Greater Niagara Region
by Frank Campbell
Word has gotten out that the lower Niagara River fishing is good again. Last weekend’s angling action was difficult on certain drifts and along certain shoreline stretches due to increased pressure. Down on the Niagara Bar and lower river drifts, action has been good to very good for brown trout, with a mix of lake trout, smallmouth bass, and even a salmon while drifting Mag Lip plugs in green and silver off 3-way rigs. Make sure you are drifting fast enough to get action on your lure. You may need to bump up your speed with your trolling motor. Too many boats along the U.S. Coast Guard station at the fort could shut fish down. Better numbers of steelhead have moved into the river, along with a fair number of brown trout. Use egg sacs, beads, and Mag Lips. Smallmouth bass are scattered throughout the river and In-Fisherman came into town to finish up a fall television piece on bass using swimbaits and jigging spoons.
They caught fish up to 5-1/2 pounds. Perch are still being caught on emerald shiners according to Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston. The popular bait is available at Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda.
Capt. Joe Srouji of Angler Edge Charters reports that the steelhead bite is getting better in the upper sections of the lower river. He was also doing well on browns down river and on the Niagara Bar. Eggs and beads have been taking most of the trout for him. His tip for success is to use lighter fluorocarbon leaders and smaller hooks when the water is clear.
Jon Holden and Brian Graham of Lockport drifted off Artpark over the weekend and couldn’t keep the lake trout off using silver and chartreuse Kwikfish lures off 3-way rigs. Remember that lake trout season is currently closed and if you do catch one, release it unharmed. Lake trout season reopens on Dec. 1 in the lower river and Lake Ontario.
Things are coming alive as the water temperature has dropped to 51 degrees. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls has been out on the river quite a bit this past week, catching browns, steelhead, lake trout, a few smallmouth bass, and a couple late-season king salmon.
One of the kings Mike caught was in excellent shape. The water clarity was sitting right around 6 feet as of Tuesday. Ziehm has been using mostly ¼-ounce bucktail jigs in white and silver and a few No. 4 spinners in silver and orange.
In Lake Ontario and the tributaries, Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctors Tackle Barn reports action has been up and down in Eighteenmile Creek and at Burt Dam through Fisherman’s Park. Egg sacs and beads are the best enticements for brown trout.
Steelhead are moving into the creek in larger numbers, along with a few late salmon. Fishing pressure should start to lessen as the regular big game season opens on Saturday. Smaller streams along the lake continue to suffer with water flow issues. Secondary options have been Johnson and Sandy Creeks to the east due to Erie Canal water releases that will continue until Dec. 15. Yellow perch are being caught in Olcott and Wilson harbors.
Wayne County Fishing Update
by Chris Kenyon
Maxwell Creek has a better flow this week, however it’s still not much of a current for casters. You could try parking in the Maxwell Bay parking lot on the east side of the creek. Walk the path to the lake and cast out near the mouth for some browns.
Salmon Creek in Pultneyville still has steelhead, brown trout and some kings netted from the south side of the creek. You can also fish some limited space on the north side or try for browns and steelhead near the outlet at the yacht club.
There have been browns and steelhead caught at the Port Bay and Sodus Bay outlets. Fish the pier at Sodus Point for late salmon, browns and steelhead. Throw out your bright heavy spoons like Kastmasters, Dardevles, or Little Cleos.
The perch in Port Bay have been schooling by size and they are 8 to 10 inches. They have been hitting perch eyes instead of spikes. Fish near the east side and off the three points in the bay.
Sodus Bay has bass action near the south end of the bay. You can launch at the Bay Bridge Sport Shop’s ramp. Fish around the docks and anywhere there are decaying weed beds. Try spoons for northern pike near the LeRoy Island Bridge and the northeast side of the bay in 6 to 8 feet of water.
Pike season will continue until March 15th and when we get safe ice you should concentrate near LeRoy Island.
The crappies are hitting at Widewaters. They are being caught from boats and the shore. Use bright small jigs and suspend your presentation 8 inches from the bottom. Bass season closes November 30th; however, you can catch and release from December 1st until June 14th.
Anyone underway in a boat less than 21 feet in length anytime between November 1 and May 1 must wear a securely fastened life jacket.
Bait for fishing is available on the south end of Sodus at Davenports and Bay Bridge Sport Shop. On Port Bay Jarvis Bait Farm is open on Brown Road. The signs are on East Port Bay Road at the junction of Brown Road. Toadz Bait is near the end of West Port Bay Road.
Notable Freshwater Fishing Regulation Changes
The following list offers a summary of the most notable fishing regulation changes resulting from the adopted rulemakings described above.
- New statewide regulation for rainbow trout, brown trout, and splake in lakes and ponds. The season will now be open year-round, with a five-fish daily limit, any size, with a “no more than two longer than 12 inches” harvest rule.
- Statewide Atlantic salmon regulations will now allow for a year-round open season.
- Ice fishing is permitted on all waters in New York unless specifically prohibited with the exception of Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties where previous rules remain.
- New specific dates replaced floating dates for statewide season openers to include:
- May 1 – Walleye, Northern Pike, Pickerel, and Tiger Muskellunge.
- June 1 – Muskellunge. (Note that in 2022, DEC will allow for the fishing of muskellunge beginning the last Saturday in May to accommodate previously planned fishing trips); and
- June 15 – Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass.
- A five-fish daily walleye limit in Oneida Lake.
- A new regulation to limit the growth of the walleye population in Skaneateles Lake. No daily possession limit; 12-inch minimum size limit, open year-round.
- The statewide sunfish daily harvest limit has been reduced from 50 to 25 fish: and
- The statewide minimum size limit for crappies has been increased from nine inches to ten inches.
Orleans County Sportfishing Coordinator Ron Bierstine:
Seems like we are settling into the “second season” trib action now with the focus mostly on trout and an overall lessening of fishing pressure. And by most any measure the good fall action continues, especially for browns with now some steelhead in the mix and still Atlantics too. Kings are not concentrated any longer, but at select spots and times you still might encounter some greener fish. The less fresh zombies are on patrol too. So for brown trout – they are spread through the waterways, and you’ll probably find pods of fresh fish moving upstream in the lower reaches like early or late day and then spreading out upstream. The off and on crowds like on weekends work over those fish and then by weekday times the pressure is less and the fish get less harried.
Lower and clearer flows in the smaller waterways means that guys are gearing down to smaller presentations and lighter leaders. Some exceptional nice big fish are definitely in the mix now too. Check out the hawg brown above Mike K. got with those downsizing techniques from a smaller waterway. Fish of a lifetime for some!
On the Oak the flows are still cranking pretty good at close to slightly high. Lighter leaders there at your own risk! Lots of water cover for fish to be most any place they want to be. Fishing pressure seems less so far this week and guys are able to move around and cover some different drift spots. It’s a mix of pre, spawning and some post spawn browns. Steelhead are a wildcard anytime. Look for a lessening of fishing pressure now around the Archers Club, so good chance the legit hook ups will come easier there now by guys walking in from the other access points. Fishing is still allowed adjacent to the Archers Club grounds but no more access or parking on Club property.
Weather is a peach, warming nicely thru this mid week with a chance at precipitation Friday and then only cooling down to seasonable temps for the weekend.