Lake Ontario, Niagara River
Salmon are on a Fresh Bite! Tighten your Drag!
The Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey and Lake Ontario County’s derbies are dominating the catching scene as things settle back into more favorable conditions after some nasty winds blew through and messed the lake up.
On Monday, it was cold water everywhere, but by Tuesday places like the Niagara Bar had fish stacked up like cord wood as Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctor put it. That was confirmed by Walt Zebker and Mike Mongan of Grand Island as they reported excellent fishing at the drop off in 65 to 80 feet of water. That drop sees the bottom plummet from 60 to 220 feet in a very short amount of time and running your baits along that ledge was the ticket for both salmon and lake trout. Best bait set-up for them was a cut-bait rig and a double-crush glow spin doctor with a no-see-em fly on or near the bottom.
To the east, off Wilson and Olcott, trollers are still working the 50 to 100 foot stretch for mature Kings getting ready to stage. Flasher-fly, cut-bait, J-plugs and even magnum spoons will all take fish according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. The deep water program was returning to normal, if you can stay out of the weeds. Trout and salmon are available from the 24 to the 27 line south of the Niagara River current or north of the 31 line or north of the Niagara River current. Primarily spoons for a mix of fish. Some nice browns have been taken inside 55 feet of water.
Just ask Dennis Stabler of Lockport who hit a 17-pounder to lead both the Fish Odyssey and LOC Derby – taking a spin doctor and fly in 55 feet of water. The inaugural “Reelin’ for a Cure” last Friday was a resounding success according to Stephanie Pierleoni of Newfane. They had 12 ladies teams signed up and the winning team was “Hooked on a Cure” fishing with Dave Peterson aboard the Hotline boat. They scored a six fish limit that totaled 117.11 points – based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound. Second place went to Smelting Hearts fishing with Captain Kurt Driscoll and his Stalker boat with a score of 115.07 points. Big fish in the contest went to Chrissy’s Crew, fishing with 716 Sportfishing and Captain Matt Bedient with a 20.94 pound King salmon. Congrats to all of the winners in the Orleans County Rotary Derby that ended last Sunday.
Grand Prize was a 30 pound, 14 ounce King salmon reeled in by Julie Schaeffer of Sligo, Pennsylvania. Top steelhead was a 14 pound, 1 ounce fish caught Robert Griffith of Akron, Ohio. Scott Bengsch of Webster had the top lake trout with 21 pounds, 1 ounce, and Patrick Pullinzi of Hamlin was the leading brown trout catcher at 15 pounds, 7 ounces.
The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby is underway and some impressive catches have been coming to the scales. Grand Prize leader for the $25,000 check is a 33 pound, 13 ounce King caught by Richard Clark of Tyler Hill, Pennsylvania while fishing out east. Go to www.loc.org for details. The 40th Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby honoring the late, great Captain Jeremiah Heffernan, is also underway through Sunday. Some nice fish have come to the weigh-in sites in Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties including Mike Pinkham’s 28 pound, 7 ounce King; Jim Janese with a 24 and a half pound carp; Dave Muir’s 6 pound, 6 ounce smallmouth bass; Richard Barber with a 15 pound, 2 ounce lake trout; and Chris Pitek with an 11 pound, 15 ounce walleye caught on the Niagara Bar. Nice fish in the Junior Division, too. Check out www.fishodyssey.net for a leaderboard. It’s still not too late to register and kids are free!
Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action
Speaking of walleye, the Niagara River Anglers Association will give it another go this Saturday for its Lower River Walleye Contest after the event was postponed last weekend. Sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. All the action will be held at the Lewiston Landing area, including the weigh in. Best two fish. For more info call Mike Heylek at 510-9750. A few walleye are being caught, but most anglers are being tight-lipped on the action as they prepare for the contest. Worm harnesses or yellow sally flies with a spinner and a worm are the tried and true methods. Bass continue to be spotty, but there have been some nice smallmouth caught from shore along Artpark with in-line spinners in blue and silver. The first salmon of the year have shown up in small numbers in the lower Niagara River.
Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action
Bass action continues to be decent, but some of the better fishing has been in Canadian Waters. If you are fishing in Canadian waters, make sure you call in to Customs and report your entry. Passports are now at the top of the list when you call in, but you can get by with an enhanced driver’s license. A third option is a driver’s license and a birth certificate. Captain Terry Jones of 1st Class Bass reports that tube jigs have been working in some of the deeper holes in the river. In fact, he noted that a 7 pound, 3 ounce smallmouth was caught from Thompson’s Hole last weekend during a local bass club contest – a tournament that was won by Ted Barth of Bolivar with 18-plus pounds. Many of his winning catch were reeled in at the head of the river. Lyndon Hilts of Gasport is in third place in the Odyssey with a 5 pound, 4 ounce upper river smallie caught on a tube. Look for some deeper holes this time of year. Some big sheepshead are also being reported.