The 70-degree days are gone for now — sorry folks — and this means that the boating season is winding down and fishing reports are spotty. In general, fall fishing can be good for walleye and muskellunge. Target walleye around weedbeds during low-light periods and by vertical jigging around the deeper holes in the north basin during the day. Target late-season musky by casting large stickbaits or musky spinners along weedlines. Anglers can search for fall congregations of crappie in the same spots as they are found in spring, such as in canals, off canal mouths and around shallow structure. Small minnows or tube jigs work well for crappie.
Anglers are saying that steelhead seem to running a bit bigger on average this year, compared to the previous two. Fishing action has slowed this week on falling stream levels. Cattaraugus Creek is running at about 400 feet per second at report time, but is still a touch cloudy. The Catt should be in prime fishing shape through the weekend. All other tributaries are running low and clear. With no rain in the forecast, look for levels to go even lower. Downsize baits, lines and move stealthily if fishing those streams. Lake Erie steelhead commonly hit natural baits like egg sacs or worms, flies, including egg imitations, black stone flies, nymphs, streamer and bugger patters, and lures such as minnow-type stickbaits, in-line spinners and small spoons.
Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports that fishing has been good in places like Burt Dam at 18 Mile Creek, and other streams to the east for a mix of salmon, brown trout and steelhead. Anglers are still waiting for the full effects of the water releases from the Erie Canal that started up Nov. 6. The salmon run is nearly over for kings, but there are a few Coho salmon hanging around along with the occasional Atlantic salmon. Egg sacs, flies and beads are all working. Big jack perch have been hitting in a few spots at Wilson and Olcott, but the information is a little light.
It looks like this weekend we all will be back to the real world as far as the weather after three record-breaking high temps in a row. Rain has fallen and that could help the tributaries. In the upper Niagara River, Capt. Chris Cinelli and Capt. Connor Cinelli of Grand Island reported some dandy muskies this past week. Josh DeWyse of Michigan managed to catch a 46-inch and 52-inch fish this week, drifting with Capt. Connor; Vanessa Antone of Lewiston managed to reel in a 42-inch fish with Capt. Chris. Drifting suckers on the bottom using a quick strike rig is the way to go. In the Tim Wittek Memorial Musky Tournament last Sunday, hosted by the Niagara Musky Assoiation, Tony Scime was top dog with a 37-inch fish caught (and released) on a Red October Bait Ninja Tube. He was fishing with Louis Long. Second place was a 36-inch fish caught by Jim Reynolds while fishing with Joe Wilczewski. There were 18 participants.
Lower Niagara River trout and bass action has been the best, according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. The smallmouth fishery around the Coast Guard station and around Fort Niagara has been very good. The fish have been hitting just about anything, from live bait like shiners and minnows to tube jigs, swimbaits, Ned rigs and drop shot offerings. Mike Rzucidlo and Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls did well on bass in Youngstown, tossing jigs for big smallies. Up toward Lewiston off Artpark, it has been a trout bite – lakers, steelhead and the occasional brown trout. Beads or egg imitations work best from shore, but jigs and No. 4 spinners will also catch fish, says Drabczyk. Boaters will also use chartreuse egg sacs and beads, Kwikfish and MagLip plugs off three-way rigs to take a mixed bag of trout. Not too many browns can be found in the lower section of the river yet, but you can target them on the Niagara Bar off the mouth of the river for more numbers using minnows. Remember that lake trout season is closed for three more weeks in the lower river and the lake. Bass season is open for three more weeks and then it reverts to a catch-and-release season.