While weather forecasters are calling for a white Christmas followed by a blast of Arctic air from the North Country, anglers right now have been limited in where they can get a line wet. High winds, rain and snow melt contributed to muddy conditions in the Niagara River both above and below Niagara Falls.
Shore fishermen should be the first to be able to target trout in the lower river from the Whirlpool to Artpark. Jigs, egg sacs or egg imitations like trout beads fished under a float are good options for drifters. Casters can use spoons, spinners or jigs to hook up with a steelhead or brown trout. Lake trout are still around, too. Remember that laker season opens on January 1. January 1 is also the start of a special walleye regulation. The daily limit drops from three to one until March 15 to help protect spawning females.
In the upper river you can try to target trout with egg sacs just above the upper rapids before the white water. Some perch can be found in some of the marinas where water clarity is a bit better. Find some emerald shiners for best success.
Lake Ontario tributaries have been low and slow in Niagara Falls USA. At Eighteen Mile Creek at Burt Dam, the water flow was limited and more clear than stained. In those situations with clear water, downsize your presentation with lighter line, smaller hooks and smaller baits. Steelhead and brown trout are available, but they have been limited in numbers. In Wilson, the harbor ice that had started to form was busted up from the weather conditions. With temperatures soaring into the mid-40s on Saturday with rain, we are probably back to square one.
Here are a few last minute gift items for Christmas to consider: A Lake Ontario Counties derbies Season Pass at www.loc.org. You can save $20 by purchasing one before Dec. 31 – a great stocking stuffer. You can also buy tickets for the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo Jan. 19-21 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. Admission tickets and special clinic tickets are available. However, the popular LOTSA Salmon School is already sold out – the earliest ever! Check out www.niagarafishingexpo.com. Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!
Bill Hilts, Jr.