Greater Niagara Region (www.niagara-usa.com)
by Bill Hilts Jr.
April 1st is more than just a day for foolin’ around playing practical jokes. It’s also the inland opener for trout in New York. While opening day has lost a little bit of its luster due to the fact that you can fish year-round in our Great Lakes tributaries, it’s still an exciting time for many – whether you want to pursue trout that have been stocked by our Department of Environmental Conservation or target fish that are native to a particular body of water. To find out where and when waters will be stocked, either check out the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov or call the Region 9 DEC Stocking hotline at (716) 358-4950. In many waters, stocking started back on March 18 and will continue well into April. On the local scene, there are two inland lakes or ponds that receive trout stockings in early April – Oppenheim Park Pond on Niagara Falls Blvd. in Wheatfield and Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls. Oppenheim will receive 100 two year old brown trout and 200 rainbow trout yearlings on April 15 at 10 a.m.; Hyde Park Lake receives 200 of the bigger two year old browns and 1,450 of the yearling browns on April 15 at 11 a.m. In addition, Gill Creek in Niagara Falls – the outflow of Hyde Park Lake – will also receive 470 brown trout.
Lake Ontario and tributaries – The big news this week is for the bullhead fishermen looking to ante up for a little contest. Jean’s in Wilson is sponsoring its first annual bullhead contest April 5 and 6. Total weight of the best two bullhead will be eligible for cash prizes. Call 751-9198 for information or stop into Jean’s in Wilson. A new tackle shop will be opening up this weekend, too. Jason Hutcheson and his son, Jeff, will be opening up Country Bait and Tackle 2432 Riverview Drive, Wilson which is in the Roosevelt Beach area off Route 18. They open for the first time on Saturday morning starting at 6 a.m., offering a mix of lake and shore fishing tackle, as well as live bait. They will have a self-serve bait option from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., too. Stop in and see what they have to offer. As far as the local fishing action, Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker reports that a couple of lake trollers working the shoreline and fishing in front of the pier heads have been doing well on browns with stickbaits or K-O Wobbler spoons. Work in and out of the mud line. Pier casters are picking up some trout with nickel-blue or perch-firetiger pattern spoons. Minnows fished under a float will also work. Some steelhead are still at the Burt Dam, but water is low and clear. The other tribs have a few fish in the deeper holes, but those fish are spooky.
Lower Niagara River – The ice boom was released earlier this week, with less than 90 square miles of ice remaining in Lake Erie. As a result, some ice has been coming down through the river system hampering fishing action. Some of the charter guys were cancelling trips mid-week, especially since fishing was a bit tough in the river. Every day was seeing a different mix of fish. Some days it was predominantly lake trout; other days it was steelhead. Egg sacks, minnows, Kwikfish are all catching fish, but you have to figure out what works best for the boaters. Shore fishermen are casting egg sacks fished under a float; a jig tipped with wax worms; or spoons/spinners. There was a minimal amount of ice below the falls on the natural bridge that forms. Not too many people have been fishing the Bar area due to winds. We had a report of a few smelt being taken up in Devil’s Hole, but the main run has not started yet.
Upper Niagara River – The ice boom is being pulled. Ice is flowing down through the system, restricting some fishing areas. Stockings of Gill Creek and Hyde Park Lake will take place on April 15 for trout. Oppenheim Park Pond, as well. Upper river action for trout will be along the upper rapids and at the head of the river. Small bays and marinas around Grand Island and along River Road should be producing panfish, especially when water starts to warm when the ice leaves.
For more information on charters, fishing and accommodations, check out www.niagara-usa.com.
Chautauqua County (http://tourchautauqua.com/Fishing.aspx)
by Craig Robbins
Lake Erie – While the calendar says its spring, steelhead anglers are still finding winter like conditions. The creeks are open and flowing well, but anglers should expect snowy shorelines, floating slush in the mornings and shelf ice in the slack and slow water areas.
Medium sized streams like Chautauqua, Canadaway and Eighteenmile Creeks are your best bets. With moderate flows and favorable steelhead catch reports. Fresh steelhead are moving in and are spread throughout the creeks. The smaller streams have low and clear conditions. Cattaraugus Creek flowing at about 660 cubic feet per second is getting close to fishable condition, however daytime snowmelt will likely keep Catt flows running at current or higher levels. Egg sacs, egg pattern flies, trout beads and jigs with grubs work well in cold water conditions, drifted slow and deep.
Some steelhead are paired up and actively spawning. It’s a good idea for anglers avoid active spawners and take care not to disturb redds-gravel nests, as natural reproduction adds to the future steelhead returns
Dunkirk Harbor is a good place to target trout in late winter and early spring. Anglers at the Dunkirk city pier reported decent steelhead catches recently on spoons and small jigs tipped with a minnow or grub, fished under a float. Some floating ice masses in the harbor have limited pier fishing at times (depending on which way the winds blow).
Chautauqua Lake – Chautauqua Lake hard water anglers are finding 6 to 8 inches. Check ice thickness with a spud bar or auger when moving around. Anglers are reporting good catches of keeper bluegill in Burtis Bay and off Mayville. Small jigs with wax worms or spikes is the ticket. The same areas, along with Maple Springs are producing decent crappie catches around dusk. Yellow perch are available from the weed edges out to the deepest holes in and around Warner’s Bar.
Jigs with grubs or vertical spoons/jigs with a small minnow are good bets. Anglers are reporting a good bluegill bite in the shallows off Mayville. Small jigs with spikes work best. Crappie are still being picked up off Mayville launch and recently have been showing up in Maple Spring. Salted minnows have been working best for crappie, on a 1/32 once black head jig head.
For area fishing and travel information, visit http://tourchautauqua.com/Fishing.aspx
Fair Haven/Cayuga County
By Captain Werner Sterger
The ice on Little Sodus bay is all but gone with a little still holding on at the south end of the bay. The state park launch is open. They are currently under construction but will maintain access to one launch during the process.Brown trout anxiously await offerings from anglers at the shorlines. Whether casting from the shore or pier heads or trolled in the shallows the browns offer some great action.
Natural color stickbaits on overcast days and brighter ones on sunny days flatlined 75 to 150 feet behind the boat or off boards. Spoons in the same color patterns can be used but will require a splitshot 6 feet up the line if flatlined to keep them under water. 10 feet of water is a good starting point. They will congregate in stained or warmer water. Fish the edges along the color change (Mudlines).
Oswego County (www.visitoswegocounty.com)
Courtesy of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.
Oswego River – According to Capt. Kevin Davis of Catch the Drift, Tuesday was another brown trout day on the river with some nice size fish being caught. Egg sacs are the choice of bait. The water level has been running between 3,000-4,000cfs for much of the week. The flow is not the best for us at this level. This morning started out a little slow but a double is making us hopeful for some action.
Salmon River – According to Garrett Brancy of the Douglaston Salmon Run, anglers continue to report tough fishing in the beautiful conditions we had here in Pulaski. Some fishermen had a tougher go of it than others but most were able to get into a fish or two. Those guests that were most successful also covered the most ground. Diamond braid flies in Oregon cheese or pale yellow #8-12 picked up a few fish along with flies incorporating soft plastics eggs #8-10 or pink San Juan worms #8. 8mm retro-roe or egg-zacktly beads also picked up a fish here or there. The water flow will be running at 500cfs through Saturday.
Oneida Lake – Although temperatures have not warmed up a lot, the daytime temperatures are expected to be in the 40s for the next few days. Ice fishing is over for the season and we are looking forward to some open water fishing before too long. A reminder that walleye season has closed and will reopen the first Saturday in May.
Sandy Pond – According to Dave Wood of Woody’s Tackle, we are currently in the lull between ice fishing and open-water fishing with little activity on the pond. A reminder that walleye season has closed and will reopen the first Saturday in May.