As the snow melts off this weekend, crappie will continue to show up in shallow areas around structure and green weeds. Again, any places where crappie typically school up in spring is also worth a shot in fall. Small minnows or tube jigs work well for crappie. No new is intel available for walleye or muskellunge. In fall, walleye can typically be found around weedbeds and also in the deeper holes of the north basin. Vertical jigging works well in the deep holes.
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBS
Fishing continues to be good on Cattaraugus Creek, which is running high at about 725 cubic feet per second (cfs). The ideal flow range on the Catt is between 250-500 cfs. Eighteenmile Creek and the Chautauqua County streams are currently in good shape and by this weekend should be close to moderate flows. Remaining snowmelt in the hills should help to sustain flows into the weekend. Without additional rain, expect levels to drop back to low over the next few days. Lake Erie steelhead commonly hit natural baits like egg sacs or worms, trout beads, 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.
From the Lake Ontario tribs, Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that water was high and muddy everywhere after nearly an inch of rain fell on Monday. Small tributaries cleared and dropped Tuesday from high water stages, fishing well for both browns and steelhead. Andrew Mauser of Pittsburgh fished Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek for a few days prior to the rain, and he enjoyed some good brown trout fishing using zonkers and egg-pattern flies. He reported limited fishing pressure at the creek. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports the same limited fishing pressure with brown trout and steelhead at the dam this week. Best baits were egg sacs, mealworms, wooly buggers, and a variety of flies. Canal water should keep flows up starting on the weekend.
Gary Laidman of South Wales had another magical musky day on the Upper Niagara River fishing with Capt. Connor and Chris Cinelli of Grand Island just before the last round of wind. After catching fish that stretched the tape at 46.5 and 47 inches, Laidman hit his biggest of the fall this year with a 51-inch fish that sported a 27-inch girth. Musky season is now closed in the upper Niagara River, Lake Erie, and most of the state. The only exception is the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River. Remember that Sunday is the date set for the John Henning Memorial Musky Tournament on the Lower Niagara River, hosted by the Niagara Musky Association from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. You must be a member to participate. Entry fee is $25. For more info, call Scott Kitchen at 939-0006. In the lower Niagara River (and Lake Ontario), lake trout season is now open as of Dec. 1. Water clarity was affected by wind recently once again on Lake Erie, but just before those winds arrived Kurt Smutko of North Carolina and his 89-year-old father, Dr. George Smutko of Youngstown, managed to get out on the lower river with Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston. The trio had a banner day on steelhead and lake trout, using beads off 3-way rigs. MagLips will also produce fish consistently off 3-way rigs. If the winds are not too severe this week, action should be back to normal for trout by the weekend, according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. A few browns are starting to hit down river, too. From shore up in the gorge, Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports that fish are available by casting No. 4 spinners. Beads and other egg imitations are available for shore anglers fished under floats. Egg sacs will work as well.