Thomas discovered, landing a 5 pound Smallmouth Bass is not only exciting but very challenging. “The fish really bulldog and try to keep you on the bottom, but every once and a while an acrobatic jump will come forth”. Ryan landed his first Smallmouth Bass of the year which was short and stocky measuring at 20 inches, but had weight topping the 5 pound mark.
If trophy Smallmouth Bass fishing tops your list of action packed fishing trips, give Captain Ryan Thomas a call and ask him how he can help you get into a “Football”.
Updated: April 13, 2010, 11:00 pm
Published: April 13, 2010, 11:00 pm
Anglers mainly sit on Perch or Bullheads and dip into runs of rainbow smelt as the calendar approaches the Ides of April.
Mid-April activity abounds in above-average air and water temperatures. Along with Yellow Perch and smelt, put-and-take hatchery-stocked trout, continued runs of rainbow/steelhead trout in Great Lakes feeder streams, panfish prospects (especially crappie concentrations), and a bigger bluegill bite have fishing folk casting in all directions.
Weekend anglers might have to contend with rain-swollen streams and clouded, damp days. But warmer waters and overcast skies could bring on a good bite. That feeding foray should peak during the afternoon and evening hours, according to Solar-Lunar Table tabulations.
Access becomes a greater issue than angling approaches between Buffalo and Barcelona.
Boaters took their last trips in and out of Sturgeon Point Marina on Monday, with some nice numbers of perch coming from 50-foot depths off the point. Dredging work began Tuesday and the marina will remain closed to boat launching until May 15.
At Cattaraugus Creek, the Town of Hanover launch site is not open. Hidden Harbor and the state ramp near the breakwater are open to launching, but side docks had not been installed as of Tuesday.
Boaters mainly head east to prospect for perch schooling in the Evangola State Park area. Some splinter schools show at 32- to 40-foot depths, but 50-55 feet usually produces best throughout the day. Live bait remains liveliest for perch numbers.
Feeder streams continue to draw steelies. Warming waters have also brought in bass, but small spurts of smaller, silver (fresh) steelies have been heading upstream as far as Gowanda and Springville in Cattaraugus Creek.
Bill’s hooks still sharp
With the passing of Bill Begier, anglers have wondered if his Bill’s Hooks would remain open. The bait and tackle shop west of Dunkirk has been a reliable source of gear for all types of area angling.
Gerri Begier, Bill’s wife and partner in the shop, said, “I’ve been mainly running the business the past couple years as he became increasingly ill and will continue with the same products and services we provided in the past.”
Add Atlantic salmon and a few good coho to the shoreline brown trout run. Shallow-water trollers run side planers and long lines from the mouth of the Niagara River to well past Oak Orchard Creek to the east for a mix of trout and salmon feeding shallow.
“Most guys never go deeper than 10 feet,” said Wes Walker at Slippery Sinker about the shoreline run. He added, “Lake trout have moved into 40- to 60-foot depths off Olcott Harbor. The first king salmon took a hook in 12-foot waters off Olcott this week.”
Sharon Narburgh at the bait shop at Narby’s Superette in Kent gets good reports of crappies schooling in Lake Alice above Waterport Dam. Below the dam, a few good steelies have been sticking it out.
The perch run has been good for numbers but mixed for sizes. Wilson, Olcott, Oak Orchard, Braddock Bay, Long Pond, Irondequoit Bay and Sodus Bay all offer good perch numbers. Deeper water and bait-school movement usually brings on the bigger boys.
At Irondequoit Bay, a bullhead run — both day and night — has drawn more casts than ringbacks recently.
Lower Niagara River
“Sometimes they’re so thick you’d think you could walk on them,” said Nick Custodi at Village Hardware in Lewiston of the rainbow smelt run at night in the lower river.
Custodi got reports of smelt along shore as early as April 1, but the heavy run has been on this past week. The Annual Smelt Dip and Fry at Lewiston is set for May 1.
Chautauqua Lake: The crappie bite is still better at night, but a few day spots have been hot. The bay at the west side of Bemus Point has drawn the most boats. Shore casters have done well at Lakewood, Ashville Bay and Mayville.
Silver Lake: Crappie schools hold in channels. Boat traffic has been slow so far, says Frank Malone at Mack’s Boat Livery. But the bullhead run is solid, he added.
Conesus Lake: Bullheads and big sunfish beat out perch for both sizes and numbers. The north basin, east and west of Vitali Park, has been good.
Honeoye Lake: A few ‘gills lakewide and a fair crappie bite at the southwest corner and along the northeast strip above and below Trident Marina have been ongoing since April Fools’ Day.
For those of you who sit and wonder, waiting, and anticipating the fishing trip of a life time, i can only ask you why? For two local anglers, who refuse to be deterred by cold weather, found out why WNY Fishing Adventures boasts so much about Early Season Catfishing…becuase it really is worth every frozen bone. Local anglers Craig Douglas and Brett Bechtold, both residing out of Western New York, landed their very first Channel Catfish on the night of April 14th, 2010.
Both, Craig and Brett, have only had prior experiences with Bullhead and some limited creek fishing from shore. After stepping foot on the Lund, you could tell both were just filled with anticipation and hopes of a trophy Channel Catfish.
It would take a little longer than expected, but after moving from the first location it was time to hit the “honey holes”. Captain Ryan Thomas quickly arranged the boat into its position setting four rods off the port side of the boat. Using a Carolina rig, with a 3/4 ounce sinker, and a Gamakatsu circle hook topped with a secret sauce of cut-bait, it didn’t take long before the first monster was hooked. First up was Brett Bechtold, and after a subtle strike the circle hook did its job. The first catfish of the evening was about 36″ and weighing right at 20.0 pounds. (Pictured Below)
Understanding the history between Brett and Craig, one could say they are definitely competitive and rather sparing of one another (note the sarcasm). Craig took some anguish and punishment from his fellow fisherman, but only to have the last laugh by fishings end. A short time after the initial fish was landed, a series of strikes resulted in the second hook up of the day. This time it was Craig’s turn to “stick his rump in the air” and show off his catch to Brett. Landing his first ever Channel Catfish measuring 37″ and a hair over 20.0 pounds, Craig’s smile tells a thousand storys of Joy, and claims him victory between the two anglers. (Pictured below)
As the night progressed, chilly temperatures took its affect and calmed the bite to nothing. By the time we headed to shore, 4 Channel Catfish were landed totaling almost 60 pounds together. More than anything it was meaningful to send Craig and Brett home with thier own personal Video showing their first catches of channel catfish. It was truly a pleasurable experience hosting Craig and Brett, but more importantly they got just a glimpse of WNY Fishing Adventures!
WNY Fishing Adventures, Ryan Thomas, and Justin Wekenmann would like to thank both Craig Douglas and Brett Bechtold for an exciting and informational night on the waters of Western New York!
By Will Elliott
News Outdoors Reporter
April 07, 2010, 3:08 am
Bass moving into trout-filled feeder streams, the bullhead bite at its peak, smelt running nose to nose in the lower Niagara River, perch schooling deep on Great Lakes and in many inland lakes waters.
Warming temperatures and more direct sunlight have pushed ahead activity listings on the Western New York fish-catching calendar. Trout still run streams, bullhead still hold in the shallows, and panfish steadily increase their pre-spawning pursuits. But the action has sped up and anglers have to get the jump on fish movements that normally don’t show for until a week or two later in the spring season — usually.
Lower Niagara River
Rainbow smelt in the lower river offer one usual run that appears about this time of year or possibly a week or two later. Water temperatures at and above 40 degrees have moved smelt closer to shore; so close that shore dippers not only do well just after dark but sometimes during overcast periods in the day.
Smelt dippers have been active along the Lewiston/Artpark section of the New York side of the river and along the sand docks on the Ontario shoreline.
With all the bait movement, drifters have done fairly well with steelhead trout in the river. The Niagara Bar can be hot or cold, depending on winds and waves, but the river’s shoreline structures hold a steady stream of steelies.
Steelies drifts vary — nothing one day and a dozen the next. Egg sacks hitting bottom get the hits. Smelt dippers keep checking nightly, but the shoreline run has not begun.
The Power Authority fishing platform and Lewiston Reservoir opened on April 1.xleg
Second to the river’s smelt this week has to be the crappie run on Chautauqua. Waters heated to 48 before the weekend record temperatures, and crappie began schooling heavily in channels and canals around the lake.
Experts see an early school movement to open water if this heat continues. Boaters could have a shot at crappie (calicos) in the shallows this weekend. If not, the run of larger perch is everywhere. Boaters can see perch schools working bottoms in 4-5 feet.
The deep-water perch fishery perked up off Sturgeon Point last week, but that access site may close before the weekend. Pat Conrad, marina manager, awaits a part needed to begin dredging the launch site. “Once sand removal begins, the marina will be closed to launching until the official opening date of May 15,” Conrad said. Check before heading to Sturgeon this weekend.
The state launch and Hidden Harbor on Cattaraugus Creek have ramps open.
Perch prospects, before the big weekend blow, had been better off Sturgeon Point, with a few caught east of the Cattaraugus Creek mouth. Boaters have yet to test waters off Dunkirk Harbor for perch.
Feeder streams have been mixed but productive. Smaller feeders have seen as many smallmouth bass as trout moving upstream during the past week of record air temps.
Cattaraugus Creek can be good from the breakwater at the mouth to just below Springville Dam. Stocked feeders, flowing into the Catt (cq), and lake-run arrivals have made for some nice trout movement.xleg
The shoreline trolling take continues. Trout, mainly browns with an occasional laker, cruise the shore for incoming smelt and other baitfish in the shallows. A long line with a short minnow bait (Jr. Thundersticks, Rapalas, etc.) for terminal tackle can get bit with regularity from the mouth of the Niagara River to well east of Oak Orchard Point.
Panfishing continues to pick up. Perch in the shallows from Wilson Harbor to Irondequoit Bay have begun running deeper, with runts closer to shore and the better ringbacks running deeper. At Irondequoit, the word is 40 feet. Boaters have seen better fish once over at least 35 feet; the better perch (at and above 10 inches) move in to shallower waters during clouded periods of the day.
Lake Erie anglers and sportsmen and women in general lost a good friend Saturday morning with the passing of William E. Begier, owner of Bill’s Hooks on Route 5 west of Dunkirk. Begier had been a regular contributor to this Fishing Line column for 24 years.
His diverse outdoors interests and understanding of area fishing and hunting impressed newcomers and veteran sportsmen alike. He willingly shared updates and insights with all who enjoyed the outdoors. He will be missed.
Anglers with good shots of great fishing catches should e-mail them along with a brief description of the catch to the address listed below.