Destination Niagara USA Fishing Report for August 10, 2017

Lake Ontario – The hottest action out deep has been for steelhead off Wilson and Olcott.  Boats have been heading out to 400-500 feet of water for salmon and trout, but most of the fish have been nice steelhead taken on spoons.

Flasher-fly will work for trout but if there are kings and coho’s around, those seem to be the best baits to use. The DW 42nd spoon keeps popping up for one popular bait; for spinnies, white on white, white 2 face, and chrome green dot flashers with stud fly, purple or lime mirage fly have worked best, but other colors are working, too.

A few salmon have started to make it in closer to shore, but the best and most consistent fishing has been out deep.

The Niagara Bar is producing some nice fish, as well.

John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda was out last weekend and did well with flasher-fly 90 feet down over 100 feet of water right at the drop off.  He caught a dozen nice kings to 25 pounds.

Out of Wilson, Capt. Mike Johannes has been reporting fish about 8 miles out, but fish are also available in the 100 to 200 foot depth range.  Spoons and flasher-fly, what’s been working elsewhere, has been the hot bite.  Meat will also work for kings as we move closer to the time when salmon will be making their way in to the ports they were stocked at.

The Orleans County Rotary Derby has been plugging along slowly the past week. Mike Schaeffer of Sligo, Pa., is leading the grand prize quest with a 28 pound, 6 ounce salmon out of the Oak.  In the Salmon Division, Chase Lamb of Burt is in first place with an Olcott king that weighed 23 pounds, 15 ounces.  The contest runs through August 20th, which helps set up for one of the busiest weekends of the year as far as the fishing scene is concerned.

The Fall Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby kicks off on August 18 and runs through Labor Day.  Also on August 18, the Second Annual Reelin’ for a Cure will be held out of Wilson and Olcott from 6 a.m. to noon.  This all-ladies event will be raising funds for the Breast Cancer Network of WNY.  Last year there were 12 teams.  This year it looks like it has more than doubled!  They need boats – charter boats and rec boats – to make it all happen.  It’s a fun time for sure. Contact Stephanie Pierleoni at 481-6388 for more information or go on the event’s Facebook page.

The final contest that starts up next weekend is the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby, set for August 19th to the 27th. Six species categories for the adults and a Grand Prize of $3,000.  For the kids, it’s free to enter with loads of merchandise prizes and trophies.  Sign up at any of the LOC weigh stations or at www.fishodyssey.net.  This is for Niagara, Orleans and Erie counties. Many thanks to Jim and Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott, who do a lion’s share of the work behind the scenes, such as the website and the leaderboard.  This is a great way to get the whole family out to enjoy the waters of Western New York.

Niagara River action, both above and below Niagara Falls, has been dominated by bass, but the walleye fishing can be pretty good, too.  Bass are liking crayfish and shiners, in that order.

Walleye are liking worm harnesses and other spinner-worm combinations.  Yellow sally rigs are a local favorite in the lower river.

  Captain Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston also hit the top walleye on the same drift, using the same bait as Fox – a softshell crab.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303; p: 1-877 FALLS US; 716-282-8992 x. 303; f: 716-285-0809; www.niagarafallsusa.comfacebook | twitter | instagram

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast for August 3, 2017

After the hard northeast blow on Lake Ontario, trollers were forced out to more stable water in the 300 foot to 500 foot depth contour off Wilson and Olcott.

Spin doctors and flies have been attracting a few mature kings, Coho salmon and steelhead. Spoons are also working consistently out there.

August is crunch time for the mature kings and there are plenty of fishing contests that coincide with the return of the king to the ports they were stocked at.  Look for fishing activity to increase.  

Bob Ashley of Mentor, Ohio visited Niagara County waters this week as a result of the weekly fishing report.  Bob and his most frequent fishing partner fished Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning of this week.  They hooked 11 salmon and landed eight with the largest being 24 pounds.  Bob and Larry fished off the Niagara Bar in water 179 feet to 220 feet deep.  They found their fish between 45 and 60 feet down, meaning they didn’t have to break out the downriggers but used directional divers exclusively.  All of the fish were taken on flasher-fly combos.  Waters are slowly starting to turn on closer to shore.

In the Lower Niagara River, walleye action is starting to slow down again after a couple of weeks of decent fishing.  Worm harnesses bounced along the bottom with 3-way rigs work well.  Best spots have been the Stella drift and at the mouth of the river around the green buoy marker. Some smallmouth bass are available, too – crabs and shiners for live bait; tubes and drop shot rigs for artificials.

You can catch bass in Devil’s Hole, as well as many of the drifts all the way down to Lake Ontario.  Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls, is still popping some gar pike in the gorge area along Artpark.  He combined a rope fly with a jig to allow him to cast better with the strong river current.

Upper Niagara River fishing continues to be good, although it’s not as strong as it was.  Bass and walleye are still being caught in the river.  A spinner and worm is working best for walleye and the occasional bass.  Crayfish and shiners will work for bass and sheepshead.  

A new interactive online hot spot fishing map has been unveiled that will give anglers new insight into the local waters of Niagara, Erie and Chautauqua counties. The link is https://wnyfishing.mrf.com/view.aspx. Check it out!

A couple of ladies led the way in the Summer Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Summer Derby that ended Sunday.  Grand Prize winner was Sandra Brown of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, reeling in a 32 pound, 4 ounce Niagara Bar king salmon while fishing with her husband Ed and Joe Yaeger of Amherst.  They were trolling a spin doctor and fly in 160 feet of water, 60 feet down.  She earned a check for $11,000 for reeling in that fish. First place in the Salmon Division was a 31 pound, 10 ounce king caught out of Point Breeze, weighed in by Kristin Wilson of Rockstream, NY.  The Niagara Bar produced the first place lake trout, a 23 pound, 13 ounce Niagara Bar fish checked in by Steve Klejdys of North Tonawanda.  The big steelhead was caught out of Olcott when Adam Robinson of Portland, Oregon out-battled a 17 pound, 4 ounce steelie while fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane. First place brown trout was a 16 pound, 2 ounce fish caught out of Fair Haven.  Lon Colley of Burt was the youth salmon winners with a 26 pound, 1 ounce king.  The fall derby will be starting up August 18 and run through Labor Day.  Check out www.loc.org for more information.  Also coming up on the derby docket is the Orleans County Rotary Derby August 5 to 20 and the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby August 19 to 27. 

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Phone: 1-877-FALLS-US, 716-282-8992 x. 303; fax: 716-285-0809

www.niagarafallsusa.com

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast for July 27, 2017

Sandra Brown of Pa. with her husband, Ed (L), Joe Yaeger and her 32 pound-4 oz. King Salmon.

The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association held its annual club tournament(s) last weekend and some impressive fish were caught.  At the top of the list is the current leader in the Lake Ontario Counties trout and salmon derby, a 32 pound – 4 ounce king caught by Sandra Brown of Clearfield, Pennsylvania.  She was fishing on the Niagara Bar with her husband Ed and Joe Yaeger of Amherst.  The fish came on a Dreamweaver Spin Doctor and Mirage A-Tom-Mik fly, 60 feet down over 160 feet of water a mile east of the red can.

Matt and Marc Dunn of Newfane with some of their LOTSA catch.

For the LOTSA Curt Meddaugh Memorial Tournament, it was the best three fish for Friday.  The Streaker team, consisting of Matt Dunn of Newfane with his dad Marc (also of Newfane), Doug Parker of Lockport and Doug Parker II of Wilson (another father-son duo), won the event. Their three fish total for the day was 66.48-pounds, narrowly defeating 4 Poles led by Marty Polovick of Lockport. Yaeger’s Salmonella team finished in fourth despite having the 32-pound kicker. However, there was another aspect to the two day LOTSA contests. A 3-2-3 contest (best 3 fish over 2 days with 3 winners) was in place, and Yaeger’s Salmonella crew won the top prize with a total of 72.46-pounds.  Second place was Matt Dunn’s Streaker team with 70.99-pounds.  The Saturday club contest was for big fish and Capt. Adam Gearich and the Diversion II team led the way when Tim Bromund of Colden reeled in a 26-pound – 4 ounce king in 100 feet of water between Wilson and Olcott. LOTSA details can be found at www.lotsa1.org.

Check out the LOC Derby leaderboard at www.loc.org. The Summer Derby ends on Sunday at 1 p.m. The awards ceremony is a Capt. Jack’s in Sodus Point at 4 p.m.

Lower Niagara River fishing action has been consistent.  A few more walleye are starting to show up and smallmouth bass fishing continues to be good.  Live bait like crayfish and shiners are working for bass; worm harnesses for walleye. Yesterday it was a rowdy crew from Texas fishing with Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston and the highlight of the trip was a 6 pound smallmouth reeled in by Evan Scanlon – a personal best, caught along the Coast Guard Station.

Upper Niagara River action has leveled off but some bass and walleye are still showing up consistently.  The big news this past week was Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island guiding Sawyer Dolce of Orchard Park.  Fishing the humps around Strawberry Island, Dolce was drifting a crayfish when a nice bass hit. Affixed to the back of the fish was another tag from the Canadian Tire bass tournament from two years ago. Cinelli had caught two previously in the lower Niagara River.  This is his first in the upper river, where the tagged fish were released.

Evan Scanlon of Texas with 6-pound smallmouth.

Erie Canal – It was a packed house at the Gasport Fire Hall last Sunday for the final grand prize drawing in the 27th annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby.  All the first place winners were put into a hat in one of the final orders of business.  Lynn Harrington reached into the hat and pulled out an Ace of Clubs – and that corresponded with a card being held by 13 year old Keegan Walczak of Amherst.  He won a new boat, motor and trailer from Brobeil Marine in Buffalo, a new Polar Kraft.  He ended up giving a high-five immediately to his dad Chris, who was also standing up front as one of the divisional winners.  In the youth division, James Benzinger won the new fishing kayak in the grand prize drawing for the kids.  He is from North Carolina and comes up every year to fish with his grandparents in the derby.  For a complete list of all of the winners go to www.eriecanalderby.com.

Keegan Walczak with his dad, Chris in front of Keegan’s new boat!

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director.

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303, p:1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303; f: 716-285-0809; www.niagarafallsusa.com  facebook | twitter | instagram

Niagara Bar, Lake Ontario: SALMON & STEELIE Fishing is HOT!

  • Thursday, July 20, 2017
    The King Salmon fishing in Lake Ontario is one of the hottest bites going, especially in the waters off Niagara County! “Salmon fishing has been on fire at the Niagara Bar in 120 to 180 feet of water,” says Jake Joseph of Jiggin’ Jake’s Charters. “The fish zone has been 60 to 80 feet down.

    The new Mr. & Mrs. Kimball enjoy a honeymoon fishing trip with BIG SMILES of Niagara Bar.

    Dipsy divers are out 180 to 240 feet with flasher fly combos; riggers down 65 to 85 with flasher and cut bait combos. Best colors have been mostly pearls and greens. Smaller fish have been coming on spoons and some steelies have been mixed in, being taken on sliders and king lines.
    Wilson and Olcott are also offering up some great catches, too. Just take a look at the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby leaderboard at www.loc.org.
    John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda reeled in a 27-pound, 9-ounce salmon off of Wilson last Sunday (but launching at Olcott) and his fish would beat out Lee Beaton’s Grand Prize leading king, a 27 pounder, also caught out of Wilson back on July 1. Van Hoff caught his king on a Northern King spoon over 450 feet of water. Van Hoff’s Grand Prize lead would be short-lived as two more fish would come to the scales that Sunday that would tip the scales even more – a 29-pound, 8-ounce king hauled in by Ed Klejdys of North Tonawanda while fishing on the Niagara Bar. Then a 30-pound, 13-ounce Chinook that was reeled in by Richard Peaslee of Lowman while fishing out of Fair Haven. If the last name of Klejdys sounds familiar, his son Steve is the current leader in the Lake Trout Division with a 23-pound, 13-ounce Niagara Bar laker.
    On Monday of this week, a new rainbow leader came out of Olcott, knocking out the leading Wilson fish – a huge 17-pound, 4-ounce steelhead that was caught by Adam Robinson of Portland, Oregon while fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni and Thrillseeker II. He caught it on a Dreamweaver spoon in charteuse signature series. Tuesday brought us a new Grand Prize leader out of Point Breeze, a 31 pound, 10 ounce king reeled in by Kristin Wilson of Rockstream, NY. We have until July 30 to post up some bigger fish and that will probably happen if the weather continues to cooperate.
    Joseph also reports that “walleye are starting to show up in Lower Niagara River and the green can at the mouth. You just have to work for them. Worm harnesses on the bottom with three-way rigs. Bass fishing is good as always!” Bass can be caught from Devil’s Hole to the mouth of the river on a variety of baits like minnows, crayfish, worm harnesses, spinnerbaits, tubes and drop shot rigs.

    The new steelhead leader came out of Olcott Harbor – a huge 17-pound, 4-ounce fish that was caught by Adam Robinson of Portland, Oregon while fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni and Thrillseeker II.

    Shore fishermen have been struggling in the gorge because the shoreline access has been limited due to the high water levels. In addition, the Devil’s Hole stairs are closed until next spring. There are still plenty of other access points to use, but that one is being reconstructed.
    Upper Niagara River action continues to be good for both bass and walleye with an occasional musky showing up.
    The 27th Annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby ended last Sunday and the first place winners are waiting for the awards ceremony to take place July 23 at the Gasport Fire Hall starting at 3 p.m. All the first place winners – both for the adults and for the kids – will be in two separate drawings for the Grand Prize. For the adults, a boat, motor and trailer; for the kids a kayak. Some great fish came to the scales during the 12-day event. Top bass was a 4.94-pound largemouth reeled in by Chris Walczak of Amherst. His son, Keegan, checked in with a 9.65-pound northern pike to take that division. Albert Whaley of Tonawanda was the winner in the walleye category with a 5.19-pound fish. Big bullhead was a 2.25-pound fish reeled in by Anthony Moule of Lyndonville. Top catfish was a 14 pounder weighed in by Charles Rizzo of North Tonawanda. First place carp was a 28.02 pound fish out-muscled by Mike Boncore of Buffalo. Sheepshead winner was Todd Wells of Medina with an 11.39-pound fish. Yes, the Erie Canal has some impressive fish swimming around in it. Another great job by Steve and Lynn Harrington of Gasport.
    Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director
    Destination Niagara USA
    10 Rainbow Blvd.
    Niagara Falls, NY 14303
    p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303
    f: 716-285-0809
    www.niagarafallsusa.com

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast

  • For Wed. July 12, 2017
  • Salmon, Trout, Bass, Walleye, Musky…WOW!
Kristy Cox from New Vienna, Ohio, with her very nice King Salmon caught near Wilson Harbor, Niagara County, New York.

Water levels are continuing to come down in Lake Ontario to the delight of boaters and landowners. However, even the high water levels have not had any negative effects on fishing in the lake.
Salmon fishing continues to be very good out on the Niagara Bar, as well as out of Wilson and Olcott. Salmon action just outside the drop-off on the Bar continues to be excellent. Spin doctors and flies are near the top of the list for preferred baits; a flasher and meat rig with cut bait is another. Some fish are being caught on spoons, too, but they seem to be third on the list. The new A-Tom-Mik stud fly has been mentioned quite a bit by trollers in the lake. Niagara Falls USA waters are still at the top of the Lake Ontario stage for the Summer LOC Derby that is going on through July 30. Leading grand prize salmon is still a 27 pound fish caught by Lee Beaton of Clifton Springs, he caught that one out of Wilson, The first place salmon is another Wilson

Mike Rzucidlo with a nice Steelhead that he caught in the Lower Niagara River on July 5.

fish, a 26 pound, 10 ounce king weighed in by Charles Jaenecke of North Tonawanda. Steve Klejdys of North Tonawanda is back at the top of the lake trout leaderboard with a 23 pound – 13 ounce Niagara Bar fish, and Darryl Raate of Fulton is in first place in the steelhead division with a 13 pound trout he caught while fishing out of Wilson. Top brown trout is a 16 pound, 2 ounce fish weighed in by Joey Guernsey of McGraw while fishing out of Fair Haven.

Jerry Howe of Grand Island, New York, caught this 30 lb musky in the Niagara River.

Lower Niagara River action has been good and the moss has not been as much of a factor as in previous years for some reason. Shoreline casting with 2-inch pearl tubes was working for Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls this week, catching double digit bass and even a 9 pound steelhead. Boaters are still doing well on bass by casting the shoreline with spinnerbaits or working shiners or crayfish off three-way rigs. On July 17, the Devil’s Hole State Park stairs and trail will be shut down until the spring of 2018 for reconstruction and repairs. There are still plenty of other access points to get you into the gorge, but this trail is one of the more popular ones. Alternative access can be gained through the New York Power Authority’s South Access Road where a fishing platform and a stairs to the shoreline is available from Apr. 1 to Dec. 1. Other access points include the stairs at Whirlpool State Park; the Suspension Bridge Stairs (under the Whirlpool Bridge); the Great Gorge Railway Trail (that begins at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center); and the elevator at the Schoellkopf Site (adjacent to the Discovery Center). A copy of the Niagara Gorge Trail Map is available at: http://www.nysparks.com/parks/attachments/WhirlpoolNiagaraGorgeTrailMap.pdf
There are lots of fishing contests going on. The 27th Annual Erie Canal Derby is going on through Sunday, July 16th. Some pretty impressive catches have already come to the scales that will be tough to beat. For example, Michael Boncore of Buffalo is leading the carp category with a 28.02 pound fish; Todd Wells of Medina leads the sheepshead category with an 11.39 pounder; and Charles Rizzo of North Tonawanda has the leading catfish with a 14 pounder. The new walleye leader is Albert Whaley of Tonawanda with a 5.19 pound fish.
Upper Niagara River action continues to be good for bass, walleye and the occasional musky. A spinner and a worm produced all three this week for Capt. Chris Cinelli. The musky was about 46 inches long, probably in the mid-30 pound range as far as weight. It was caught by Jerry Howe of Grand Island and released.
Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303
p: 1.877 FALLS US | 716.282.8992 x.303 | f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Report – July 6, 2017

  • FISH: King Salmon Action is HOT
  • WHERE: Wilson Harbor, Niagara County, NY
  • LURES: A-Tom-Mik Twinkie set-ups & Dreamweaver UV Frog Spin Doctor

Lake Ontario salmon action is continuing on a consistent clip to the delight of trollers at Wilson, Olcott and the Niagara Bar.

Big King Salmon are becoming the norm off Wilson Harbor, Niagara County, NY, these last few days.

Don’t take my word for it, though, just ask Capt. Casey Prisco of Matamoras, Pennsylvania.  He was fishing in the Monroe County Offshore Classic last weekend out of Rochester and ran his boat 153 miles round trip in the one-day contest, settling in to fish off Niagara County in Wilson.  The fish zone was 71 to 111 feet down over 130 to 180 feet of water, using a Dreamweaver UV Frog spin doctor and an A-Tom-Mik Twinkie set-up.  With the A-Tom-Mik meat set out 205 feet on a diver.  Another productive rod was a 10-inch white green dot Dreamweaver spin doctor with A-Tom-Mik meat set down 91 feet.  He went 21 for 22 on fish for the morning before running back – catching nearly 84 pounds for five fish.

For local captains, the new A-Tom-Mik stud fly has also been a hot ticket for kings, too.  Earlier this week, we had some fishing writers from Germany show up in town for an “I Love NY” familiarization tour.  They did spend a few hours in the morning, catching salmon and steelhead with Capt. Mike Johannes and On-The-Rocks charters out of Wilson before travelling to their next stop.

The day before, they fished the Lower Niagara River for smallmouth bass with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters, catching roughly 25 fish on spinnerbaits. The biggest was 6 pounds. 

Fishing with Captain Frank Campbell, visitors to the Lower Niagara River in Niagara County, NY, are cashing in on GIANT smallmouth bass, like this 6-pound bronzeback.

There are quite a few fishing contests in the month of July and two are going on right now.  They include the Lake Ontario Counties Summer Trout and Salmon Derby and the 27th Annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby.

If you are going fishing on Lake Ontario, if even for a day, make sure you sign up.  Day passes are available.  Leading fish for the $10,000 Grand Prize is Lee Beaton of Clifton Springs, NY, with a 27 pound King caught out of Wilson.  Darryl Raate of Fulton is leading the steelhead division with another Wilson fish – this one weighing 13 pounds.  Top brown is 16 pounds, 2 ounces and the first place lake trout is 22 pounds, 10 ounces. The derby continues through July 30. Go to www.loc.org for details. 

Meanwhile on the Erie Canal, the derby kicked off on Wednesday, July 5, and will continue through July 16.  There is a family pass for just $25 if you want to take advantage of a group entry fee.  The leader board is wide open.  Get out there and catch some fish.  Find out information at www.eriecanalderby.com

The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association is ready to have a party – a fishing party for its members.  You can join for just $10 and become part of the festivities, set for July 21-22 out of Olcott.  The first event on the fishing calendar is the Curt Meddaugh Memorial Tournament on Friday, a big fish contest that is free for club members.  All you have to do is register! Big fish for the day must be weighed in by 3 p.m. at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott.  On Saturday, the LOTSA Club Tournament will be going on all day.  This is a big fish contest, as well, and entry fee is $60.  Weigh in at Krull Park by 3 p.m. to be included for the cash prizes.  The final piece to the LOTSA fishing puzzle is the club’s 3-2-3 contest over the two days. Best 3 fish over 2 days of fishing, paying out the top 3 weights.  Entry fee is $50 for this portion of the contest.  The club picnic will be immediately following on Saturday and the awards will be handed out.  You can find out more information and also register for these contests at www.lotsa1.org. And speaking of LOTSA, the next meeting is July 13 at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara in Lockport, guest speaker will be Capt. Matt Yablonsky:  “Talking Small Boat King’s” at 7 p.m.

As we mentioned, bass fishing in the lower Niagara River has been decent and the moss really hasn’t been that bad.  In the upper Niagara River, bass and walleye are still cooperating at the head of the river and around Strawberry Island.  The best bait has been with a spinner and a worm.  Remember that you can now venture into Canadian waters without calling in.  Make sure you understand the live bait regulations and you are carrying a Canadian fishing license if you do cross the border. 

Bill Hilts, Jr.
Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303; p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303, f: 716-285-0809; www.niagarafallsusa.com

Destination Niagara USA Fishing – LAKE ONTARIO IS HOT!

  • Fishing Catching Details and Forecast (June 29, 2017)
Jake Romanack with a nice Lake Ontario King Salmon caught trolling last week off the Niagara Bar.

Lake Ontario salmon fishing action continues to be very good … if Mother Nature will let you get out there. The weather has been crazy this year and there were some reports of water spouts earlier this week.  Fish-Catching TV Show – Mark and Jake Romanack, with the Fishing 411 television show, had heard about the good salmon fishing and took a quick drive over from Michigan to film a show.  They arrived on Monday and filmed Tuesday and Wednesday mornings to complete the episode.  They caught a total of nine mature king salmon to 25 pounds plus a number of smaller salmon.  Methods: downriggers, slide divers, lead core, copper.  They caught fish on a variety of methods including downriggers down 65 to 75 feet over 100 to 150 feet of water just off the Niagara Bar; slide divers 120 feet back; 10 colors of lead core line; and 300 feet of copper line.  Best speeds were 2.7 to 3.0 miles per hour on the surface.  Be aware that there is a strong current out there in the lake that you may need to adjust to, probably related to the outflow of water through the St. Lawrence Seaway in an attempt to

Mark Romanack with a 25-pound Lake Ontario King Salmon caught off Niagara County.

lower more water from the lake. Water levels have started to come down, an encouraging sign – and just in time for the Summer Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby. That contest will run from June 30 to July 30. Get out there and catch a winning fish. Grand Prize is $10,000 for the largest salmon.  Website is www.loc.org. Wilson and Olcott are also reporting good king catches. Derby time is a great time to get out there!

Lower Niagara River fishing is still moving right along.  Moss was a little more prevalent on Tuesday morning after the storms on Monday afternoon.  Hopefully that was just from the high winds.  It was definitely fishable as a camera crew from China sampled the lower river fishing action.  Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls was tossing spinnerbaits along the shoreline and picked up some smallmouth.  Shiners and crayfish caught a mix of bass and sheepshead.  Bass are available all to way to the Niagara Bar.  Good news if you have a Canadian fishing license.  Anglers no longer have to call into Canada Border Services Agency if they cross the international boundary.  However, you still need a license and you must abide by the country’s bait regulations.

Matt Steffan with his 20-pound carp caught during the NYS Free Fishing Weekend.

Upper Niagara River fishing has been good for bass and walleye.  Bottom bounce a worm harness from a three-way rig at the head of the river or in front of Strawberry Island to take some nice ‘eyes.  Smallmouth bass have been hitting shiners and crayfish.  Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been doing well on largemouth using plugs and spinnerbaits.  Tube jigs will also work for bass.  A few musky were caught the past week, but mostly on the smaller-side in the upper 30-inch or lower 40-inch range.  Monster tubes caused some follows and hook-ups for Ryan Shea with Brookdog Fishing. Some nice steelhead were caught this week by customers of Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. Spinner and a worm did the trick around Strawberry Island.

In the Hooked on Fishing Tournament over the free fishing weekend in the Erie Canal, some impressive fish came to the scales.  Robert Grant reeled in a 6.25 pound bass; Dan Phelps hauled in a 4.28 pound pike; Mike Boncore weighed in a one pound perch; Matt Steffan out-dueled a 20 pound carp; and Dominic DiNardo earned first place with a 4-pound channel catfish.  A total of $3,000 was raised for the Boys and Girls Club of the Northtowns to send kids to summer camp.

Next contest coming up is the 27th Annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby, set for July 5 to 16. Get all of the details at www.eriecanalderby.com.  Seven species categories, 50 tagged fish and a 50 mile boundary from the Niagara River to Albion.  There is even a family registration for just $25. Get signed up today!

 Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303
p:
716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

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DESTINATION NIAGARA USA HIGHLIGHTS LAKE ONTARIO FISHING

  • Free Fishing this Weekend in New York State (June 24-25, 2017)
  • New USA-CANADA Border Fishing Rules Eased
  • Lake Ontario Counties Tourney Series Starting
  • Detailed Fishing Report for June 22, 2017
Scott Rohe with a nice Lake Ontario King Salmon.

Lots of good news in this week’s report. It’s a Free Fishing Weekend in New York State. However, you do have to abide by the fishing regulations. Check out www.dec.ny.gov to find out what the rules are in the waters you intend to fish.

This is also the weekend for the Hooked on Fishing Tournament presented by the Boys and Girls Club of the Northtowns both Saturday and Sunday. Everything is run out of Gateway Harbor, North Tonawanda. Register June 23 from noon to 6 p.m. or any time after 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more info visit www.bgcnt.net or call 873-9842 Ext. 211.

Lake Ontario salmon fishing continues to be very good all along the Niagara County shoreline. Good reports are coming from the Niagara Bar to Olcott and beyond. Salmon in the upper 20 pound range were caught all last week and Capt. Dan Evans out of Wilson, fishing in a tournament on the north shore, managed to reel in a 32 pound chunk pre-fishing and releases the fish to fight another day. Top lures include a variety of Dreamweaver metal, Silver Streaks and Michigan Stingers.

However, the bigger fish seem to prefer the spin doctor and fly combos. The new A-Tom-Mik Stud Fly is really working well, producing that 32 pounder we just mentioned. White crush-glow pattern.  Meat rigs are also tricking fish to hit. Yes, Lake Ontario is open for business!  Start in 100 feet of water and head north out to 300 foot depths. Salmon seem to be in the top 80 feet of water. And some steelhead have started to move in to accompany the salmon so make sure you put a few baits out for them, too. In other good news, the lake levels have started to come down.

Captain Danny Evans with another nice Lake Ontario King Salmon, sliding to get out of the picture!

According to lake level reports, the waterline has dropped over 4 inches already and the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Water Board has announced that after the three-day experiment last week to increase outflows, they are going to continue with it to provide additional relief in the lake. The Town of Newfane Marina launch area and the Lewiston Landing launch are your two best bets for easy boat launch access.

More good news is that the Canadian Government finally passed a law that no longer required Americans to call into Canada Border Services when crossing the international boundary. You still need a fishing license and need to abide by the country’s regulations, but the hassle of calling in is no longer required. Remember no live bait other than worms in approved bedding or in water. Nothing in dirt. No minnows or crabs. Still, it’s just gotten a whole bunch better.

With the Lake Ontario Counties, trout and salmon summer derby just around the corner, set for June 30 to July 30, anglers are excited to take advantage of the summer action. Check out www.loc.org for details. In addition, the New York State Summer Classic Fishing Tournament is on and running through August 31. There are a total of 10 different fish species categories and 55 weigh stations throughout the state. To find out more information, check out www.nyssummerclassic.com.

In the Lower Niagara River, water temperature are still slowly creeping up there.  Lake Erie hit 72 degrees this week, so the trout are history. The bad news is that the moss has become more of a problem.  Mostly bass were caught this week on jigs, Kwikfish and MagLips. Shore casters in the gorge have been using tubes, swim baits and marabou jigs. Inline spinners will work, too.  They can be caught but you will be cleaning your lures frequently.

Upper Niagara River bass fishing also continues to be good, but the moss is putting a kink in that action.  Some walleye are being caught at the head of the river and at the head of Strawberry Island on worm harnesses and jigs. The Great Lakes musky season opener was slow, probably due to the warmer water already flowing through the system.  For an outdoors update this week, check out www.buffalonews.com/section/sports/outdoors/ to find out what’s happening.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303 p: 1.877 FALLS US | 716.282.8992 x.303 | f:716.285.0809 website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Report for June 14, 2017

Chuck Grampp of Williamsville caught this nice salmon as Nick Glosser, first mate on the Thrillseeker helps out.

On Lake Ontario, salmon and trout fishing continues to be good.  Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane reports good numbers of fish in the area off Olcott and Wilson, but you have to adapt and locate the fish.

Heavy current and winds have scattered fish, but a mix of salmon and trout can be found in 100 to 300 feet of water.  Flasher-fly, meat rigs and spoons like Dreamweaver’s and Michigan Stinger’s have been producing fish on a consistent basis.  Pierleoni just returned from the Orleans Open Salmon and Trout Tournament last weekend where he placed second – less than 5 points behind the winner, Capt. Ed Monette and Cannonball Runner.  Pierleoni actually caught one more fish that Monette – 16 to 15 – but scoring is based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound.  

This Saturday is the opening of the regular bass season so you will probably see a few more boats heading out.  

The Newfane launch ramp at Olcott is not having any water issues and launching is not a problem.  All the boat slips are viable.  The kids fishing derby set for June 24 in the Town of Newfane marina has been cancelled for this year.  

This coming Saturday, June 17, is the Wilson Conservation Club’s 31st annual kids derby from 8 a.m. to noon.  Fish in any Niagara County waters. This contest is based on length and you must have your fish measured by noon.  Call 930-7500 for more info.  The club is located on Route 425 near the water tower.  

In Tonawanda, the kids derby will be at Niawanda Park near the band shell along River Road.  Registration starts at 8 a.m.  There are other activities going on in addition to the fishing. 

In addition, that same day will be the start of a new event across the state – the New York State Summer Classic Fishing Tournament, and running through August 31.  There are a total of 10 different fish species categories and 55 weigh stations throughout the state. To find out more information, check out www.nyssummerclassic.com.

In the Lower Niagara River, water temperature is still slowly creeping up there.  Only a few steelhead and lake trout are still holding on.  Mostly bass were caught this week on jigs, Kwikfish and MagLips.  The regular season opens on Saturday the 17th and live bait can then be used again.  Shore casters in the gorge have been using tubes, swim baits and marabou jigs.  Inline spinners will work, too.  Moss hasn’t increased that much.  The worse is yet to come.  Take advantage of the clearer water while you can.

Upper Niagara River bass fishing continues to be good.  Remember that the regular bass season opens Saturday (June 17). Speaking of bass, the Annual Opening Day Bass Contest sponsored each year by Kelly’s Korners, will NOT be held this year.  Organizers for the tournament didn’t want to see the big bass end up in a fish fry and they decided to retire the event to help protect the resource. Some walleye are being caught at the head of the river and at the head of Strawberry Island on worm harnesses and jigs.  Great Lakes musky season opens up this Saturday, too. For some tips and a nice story on the Niagara Musky Assn., check out www.buffalonews.com/section/sports/outdoors/ this week.

NOTE: There is still a state of emergency along the Lake Ontario shoreline for high water levels.  This isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff is asking that boats creating a wake stay at least 600 feet from shore.  This doesn’t include trolling.  Caution is advised for floating debris when you are out in the lake moving around.  The problem seems to be launching.  The best spot to be right now is the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott.  Fort Niagara has an open launch but you need boots up to your knees or above.  Golden Hill State Park launch is closed and Wilson-Tuscarora Park is day to day (but you need hip boots there, too).  It’s worth the effort for the good fishing!

Travel Destination: NIAGARA USA

  • Water Temp Rising Now, Salmon Hitting with Fish to 22 Pounds
  • Smallmouth Bass Fishing is Good on Upper and Lower Niagara River
  • Southtowns Lake Erie Walleye Contest runs June 10-18

Niagara County, NY; June 9, 2017.   Despite record high water levels in Lake Ontario, salmon and trout fishing continues to be good in the lake, although it did slow down a bit with the recent east winds.  Some good fishing was being reported over the weekend from Tanner Niezgoda, of Newfane, while fishing out of Olcott

Jason Krebs with a pretty Lake Trout taken in the Lower Niagara River on a drift.

Best depths were 60 to 80 feet down over 150 to 300 feet of water with spoons and flasher-fly combos. Salmon up to 22 pounds were caught by Tanner and his sister.

Many of the captains have been tight-lipped on information with the Orleans County Open happening this weekend.  Be forewarned about the Niagara Bar with a report that moss is starting to come down through the river system.

In the Lower Niagara River, the fishing has been good to very good the past week.  Steelhead and lake trout are still holding on, but they probably won’t be around for long as the water nears the 60 degree mark. Minnows, Kwikfish and MagLips were all working on trout from boats up in Devil’s Hole; shore casters in the gorge have been using tubes, swim baits and marabou jigs.

That same hardware will also work on smallmouth bass downriver, but Chuck Booker of Amherst proved that his signature in-line spinners can also catch bass by going 17 for 20 on his last outing this week north of the sand docks in Lewiston.  

Yes, some moss is starting to show up, but you can still catch fish just fine. It will continue to get worse, though, as the month progresses.  Outdoor Writer Mike Brown of Ohio came into town over the weekend and his crew of family and friends managed to catch about 40 fish while fishing with Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston.  Tip of the week: Don’t set your rod down to take a picture for your story in the Niagara River without reeling in a little line first.  Anyone who hooks into a nice spinning outfit in the river with a brand new reel on it could be returned to Capt. Joe.

Tanner Niezgoda, of Newfane, New York, Caught a beautiful lake Trout fishing Lake Ontario out of Olcott Harbor.

Upper Niagara River bass fishing also continues to be good.  Remember that the regular season doesn’t open until the third Saturday in June (June 17 this year) and if you are targeting bass, you must use artificial baits.  Speaking of bass, the Annual Opening Day Bass Contest sponsored each year by Kelly’s Korners will NOT be held this year.  Organizers for the tournament didn’t want to see the big bass end up in a fish fry and they decided to retire the event to help protect the resource.  Some walleye are being caught at the head of the river and at the head of Strawberry Island on worm harnesses and jigs.  This could be a sleeper area for the Southtowns Walleye Association’s tournament that kicks off on Saturday, June 10. www.southtownswalleye.org

To help Celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week, there will be a Free Fishing Clinic at Ellicott Creek Park on Saturday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Call Mike Todd at 851-7010 to pre-register – although it’s not required.  

Just a quick reminder on water levels: There is still a state of emergency along the Lake Ontario shoreline for high water levels. This isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff is asking that boats creating a wake stay at least 600 feet from shore. This doesn’t include trolling.  Caution is advised for floating debris when you are out in the lake moving around.  The problem seems to be launching.  The best spot to be right now is the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott.  Fort Niagara has an open launch, but you need boots up to your knees or above.  Golden Hill State Park launch is closed and Wilson-Tuscarora Park is day to day (but you need hip boots there, too).  It’s worth the effort for the good fishing!!

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast – May 24, 2017

  • Kings, Coho’s, Lures
  • Lake Ontario Water Levels Still High
  • Upper Niagara & Lower Niagara Action
Fishing with Capt. Mark Vilardo, Kingfisher Charters, Jon Eckert of Lockport, reeled in a 30-pound King Salmon last Thursday fishing out of Olcott Harbor on a flasher-fly.

Lake Ontario

Just a quick reminder on water levels: There is still a state of emergency along the Lake Ontario shoreline for high water levels. This isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff is asking that boats creating a wake stay at least 500 feet from shore. This doesn’t include trolling. Caution is advised for floating debris when you are out in the lake moving around. The problem seems to be launching. The best spot to be right now is the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott. Fort Niagara has an open launch but you need boots up to your knees or above. Golden Hill State Park launch is closed and Wilson-Tuscarora Park is day to day (but you need hip boots for sure). It’s worth the effort for the good fishing!!

Lake Ontario Pro-Am Tourney

Congratulations to all of the winners in the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Tourney out of Wilson and Olcott last weekend.  The Screamer team led by Dave Antenori of Pennsylvania was on a mission. After placing second in the Wilson Harbor Invitational the weekend before, they wanted to take the first place prize in the Niagara County/Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament held May 19-21 out of the ports of Wilson and Olcott.  After catching a 12-fish tournament limit the first day, he was poised to be in a perfect position as he sat in second place – behind Team Maverick and Capt. Chris LoPresti.  After a very windy blow day on Saturday, it was all business on Sunday as the team boated another limit and won the Niagara County version of the Pro-Am and the $15,000 prize with a score of 471.02 points (10 points per fish and a point per pound).  Second place was Maverick led by Capt. Chris LoPresti, taking home a check for $7,500 with a score of 448.59 points.  Third place went to Dirty Goose/Cold Steel led by Capt. Casey Prisco ($5,000) with 447.79 points, followed by Vision Quest and Capt. Pete Alex ($2,500) with 429.84 points. Big fish for the tournament was a 24.04 pound king salmon caught by Thrillseeker led by Capt. Vince Pierleoni.  He won $300 plus a new Raymarine Axiom Unit.

The Screamer Team, led by Dave Antenori of Pennsylvania, took top prize in the Niagara County/Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament.

In the Amateur Division, it was Mother Moose winning the $500 prize and a special Cup for the three day event.  Anonymous, last year’s cup winner, led by John Muehl, won the Day 3 contest for the amateur open, but it wasn’t enough to repeat.  Big fish for the day was Dipsy Ranger with a king salmon weighing 19.23 pounds.  In the Amateur Open, each day was a separate contest.  Day one winner was Dipsy Ranger led by John Nevlezer.  Day two winner (by drawing due to inclement weather) was HK1 and Chris Petrucci.  Big fish prizes, good for $500 and an ITO Flies prize package were: Day one – Mean Machine and Kyle Hovak with a 19.43 pound king salmon; Day two (drawing) – Streaker and Matt Dunn; Day three – Dipsy Ranger with a 19.23 pound king salmon.

Best action for kings and cohos has been out in 110 to 300 feet of water. DW Super Slims and Spin Doctors with the new A-Tom-Mik stud fly doing pretty good right now in the top 80 feet of water. Riggers, dipsy divers and 200 and 300 feet of copper. Browns can still be caught inside of 50 feet. Congrats to Jon Eckert of Lockport who reeled in a 30 pound king last Thursday out of Olcott on a flasher-fly. He was fishing with Capt. Mark Vilardo, Kingfisher Charters.

Lower Niagara River

Lower Niagara River fishing action is still good in Devil’s Hole where boaters were using minnows and egg sacs to take trout off three-way rigs. Try coloring up the minnows with Pautzke Fire Dye in chartreuse. Steelhead, lake trout, silver bass and smallmouth bass are still all being caught from boat and shore but water temps are heating up so the trout won’t be around long.  The New York Power Authority stated that the fishing platform was closed down again on Monday due to high water levels. It will remain closed until water levels recede. Before you head down fishing there, you might want to call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to see if it’s open. White jigs were working for Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls earlier in the week when he caught silver bass, smallmouth and lakers. No problems at the Lewiston launch ramp but Fort Niagara is having some issues with the high water. The south ramp is closed. As waters continue to rise, the north ramp could be closed soon, too.

Upper Niagara River

Upper Niagara River fishing action has been good for a mixed bag of fish the past week. Decent walleye have been caught along with bass and lake trout. Good numbers of lake trout are showing up as bass casters target catch and release smallmouth.

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast – May 18, 2017

  • LOC Derby Winners Announced
  • Water Levels Still High
  • Big Fish and Favorite Lures
Chris Shaffer with Pautzke was in town this week filming for the company website on the lower Niagara River with Capt. Frank Campbell.  Frank caught this dandy steelie on a shiner that was treated with Pautzke fire dye in chartreuse.

Lake Ontario: Just a quick reminder on water levels: There is still a state of emergency along the Lake Ontario shoreline for high water levels.  This isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff is asking that boats creating a wake stay at least 500 feet from shore.  This doesn’t include trolling.  Caution is advised for floating debris when you are out in the lake moving around.  The problem seems to be launching.

The best spot to be right now is the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott.  Fort Niagara has an open launch, but you need boots up to your knees or above.  Golden Hill State Park launch is closed and Wilson-Tuscarora Park is day to day (but you need hip books for sure).

In the LOC Derby that ended last Sunday, the Grand Prize winner for the $15,000 check was Paul Nienaltowski of Michigan, with a 27 pound, 8 ounce king out of Wilson while fishing the Niagara Bar.  He was using a Diabolical meat rig.  First place in the Salmon Division was a 25 pound 5 ounce king out of Wilson, reeled in by Lee Beaton of Clifton Springs. Big brown trout was a 16 pounds, 12 ounce fish out of Olcott – weighed in by Dave Rafle of Pennsylvania. Top lake trout was also out of Niagara County, a 22 pound 10 ounce from the Niagara Bar – reeled in by Brian Marketich of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Water color is still a factor and you may have to go deeper.  Most of the fish are coming on spoons, but flasher-fly and cut bait rigs are also working.

Congrats to Tom Allen and his A-Tom-Mik team for winning the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament last Saturday. They caught six fish – the tournament limit – to record the top score among 46 boats total.  One of his hot baits was a new A-Tom-Mik meat rig.

The Don Johannes and Pete DeAngelo memorial big fish-three fish contest was held today in the high winds.  The wind kept some teams away for sure. Winner was Big Cat led by Greg Catrabone with a big fish of 20.04 pounds and a three fish total of 85.74 based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound.  No details were revealed because tomorrow is the next contest.

The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Tourney is May 19-21.  We’ll have a full report next week. Good luck to all you tournament fishermen and women.

Lower Niagara River fishing action is still good in Devil’s Hole where boaters were using minnows and egg sacs to take trout off three-way rigs.  Steelhead, lake trout, silver bass and smallmouth bass are still all being caught from boat and shore.  The New York Power Authority stated that the fishing platform was closed down again on Monday due to high water levels. It will remain closed until water levels recede.  Before you head down fishing there, you might want to call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to see if it’s open.

Yellow and silver jigs were working for Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls earlier in the week when he caught 30 silver bass, 6 smallmouth and a laker.  No problems at the Lewiston launch ramp, but Fort Niagara is having some issues with the high water.  The south ramp is closed.  As waters continue to rise, the north ramp could be closed soon, too.

 

Upper Niagara River fishing action has been good for a mixed bag of fish the past week. Decent walleye have been caught along with bass and lake trout. Good numbers of lake trout are showing up as bass casters target catch and release smallmouth.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303 p: 1.877 FALLS US | 716.282.8992 x.303 | f:716.285.0809 website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

 

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast for May 11, 2017

The current LOC Grand Prize leader for the $15,000 check is now Paul Nienaltowski of Michigan, with his 27 pound, 8 ounce King Salmon out of Wilson, NY.

LAKE ONTARIO – Lake Ontario Water Level Warning: Just a quick reminder on water levels: There is still a state of emergency along the Lake Ontario shoreline for high water levels.  This isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff is asking that boats creating a wake stay at least 500 feet from shore.  This doesn’t include trolling.  Caution is advised for floating debris when you are out in the lake moving around.  The problem seems to be launching.

Launches: The best spot to be right now is the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott.   Fort Niagara has an open launch, but you need boots up to your knees or above.  Golden Hill State Park launch is closed and Wilson-Tuscarora Park is day to day (but you need hip books for sure).

Spring LOC DERBY:  The Spring LOC Derby (www.loc.org) is entering into its final weekend and it’s still not too late to enter.  The current Grand Prize leader for the $15,000 check is now Paul Nienaltowski of Michigan with a 27 pound, 8 ounce king out of Wilson.  No sharing of information there – too many fishing contests coming up.  First place in the Salmon Division is a 25 pound 5 ounce king out of Wilson, reeled in by Lee Beaton of Clifton Springs. Big brown trout at 16 pounds, 12 ounces is out of Olcott – weighed in by Dave Rafle of Pennsylvania.  Top lake trout is also out of Niagara County, a 22 pound 10 ounce from the Niagara Bar – reeled in by Brian Marketich of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Young 13-year old Gianni Etopio of Youngstown hooked into a big largemouth bass this week while fishing for perch off Lewiston Landing.

Most of the salmon seem to be in 80 to 120 feet of water. Water color is a factor and you may have to go deeper. Most of the fish are coming on spoons, but flasher-fly and cut bait rigs are also working according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott.

Lake Ontario Tournaments just ahead:  The Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament is this Saturday, May 13.   The Don Johannes and Pete DeAngelo big fish-three fish contest is May 18 – sign up at any of the LOC Derby weigh stations in Wilson and Olcott.   The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Tourney is May 19-21 – sign up at www.lakeontarioproam.net. The deadline is May 15 at 5 p.m. Good luck to all you derby fishermen and women.

LOWER NIAGARA RIVER – Fishing action picked back up again in Devil’s Hole earlier this week- the place with the cleanest water.  In Devil’s Hole, boaters were using minnows to take trout off three-way rigs.  Some had double-digit days.  The high water levels in the river have not had a huge impact on the area fishing … so far.  The problem has been with water clarity.  It is slowly clearing up downriver.  However, a recent report from the New York Power Authority stated that the fishing platform was closed down again on Monday due to high water levels.  It remained closed until water levels receded.  Before you head down fishing there, you might want to call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to see if it’s open.

Parker Cinelli of Grand Island hit a monster smallmouth from shore on a tube jig this week that stretched over 21 inches long.

Steelhead, lake trout, smallmouth bass and silver bass can still be caught off the shoreline in Devil’s Hole.  White and silver jigs were working for Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls earlier in the week when he caught lake trout and silver bass.  Young 13-year old Gianni Etopio of Youngstown hooked into a big largemouth bass this week while fishing for perch off Lewiston Landing.  Nice catch!

In the Upper Niagara

River, Parker Cinelli of Grand Island hit a monster smallmouth from shore on a tube jig this week that stretched over 21 inches long.

If you want to learn more about the fishing in Lake Ontario, you’ll want to attend the next LOTSA meeting tonight, May 11 in Lockport starting at 7 p.m. They will be holding a round table session with their members. To reiterate on the Pro-Am, May 15 is the deadline at 5 p.m. No exceptions.

Bill Hilts, Jr.
Outdoor Promotions Director

Inline image 2
Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast – May 3, 2017

  • High Water in Lake Ontario
  • Lewiston Smelt Festival on May 5
  • LOC Tournament is On
  • Lower Niagara Fishing Platform News
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught numerous smallmouth bass last week tossing white and yellow jigs from shore at the NYPA Reservoir. Fun Fishing!

There is still a state of emergency along the Lake Ontario shoreline for high water levels. This isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff is asking that boats creating a wake stay at least 500 feet from shore. This doesn’t include trolling. Caution is advised for floating debris when you are out in the lake moving around.

The Spring LOC Derby (www.loc.org) is full steam ahead so good luck to all your derby fishermen and women.

For fishing, it’s been a mixed bag for trollers. Stickbaits or spoons in tight to shore off boards or riggers in 10 to 25 feet of water for browns, a bit deeper for Coho salmon and the occasional king salmon.  After the hard east blow last Sunday, things need to settle down a little for the kings to show back up again in any numbers.  If there is a mud line, work it for any shoreline trolling.  Head out to 50 to 125 feet of water for lake trout on the bottom and Cohos up top, too.

The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament is set for May 19-21 out of Wilson and Olcott. The registration link is now live for registering.  Go to www.lakeontarioproam.net.  Of particular note is the revamped Amateur Open Division with each day being a separate event.  Just bring in your best three fish and win some great prizes.

The Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament is May 13. Check out www.wilsonharborinvitational.com for details.  Speaking of Wilson, if you launch at the state park, bring along some boots.  At least until the new floating docks are put into place. Those should be in by this Saturday.

The Don Johannes and Pete DeAngelo 3-fish/1-fish contest is May 18 as a precursor to the Pro-Am. Sign up at any of the LOC weigh stations in Wilson and Olcott.

The piers are questionable because of the high water levels. Don’t take any chances out there.  The pier at the foot of Route 425 is currently underwater.  Yes, it’s over 20-inches high out in the lake.  The creeks are all high and muddy. More rain is on the way!

Lower Niagara River fishing action slowed down considerably yesterday with the muddy rain water coming down the river.  The place with the cleanest water was Devil’s Hole or on either side of the river current in the lake.  The high water levels in the river have not had a huge impact on the area fishing … so far.

However, a recent note from the New York Power Authority stated that the fishing platform built at the Niagara Power Project was closed on Monday due to high water levels.  It remained closed until water levels receded.  Before you head down fishing there, you might want to call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to see if it’s open.  As of May 3 it was back open again.

Some steelhead, lake trout, smallmouth bass and silver bass have been caught off the platform last week. Those fish can still be caught off the shoreline in Devil’s Hole and along Artpark, too.  Some nice bass were also caught downriver on swim baits and jerk baits. Another fishing option is the NYPA Reservoir.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught numerous smallmouth bass last week tossing white and yellow jigs.  There is access at Reservoir Park and off Upper Mountain Road at the Fire Company.

The Fort Niagara launches in the Lower River should both be open on Friday of this week.

If you want to learn more about the fishing in Lake Ontario, you’ll want to attend the next LOTSA meeting May 11 in Lockport starting at 7 p.m. They will be holding a round table session with their members.

The Lewiston smelt festival is set for May 5. Cooking starts at 5 p.m. For more details on that, go to the www.niagarariverregion.com.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303 p: 1.877 FALLS US | 716.282.8992 x.303 | f:716.285.0809

www.niagarafallsusa.com

website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

 

 

Spring Kings Now! Niagara USA Fishing

  • Fishing Report: April 28, 2017
  • Fishing Good, but Water Levels are High
  • Big Fish Tournaments Next Up
  • Shore Fishing in Niagara River is Good
John Van Hoff with an early spring King Salmon in Lake Ontario off the Niagara County shoreline.

Lower Niagara River trout action improved the past week and anglers have been doing well with egg sacs or emerald shiners fished off three-way rigs from boats.  Kwikfish and MagLips will also work off three-ways, but you have to make sure you are getting the wobble on the plug.  Jeff and Justin Tedesco of Lewiston were using gold Kwikfish with pink scale recently to take steelhead up to 17 pounds and they had to power troll to get the action they needed to trigger fish bites.

Devil’s Hole and Artpark have been good drifts to target, but you may have to use your trolling motor to speed you up or slow you down – depending on what bait you are using.

Shoreline casters are still tossing spoons and spinners and picking up a few trout.  Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was out on Wednesday along Artpark and he hit six lake trout, two rainbows and two smallmouth bass while casting spinners.  One of the rainbows was 12 pounds.

The LOC Derby opener is May 5 to 14. Go to www.loc.org to find out details including registration points and weigh stations.

The Lewiston smelt festival is set for May 5. For more details on that, go to the www.niagarariverregion.com.

Mike Rzcidlo with a nice Rainbow Trout he caught shore casting in the Lower Niagara River.

Lake Ontario is still in a state of emergency along the shoreline for high water levels. This isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff is asking that boats creating a wake stay at least 500 feet from shore. This doesn’t include trolling. Caution is advised for floating debris when you are out in the lake moving around.

For fishing, it’s been a mixed bag for trollers. Stickbaits or spoons in tight to shore off boards or riggers in 10 to 25 feet of water for browns, a bit deeper for Coho salmon and the occasional king salmon.  If there is a mud line, work it.  Head out to 50 to 125 feet of water for lake trout on the bottom and Coho’s up top, too.

John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda had good king success last weekend using 5 and 7 colors of lead core and Dipsy-divers just west of the Niagara Bar and we heard other successful trollers hitting kings just west of the Bar. The key was finding good green water where it met with the clear water.

The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament is set for May 19-21 out of Wilson and Olcott. The registration link is now live for registering. Go to www.lakeontarioproam.net.

The Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament is May 13.  Check out www.wilsonharborinvitational.com for details.

The creeks still have trout in them but the water is stained.

The piers are questionable because of the high water levels. Don’t take any chances out there. The pier at the foot of Route 425 is currently underwater.

Yes, the water level is over 20-inches high out in the lake.

Upper Niagara River has good perch reports from all around Grand Island.  Emerald shiners are the best bait to use…if you can find them.

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast – April 20, 2017

  • Heavy Rains Curb Trib Fishing for a Few Days
  • Emerald Shiner Bait Schools Are Heavy
  • Sign Up for Tournaments Now
Chuck Bialecki of Colden, New York, caught this early King Salmon while fishing off Wilson with Captain Carl Martin and Dublin Up Charters.

Lake Ontario

Out in the lake, it’s been a mixed bag for trollers.  Stickbaits or spoons in tight. to shore off boards or riggers in 10 to 25 feet of water for browns, Coho salmon and the occasional king salmon.  Head out to 50 to 125 feet of water for lake trout on the bottom and Cohos up top, too.  

There is a press conference happening today that is declaring a state of emergency along the Lake Ontario shoreline for high water levels. This isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff is asking that boats creating a wake to stay at least 500 feet from shore. This doesn’t include trolling. 

The LOC Derby opener is May 5 to 14. Go to www.loc.org to find out details including registration points and weigh stations.

The Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament is May 13. Check out www.wilsonharborinvitational.com for details.

The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament is set for May 19-21 out of Wilson and Olcott. The registration link is now live for registering. Go to www.lakeontarioproam.net.  

Lower Niagara River

Lower Niagara River trout action continues to be inconsistent from both boat and shore although we saw a bit of an uptick from the boat drifters just in the last few days.  The smelt have continued running in the Lewiston area and dippers have been going out every night.  It hasn’t been a strong run so far, but they are still getting a fair number of the tasty baitfish.  Go to Artpark or head downriver away from the lights at the sand docks.

Getting back to the fishing, shoreline casters are tossing spoons and spinners and picking up a few trout.  Boaters are doing a little better because they can move around to look for active fish.  Devil’s Hole is your best bet with shiners or egg sacs, but with so much bait in the river right now, it’s tough to get the trout to hit.  Some boaters have opted to turn the corner at the fort and troll the shoreline for browns, Cohos, lakers, steelies and the occasional king salmon.  Stickbaits and spoons primarily.

Another option has been to cast for bass, Cohos or browns with spoons or jerk baits.

The Lewiston smelt festival is set for May 5. For more details, go to the www.niagarariverregion.com.

Niagara County Trib’s

It’s pouring rain right now so the creeks will be full again by Friday.  The high water is affecting the docks in Wilson and Olcott so you might want to contact the marina for alternatives before you come in from out of town.  

The creeks still have trout in them but you will probably have to wait until those levels come down a bit. Bullhead are still hitting over in Wilson, as well.  Suckers have moved in and perch are everywhere in the harbors.  If the water is dirty, you may have to wait for it to clear a bit for perch.  

The piers are questionable because of the high water levels.  Don’t take any chances out there.  The pier at the foot of Route 425 is currently underwater.  Yes, it’s over a foot high out in the lake.

Upper Niagara River

In the upper Niagara River there have been good perch reports from all around Grand Island.  Emerald shiners are the best bait to use.  

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303
p:
1.877 FALLS US | 716.282.8992 x.303 | f:716.285.0809
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Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast – April 12, 2017

  • Smelt Run is On!
  • Dippers out Every Evening!  
  • Lewiston Smelt Festival set for May 5
Hans Mann of Eden, New York, shows a 29-inch Brown Trout he caught Tuesday off Fort Niagara in Lake Ontario.

Lower Niagara River

Trout action continues to be spotty from both boat and shore following the storms that came through last week.  The big news is that the smelt have started running in the Lewiston area and dippers have been going out every night.  It hasn’t been a strong run so far, but they are getting some.  The Lewiston smelt festival is set for May 5.  For more details on that, watch the Outdoor Beat this week on Time Warner Cable/Spectrum or On Demand on the website at www.lctv.net.

Getting back to the fishing, shoreline casters are tossing spoons and spinners and picking up a few trout.  Boaters are doing a little better because they can move around to look for active fish.  With so much bait in the river right now, it’s tough to get the trout to hit.  Some boaters have opted to turn the corner at the fort and troll the shoreline for browns, Cohos, lakers and steelies.  One boat Tuesday caught all four, including a nice 29 inch brown using Thundersticks.  No reports on kings on the Niagara Bar yet.  

The LOC Derby opener is May 5 to 14.  Go to www.loc.org to find out details including registration points and weigh stations.

Niagara County Trib’s

The water level and flow at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek is finally coming down and slowly starting to clear.  Last report was that the water was at 380 cfs and the some fresh steelhead have shown up ready to drop eggs.  Of course, eggs or egg imitations will be the preferred bait, but you can still catch them on jigs or crawlers.

Keg and Hopkins creeks should also be holding fish.  

The Wilson Conservation Club bullhead contest was a success last weekend despite poor conditions for the most part. Most of the winning fish were caught Sunday morning. Leading the way was Joel Feagin of Wilson with two fish weighing in at 4 pounds, 5 ounces.  He was using shrimp in the east branch of 12 mile creek.

Pier action is picking up for casters in Wilson and Olcott using spoons and spinners. Browns are the primary target.

Lake Ontario

Out in Lake Ontario, it’s been a mixed bag for trollers. Stickbaits or spoons in tight to shore using boards or downriggers in 12 to 25 feet of water for browns, Coho salmon and the occasional Atlantic salmon.  Head out to 40 to 60 foot depths for lake trout.

Nick Glosser holds up an 11-pound Atlantic Salmon he caught with this West Virginia angler aboard Thrillseeker II.

The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament is set for May 19-21 out of Wilson and Olcott. The registration link is now live, go to www.lakeontarioproam.net

The Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament is May 13.

If you want to learn more about spring salmon fishing, attend the next LOTSA meeting on April 13 at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara on Route 78 in Lockport.  At 7 p.m., local angler Matt Dunn will pass along some of his secrets on how he won several Lake Ontario contests including the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey last year.  Some Daiwa representatives will also be in attendance to talk about their new Great Lakes rods and reels.  

For more information on LOTSA, check their new website out at www.lotsa1.org.  

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303
p:
716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
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Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

New York State – Summary of New Freshwater Fishing Regulation Changes for 2017/18

From the NYSDEC, the following is a summary of the freshwater fishing regulation changes for the April 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018 period:

  • The 18 inch minimum size limit and daily creel limit of 3 walleye has been eliminated in Chautauqua Lake (Chautauqua County) and Franklin Falls Flow (Essex County).  The statewide limit is now the rule: 5 walleye limit per day, 15-inch minimum, from the 1st Saturday in May through March 15 (2018).
  • Ice fishing is now permitted on Rushford Lake in Allegany County.
  • The Lake Erie and tributaries 20 inch minimum size limit, 1 fish daily limit black bass regulation has been expanded to run December 1 through the Friday before the third Saturday in June.
  • Fishing is now prohibited at any time on Buttermilk Creek in Cattaraugus County from the mouth to Fox Valley Road Bridge.
  • An 18 inch minimum size limit and daily creel limit of 3 has been established for walleye in Titicus Reservoir (Westchester County); Sacandaga Lake and tributaries and outlet and Lake Pleasant and tributaries (Hamilton County); Kiwassa Lake, St. Regis Falls Impoundment, and Little Wolf Pond (Franklin County); Putnam Pond (Essex County); Cazenovia and DeRuyter lakes (Madison County); Waterport Reservoir (Orleans County); Rio Reservoir (Orange and Sullivan counties); East Sidney Reservoir (Delaware County); Taghkanic Lake (Columbia County); Canadarago Lake (Otsego County); and additional portions of the Seneca River (Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca and Wayne counties).
  • Three short sections of Fish Creek, Indian River and Grasse River in St. Lawrence County have been closed to all fishing from March 16th until the opening of walleye season.
  • The number of brown trout and rainbow trout that can be kept as part of a 5 fish daily limit in Skaneateles Lake has been reduced to no more than 3 of either species.
  • The allowable daily harvest of brown trout and rainbow trout has been reduced from 5 of each to 3 of each and the allowable daily harvest of lake trout has been increased from 3 to 5 as part of the 5 in any combination daily limit regulation for trout, lake trout, and landlocked salmon on Cayuga and Owasco lakes.
  • The minimum size limit for rainbow trout has been increased from 9 to 15 inches on Owasco, Skaneateles and Otisco Lake tributaries.
  • Crane Pond (Essex County) has been reopened to ice fishing.
  • The restriction on the number of devices allowed for ice fishing on Bigsby and Copperas ponds (Essex County), Upper Saranac Lake (Franklin County), and Fawn Lake (Hamilton County) has been continued.
  • The daily limit for northern pike in the St. Lawrence River has been reduced from 5 to 3.
  • The special trout regulation on Whey Pond (Franklin County) has been eliminated. Use of baitfish is still prohibited.
  • The special regulation for landlocked salmon on Piseco Lake (Hamilton County) has been eliminated.
  • The minimum size length for lake trout in Woodhull Lake (Herkimer County) has been decreased from 21 to 18 inches.
  • The prohibition on the use or possession of smelt in Lake George has been removed and smelt may now be caught by angling.
  • The special regulation for black bass in the Hamilton County portion of the Hudson River has been eliminated.
  • The minimum size limit for trout at Colgate Lake (Greene County) has been decreased from 12 to 9 inches.
  • The taking of suckers by snatching (but not blind snatching) from January 1 through March 15 in specific portions of the Otselic and Tioughnioga rivers in Cortland County is now permitted.
  • Snatching and blind snatching of lake whitefish is no longer permitted on Piseco Lake in Hamilton County.
  • Spearing bullheads and suckers in all Cayuga and Oswego county tributaries to Lake Ontario is no longer permitted.

Several changes were also made to clarify or better define existing regulations.

 

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast for April, 6, 2017

There’s a good story on the 31 pound brown trout caught by Bob Klemm of Pennsylvania fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters in the Buffalo News this week.  Check out www.buffalonews.com in the sports section and look for the big fish!  

Lower Niagara River

Glenn Strzelczyk with a nice early season bullhead from Wilson Harbor, New York.

 

Lower Niagara River trout action was spotty from both boat and shore before the storms blew in. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls scored on some nice trout off the fishing platform just before the water started to change color on spinners. Water levels also increased significantly and they had to shut the platform down for the day.  For the time being, forget about any river fishing for at least a few days. There is two inches of rain coming down today; and tomorrow, April 7, it looks like up to five inches of snow.  It will disappear quick because the weekend looks good.  Sixty’s on Sunday; 70’s on Monday. Finding a place to fish, though, may be difficult with high muddy water everywhere until things settle down. There have been a few smelt reported at Artpark – mostly some bigger adults – but hopefully the best is yet to come.

Lake Ontario and Tributaries

Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek is high and muddy.  So is every other creek.  Your best bet for fishing is for bullhead.  Some good catching was being reported (before the rain though) from Wilson, Olcott and in the Upper Niagara River.  Nightcrawlers, cider worms, chicken livers and shrimp are baits that are being used.  The Wilson Conservation Club bullhead contest is set for April 7-9.  Weigh in is held out of the Wilson Conservation Club, 2934 Wilson Cambria Road (Route 425), Wilson.  The tournament is based on your best two fish with the tie-breaker being the overall length of the two fish.  Any Niagara County waters are eligible.  Entry fee is $10 for 13 years of age and older; free for junior anglers 12 and under. The fun contest actually starts at 5 p.m. on Friday and runs until 1 p.m. on Sunday. All weigh-ins will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wilson club. You can register at CMC Auto Repair, 418 Lake Street, Wilson or The Slippery Sinker, 5780 W. Main Street (at Jackson), Olcott.  If you have any questions, contact Eric at 628-6078.

Tom Miles Jr. with a stocker from Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls, New York.

On Saturday, April 8, the LOTSA pen rearing project will start at the Town of Newfane Marina starting at 9 a.m.  They will ready the pens and get them in the water to prepare to receive the fish.  And if you want to learn more about spring salmon fishing, attend the next LOTSA meeting on April 13 at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara on Route 78 in Lockport. At 7 p.m., local angler Matt Dunn will pass along some of his secrets on how he won some Lake Ontario contests.  Some Daiwa representatives will also be in attendance to talk about their new Great Lakes rods and reels.  A few boats have been out in the big lake catching some browns and lake trout.  Stickbaits, spoons and flasher-fly combos were all catching fish last Sunday.

The Hyde Park Lake, Gill Creek and Oppenheim Park Pond trout stockings took place yesterday, April 5. Oppenheim Park Pond, along Niagara Falls Blvd. in Wheatfield, received 100 browns and 200 rainbows Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls received 200 two-year-old browns and 1,650 yearlings. In addition, Gill Creek was the recipient of 540 browns from Buffalo Avenue upstream to the dam at the lake.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303
p:
716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
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Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast for March 30, 2017


Rich (left) and Bob Klemm holding up the 31-pound Brown Trout caught Monday while fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls.  It was caught on a Spottail Shiner.

The big news this week was the 31 pound Brown Trout caught by Bob Klemm of Pennsylvania fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters.  That’s all we are going to tell you this week because it will be a feature in the Buffalo News next week on Thursday, April 6. You have to hear the whole story on this one.

Lake Ontario and Tributaries

The weather forecasters are calling for some rain this Friday so that could put a damper on the stream action off Lake Ontario.  

Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek is stained, but there is good flow.  Silver steelies are being caught, but you do have to work for them.  Jigs tipped with wax worms or grubs will work as will small floating stickbaits two to three inches long in rainbow color patterns.  

There is no ice on the piers any more so catching hardware like spoons and spinners is the way to go.  Minnows and worms will also work.  

Smaller creeks like Keg Creek, Hopkins Creek and both branches of 12-Mile Creek were flowing nicely.  

Some bullheads are being caught in Wilson, perfect timing. The Wilson Conservation Club bullhead contest is set for April 7-9.  Weigh in is held out of the Wilson Conservation Club, 2934 Wilson Cambria Road (Route 425), Wilson.  The tournament is based on your best two fish with the tie-breaker being the overall length of the two fish.  Any Niagara County waters are eligible. Entry fee is $10 for 13 years of age and older; free for junior anglers 12 and under.  The fun contest actually starts at 5 p.m. on Friday and runs until 1 p.m. on Sunday.  All weigh-ins will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wilson club.  You can register at CMC Auto Repair, 418 Lake Street, Wilson or The Slippery Sinker, 5780 W. Main Street (at Jackson), Olcott.  If you have any questions, contact Eric at 628-6078.

Lower Niagara River

Lower Niagara River trout action has been decent from both boat and shore.  Some days you have to work a little more than others.  Best drifts have been Devil’s Hole and Artpark for rainbows and lake trout, but you should be able to find trout throughout the river system.  Egg sacs have been working best on the steelhead; minnows for the lake trout.  Boat drifters are using 3-way rigs to bounce the bottom.  

For browns, target down river closer to the lake with minnows or shiners.

From shore, casters are still using spoons, spinners and egg sacs in the gorge from Artpark to the Whirlpool.

The New York Power Authority Fishing Platform in the Niagara Gorge, as well as the stairs leading down to the shoreline along the NYPA access road near Niagara University, will be open for business on April 1.  Also on April 1, the NYPA reservoir is also open for fishing. 

The NRAA John Long, Sr. Memorial Raffle and Feast is April 1 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Niagara Active Hose on Lockport Rd. in Niagara Falls. Great eats!

The Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding its 12th Annual John Long, Sr. Raffle and Feast is set for April 2 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Niagara Active Hose on Lockport Road in Niagara Falls. Call 628-1460 for information.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303
p:
716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

 

Destination Niagara USA Fishing Forecast

  • Report for March 23, 2017
  • Fish Bite is On at Burt Dam
  • Early Spring Weather Brings Rain and Snow Melt
Matty Wagner of Tonawanda caught this two-tone steelhead at Burt Dam on an egg sac. According to a fish pathologist, this was probably the result of some type of spinal injury.

After digging out from the March snow storm last week, things are finally settling in to more spring-like conditions. Not everything is perfect though. The weather forecasters are calling for some rain this weekend, especially Saturday and Sunday. That should get all of the streams flowing nicely once they settle down from higher water levels. A gradual increase in temperature has been good for melting off the snow at a slow and steady pace.

Lake Ontario and Tributaries

Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek have been the place to go as steelhead and browns continue to be the primary target.  We’ve had reports of some fresh steel coming into the creek in the last couple of days so this will be a good time to take advantage of some migrating trout. There is a mix of both pre-spawn and post-spawn steelhead.

For post-spawn trout, look for meat like worms and minnows. Pre-spawn is more of an egg sac or grub bite. Jigs will work, too. You just have to figure out what the fish want. Twelve mile and Keg Creek should both be good options, too.

In the harbors of Wilson and Olcott, some perch and northern pike have been biting. Remember that pike are out of season.  The piers still have some ice on them, but that should be gone after the weekend.  With some ice chunks in the harbor, look for some shoreline trolling to take place starting next week.  

The Wilson Conservation Club bullhead contest is set for April 7-9. Mark your calendar.

On April 8, the LOTSA pen rearing project will start at the Town of Newfane Marina starting at 9 a.m.  They will ready the pens and get them in the water to prepare to receive the fish.

Speaking of fish, if you are wondering when they will be trout stocking Hyde Park Lake, Gill Creek and Oppenheim Park Pond in Niagara Falls, mark April 5 on your calendar.  Oppenheim Park Pond, along Niagara Falls Blvd. in Wheatfield, will receive 100 browns and 200 rainbows around 10 a.m. Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls will receive 200 two-year-old browns and 1,650 yearlings at 11 a.m.  In addition, Gill Creek will be the recipient of 540 browns from Buffalo Avenue upstream to the dam at the lake.

Lower Niagara River

Lower Niagara River action has been decent from both boat and shore. No major winds or rains caused the water to muddy up so it’s been pretty consistent for both boat and shore fishermen.

Best drifts have been Devil’s Hole and Artpark, but you should be able to find trout throughout the river system – steelhead and lake trout with the occasional brown thrown in. Egg sacs have been working best on the steelhead; minnows for the lake trout.

Pautzke fire brine has been working on the minnows to color them up a bit, but the clear has been working on the eggs before you tie the sacs up.  Boat drifters are using 3-way rigs to bounce the bottom.  From shore, casters are still using spoons, spinners and egg sacs, but the hot bait the past week has been jigs.  Tip a jig with a Gulp minnow or offer up a jig with a lot of flash, color and hair. Both steelhead and lake trout have been hitting.

April 1 will probably see the NYPA Fish Platform open up again, as well as the reservoir.  The NRAA John Long, Sr. Memorial Raffle and Feast is April 1 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Niagara Active Hose on Lockport Rd. in Niagara Falls.

The Antique Tackle Show is Saturday, March 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge on North Canal Rd., Lockport. 

The Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding its 12th Annual John Long, Sr. Raffle and Feast is set for April 2 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Niagara Active Hose on Lockport Road in Niagara Falls. Call 628-1460 for information.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA, 14303
p:
716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Niagara USA Fishing Forecast

  • Report for March 17, 2017

Early Spring Weather Brings SNOW & WIND

Jim Steel with a nice laker in the Lower Niagara River gorge.

Niagara County was hit with a pretty severe snow storm this week, with some areas of the county digging out of over two feet of the white stuff. With that said, there was still plenty of fishing going on for anyone willing to brave the elements.

Lake Ontario and Tributaries

In Lake Ontario and the tributaries, the lake and piers have pretty much been off-limits with the snow, wind and cold.  The only open water has been at Burt Dam on 18 Mile Creek and a few browns and steelhead have been caught.  Egg sacs, small jigs tipped with a wax worm or spikes, a few different fly patterns, the fish change their mind on what they want on any given day. Hopefully it will get better next week!

If you enjoy antique fishing tackle, there will be an antique fishing tackle show in Lockport on March 25. It will be held at the Elks Lodge, 6791 N. Canal Road, Lockport from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information call Dan Bedford at 713-9410.

Lower Niagara River

In the Lower Niagara River, both boat and shore fishermen were pulling some nice trout out of the water. Even with the snow and wind, the water was still fishable due to the northerly wind directions.

Boaters were drifting pink egg sacs or minnows off three-way rigs in Devil’s Hole and along Artpark.  Steelhead and lake trout were the most cooperative, but the occasional brown trout is also showing up.

Shoreline casters are still using spoons and spinners, but the secret bait on Tuesday was soft plastics that were being cast by Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield.  He caught 5 nice lake trout in the blizzard.

Remember that walleye season is now closed, along with northern pike, pickerel and tiger musky.

The Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding its 12th Annual John Long, Sr. Raffle and Feast is set for April 2 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Niagara Active Hose on Lockport Road in Niagara Falls. Call 628-1460 for information.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303 p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809 website | facebook | twitter | blog

Niagara USA Fishing Forecast

• Report for March 2, 2017

Roller Coaster Weather in Niagara County, New York
That rollercoaster weather ride continues, creating problems for area anglers. Warm temperatures into the 60s this week plunged into the 20s within 24 hours.  Mild temperatures into the 40s are in the forecast for the weekend. There has been no consistency … like the fishing.

Lake Ontario and tributaries
For Lake Ontario and the tributaries, fishing in 18 Mile Creek has been hit or miss. You have to work for your trout … or an occasional salmon.  Along with that, there have been perch and northern pike swimming around from the dam to the harbor.  Even out in the lake. In fact, some brown trout trollers off the mouth of the creek trolling stickbaits off planer boards are reporting a fair number of pike being caught, too.

Back to Burt Dam, the water has been stained, primarily due to recent rains.  Flow last Sunday was over 300 cfs, but that is settling down a bit now.  The increased flow definitely pulled some more fish into the creek.  Egg sacs and egg imitations are both good baits to start with. Jigs fished under a float and tipped with a spike or a wax worm will catch some fish, too.

Over in Wilson Harbor, pike and a few trout are hanging around. Some perch as well. Try casting for brown trout off the short pier at the end of Route 425. Check out some of the other small streams, too, like Keg and both branches of 12 Mile. Speaking of Wilson, make sure you mark April 7-9 on the calendar for the annual contest sponsored by the Wilson Conservation Club.  Call Eric at 628-6078 for details.  Remember that the State of Lake Ontario public meeting is set to be held at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, 4487 Lake Avenue (Route 78), Lockport on March 7 starting at 6:30 p.m.

Lower Niagara River
Lower Niagara River action was on hold after the most recent set of wind and rain elements that saw temperatures soar into the 60s and drop 40 degrees.  Water was stained at mid-week.  Just prior to the blow, there were mixed reports on success.

Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma had a good day on the water with Captains Frank Campbell and Jim Hanley last Thursday.  If you want to see how good, check out the Buffalo News for Thursday, March 2, 2017.  Egg sacs, Kwikfish and minnows all caught fish that day, but the most effective was treated eggs put into sacs by Campbell and fished up in Devil’s Hole.

Around that same time, some shore guys were casting spoons and spinners in the gorge and taking some nice steelhead and lake trout.  The Niagara Bar has been a little slow, in part because of the excessive amount of baits around and the stained water.  Look for fishing to slowly improve by the weekend.  It was tough today in the river and the bar.

For those of you we have been asking about the Fort Niagara launch ramps, the total project should be completed by the end of May.  As least one ramp will be functional by early May for the start of the LOC Derby May 5.  They are connecting the two launches with docks on the water.

April 2 is the John Long, Sr. Memorial feast with the Niagara River Anglers.  More information will be on their Facebook page soon.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Niagara USA Fishing Forecast

  • Report for Feb. 17, 2017
  • Free Fishing Weekend in NY
Diane Lorka of Pittsburgh earlier in the week and managed to catch her a 17-pound steelhead.

Lower Niagara, Lake Ontario, Niagara County Trib’s 

It’s a free fishing weekend Feb. 18-19 for anyone who wants to sample some fishing around the state.  It was designed to promote ice fishing, but you will be hard pressed to find some safe ice around Western New York.  Temperatures will be up to 50 degrees into next week.

In the Niagara River, water is still stained, but you can catch fish if you work for them.  Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston took out Diane Lorka of Pittsburgh earlier in the week and managed to catch her a 17-pound steelhead while drifting a Kwikfish lure off a three-way rig.  MagLips will also work to catch fish.  Egg sacs and minnows will work on any given day and you may have to experiment a bit to see what the fish want.

Capt. Arnie Jonathan of Lockport took out a couple of Alaska fishing guides mid-week – Joe Romano and Kyle Kruchten – and they were three for seven in Devil’s Hole using minnows off three-ways.

Water will continue to be stained heading into the weekend, but if the winds subside, it should start to clear up slowly.  Shore anglers have been picking up a few trout too, casting hardware or fishing eggs/beads, or a combo

Capt. Arnie Jonathan of Lockport took out a couple of Alaska fishing guides mid-week – Joe Romano and Kyle Kruchten – and they were three for seven in Devil’s Hole.

of both.  With temperatures warming up to 50 this weekend and into next week, we should see some increasing fish activity in the river.  If we don’t have any wind, check out the Niagara Bar too.

In 18 Mile Creek, Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott reports stained water with a flow of over 100 cfs.  The creek is open and you have the option of being able to catch a trout but you do have to work for them. The smaller creeks are still low and clear.

Saith Shine of Sanborn was three for three on steelies at mid-week at Burt Dam using different combos like a jig tipped with a wax worm and a bead above it, egg sacs and a combo of baits.  Incidentally, Shine won a local contest through the “Fishing Nerds” Facebook page for cleaning up some of the local streams in a little challenge contest by the site and Greg Schloerb of Amherst.  Let’s keep those streams as natural-looking as possible

On Saturday, Feb. 25, there will be the annual rack scoring day with official scorers Dave Muir and Don Haseley at Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda.  They will be scoring from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Whether it’s a rack you shot last fall, one you found or just an old rack that’s been laying around the garage and you always wanted to know what it scored, stop down and share your story.

If you are looking for a fishing boat, check out the WNY Boat Show February 22 to 26 at the Adpro Sports Fieldhouse located at 1 Bills Drive in Orchard Park.  Talk with a wide variety of marinas and boating-related vendors. To find out more information go to www.buffaloboating.com.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Niagara USA Fishing Forecast

  • Report for Feb. 10, 2017
  • Contests Point To Methods and Places

Lake Ontario, Lower Niagara, Trib’s 

A nice walleye from the Lower Niagara River this week. Photo Submitted by Bill Hilts

A great way to get a gauge on the local fishery is to follow the results of area fishing contests.  For example, the Niagara River Anglers Association held its annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest on the Lower Niagara River and in Lake Ontario tributaries last Saturday (Feb. 4) during some pretty adverse weather conditions.  Despite cold temperatures, stained water and gusty winds, some fish were caught during the friendly competition.

At the top of the list at the end of the day was Ed Waller of Lewiston, who hauled in a 9.62 pound steelhead from Devil’s Hole while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island.  He was drifting an emerald shiner on a three-way rig, with a chartreuse bead above it.  Second place was an 8.08 pound steelhead reeled in by Norm Deitrich of Haverford, Pennsylvania, caught on a minnow.  He was using Waller’s boat along Artpark at 1:50 p.m. when the fish hit.  Third place was Fran Szovati of Cold Springs, Kentucky, with a 7.88 pound steelhead.  He caught it on an emerald shiner-trout bead combination, fishing with Capt. Ted Kessler of Grand Island – also in Devil’s Hole.

Down on 18 Mile Creek near Burt Dam, a few brown trout were caught.  Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga hauled in a couple nice trout, including a fish that was around 9 pounds.  However, he thought that it would never place in the money so he released it.  The only fish he brought to the scales was a 5.82 pound brown trout for a special brown division.  He missed by .02 pound to place in the money.  Winning brown was a 5.84 pound trout reeled in by Capt. Tyler Morrison of Barker.  He was using a jig tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float.

In the Niagara River, water is still stained but it was starting to clear up yesterday. Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston, NY, caught 8 steelhead yesterday, all on egg sacs upriver.  However, as the day progressed, it was getting muddier and Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown could only muster walleye for customers as visibility dropped to less than a foot.  It doesn’t look good for the weekend or early next week.

In 18 Mile Creek, Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott, reports stained water with a flow of about 150 cfs.  The creek is open and you have the option of being able to catch a trout, but you do have to work for them.  The smaller creeks are low and clear.

Niagara River Anglers Association, February 2017 Contest Winners. Photo Submitted by Bill Hilts

Free Ice Fishing Weekend – New York

If you’ve ever thought about giving ice fishing a try, next weekend might be the perfect time, if you can find some ice.  It’s a free ice fishing weekend Feb. 18-19 for anyone who wants to sample some hard water fishing around the state.  You can find other spots by doing a little online exploring.  Make sure you have at least 4-inches of ice.

Wilson harbor could be back up to snuff in the back bay, but make sure you check things out first. Meyers Lake near Bond Lake, might be an option, too. Give it a go!

On Saturday, Feb. 25, there will be the annual rack scoring day with official scorers Dave Muir and Don Haseley at Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda.  They will be scoring from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Whether it’s a rack you shot last fall, one you found or just an old rack that’s been laying around the garage and you always wanted to know what it scored, stop down and share your story.

If you are looking for a fishing boat, check out the WNY Boat Show that will run Feb. 22 to 26 at the Adpro Sports Fieldhouse located at 1 Bills Drive in Orchard Park.  Talk with a wide variety of marinas and boating-related vendors.  To find out more information go to www.buffaloboating.com.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Fishing Report: Orleans County, New York

Lake Ontario Tributaries – Melting Snows

Today is Wednesday February 8, 2017.

WINTER?

The temperature roller coaster continues with temperatures in the 50’s today and then below freezing for the next two days.

The good news is that all of the tributaries within Orleans County are at least partially open if not fully open.

The bad news is that it has been a very bad year for ice fishermen.

With the days of winter slowly dwindling, a fisherman’s thought now turns toward the first days of spring, but Mother Nature could still throw us some curves.

Fishing on the “Oak” is still producing some decent steelhead fishing and there are still some brown trout thrown into the mix.

On the lower stretches of the “Oak” there is open water, but I haven’t heard of anyone going for yellow perch as of now.

I’ll still be at the Great American Sportsmen’s Show in Harrisburg until this Sunday so it you’re in the area stop in.

From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County.  We try to make everyday a great fishing day in Orleans County.

Email: sportfishing@orleansny.com

Niagara USA Fishing Forecast

  • For Feb. 3, 2017
  •   Walleye to 11.5 pounds Caught This Week!
Big steelhead like this one can be caught in the lower Niagara River if the conditions are right.
Big steelhead like this one can be caught in the lower Niagara River if the conditions are right.

Lake Ontario and Trib’s 

Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek is still the place to go in Niagara USA for tributary action. Conditions have been good and small jigs fished under a float and tipped with a wax worm is always a good options. Egg sacs or egg imitations can catch a fish or two. Brown trout and steelhead are both being caught. The occasional Coho salmon is still showing up, too.

Lots of perch in 18-Mile along with a few pike.

Over in Wilson, skim ice is starting to form in the harbor and it will be cold at night through the weekend.  Not sure if we will see safe ice before it warms up again. We started seeing some colder temperatures again.  Remember New York State will be holding a free ice fishing weekend Feb. 18-19 if we get some hard water. No one will need a license that weekend. Go to the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov.

Some of the smaller streams like Keg and Four Mile might not be open at the mouth to allow entry. If they are closed, cast the mouth with spoons and spinners. If they are open, look for some trout to be available.

Niagara River

Last year's winner of the NRAA steelhead contest - Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga, NY. 
Last year’s winner of the NRAA steelhead contest – Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga, NY.

The Niagara River Angler Association’s Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest will be going on starting at sunrise on Saturday Feb. 4 and you can sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle, The Slippery Sinker and off the NRAA website at www.niagarariveranglers.com. Call 731-4780 for more information. It’s not just for the lower Niagara River either. Boundaries also include Lake Ontario tributaries.

For fishing conditions, it sure is difficult to predict.  Because Lake Erie is not frozen over, it seems like any kind of a wind event out of the west or south will cause the lake to muddy up.  That muddy water will then go through the river system and shut fishing down for a while.  It’s very difficult for the charter guys, too.  With many customers coming in from out of town, it’s been a roll of the dice whether or not they can get it right.  If the water is stained, go with baits that are brightly colored like a chartreuse.  Egg sacs have also been working and use brightly-colored mesh. Some of the guides have been using the Pautzke fire dye on minnows to get the fish to hit.

Three-way rigs are the way to go.  Plugs like 3.0 MagLips and K-8 or K-9 Kwikfish will also work for you. Make sure you are getting some action on those lures.  If not, move your boat along with your trolling motor.  Boat control is key.

Shore fishermen are still using spoons, spinners, jigs, egg sacs or egg imitations like beads. Steelhead and lake trout are both readily available throughout the river. The occasional brown trout is also caught.

Some nice walleye up to 11.5 pounds have been caught the past week. Remember that you can only keep one fish per person through March 15. If you are looking for one for the frying pan, keep one of the smaller ones. Let the bigger females go so that they can spawn this spring.

More information on local fishing: http://buffalonews.com/2017/02 /01/fishing-beat-feb-1/

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Niagara USA Fishing Forecast

  • For Jan. 30, 2017
  • No Ice, Boaters Catching Browns, Steelies!
Dick Preston of Hamlin, NY shows off a nice steelhead caught during the greater Niagara Fishing Expo's on-water educational lessons taught by area captains. The boat educator was Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Thrillseeker Charters on the Lower Niagara River.
Dick Preston of Hamlin, NY shows off a nice steelhead caught during the greater Niagara Fishing Expo’s on-water educational lessons taught by area captains. The boat educator was Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Thrillseeker Charters on the Lower Niagara River.

Lake Ontario and Trib’s 

It’s still a bit of a hit or miss in the creeks, but fish are being caught despite brown water in 18 Mile.  Burt Dam flow is 170 cfs at the end of this week and anglers are seeing active trout and steelhead.  Perch have been driving the trout guys nuts.  Some pier casting, too. 

Wilson was seeing some action, as well. 

Keg Creek was clear but there is a large beaver dam between the mouth and the road. 

The big news was over the weekend, when some milder temperatures and decent lake conditions saw some small boats hit the lake and do some near-shore trolling for brown trout.  Fish were caught between Wilson and Olcott, as well as east of Olcott in front of the microwave tower in 10 to 20 feet of water.  Best baits have been Bay Rats, Challenger and Rapala lures for the boats we talked to. 

Colors depend on water clarity. Firetiger and chartreuse work well if there is a distinct mud line.  If the water is just off-color a bit, go with more natural presentations like goby color, black and silver, and the like.  

If we start getting some colder temperatures, the state will be holding a free ice fishing weekend Feb. 18-19 if we get some hard water again.  No one will need a license that weekend. Go to the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov

Niagara River

With a winter storm blowing in off Lake Erie for the next few days, conditions are already effecting the Niagara River fishing both above and below NIagara Falls.  Water looked like chocolate milk this morning driving in and things will have to clear up before any fishing can take place – and this storm is expected to hang on through Sunday. 

Shore fishermen will probably be the first to see some cleaner water and your best bet will be to cast spoons and spinners in bright colors.  Cast something that makes some noise and draws attention to it.  

It was good to see the seminar room jam packed for Ricardo Davila’s shore fishing seminar at the Expo last weekend. Then again, most all of the seminar rooms were packed, too – walleye, perch, bass, salmon, trout, electronics.  Great to see so many people clamoring for information.  

Hopefully the river will be clear next Saturday.  The Niagara River Angler Association’s Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest will be going on starting at sunrise and you can sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston, The Slippery Sinker in Olcott; and off the NRAA website at www.niagarariveranglers.com.  Call 731-4780 for more information.  It’s not just for the lower Niagara River either.  Boundaries also include Lake Ontario tributaries.  

One of the issues the past week before the water muddied up, was the fact that there was a lot of bait present in the system.  Small and medium-sized smelt were reported from area captains who had an issue on the catching end a bit.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Niagara USA Fishing Forecast

  • For Jan. 20, 2017
  • Lake Ontario and Trib’s 
Jon Robins and Eric Dixon of Niagara Falls, New York, hit this double-header while fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell.
Jon Robins and Eric Dixon of Niagara Falls, New York, hit this double-header while fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell.

It’s a bit of a mess in the creeks, but some fish are being caught – like the 21 pound, 2 ounce brown trout caught this week by Charles Young of North Tonawanda while fishing a jig in 18 Mile Creek near Burt Dam.  The rain on Tuesday brought a few more fish into the system and the warm-up is turning a few perch on when the water is clear enough.

It looks like it will hit the 50 degree mark this weekend.  Water conditions are stained, so you might want to check out the Niagara Outdoor Expo this weekend and learn how to catch more fish.

Don’t try the ice in Wilson even though 4 inches was reported last weekend.  Stop into the Expo instead and visit with Clam Outdoors!  Timing is everything.

Lower Niagara River

Timing was perfect for fishing to turn on because one new attraction to the Fishing Expo is morning educational lessons on the river, taught by area fishing charter captains.  Four hours of fishing with in-depth instruction for a show special rate.  Information can be found on the Expo website or you can contact 716-523-0013 for details.

The river has a nice green color to it and boat captains and customers have been catching fish from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar.  Steelhead, lake trout, walleye and even a teenage king salmon hit a shiner at the mouth of the river this week.

Shore anglers have been catching their share of trout in the gorge, using spoons, spinners, jigs and beads.

Some good news on the stocking front – the lower river will now receive a dedicated stocking of 15,000 brown trout each year instead of receiving only surplus stockings. They will also receive some surplus browns if they are available. Great News!

Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo

The local fishing community is gearing up for a huge celebration of our natural resources with the opening of the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls, it runs Jan. 20-22.  This year’s event will be the best ever.  Speakers like Bassmaster Pro Mark Menendez, Fishing 411 TV hosts – Mark and Jake Romanack, Electronics Expert – Lance Valentine and Walleye 101, Ice Fishing Legend Dave Genz and the Ice Team will be supporting a huge display by Clam Outdoors and much, much more!

Some 70 different speakers will be dishing out 130 seminars over the course of the three days. Over 125 vendors will be displaying their products and selling the heck out of them. This is an event focused on fishing and please help us pass the word – education is the key for so many things to expand, enhance and improve our sport.

Become part of a fishing movement. Check out www.niagarafishingexpo.com.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Niagara USA Fishing Forecast for Jan. 5, 2017

Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo

Get ready for the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo Jan. 20-22, 2017, at the Conference and Event Center in Niagara Falls. Just today, the show announced that Bassmaster Pro Mark Menendez will be stopping by the Rapid Fishing Solutions booth Saturday and Sunday, as well as give a couple of seminars in the Rapid Fishing Solutions Bass Seminar Room! How cool is that?!

2016 Niagara River Anglers Association steelhead winner, Bob Rustowicz
2016 Niagara River Anglers Association steelhead winner, Bob Rustowicz

Squeezing in a couple seminars isn’t an easy proposition for a show that already has 130 talks lined up with 70 different speakers. Clam Outdoors will be there with Thorne Brothers taking up a big chunk of floor space for all you ice fishermen out there, bringing with them some of the ice team … like Dave Genz!

Mark Romanack with the Fishing 411 TV show will be there with his son, Jake to talk walleye and salmon fishing and Lance Valentine with Walleye 101 will be talking boat electronics. The list goes on and on.

Go to the website at www.niagarafishingexpo.com for all of the details. And make sure you grab your $5 parking pass voucher!!

Lake Ontario and Trib’s 

Fishing was tough at 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam due to the rain, which had created muddy conditions on Tuesday.  Today’s temperatures are in the teens and there’s no one fishing.  When things settle down, look for the extra flow to bring in a few more fish. Last weekend, we saw a few more salmon showing up – a mix of kings and coho’s. Steelies and browns are still available, too.  Use jigs tipped with wax worms and fished under a float. Wooly buggers, egg flies and other baits will work, but with the water off color, use bright colors like chartreuse and orange. Using scent can also help.

Lower Niagara River

Water was like chocolate milk this morning. We’ll have to wait and see what the weather brings us. Winds with gusts up to 50 mph yesterday did some damage to the water and with lake effect storms happening up on Lake Erie as this is being written, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen. The shoreline usually clears up first.

Casting spoons and spinners is the best approach, but eggs or egg imitations will also work; jigs, too. Lake trout, steelhead and the occasional brown can be caught along Artpark and Devil’s Hole. Be careful of icy conditions. Walleye is still open but the daily limit is now one fish through March 15.

The Niagara River Anglers have announced that the Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest is set for Feb. 4 this year. Check out information on their website at www.niagarariveranglers.com.

Upper Niagara River 

Not too much happening above the falls except for late season duck hunting. Action has been good for divers.

for-sto-01062017-picture-2of2

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Winter Stream Fishing in Western New York

Greg Schloerb of Amherst, New York, caught this nice 10.7 pound brown trout in 18-Mile Creek at Burt Dam, a Lake Ontario tributary.
Greg Schloerb of Amherst, New York, caught this nice 10.7 pound brown trout in 18-Mile Creek at Burt Dam, a Lake Ontario tributary.

Lake Ontario and Trib’s 

There is some fishing going on in area tributaries with water flow.  Greg Schloerb of Amherst shared some information he garnered first hand from Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek in the Town of Newfane.  Water was low and clear, making fishing difficult, but he did manage to catch some nice browns, steelhead and a small Coho salmon fishing the creek the day before and the day after Christmas.  Rain and snow melt didn’t help much in the water clarity department and flow was down.  The hot bait for Schloerb was a hand-tied white jig tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float using his center pin outfit. 

The highlight Monday morning was a -header fishing with his buddy, Saith J. Shine, of Niagara Falls. Greg topped the duo with a 10.7 pound brown.  Cold temperatures are supposed to be blowing back into Western New York quite literally and we’ll see what the lake effect storm brings us on the weekend.  

Ice action at Wilson is marginal.  Some safe ice still exists.  Scott Brauer of Gasport recently tried it and he had five inches of ice, but he was next to some open water.  Be careful out there! 

Remember the start of the NYS Winter Classic Tournament (www.nyswinterclassic.com) and the Captain Bob’s Contest is Jan. 1 and 2 respectively. 

Niagara River  

Fishing is on hold right now.  Water is stained.  Near perfect conditions in the Lower Niagara River earlier in the week will undoubtedly be affected by the high winds and cold front that moved through the region on Monday and Tuesday.  In fact, Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters was battling the winds on Tuesday morning and it was a tough drift from a boat.  He could also watch the water slowly change color and make it more difficult for the fish to see the bait. With the wind, Kwikfish and MagLips seemed to work best. 

Young 8 year-old Paul Orsi of Youngstown had the hot hand earlier this week, catching both walleye and lake trout.  As of Jan. 1, the walleye limit drops from three to one in the lower river.  Also remember, lake trout season opens up on Jan. 1 in the lower river; it’s open all year on the upper river and Lake Erie. 

Once things settle back down – maybe by the weekend – we should see egg patterns showing back up as another option.  Shore fishing continues to be a mix of spoons, spinners, eggs and egg imitations.  Look for slightly clearer water and brightly colored lures or baits to tip the fishing in your favor.  

Glenn Strzelczyk of the Town of Niagara reports that upper river action was good for lake trout recently, especially at the foot of Ferry Street and along Broderick Park. Spoons and spinners work there, too.

Have a happy and safe New Year in 2017!!

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast, Friday, November 25, 2016

Lake Ontario, Niagara River

Fishing with Captain Larry Jones, Chris Kempf hooked and landed a beautiful 45" Muskie from the Upper Niagara River.  Larry Jones Photo
Fishing with Captain Larry Jones, Chris Kempf hooked and landed a beautiful 45″ Muskie from the Upper Niagara River. Larry Jones Photo

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day celebration!  With the long weekend, many people are out there hunting and fishing.  Hope you can find the time to enjoy it with family and friends.  As the days tick away, remember that November 30th is the final day for musky season in New York State – with the exception of the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario.  That season will end on Dec. 15.  Also, Nov. 30 is the final day for the regular bass season, but Dec. 1 kicks off a catch and release season for bass in New York until the season reopens next June.

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

Best spot to be is still 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam for trout and the last remaining semblance of a salmon run.  Browns, steelhead and salmon are still available, but water is low and clear for the most part.  Downsize your baits to single eggs, small sacs or smaller streamers and wooly buggers in more natural colors.  Perch and pike are still an option in Olcott and Wilson Harbors.  Casting the piers are an option if the winds will let you.  Another good spot to cast is off creek mouths that have jammed up mouths that won’t let fish in.  Cast with spoons and spinners and you should pick up some fish.

Lower Niagara River  

In the Lower Niagara River trout fishermen are still doing well, especially along Artpark. Spoons, spinners and beads lead the way as top enticements from shore.  Be careful out there as water temperatures start to drop.  Paul Luzzi of Lewiston was using a Lazy Larry’s bead off a three-way rig along Artpark recently and managed to catch two steelhead, two lake trout … and a whitefish!  Like we say time and time again, that’s one of the best things about fishing in the Niagara – you never know what you are going to catch!  Remember that lake trout season is closed in New York until the end of the year, but if you venture over into Canadian waters, the season opens on Dec. 1.  That’s not very far away!  Best baits from boats have been Kwikfish and MagLips; spoons, spinners, eggs or egg imitations from shore.  Artpark has been the best spot to target.

Upper Niagara River 

With the water clearing, this is the last hurrah for musky and bass as far as regular seasons are concerned.  Some nice muskies have been reported and this is the time of year you can take a true trophy. With a minimum size of 54 inches though, catch and release as best you can, as quickly as you can.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, October 7, 2016

Right now, King Salmon are on the angler menu in Niagara County, New York. Wet Net Charters Photo

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

A few fish are still being caught off the Olcott piers the last couple of nights on the lake side of the piers. While spoons are normal hardware for casting there, it was Rattletraps that made the difference of late. Try skein under a float, too. A few slugs of salmon made it up into the harbor but no further than that according to reports. A few browns at the dam but only early in the morning at first light. Hopefully this rain that is in the forecast for Saturday will trigger some sort of a run in the creek at 18 Mile.

Over in Wilson Harbor, there has been a good bite on northern pike. Try casting spinnerbaits. Wilson Pier is a good spot for browns, too, if we get some water flow coming out of the creek. Maybe this weekend.

If you want to make it out into the lake for some trolling action, the better bite has been out deep for a mix of immature kings and some trout. Spoons are the way to go. Anchoring up at the pier heads in Olcott is another option to try and cast for kings.

Lake trout season ended on Sept. 30.

Lower Niagara River –

Rob Morrison of Ashtabula, Ohio shows off a nice king in Devil’s Hole while fishing with Capt. Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston.

The kings finally showed up in Devil’s Hole a bit more frequently. Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston is reporting a minimum of five kings every trip out. Secret to his success if the “magic eggs” that have been cured by his wife, Lisa at Creek Road Bait and Tackle. He uses three-way rigs and bounces bottom to take his fish. According to him he is out-fishing everyone!

The NYPA Fishing Platform is still one of the best spots for a king salmon. Casting spoons, spinners or rattle baits can catch fish, but the best is yet to come. Other shore anglers have been using spoons, spinners and jigs to take a mix of fish, including bass and walleye. Try up toward the Whirlpool area, too.

Some action along Artpark on mixed species. River water temp was down to the 60’s.

Bass fishing continues to be spotty. Some days are better than others.

The south launch ramp at Fort Niagara is closed as of Oct. 3 for some work on the ramp, shoreline and the dock.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass action should start to pick up as water temps start to cool down. Ditto for musky action.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, September 30, 2016

fishreport9_30a

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

A call from Chuck Booker of Amherst reported that there were a few fish caught off the Olcott piers the last couple of nights on the lake side of the piers. While spoons are normal hardware for casting there, it was Rattletraps that made the difference and they produced two kings and a steelhead for Ricardo Davila!

A few slugs of salmon made it up into the harbor, but no further than that according to reports. A few browns at the dam. Hopefully this rain that is in the forecast will trigger some sort of a run in the creek at 18 Mile.

Don’t forget that the King of the Creek salmon contest is being run by “All in the Same Boat Tackle” will run to Nov. 6. There is a boat and a shore category. Call 716-638-4158 for more info.

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Over in Wilson Harbor, there has been a good bite on northern pike according to Pastors Dave Emmons and Nate Hlad of Newfane. Try casting spinnerbaits. Wilson Pier is a good spot for browns, too.

If you want to make it out into the lake for some trolling action, the better bite has been out deep for a mix of immature kings and some trout. Spoons are the way to go. Anchoring up at the pier heads in Olcott is another option to try and cast for kings. Lake trout season ends tomorrow until the end of the year.

Lower Niagara River –

Anxious anglers are waiting in force to try and catch king salmon. Capt. Steve Drabczyk reports that he caught three kings Tuesday in Devil’s Hole – the best we’ve heard so far from boaters. Then some Facebook posts went up and Capt. Ernie Calandrelli reported a five for nine day on kings on Wednesday, so it appears to be picking up a little bit. The rain is certainly helping. Treated egg skein off three way rigs is best for the boaters.

The NYPA Fishing Platform is still one of the hotspots for your best chance for a king salmon. Casting spoons, spinners or rattle baits can catch fish, but the best is yet to come. Other shore anglers have been using spoons, spinners and jigs to take a mix of fish, including bass and walleye. River water temp was down to the 60’s.

Bass fishing continues to be spotty. Some days are better than others. Look for the active fish by moving around the river and the green can at the mouth. Live bait like shiners or crabs will work; tubes, too.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass action should start to pick up as water temps start to cool down. Ditto for musky action. The next Niagara Musky Assn. meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 4 at the Eldridge Club, 17 Broad St., Tonawanda starting at 7 pm.

In addition to some reports on the local fishing action, guest speaker will be Jonah Withers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service talking about the acoustic telemetry project involving lake sturgeon in Buffalo Harbor.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, September 23, 2016

NHF Days are This Weekend!

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

On the eve of National Hunting and Fishing Day activities for this weekend, it looks like there will be plenty of things going on to see and do.

If you want to wet a line, the Niagara Bar is still a place to be for a salmon bonanza … if the forecasted northeast wind doesn’t do too much damage to the waters. It looks like a beautiful weekend otherwise and the Niagara Bar is holding mature kings getting ready to run up the Niagara … we hope!

Target the red can at the drop off to take your salmon, using flasher-fly, cut bait or spoons. J-plugs will also work for you. Just get your baits into the fish zone using downriggers, dipsy divers, lead core line – whatever it takes.

Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters took his 20-foot Lund out to the drop and used dipsy divers to take five nice kings by employing spin doctors and flies behind his dipsy divers. It proved to be much better than trying to drift for kings in Devil’s Hole, trying to satisfy customers looking to catch a salmon.

Over in Wilson and Olcott, brown trout are starting to show up in small numbers. Ditto for kings in Olcott. A small slug of salmon showed up in the harbor, but not at the dam yet. There are a few fish around there, but nothing to write home about.

Bass fishing has been better.

Don’t forget that the King of the Creek salmon contest is being run by All in the Same Boat Tackle from Sept. 23 to Nov. 6. There is a boat and a shore category. Call 638-4158 for more info.

There was a good turnout at the special DEC meeting held in Lockport last Monday. For a position paper on this, check out www.dec.ny.gov. Make your comments by Sept. 30 at fwfishlo@dec.ny.gov.

Lower Niagara River –

Anxious anglers are waiting in force to try and catch these king salmon in the last stages of their lives. The NYPA Fishing Platform is one of the hotspots for your best chance for a king salmon. Casting spoons, spinners or crankbaits can catch fish, but the best is yet to come. Other shore anglers have been using spoons, spinners and jigs to take a mix of fish, including bass and walleye.

River water is still 74 degrees.

Bass fishing has been spotty. Some days are better than others. Look for the active fish by moving around the river and the green can at the mouth. Live bait like shiners will work; tubes and Ned rigs will catch some fish, too.

With the NYPA Wildlife Festival going on Sept. 24-25, co-sponsored by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs, remember that there’s also a kids fishing contest that’s part of the Festival. Just catch a fish in Niagara County and bring it to the scales at the NRAA fishing pond. Lots to see and do from 10 am to 5 pm each day. It’s free and a great family activity.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

A few musky were active the past week, but you really might want to wait until water temperatures come down a bit more before you start putting any heavy pressure on them. Ryan Shea of the Brookdog Fishing Company had been focusing on bass this week, but he still had a couple follows on his fly while casting the upper river areas.

Bass action continues to be fair to good, depending on the day and the conditions.

Be careful around the Canadian boundary and don’t venture across that line without calling in. Abide by the bait regulations, too.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

 

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, September 16, 2016

Bass, King Salmon, Walleye News

Ed Shannon shows up a 30-plus pound Niagara Bar king caught on Kingfisher Charters.

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

An important meeting is being held this Monday, September 19, at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, 4487 Lake Avenue, Lockport, starting at 6:30 pm. If you are a Lake Ontario drifter, troller or tributary fisherman, you’ll want to attend this meeting. Members of DEC will be discussing what their proposed plans are for 2017 when it comes to salmon and trout stocking, based on recent forage base assessments. This is your opportunity to listen to the proposal and voice your concerns.

On September 23, the King of the Creek salmon contest – from both boat and shore – is being run by All in the Same Boat Tackle, 2911 Lockport-Olcott Road, Newfane, through November 6. Call 716-638-4158 for more info or visit www.abstackle.com.

Speaking of salmon, one of the hottest spots has been the Niagara Bar at the drop-off. Salmon are stacked up there like you wouldn’t believe. Captain Mike Johannes of On the Rocks Charters out of Wilson, went 15 for 18 matures last Saturday on the Niagara Bar before the wind picked up and cut the day short. Fish were in 80 to 200 feet of water down 50 to 80 feet on wire divers set on 3 out 160 to 180. Out of the 15 boated, 14 were caught on meat behind large flashers and Twinkie rigs. His best flasher was a white King’s Flasher. He also caught some on white/green Bechhold flashers. When running the larger flashers, a speed of 2.2 to 2.4 is best. They were marking a lot of fish and quite a bit of bait when they were there.

Olcott also has a fair number of fish hanging inside of 80 feet of water according to Wes Walker at the Slippery Sinker. Plugs, cut bait and flasher-fly are working there for matures. They are starting to pick up a few off the piers and some browns, too. Browns off the piers in Wilson, as well, with spoons. Both harbors have a mix of warm water fish. A few trout and salmon have been caught at the dam, but mostly warm water fish have been hanging around.

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

Ray Van Horn with lower river smallie with fishing with First Choice Charters.

Salmon numbers are slowly starting to increase for the shore guys. A few have been caught on spoons; some have been caught on spinners. Rattlebaits will also work. NYPA Platform casters are out-producing the boaters right now as far as salmon in the river. That said, the boaters are still doing well on bass and walleye – especially downriver and on the bar. Worm harnesses for the walleye; tubes and live bait for the bass. Captain Randy Lingenfelter reports that fishing has been good with soft baits and crayfish if you still can find them. B.A.S.S. pro, Ray Van Horn, fished on his boat recently, throwing Strike King Soft Baits doing very well. Baby Rage Craw in three inch. They were catching 25 to 30 fish a day. One of his charters caught a 6.5 lb. smallie last week. Several local media were in town last weekend and managed to get some decent smallmouth bass.

The New York Power Authority’s Wildlife Festival, held at the Visitor Center, 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston will be September 24 and 25 from 10 am to 5 pm both days. Everything is free! This is the area’s version of National Hunting and fishing day and the event is co-sponsored by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs. Get ready to have a great weekend!

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass are still the best thing to go after with tubes, spinnerbaits or live bait like crayfish and shiners, fished off three-way rigs. Know where you are at all times in the river because there are severe restrictions in Canadian waters – on bait and on calling in before you venture across the line, or is it as you cross the line, or is it when you are in Canadian waters. Not quite sure because we’ve been getting different answers from different people.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, September 9, 2016

King Salmon Stacking Up On Niagara Bar
Captain Matt Jablonsky Offers Hot Lure Tips

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Lake Ontario and Trib’s

The $25,000 winner in the Fall LOC Derby was Drew Kersic of Philadelphia, with a 34 pound, 9 ounce King out of Oswego. He caught it the second last day of the 18 day contest – his first salmon ever on his first fishing trip ever on Lake Ontario. He’s already booked his charter with Captain Chad Gehrig and “Son of a Gun” for next year.

Salmon were caught during the derby all along the lakeshore and the largest caught in Niagara County waters was a 33 pound, 8 ounce King by Derrick Martek of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, while fishing with Captain Harry Zimmerman of Northfork Charters. It was caught on a DW spoon, placing 4th.

Mature salmon are continuing to stage and one of the hotspots right now is the drop off at the Niagara Bar. Captain Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown sends word that fish are holding in 100 to 150 feet of water and flasher-fly is the way to go. Green has been a good color.

In Olcott, Wes Walker reports salmon in 60 to 90 feet of water; even shallower under low light conditions. A few salmon and brown trout are starting to show up off the piers too. Cast heavy spoons like Cleo’s and Wobblers.

A mix of trout and salmon are also available out deep. In the harbors, panfish, pike and bass are available.

Not too much to report at Burt Dam. We heard a few browns caught, but it was mostly bass and a mix of other fish. Continuing with the LOC Derby, the Niagara USA area did extremely well in the other two divisions – brown trout and steelhead. In the Brown Trout category, the top three fish came from the waters between Wilson and Olcott. First place was Skip Foster of Wilson using a Bay Rat Lure, a stickbait, called “My Secret” behind a dipsy set back 120 feet in 50 feet of water. His son, Scott, also caught the third place brown, a 15 pound, 13 ounce fish on the same day. Second place was Dennis Stabler of Lockport with a 17 pound brown. In the steelhead class, John Jankowski of Sloan reeled in a 15 pound, 15 ounce fish off Olcott and Wilson, 65 feet down over 490 feet of water with a doctored up DW black and silver spoon dressed up with a pink ladderback.

Overall, more than 50 percent of all the winning fish came from Niagara USA waters! Go to www.loc.org for a complete leaderboard.

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

Bass fishing in the river has been pretty good, so has the walleye fishing – especially on the Bar off the mouth.

For bass, Captain Bruce Blakelock has been using tubes and Ned rigs to take smallmouth up to 5 pounds. Last week, Kim Stricker and the Hook ‘n Look TV Show were putting a hurt on smallmouth and then filming the bottom structure to show off why the fish were hanging out there. They also used a drone to show the effects of current. Look for that episode of the show in February.

For walleye, the duo of John Van Hoff and Randy Tyrrell of North Tonawanda did well with worm harnesses, catching fish up to 12 pounds. A few fish are being caught off the NYPA platform, but only a couple have been salmon. Mostly it’s been a mix of other fish, including a musky.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass fishing in the upper river has been decent, but you do have to work for them. To find out more about upper river bass fishing, check out the new outdoor page with the Buffalo News this Thursday and every Thursday.

Bill Hilts, Jr. shares his insights each week. He no longer writes for Niagara Falls and Lockport papers after making the switch to the Buffalo News last week.

For musky, the Niagara Musky Association is recommending that you NOT target those fish because it’s just too warm. Water temps are 75 degrees right now. If you do catch a musky incidentally, don’t take it out of the water – release it immediately. Be aware that if you are taking a picture of a musky, do NOT hold it vertically. That’s a no-no. Horizontally-positioned fish only.

Be sure to like the Niagara USA Fishing and Outdoors Facebook page, too!

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

“Show Me”- Quest for Personal Best Bass

Ozarks – Part III

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“What goes around comes around.”

Many people believe in that statement and follow a path in life that subscribes to that way of thinking. To a certain extent, it worked for Scott Pauley and me during our recent visit to the “Show Me” State in and around Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Pauley, who is contracted out by the state’s Division of Tourism for promoting its fishing resources (hint, hint I Love NY people), visited Niagara USA a few years ago on his way back from attending the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference in Lake Placid. He enjoyed a couple of days of fishing, including some pretty darn good bass action on the Niagara Bar, during his September stop-over. He offered to take us out with the hopes of showing off his home state. More on that a little later.

We ended Part II by checking in to Holiday Shores Resort (www.holidayshoresresort.com), located between Osage Beach and Lake Ozark. We unpacked the Tahoe and headed over to the Tropic Island, a 75-foot luxury yacht that offers 90-minute narrated cruises around the lake at a nominal fee. Captain Omer Clark runs a tight ship and the trip was very informative (www.tropicislandcruises.com). Back to our temporary home at Holiday Shores. What was cool about this place was that we had our choice of three different floors for sleeping options.

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We were up bright and early to meet up with Marjorie Beenders and Kyle Stewart for breakfast (at Stewart’s, of course, for another cinnamon roll and a pork chop breakfast) for a recap of what we had experienced so far and plans for what was yet to come . Of course, they were happy the trip was going well, but it’s what they expected. They had much pride in the area, as well as the state. They couldn’t wait to “show me” more.

Off to Lake of the Ozarks State Park (www.mostateparks.com), the state’s flag ship park at nearly 18,000 acres. Not only is it the biggest, it is also the most popular as far as visitation is concerned. I’m still amazed that there is no fee to enter any of the state parks in Missouri. A total of 12 hiking trails are available. That’s not all though. The park offers up a self-guided aquatic trail, mountain biking options and equestrian trails for those that like to ride horses. The park also has boat rentals, public ramps and docks. Fishing is always just a cast away.

Inside the park was another attraction we needed to see: Ozark Caverns. This one was entirely different than the Bridal Cave. There was no internal lighting (we had to carry lanterns on the tour) and we couldn’t take anything extra into the caverns (like wallets or cameras) due to the threat of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) spores being carried out and transported to another area. WNS is decimating bat populations throughout the continent. Since it was first discovered in Howes Cave in New York in 2006, more than a million bats have already died. It’s important to become informed on the issues.

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The tour itself was very interesting, featuring an impressive “angel shower” – one of only 14 in the world and the only one in the United States open to the public. The “angel shower” pours a never-ending stream of water out of appears to be solid rock and into a bath tub made of calcite. The source of the water, despite some intensive research, has not been discovered. For more information on the caverns, call 573-346-2500.

After we left the caverns, we took a quick tour around the park and visited the Swinging Bridges of Brumley – a historical attraction off the beaten path. We actually caught some of the locals doing some “bridge jumping” (not recommended) as we drove across the 400 foot long antiquated structure. It has stood the test of time, an early adaptation to the construction of Lake of the Ozarks back in 1931.

Not knowing how far we were from any kind of a gas station (and with our gas gauge flashing an early warning) we used Onstar to locate the nearest petrol store to avert any kind of embarrassment. Technology can be wonderful. Onstar sent the Tahoe directions immediately to the navigation system and we were filling up within five minutes. We were closer to civilization than we thought. Tip: check the gas tank!

We hit a couple of wineries during our stay, finding many of the selections to our liking. Shawnee Bluff Winery (www.shawneebluffwinery.com) in Lake Ozark offered a great view overlooking the lake with an indoor tasting room and bistro that was pleasing to the palate. There were several other wineries in the area, too – a great way to break up the trip.

While golfing didn’t fit into our itinerary this time around, the area offered up some amazing courses. If you enjoy hitting the little white ball around, you’ll want to check out this region for sure. The only golfing we did was at Sugar Creek for a quick round of miniature golf. Even those courses are elaborate, giving us the option of two different 18-hole courses. (www.sugarcreekminigolf.com). As we’ve been saying all along, fun for the whole family!

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Another side trip was to Tour L’Osage Caviar facilities, a subsidiary to Osage Catfisheries, Inc. Founded by Jim Kahrs in 1953, the caviar side of things blossomed because of the declining wild sturgeon populations in the Caspian Sea. In 1981, the family began paddlefish production – a fish found abundantly in the lake – and started its “paddlefish ranching program” in 1984.

“Aquaculture is a huge part of our business right now,” said Steve Kahrs, part of the next generation of family running the show. “We have 32 different species of fish that we offer to aquariums and research facilities around the world. You can see some of our fish in Bass Pro and the aquarium in Scottsdale, Arizona, to name but a few.”

The icing on the cake, so to speak, was the final fishing trip courtesy of Pauley. Big Ed Franko, Lake of the Ozarks fishing guide (www.bigedsguideservice.com) and co-owner of Bass & Baskets Bed and Breakfast in Lake Ozark (www.bassandbaskets.com) with his wife, Deb, also offered to help take our little group out in the morning before the sun chased us indoors. It was going to be a hot one!

bestbass5We met at Big Ed’s lakefront accommodation and boat dock. Pauley was already there. We hopped on board and within five minutes we were fishing. Laurie Calvert from Oregon City, Oregon, was the first to create excitement with hauling in a four and a half pound largemouth – her first fish ever! She was bouncing a rubber worm along the bottom. Her husband, Joe, will now have to include her on future fishing outings!!

Everyone caught fish for the few hours we were on the water. Crankbaits, swim baits and rubber worms were the three most popular enticements. It was near the end of our trip when my rod doubled over while drifting a rubber worm in 25 feet of water. Several times the fish stripped out line. Finally, after about a five minute battle, we pulled in a hefty six pound largemouth – a personal best. What a great way to end our trip, after exploring a new area and making new friends along the way. That’s what it’s all about. We can cross the Ozarks off of our bucket list, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be back for some more fun in the sun and on the water.

Be sure to check out the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau’s website at www.FunLake.com; 1-800-FUN-LAKE.

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, September 2, 2016

Contest Winners, Methods, Lures

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

Scott Foster (left) of N. Tonawanda, NY caught a nice 15 lb 13 oz Brown. His father, Earl Foster (right) of Wilson, NY did a little better with a 17 lb 4 oz Brown that took over the lead in that division. Both fish were caught on Bay Rat Stickbaits and weighed in at Wilson Boatyard Marina. It was a great fishing day for the Fosters! Photo LOC Derby.

The LOC Derby is starting to wind down, ending on Labor Day. Grand prize leader for the $25,000 is still the 33 pound, 13 ounce King Salmon weighed in by Richard Clark. To make the leader board, you need a fish better than 30 pounds, 3 ounces! There’s a new brown trout leader out of Wilson as of this week. Earl and Scott Foster of Wilson, a father-son fishing team, were fishing out their home port trolling Bay Rat lures when they scored on two dandies – a 17 pound, 4 ounce fish for Earl and a 15 pound, 13 ounce fish for Scott. Bigger fish are still out there! Go to www.loc.org for details.

Salmon are stacked up on the Niagara Bar right now according to Captain Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown. Flasher-fly, cut bait, plugs and spoons will all catch fish. The same will work for you off Olcott where you have the option to target staging fish in 30 to 120 feet of water or go deep for a mixed back of salmon and trout. Same baits mentioned earlier will work in close; primarily spoons offshore. After recent rains jacked the CFS in 18 Mile Creek to 175, we did see a few pier casters hook up with salmon at night by casting Cleo’s out into the lake. A few browns are being reported, too. The best is yet to come.

Another successful Fish Odyssey is in the books! Grand prize winner in the Adult Division was Matt Dunn of Newfane with his 31 pound, 5 oz. pound salmon. In addition to his $4,000 Grand Prize check, he also won $500 from the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association for the largest salmon caught by a LOTSA member and $100 for big salmon of the day. Dunn won the Grand Prize in the drawing at the awards ceremony at the Newfane Town Hall. Other divisional winners were Dennis Stabler of Lockport with a 17 pound brown trout; Patrick Barber of Niagara Falls with a 17 pound, 5 ounce lake trout; Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston with a 25 pound, 10 ounce carp; Dave Muir of North Tonawanda with a 6 pound, six ounce smallmouth bass; and Steve Majka with a 12 pound, 10 ounce walleye. Some outstanding catches came to the scales, a tribute to the local fishery. In the Junior Division, it was 5 year old Alyssa McGrath of Niagara Falls winning the Grand Prize with a 10 ounce panfish. She won a $100 Cabela’s gift card, a nice plaque, a rod and reel and tackle box.

Other winners in their respective divisions were: Alex Heath of Sanborn with a 26 pound, 13 ounce salmon; RayLee Peterson of Home, PA with a 9 pound brown trout; Abigail McGrath of Niagara Falls with a 4 pound, 13 ounce smallmouth bass; Matthew Kelsey of Attica with a 13 pound, 7 ounce carp; and Ethan Brolinski of Lewiston with an 8 pound, 7 ounce walleye. Take time to remember the person that we honored this year – the late, great Jeremiah Heffernan, a local charter captain who did much to promote the local fishery.

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

The walleye bite has been pretty consistent for some; not for others. In the Niagara River Anglers Associations Lower River Walleye Contest, some 25 contestants were vying for some decent cash prizes. In the end it was Steve Majka who had the hot hand with two fish totaling 13.86 pounds. Majka also caught the big walleye in the Fish Odyssey at 12 pounds, 10 ounces at the mouth of the river, power trolling an orange and gold worm harness to take his biggest walleye ever.

Hook N Look has taken fishing and scuba diving to provide new levels of learning and outreach to anglers on the Outdoor Channel. Photo Credit: http://www.hooknlook.com/

Back to the NRAA event, Mike Fox of Lewiston reeled in 12.07 pounds of walleye for second place; third place went to Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston with 11.87 pounds. Big fish for the contest went to Charlie Hoy with an 8.07 pound ‘eye. More than $1,000 in prizes were given out to the winning anglers. We mentioned Nick Calandrelli’s 25 pound, 10 ounce carp and that was caught in the lower river too, while fishing in the NRAA contest with a worm harness. It was caught on the Jackson Drift.

Bass fishing on the Bar has been spotty, but the lower river has been pretty good. Kim Stricker of Hook ‘n Look TV Show on the Outdoor Channel was on the water Tuesday to take some dandy smallies around Lewiston and film a show that will air in February. The cool thing about the show is that it includes underwater footage that takes you into the world of the fish and pinpoint specific holding areas. They will also talk about the importance of current.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass – both smallmouth and largemouth – are available for boaters and shore-casters. Finding holding areas like flats or deep holes will be key to success. If you do venture into Canadian waters, make sure you call in to notify the Canadian authorities of your intentions to fish. Worms are the only live bait you can use and they can NOT be in dirt. It’s a pretty painless process, but they do mean business if you violate the rules over there. Sheepshead seem to be everywhere, from both boat and shore. Softshell crabs are the best bait for those, but they have also been hitting tubes

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, August 26 2016

Lake Ontario, Niagara River

Salmon are on a Fresh Bite! Tighten your Drag!

Dennis Stabler
Dennis Stabler of Lockport, NY (left) is holding the new leader in the Brown Trout division with a 17 lb even fish weighed in at The Slippery Sinker. Dennis was fishing with Scott Rohe of Cheektowaga (right) aboard the AME-LESS and caught his fish on copper and an A-TOM-MIK fly. Photo Slippery Sinker and LOC Derby

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.

Karen Hagar
Karen Hagar of Hookstown, Pennsylvania, is leading the Pat Comerford memorial LOTSA Award, she caught a dandy 29 lb 8 oz King Salmon fishing aboard the Dream Catcher and weighed her fish in at The Boat Doctor. Photo LOC Derby

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.

Lake of the Ozarks – Part 2

Ozarks Attractions Abound Above and Beneath the Water, and Below the Ground Too

The clean water and fun to be found at Lake of the Ozarks is for kids too.

Leaving Alhonna Resort on the shores of Lake of the Ozarks was bittersweet. We felt we had only scratched the surface and we begged for more as we pulled away in our Chevy Tahoe. The Tahoe was made for this terrain. Every driveway seemed perpendicular along the lake, dealing with the tops of the hills that now surrounded the lake after the valleys below were flooded back in 1931. We were driving the 2016 LTZ version, a perfect fit for two couples with lots of luggage. Of course, with a third seat in the back, it’s also a great vehicle for the family. The 5.3 Liter V-8 VVT with direct injection and cylinder deactivation gave us the power we needed. We could have trailered up to 8,600 pounds had we wanted to, and the next trip we just might have a pontoon boat, fully loaded!

Our first stop for the morning was a breakfast that legends are made of. Kyle Stewart (no relation) who had put together an itinerary for us, recommended a place in Lake Ozark called Stewart’s. We were told to order their famous cinnamon rolls, as big as a “catcher’s mitt.” Sandy and I ordered one to split; Joe and Laurie Calvert split one as well. No exaggeration, they were bigger than a catcher’s mitt! More like a soccer ball! And they were delicious. I also ordered their famous pork tenderloin smothered in gravy (if my doctor is reading this, I did have plenty of exercise to work it off as you will read about). It covered the plate. Not your standard dinner plates, one of the big oval ones! Hash browns and toast rounded out the monster platter. Yes, I’m a food guy and I appreciate quality.

Bridal Cave, with calcite deposits that make stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws provide magical photo moments.

As we stuffed ourselves back into the Tahoe, we realized we wouldn’t need lunch. The next part of the lake we would visit was the area in and around Camdenton. The first attraction we came to was Bridal Cave (www.bridalcave.com), one of the largest caves in the state. Missouri has a wealth of caves and caverns, hitting the 7,000 mark just recently. When it’s all said and done, the Show-Me State will be number one when it comes to overall numbers within Missouri boundaries. This cave was cool – literally and figuratively. Calcite deposits with stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws and so much more mesmerized the folks on the tour. There was a connection with Western New York where they announced the “Frozen Niagara” calcite formation. More than 2,500 couples have been married in Bridal Cave or renewed their vows – another connection with the Honeymoon Capital. This is a must see for the entire family.

Geologically speaking, Missouri is littered with “karst” topography, a landscape that is filled with sinkholes, caves, natural bridges, large springs and underground streams. Many of the caves in the state can be found on private land. However, there are many on public land, too. For example, nearby Ha Ha Tonka State Park – recently named by USA Today readers as the fourth best state park in the country – has 19 caves recorded within its boundaries so far (www.mostateparks.com). It was a beautiful park and we even hiked up a castle trail that took us up to old ruins on a bluff overlooking the Niangua arm of Lake of the Ozarks, a spot we would be fishing the next morning.

There is no admission fee to enter any of the state parks in Missouri. Here we visit the Ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

When we stopped into the Visitors Center at Ha Ha Tonka, we immediately found out that there is no admission fee into any of the state parks in Missouri, thanks to a dedicated funding source (with the exception of camping sites). The public land was just that, for the public to use. What a novel idea! With 88 parks in the state, they will be celebrating a milestone next year (2017) – 100 years of the state’s natural and cultural attractions. Pick up a copy of the state’s Parks Centennial Passport. Earn a stamp by visiting each of those parks and the first 1,000 people receive a prize. Five grand prizes will be up for grabs, too. Last year, some 19 million people visited Missouri parks (www.mostateparks.com).

Next stop was our accommodations for the evening – Old Kinderhook (www.oldkinderhook.com). If you are looking for quality in the way of lodging, golf, fishing and dining options, this facility was top notch. The golf course is ranked second in the state and our fishing guide was none other than Casey Scanlon, a Bassmaster Elite Series Pro who lives on the lake. If you want to treat yourself to something special, this place was amazing – really! After checking in, we enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve had in a long, long time in the Trophy Room – fine dining at its best. Accolades came pouring out after that meal from all four of us.

Old Kinderhook offers quality lodging, golf, fishing and dining options, this facility was top notch, so was our 2016 Tahoe LTZ.

Bright and early the next morning, Scanlon picked Joe and me up at sunrise to fish the lake. This is his home waters and he won the Bassmaster Open on nearby Table Rock Lake a few years ago. Originally from Kansas City, he’s been fishing the Elite Series for five years now. In fact, he had just returned from the Elite Series event on Cayuga Lake in New York in June – just a couple hours from where I live.

BASS Elite Angler Casey Scanlon with a nice bass from Lake of the Ozarks.

“This is a great body of water to fish,” said Scanlon, as he reeled in his first fish, a largemouth, just five minutes into the trip. For this time of year, large rubber worms on a jig head was a favorite enticement. “The lake is over 90 miles long, great for largemouth and spotted bass. My favorite time is November and December when spinnerbaits and top waters work the best. April and May is also excellent when suspended jerk baits will dominate as a favorite technique. To give you an idea about how this lake fishes, it consistently takes 20 pounds or more per day to win a tournament here. There are lots of three and four pounders here and you can catch fish up to and over 10 pounds. In fact, two 10 pounders have been weighed in already this year. Fishing has really been great this season because of the added water flow coming through the system due to the heavy rains earlier.”

Almost on cue, Calvert’s rod doubled over and he fought a monster under Scanlon’s Nitro Bass Boat. When it finally came to net, it was over four pounds – Joe’s personal best. After a couple of quick pictures, we released the fish to fight another day.

Primary forage in the lake for these bass is gizzard shad and is the preferred food source. There are also threadfin shad. An underrated fish in these waters is walleye … and no one fishes for them. If someone came in here and targeted walleye, the potential is very good. Night fishing could be a way to approach old marble eye, but there may be some competition. Because the lake has turned into a recreational playground for watercraft during the middle part of the day, some bass tournaments are now being held at night to deal with the mid-day turbulence and to battle the summer heat. Heat index during the hottest part of the day would hit over 100 degrees and one day it hit 108. It didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves though.

Back to the hotel for breakfast and check-out. Again, we didn’t want to leave. Next stop on our Ozarks experience was Holiday Shores Resort (www.holidayshoresresort.com), another quality experience but entirely different from the other two accommodations we sampled. Owner Lori Piedt runs an excellent operation, featuring 26 cottages overlooking the lake at Osage Beach. Again, the facility was well equipped as a one stop shop for families to enjoy the waters of the lake or relax in the uniquely-shaped cottages. Every cottage has an outside deck with a grill and one night we cooked up burgers as the sun set. What a relaxing time.

Holiday Shores offers visitors the opportunity to rent one of its 20 covered and fully electric boat slip at a nominal price. There is a boat launch available for guests if you bring your own boat or jet ski. They also rent paddleboards, paddleboats and chill rafts. There is a swimming pool or you can take advantage of a swim dock in the lake. Our last part of the trip will wind down next week with a personal best largemouth bass! Check out the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau’s website at www.FunLake.com; 1-800-FUN-LAKE.

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, August 19, 2016

10 year old Adam Flachbart of Fairview Park, Ohio, fishing with his dad, landed this 14 lb 5 oz Brown Trout while casting a Yo-Zuri crankbait from the Olcott Pier in Niagara County, New York. The youngster won the youth award for that species in the Summer LOC Derby. Picture courtesy of LOC Derby

Lake Ontario – King Salmon & Steelhead Action

It will be a busy weekend in Wilson, Olcott and the Fort Niagara areas. It happens when the calendar aligns properly – three different fishing derbies on the same weekend, giving you nearly $100,000 in cash and prizes – if you get into all three contests.

Just another friendly reminder that you have to be in it to win it and the odds are better for these contests than they are for the state lottery!

Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker sends word that the mature king salmon are starting to stage off Olcott in 50 to 100 feet of water as they start to darken up color-wise. Any lure that will get them to strike out of aggression – J-plugs, cut bait and flashers, flasher-fly rigs, or magnum spoons – will work on any given day. This is a time when you can catch them outside of the preferred temperature zones, too.

Out deep, a mix of immature salmon, the occasional mature and steelhead will show up in the top 60-70 feet of water over 350 to 500 foot depths. Standard or super slim sized spoons are the preferred trolling bait.

Perch and rock bass are being caught in the harbors at Wilson and Olcott. Largemouth, smallmouth and pike are also possibilities. Over in Wilson at the state park, some work around the launch ramp should be completed by Friday for the LOC Derby, but it might take an extra day or two so be prepared for a secondary option for launching.

Eighteenmile Creek has good water flow after recent rains. It was 87 cfs on Wednesday morning, blowing out duck weed and triggering some fish to hit.

First up on the contest calendar is the Orleans County Rotary Derby, currently running through August 21. Yes, it ends this Sunday. The current leader for the Grand Prize is a 30 pound, 14 ounce king salmon reeled in by Julie Schaeffer of Sligo, Pennsylvania – well within reach. Top steelhead is a 14 pound, 1 ounce fish caught by Robert Griffith of Akron, Ohio. Jessie Pepper of Rochester has the top lake trout with 16 pounds, 12 ounces and Patrick Pullinzi of Hamlin is the leading brown trout catcher at 15 pounds, 7 ounces. The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby – the Fall Return of the King event that runs for 18 days – starts on August 19 and will be offering up over $70,000 in cash and prizes including $25,000 for the largest salmon weighed in. Go to www.loc.org for details.

The third event kicks off on Saturday, August 20 – the 40th Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby honoring the late, great Capt. Jeremiah Heffernan. The prize structure has been increased for this year’s history-making contest, including $4,000 for the Grand Prize. There are categories for salmon, smallmouth bass, walleye, carp and trout. The winning catches in each of those categories will be placed into a hat at the Captain’s meeting in Newfane. The winning pick earns the Grand Prize. Last year it was young Nick Perri, winner of the Brown Trout Division winning the top prize. The best part of the Odyssey is that kids fish for free in a special Youth Division. Lots of great prizes will be handed out – whether you catch a fish or not! Sign up at www.fishodyssey.net or at any of the registration outlets. Get out there and have some fishing fun.

Also on Friday, August 19, is the inaugural “Reelin’ for a Cure” event out of Olcott.

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

Walleye action has increased a bit, just in time for the NRAA walleye contest on Sunday. Worm harnesses or yellow sally flies rigged with a spinner and a worm, fished off three way rigs is the best approach. Mike Heylek and the Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding the annual lower Niagara River walleye contest on August 21. There will be a guaranteed $500 prize structure no matter how many people are in – $250 for first; $150 for second; $100 for third. 100 percent cash pay back from the $20 entry fee and $5 big fish category. Best two fish, total weight. Scales will be open all day at the Lewiston Landing until 2 pm. The picnic and awards will also be at the pavilion at Lewiston Landing – pizza and wings from Mr. B’s. You can check the NRAA website (www.niagarariveranglers.com) and the Facebook page Niagara River Anglers for details, or stop in at Creek Road Bait and Tackle. If you fish in the contest, make sure you are registered for the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby set for August 20-28. Just ask John Walaczak! Bass action has also picked up a bit, but you do have to work for them. Crayfish and shiners top the list of preferred baits. Expect to catch a few sheepshead or silver bass, too.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass is still the primary focus for drifters and casters with live bait working the best, fishing off three way rigs for drifters. Casters are using tubes, drop shot rigs or stickbaits – the same artificial lures that worked for the fishing pros a few weeks ago. Strawberry Island is always a good spot to start, at the head of the island or just east of the island. In the west river, bass action can be good, but remember that is mostly Canadian waters – follow the rules. The head of the river in the current is also a good spot to target bass and the occasional walleye. Sheepshead are showing up regularly.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Lake of the Ozarks Region

Water Sports, Family Fun, Quiet Fishing, Orange Sunsets and More

“There’s a beauty in the river, There’s a beauty in the stream, There’s a beauty in the forest at night, When the lonely night bird screams, And there’s so much time for singin’, And so much time for words, There’s so much time to listen, And so much time to be heard”….Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Growing up in the “Land of the Ozarks” had to offer a certain amount of inspiration for the band, Ozark Mountain Daredevils. After a recent visit to Central Missouri, we could certainly relate to the lyrics of their song. We could even add a verse or two of our own as we spent a week in and around the Lake of the Ozarks – the largest man-made lake in North America. The state motto – “Show Me” – was fulfilled time and time again …

It started with a gentle prodding by Marjorie Beenders, a tourism maven in the state who kept asking when we were going to come and visit every time we saw her. After doing a little research on the lake and the region, we couldn’t take it any longer. We graciously accepted her invitation to check out “the best recreational lake in the nation.” That was after a national vote conducted by two separate groups – USA Today and 10 Best. It would live up to its name.

After a week that was jam-packed with activities, where do you even start? At the beginning of course! We left Lockport in a 2016 Chevy Tahoe LTZ packed to the gills. We picked up Joe and Laurie Calvert of Oregon City, Oregon, at the St. Louis airport along the way, adding a few more bags of luggage. The drive from New York was roughly 17 hours and it was a comfort ride all the way. We were impressed with the various alerts on the vehicle including the blind side zone that flashed warning in our mirrors and gave us gentle vibrations whenever some threat became available on the road or in parking lots. More on the vehicle later.

lakeoftheozarks3

We arrived at Lake Ozark and our first destination, the Alhonna Resort and Marina (www.TheAlhonnaResort.com) in the middle of a thunderstorm. It had been so long since we had seen rain, we didn’t mind the drops as we hurriedly unloaded the vehicle. Timing is everything as the rain stopped long enough to finish the job. After a great breakfast outside at the in-house “Bobbers” Restaurant, we headed out to Willmore Lodge (www.willmorelodge.com) at Bagnell Dam – where it all began for Lake of the Ozarks. Along the way, we continued to find New York connections, like the fact that this lodge was an Adirondack-style lodge that was now a museum documenting the formation of the lake back in 1931 (a lodge built in 1930).

The dam (that created the lake) was actually built from 1929 to 1931, employing some 40,000 people along the way – at a time when the country desperately needed it. Workers from every state, as well as from 9 countries, were employed, making it the largest and last major dam in America built entirely with private financing. To make this project happen, 22 different towns and villages had to be destroyed and relocated. Approximately 30,000 acres of timber land had to be cleared. Over 900 miles of fences and numerous buildings had to be removed. A total of 32 cemeteries were moved to higher ground along with other scattered graves.

lakeoftheozarks2

When the dam was finally completed, the Osage River provided most of the water. It took three months to fill up. The end result was a lake that was 94 miles long, providing 1,375 miles of shoreline. Average depth is 60 feet. It is almost entirely privately owned as far as the shoreline is concerned, allowing residents to build properties within a few feet of the water. Alhonna was a good example of that, allowing us to sit on a porch overlooking the water … and fish if we wanted to. In the neighboring cabin, we watched them fish off a similar porch and reel in bass and bluegill on a consistent basis.

After a little driving around to get our bearings, we headed back to Alhonna to take a paddleboat out for a couple of hours. Joe and I opted to not take fishing rods for this trip because of the funny looks we received from the ladies when we mentioned trolling.      We also made arrangements to take out a fishing pontoon boat the next morning to really get a feel for the lake from the water and do a little fishing along the way.

The next day started with another breakfast at Bobbers following by gathering up all the gear for the pontoon boat ride. Since it was early morning, the lake hadn’t really come alive with activity yet. It was peaceful as we motored 10 miles up the lake. As I rigged up a rod for Joe, I sent a crankbait toward a downed tree along the shoreline – explaining the use of the spinning rod along the way. It took about 15 seconds to catch my first fish, a nice largemouth that hit a new Berkley bait that mimicked a small shad, the top forage in the lake. It proved to be the winner for the daily scratch-off contests that filled our time in Missouri.

We motored to different areas around the lake, hoping to find some active fish along the way. Magnificent homes stood out as sentinels to the lake. We all agreed it was a beautiful area with lots of potential. It should be on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit. In fact, Sandy went so far as to say that if we won the lottery, we would be getting a home here.

lakeoftheozarks4Alhonna Resort has everything you need to spend some quality time with family and friends. The facility offers up a full service marina with over 25 rental boats – everything from bass boats and pontoon fishing boats to ski boats, pleasure pontoons and deck boats. Non-motorized water craft is also part of the mix including kayaks, paddleboards and the paddleboats we sampled. In addition, there’s a nice pool, both indoors and out, to cool off in – something we needed for the week we were there. And if you show up when the weather is a little cooler, they even have an enclosed fishing dock with wood stoves! It seems as though Mike and Sheryl Elia have thought of everything in the 37 years that they’ve been running the operation.

Our cabin made us feel right at home with a full kitchen and more. It was clean and comfortable, the hospitality was top notch.

Our final evening at Alhonna was a light show offered up by Mother Nature herself, as a spectacular lightning display lit the skies all around us. Three nights went much too quickly and we wanted to stay longer, but like we mentioned earlier, we were just scratching the surface. It was time to move on. We’ll continue with part two next week.

In the meantime, check out the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau’s website at www.FunLake.com; 1-800-FUN-LAKE. We were singing our way to the second phase of our journey …

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, August 12, 2016

Senator Thomas O’Mara with his 15 year-old son, Thomas, fishing out of Olcott Harbor with Captain Bob Cinelli, found the secret to catching lots of steelhead in Lake Ontario.

Lake Ontario – King Salmon & Steelhead Action

Captain Tim Sylvester of North Tonawanda sends word he had a good trip Tuesday with local anglers Lee Bolsover, Mike Hanowski , Mark Clark , Eric Thursom and Ryan Gebphart, all from North Tonawanda. Ryan had just landed a 21 pound King off the port rigger, 55 feet down, using a mag NBK spoon when they put out a 300 foot copper.

We were fishing the top 60 feet of water in 300-400 feet of water west of Olcott with a brown on black spoon when it tore out of the release. Clark grabbed the rod, his first time fishing Lake Ontario. It took 25 minutes to get it into the boat – a 31 pound King! Of course, they would be leading the Orleans County Fishing Derby had they been entered. They ended up with a nice mix of kings and steelhead, boating 9 fish for the morning trip.

Wednesday, it was Captain Bob Cinelli of Newfane hosting Senators Rob Ortt and Thomas O’Mara, as well as O’Mara’s son Thomas – showing off. Fish are spread out right now after the recent blow and they picked salmon and trout from 5 miles out to 13 miles out using all spoons – a mix of Wonderbread, Spooks and some Silver Streaks with a green stripe through it. None were out of the package as they were all doctored up to a personal preference. They were fishing the top 65 feet of water using downriggers and copper lines from 200 to 350 feet back. Mostly steelhead were caught.

The other option for anglers was inside of 160 feet of water for mature kings, Captain Vince Pierleoni of Newfane was targeting big fish early in the morning and they did turn a nice 28 pounder using flasher and cut bait. They were not in the Orleans County derby either!

Tim Sylvester with Mark Clark (right) with 31 pound king.

After getting blown off a tournament at the eastern end of the lake, Captain Pete Alex and Vision Quest launched at Wilson (another advantage being west) and fished from noon until 6 pm on Sunday. They took 21 bites landing a nice bunch of kings and steelhead straight north of Wilson. They worked the suspended bait pods and targeted 50’-75’ down. Hot spoons were DW Carmel Dolphin, Martell (rocked), and Get-R-Dun. They did have some meat mixed in. Kings were a mixed class with biggest about 22 pounds.

The Fall Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby will be held August 19 to September 5. A $25,000 check is up for grabs for the largest salmon caught. Check out www.loc.org for details. On August 19, “Reelin’ For-A-Cure” is a team ladies fishing event with proceeds going for cancer. Contact Stephanie Pierleoni at 481-6388 for details.

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

Walleye action is finally starting to pick up a bit according to Captain Arnie Jonathan of Lockport. He managed to catch a few fish last Sunday during the Independent Living Bass Contest. He was fishing with Doug Usiak and Jeff Riefensnyder. Worm harnesses fished off three way rigs at Stella worked best. The winner had five walleye registered. Some bass were caught too, but bass fishing continues to be tough overall.

August 20th kicks off the 40th Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby for Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties. Six species categories and kids 15 and under fish for free. All the prizes have been increased for this landmark competition honoring the late Jeremiah Heffernan, a charter captain from North Tonawanda who passed away last fall. The Odyssey runs until August 28th. Check out www.fishodyssey.net for details.

The Niagara River Anglers Association will be hosting its annual walleye contest on the lower Niagara River August 21st to help round out the month of action. This is a change from the original announcement. Go to www.niagarariveranglers.com or stop in at Creek Road Bait and Tackle for additional details.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass fishing continues to be decent around the upper river. Live bait, like crayfish and shiners, are your best bet. Canadian waters have been the most productive in the west section of river and around Strawberry Island. If you do go into Canadian waters, make sure you call in to Canada Border Services and make sure you know what bait is allowed.

Attention all you kids out there: The 3rd Annual Free “End of Summer” Kids fishing contest will be held at Wide Waters Marina, Lockport, on the Erie Canal, Saturday, August 13 from 10 am to 2 pm. Get out there and have some fun!

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, August 5, 2016

Lake Erie bass fishing can be unbelievable at times, especially when you fish with Captain Frank Campbell

Lake Erie – Walleye and Bass

Closest consistent action for walleye continues to be off Sturgeon Point in 70 feet of water. While trolling worm harnesses or stickbaits are always an option off planer boards, downriggers or diving planes – like Dipsy-Divers, some anglers prefer to use the very basic approach of a three-way rig, bouncing bottom with a worm harness trailing.

Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls has been focusing between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek in 68 to 73 feet of water to take limit catches of ‘eyes. The recent northeast winds did shut things down a bit and he only had 8 fish on Wednesday. Orange and chartreuse are the best colors, but firetiger does well, too. His basic set-up has the distance from the three-way to the worm harness at 3 feet. His front rods will have a 5 ounce drop weight; the back rods a three ounce weight to avoid tangles. GPS ground speed is normally around 1.3 mph, using his trolling motor to supply the speed he needs. Bass action has been a bit tough. Deeper has been better on the outside of reefs and shoals. Crayfish and shiners; tubes and drop-shot rigs. Start in 25 feet of water and work out.

Lake Ontario – King Salmon, Steelhead

After a hard east-northeast blow last weekend, the lake is just starting to settle back down and resume with some of the great salmon and trout action we’ve seen this summer. Anglers are still experiencing tackle-busting salmon inside of 150 feet of water, starting in 60 feet of water at first light according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Meat rigs, flasher-fly or spoons will all take fish, but some days you do have to work harder than others.

Browns have pushed inside of 50 feet of water and the leading youth catch in the LOC Derby was Adam Flachbart of Fairview Park, Ohio with a 14 pound, 5 ounce brown trout, caught off the pier in Olcott on a Yo-Zuri crankbait! Walker also reported a few jack kings came from the pier after the lake rolled over following the storm. Now it’s back to the normal catch of bass, perch and a few crappies. Ditto for warm water fish over in Wilson. Out deep, the 23 to the 26 north line continues to be productive on steelhead and teenager kings. It was actually tougher fishing in the 450 to 500 depth range due to some cold water upwelling.

Niagara County led the charge once again in the Summer Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby held July 1-31. Grand Prize catch came from Olcott and Wilson both – Chad Fenstermaker and Mitch Shipman of Ohio were fishing out of Olcott, but ended up north of Wilson in 205 feet of water when a 31 pound, 7 ounce salmon hit their raspberry shadow Moonshine spoon 90 feet back of their dipsy diver set on No. 2. Chad reeled the fish in – his first salmon on his first Lake Ontario fishing trip – to take home the $10,000 check. First place in the salmon division was Larry Wills of Lewiston with a 30 pound, 15 ounce king salmon caught out of Wilson on a purple Warrior spoon – 40 feet down over 400 feet of water. First place brown trout was Guy Witkiewitz of Ontario, NY with an 18 pound, 14 ounce fish caught east of Irondequoit Bay. Second place came from Wilson when Thomas Gies of Michigan reeled in a 17 pound, 6 ounce trout while fishing with Capt. Dan Evans of Lone Wolf Charters. It hit a Moonshine Ice Shadow spoon 45 feet down over 220 feet in front of Wilson. In the Lake Trout Division, Ephriam Burt of Watertown bested Bob Turton on Sanborn with a 24 pound, 3 ounce fish from Henderson harbor. Turton’s Niagara Bar laker tipped the scales at 23 pounds, 7 ounces. He was using a green Kwikfish to take his local trout. Top steelhead came from Niagara when Wade Winch of North Tonawanda hauled in a 17 pound, 10 ounce fish from Wilson. He was using a slide diver, back 185 feet on a No. 2.5 setting over 180 feet of water with a purple Dreamweaver spoon as bait.

Next derby on the calendar is the Orleans County Rotary Derby, set for August 6-21. The Slippery Sinker and the Boat Doctors in Olcott are both registration points.

The inaugural Reelin’ for a Cure team tournament – focusing just on the ladies – will be held out of Olcott on August 19. Get those teams together and plan on fishing! For more info contact Stephanie Pierleoni at 481-6388 for more info. Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey registrations are now online at www.fishodyssey.net and at area registration outlets.

Canadian Open Bass Tournament (Lake Ontario) – Congratulations are in order to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport who placed third overall in the Canadian Open last month out of Kingston, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, with a three day catch of 64.50 pounds. He caught 19.5 pounds, but with a penalty for one dead fish. It may have cost him second place. Day two he reeled in 19.85 pounds of bass, sitting in 8th place. On the third day, he brought in the big bag of the tourney, a five fish total of 25.65 pounds, anchored by a 6.75 smallmouth that was big fish for the day. Steve Boris of London, Ontario, won the tournament with over 67 pounds of bass. Big fish of the tournament was caught by Darren Izumi, son of Canadian legend Bob Izumi, with a 7.2 pound fish. Secret to Fonzi’s success was a drop shot rig approach in 18 to 28 feet of water with goby imitation plastics, running about 27 miles to his favorite fishing hole. He attributes his successful runs to his Ranger 621FS Fisherman that handled the 3 and 4 foot waves admirably and his Cabela’s fishing gear that helped him to deal with the adverse conditions.

Lower Niagara River – Sturgeon Caught!

After a lake roll-over resulted in some great bass fishing at the mouth of the river last Sunday (according to Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston), those fish scattered and it was a struggle for anglers fishing in the Lower River Fishing Challenge to benefit Cystic Fibrosis, part of the second annual Charity for Children event held Monday and Tuesday.

Moss is no longer an issue, but finding bass and walleye during the dog days of summer was definitely a “challenge” as the name suggested. The most bass any one person caught was Tim Kolb with 5 on Monday; 7 for Dean Hale on Tuesday. Only a few walleye were caught and trollers that hit the lake did produce some salmon and trout on the Niagara Bar. Top salmon catcher on Monday was Jim Weber of Newfane; Tuesday it was Adam Thomas of Amherst with Beneficial Soil #2 – who also won the individual title for the overall contest with 1,305 points. He was fishing with Capt. Mark “Sparky” McGranahan. In the end for the team title, it was Capt. Jim Gordon of Appleton leading the Team event for Beneficial Soil #1 (Frank D’Amico, Joe Manz and Rick O’Brien) with a total of 3,320 points.

The surprise catch of the contest would have been Gary Hall’s 5 foot sturgeon that he fought for a half-hour before losing it at the side of the boat when the hook came out. Quite a thrill!

The 11th Annual Bass Contest to benefit Independent Living of Niagara County will be held at Fort Niagara and the Three-F Club on August 7. Contact 284-4131 Ext. 146.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Silver Bass Time

Best fishing has been along the east side of Strawberry Island for smallmouth on crayfish, shiners or tubes. The inside of the Strawberry Island horseshoe has been closed due to nesting bald eagles. Bass action has been consistent, but you can catch sheepshead and silver bass from boat and shore if you are using live bait like crayfish or shiners.

In the Erie Canal, the kids will be flocking to the Wide Waters Marina in Lockport on August 13 from 10 am to 2 pm for a special free derby that is open to the public.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Beginner’s Luck Wins Again!

Summer Lake Ontario Fish Derby Shares Big Cash

beginnersluckFor Chad Fenstermaker of Warren, Ohio, this was a maiden voyage on Lake Ontario out of Olcott, fishing with Capt. Mitch Shipman of Signature Charters. Little did he realize he was about to make derby history by setting the pace in the 7th Annual Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Summer Derby held July 1-31, 2016 – winning the $10,000 Grand Prize by reeling in a 31 pound, 7 ounce Chinook salmon the final weekend of the contest. They also won the $1,000 weekly salmon prize.

It started Friday morning, July 29. Weather was a bit rough but they decided to head out in Shipman’s 21-foot 2010 Ranger 620 named Signature Charters about 10 am. At around 12:30 pm, pulling a Raspberry Shadow Moonshine spoon 90 feet back on a Dipsey-Diver set on No. 2 over 205 feet of water somewhere north of Wilson off Niagara County, the big fish hit.

“It took out over 500 feet of line when we hooked the winner,” said Fenstermaker, reeling in his first and biggest salmon ever. He told the crowd at Captain Jack’s in Sodus Point that he will split the Grand Prize with Captain Mitch. Fenstermaker is a signal maintenance employee for Norfolk Southern Railroad and is also in the Air Force Reserves. His share of the money will probably go for a honeymoon. He was married to his wife Rachel last November and they’ve not had that special celebratory trip yet. Remember Chad, Niagara Falls is the honeymoon capital – a perfect place after your Niagara USA king!

First place in the Salmon Division was Larry Wills of Lewiston, NY with a 30 pound, 15 ounce king salmon reeled in on July 8. The fish held up in the race for Grand Prize for three weeks before the last weekend heroics. Fishing with his brother-in-law Don Stephenson and Timothy Wills aboard Wills’ 24-foot Penn Yan “Reel Therapy,” they made a last minute decision to take off from work late in the day and meet at the Wilson launch ramp. “You need a pass in the derby if you want to get on the boat,” said Wills at the awards gathering. “It was my biggest salmon ever and it took about 40 minutes to bring to the net.” They were fishing straight out from Wilson 40 feet down over 400 feet of water with a purple colored Warrior spoon off the downrigger, hooking the fish at 6:30 pm. They won $1,000 for first place plus $1,000 for the weekly salmon prize.

Second place salmon winner was Doug French of Webster, NY with a 30 pound, 3 ounce king salmon he caught aboard the 31 foot Baha named “Missdemeanor.” He was fishing with his brother Matt; his father, Bob; and friend Tom Lombardozzi in the Salmon Creek Shootout on July 23. They were fishing west of Sandy Creek in 200 feet of water, using a meat rig that was composed of a Minon Twinkie in Mirage color and cut bait behind a wire dipsy. It was also big fish for the Shootout. French won $400 for second place in the LOC Salmon Division plus $1,000 for the weekly salmon prize.

Top Youth salmon catcher was Nicolas Curtiss of Overland Park, Kansas with a 28 pound, 5 ounce fish reeled in off Olcott while fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni and Thrillseeker on a spin doctor and A-Tom-Mik fly. He placed 13th overall in the division. John Powell of Niagara Falls, NY weighed in the largest salmon by a Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association member to win an extra $500 in addition to his 11th place winnings. The fish checked in at 28 pounds, 8 ounces and was caught out of Wilson. It was interesting to note that the 20th place salmon weighed in at 27 pounds, 7 ounces.

In the Brown Trout Division, Guy Witkiewitz of Ontario, NY set the pace by reeling in a personal best 18 pound, 14 ounce brownie to win the $1,000 first place prize and the $250 weekly prize. “We were fishing east of Irondequoit Bay on July 28 at 10:30 am when the fish hit,” said Witkiewitz. He was fishing with Capt. Andy Sykut aboard Andy’s 31-foot Tiara aptly named “Candy” for his Andy’s Candy business. Trolling an Oscar Moonshine spoon behind a dipsy diver back 200 feet over 80 feet of water, the duo teamed to net the fish successfully and get it to Mitchel’s Bait and Tackle right away. They have been fishing derbies since 1975.

Second place Brown Trout went to Thomas Gies of Ann Arbor, Michigan with a 17 pound, 6 ounce. He caught the fish on July 3 and it held up almost the entire derby. Fishing with Capt. Dan Evans of Lone Wolf Fishing Charters out of Wilson, they were trolling over 220 feet of water – an unusual place for a big brown – especially since they had been catching salmon. Gies’ personal-best brown bit an Ice Shadow Moonshine spoon 45 feet down. They were fishing out of Evans’ 32 foot Luhrs that sports the name “Lone Wolf.”

Top Youth Brown also came in through some unique circumstances. Adam Flachbart of Fairview Park, Ohio was casting off the pier in Olcott with his dad when a 14 pound, 5 ounce trout grabbed hold of his Yo-Zuri crankbait – “a color they don’t make any more.” While the fish didn’t make the Top 20, he still received a nice trophy for his efforts.

In the Lake Trout Division, the winning catch this time around came from Henderson Harbor as the east and the west continue to have a slug-fest from derby to derby. Ephraim Burt of Watertown was fishing with angling buddies Chuck Trump and Joe Sabadish took the lead on July 16 and never looked back when they weighed in a 24 pound, 3 ounce laker. They caught the fish in 130 feet of water right on the bottom, using a downrigger to get the green spin-n-glow into the fish zone. They caught the fish at 7:30 am out of a 25-foot Chapparal named “Ramblin’ Rose.” The fishing team also connected with 4th place when Trump reeled in a 20 pound, 9 ounce fish; and 6th place when Sabadish weighed in a 19 pound, 13 ounce lake trout.

Second place laker went to the Western Basin when Bob Turton of Sanborn registered a 23 pound, 7 ounce fork-tail, a fish he caught with his father (Roger) on July 3 for the early lead. Fishing from their 19-foot Crestliner named “RT and Son,” they were trolling the Niagara Bar with a green Kwikfish lure in 80 feet of water. They caught the fish at 10:30 am and it took them about 15 minutes to reel the fish to the net. “Dad” also managed to place a fish on the board, a 19 pound – 1 ounce Lake Trout that finished in 12th.

Top Youth laker taker was Owen Herholtz of Fulton, NY with a 19 pound, 13 ounce Henderson Harbor fish caught on a flasher and fly on July 20. The fish placed 5th in the competition.

The Rainbow-Steelhead Division saw a tight battle for first. Wade Winch of North Tonawanda was crowned the overall champ by virtue of his 17 pound, 10 ounce personal best trout. He caught the winning fish with Pete Baio while fishing out of a 21 foot Cruisers named “S & K.” They were trolling off Wilson in 180 feet of water using a purple Dreamweaver spoon behind a slide diver set back 185 feet on a No. 2.5 setting. It hit their offering at 8 am. This was the first time the two anglers fished together.

Just two ounces back for second place was Alfonse Gouker of N. Versailles, Pennsylvania. He caught the personal best steelie out of Olcott while fishing with Dave Pasquale (Captain Dave) and John Cyprowski aboard Captain Dave’s 24 foot Imperial boat named “Way-In.” They were fishing straight out from Olcott in 230 feet of water using a spin doctor and green A-Tom-Mik fly behind a dipsy diver set on No. 3 and pulled behind 220 feet of line. They caught the fish at 9 am. Gouker was driving the boat when he jumped up to grab the rod.

Top Youth division catch was a 16 pound, three ounce fish winched in by Francis Holly IV of Wilson. It ended up in 4th place overall. Fishing straight out of Wilson with his father, Francis Holly III, they were in 90 feet of water, using downriggers 40 feet down with green Stinger spoons when they hit a double – a salmon and a steelhead. They boated both with a lot of luck. Francis III also placed 15th in the Steelhead Division with a 12 pound, 5 ounce fish. They were fishing out of their 21-foot Sea Nymph named “Blue.”

Next up on the derby calendar is the “Return of the King” Fall LOC Trout and Salmon contest slated for August 19 through Sept. 5. Over $66,000 in cash will be up for grabs including a $25,000 check for the largest salmon; daily prizes for largest salmon ($500), brown trout ($200) and steelhead ($200). For more information or to find a list of weigh stations and registration outlets, go to the derby website at www.loc.org.

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, July 29, 2016

John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda, targeting King Salmon between 4 Mile and 6 Mile in 120 to 140 feet of water, 50 to 80 feet down, hammered the fish using DW cut bait and DW Twinkie rigs.

Lake Ontario and Tributaries

Salmon and trout action continues to be very good for trollers. Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctor’s in Olcott reports limit catches by many of the charter captains.

One in particular was Captain Jim Gordon of the Hawg, has been doing excellent on a mix of kings and steelies anywhere from 100 to 400 feet of water, depending on the day and the winds. Sometimes he will fish a little bit west (as far as the red barn), sometimes a little bit east. Using a Hog Wild spin doctor and a Dreamweaver (DW) Kryptonite (green and gold) fly, he’ll run those set-ups off his divers 170 to 180 feet back on a 1.5 setting for salmon.

N and D Cutbait (AKA “The Good Stuff”) has also been working like dynamite. For steelhead, he’ll run the divers 100 to 150 feet back on a 3.5 setting with his best bait being a DW “Super-Slim Spook” spoon in black-white-silver. For his riggers, the Spooks are working there too, set down 50-60-70 feet. Fishing has been the best he’s seen in years.

A little closer to the Niagara River, John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda had another banner weekend targeting kings. Saturday it was between 4 Mile and 6 Mile in 120 to 140 feet of water, 50 to 80 feet down using DW cut bait and DW Twinkie rigs. They only ran four rods. Sunday it was 200 feet of water from 4 Mile to the Red Can on the Niagara Bar. The LOC Derby ends at 1 pm on July 31.

Where are you Niagara lake trout guys? There was a 32 pound salmon caught in Sodus last weekend that would have taken over the Grand Prize, but not everyone on the boat was registered!! Check out the leaderboard at www.loc.org.

Lower Niagara River

Bass and walleye are starting to pick up. No results on the NRAA bass contest, but we did hear from Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle that there’s been some action around the fort and the green can.

In addition, Yellow Sally rigs turned a few mid-sized walleye at the Stella drift this week, so that aspect of the fishery is starting up. The Whirlpool Stairs are open again for gorge trekkers. Get down there and catch some bass from shore on spoons and spinners.

The 11th Annual Bass Fishing Derby to benefit Independent Living of Niagara County is August 7 at Fort Niagara. Call 284-4131 Ext. 146 for more info.

The 40th Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby is slated for August 20-28 this year and the prize structure has been increased to honor the four decades of derbies. Go to www.fishodyssey.net. Registration page is live and registrations are at most of the outlets.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal

Best action has been for sheepshead and silver bass around Ontario and Ferry Streets from shore. Smallmouth bass can be caught with regularity from boats. There is a restricted area off Strawberry Island on the inside due to nesting bald eagles.

In the Bassmaster Elite Bracket Tournament held on the Upper Niagara River last week, it was the legend – Kevin Van Dam of Michigan – winning his 23rd Bassmaster contest in a (first-time) unique catch-weigh-release live-time event. In the finals against Brett Hite of Arizona, a change in the rules saw the two bass catchers try to reel in as many fish as they possibly could in the time allotted. In the end, Van Dam hauled in 11 fish for a total weight of 20 pounds, 3 ounces. Hite tipped the scales with 13 pounds, 9 ounces on seven bass. KVD’s main baits were Strike King tubes, drop-shot rigs and jerk baits. There was a short controversy going on when KVD caught a fish out of the NYS boundaries, but that fish was disqualified, a ruling was made and the competition continued.

In the Erie Canal Fishing Derby, it was John Justice of North Tonawanda winning the boat, motor and trailer in the special drawing of winners at the Gasport Fire Hall last Sunday. Justice earned the right to be in the drawing by catching a 3.8 pound bass.

Other first place winners were Shawn West of Lockport with a 3-1/2 pound walleye; Albert Whaley of North Tonawanda with a 7.9 pound pike; Joe Cwiklinksi of Depew with a 2.9 pound bullhead; Patty Young of Kent with a 9.8 pound catfish; Craig Udell of Gasport with a 20 pound carp; and Ron Robel of Wheatfield with a 8.4 pound sheepshead.

In the youth division, Kyler Nowak of Lockport won the Grand Prize bike. He caught the top walleye at 1-1/4 pounds. Other youth division winners were Jakob Bensiger of North Carolina with a 3.1 pound bass; Tim Hughes of Amherst with a 4.9 pound pike; Emma Hermam of Medina with a 1-1/2 pound bullhead; Cassandra Sanney of Lockport with a 5.6 pound catfish; Ava Udell of Gasport with a 17-1/2 pound carp; and Colby Lawrence of Sanborn with a 3.3 pound sheepshead.

The Third Annual End of Summer Free Kids Fishing Derby is set for Wide Waters Marina in Lockport on August 13 from 10 am to 2 pm. Awards to follow at 2:30 pm.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, July 15, 2016

Lake Ontario, Niagara River

fishreport7_15

Lake Ontario and Tributaries

Fishing in Lake Ontario continues to be as hot as the weather – really!

Captain Dan Evans of Lone Wolf Charters in Wilson reports fishing was great earlier in the week – lots of kings and steelhead from 120 to 350 feet of water. He found good temperature from 60 to 75 feet down so he was setting riggers at 45-60-75 feet using spoons in black and glo, green and glo down deeper; orange and silver up higher. Off the divers, he was running green dot spin doctors and hammer flies or white-glo spinnies and hammer flies. He’ll also run copper, using spoons to entice the fish to hit way back behind the boat. He will run lures back from 200 to 350 feet with copper.

Over in Olcott, mature kings have been inside of 200 foot depths according to Wes Walker with The Slippery Sinker. Good mix of steelhead and salmon are being reported. You can also head out deeper to 350-450 feet of water with steelhead and coho’s in the top 50 feet; the bigger kings below 60 foot depths with spoons or flasher-fly.

Smallmouth bass, perch, rockbass and pike are all being caught in the harbors.

The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Summer Derby is producing some nice fish, many from right here in Niagara County. While it’s still early in the game for a contest that runs through July 31st, Niagara County has jumped out of the starting gates after the first week to lead every single category. Based on the new structure for the summer competition, every one of the current leaders has already earned some early cash. Larry Wills of Lewiston won $1,000 for the biggest salmon during the first week of action with his grand prize-leading 30 pound, 15 ounce king out of Wilson.

Other species categories earning $250 each were steelhead, led by Wade Winch of North Tonawanda, with a 17 pound, 10 ounce fish; Bob Turton of Sanborn with a 23 pound, 7 ounce lake trout; and Tom Gies of Ann Arbor, Michigan with a 17 pound, 6 ounce brown trout – all caught out of Niagara waters.

Of course, it’s a new week and new anglers can try to cash in. Check out the leaderboard at www.loc.org. You have to be in it to win it! That’s a hard lesson to learn and we hear it every derby. This time it was customers of Capt. Paul Czarnecki of Tri-State Charters who caught a 32 pound salmon. They weren’t it.

This weekend is the LOTSA In-Club Tournament (July 16) and the Curt Meddaugh Memorial event (July 15).

Check out www.lotsa1.org for details.

Lower Niagara River

Moss is still an issue for anglers casting and drifting the section of water below Niagara Falls. Hopefully it will be gone by the time the Niagara River Anglers Association’s smallmouth bass contest is here, set for July 23. Don’t have any of the details yet, so your best bet is to contact tournament coordinator Ed Garcia at 870-5318 for more info.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal

Bass are your best option still and moss seems to be getting better. Just in time for some unique fishing to take place. The Bassmaster Bracket Tournament is July 19-22 on the upper river between the north Grand Island Bridge and the Peace Bridge – no Canadian waters. It should be interesting. Weigh in will take place in live time right on the boats, of which there will only be eight. Check out the website at www.bassmaster.com.

Another big contest going on right now is the 26th Annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby, ending on Sunday, July 17th. Like with all of these contests, some really nice fish are being caught and the leaderboard can change overnight. Here’s some of the leaders so far: Ron Robel of Wheatfield with a 8.4 sheepshead; Craig Udell of Gasport with a 20 pound carp; Patty Young of Kent with a 9-plus pound catfish; Albert Whaley of North Tonawanda with a 7.9 pound pike; Phyllis Whaley of North Tonawanda with a 2.5 pound walleye; Joe Cwiklinski of Depew with a 2.9 pound bullhead; and John Justice of North Tonawanda with a 3.8 pound bass. The derby ends Sunday night at 9 pm.

The website is www.eriecanalderby.com

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Targeting Big Fish for Derbies, Tournaments

Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout & Salmon Derby – July 1-31, 2016

Mike Hay of Lake Luzerne, NY caught this king on the Niagara Bar to win the Spring LOC Derby in 2015 – his first time fishing the area.

Catching BIG salmon and trout in Lake Ontario consistently is not an easy proposition. Time on the water is certainly a piece of the formula for success. When fishing in a contest like the LOC derbies, every year we see absolute novices winning the big prizes – usually with a little bit of luck. More often than not, they have a good charter captain or someone else who spends a lot of time on the water to show them the way. Here are some tips from professional anglers who have consistently placed in the money fishing these big water competitions.

“I wish I could say there was a secret lure or special presentation that put big fish in my boat, but there isn’t,” insists Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown, operator of Wet Net Charters on the Niagara River and the Niagara Bar (www.getthenetwet.com; 716-550-0413). These are some of the things he does to consistently catch big fish:

1) DETAIL-DETAIL-DETAIL: Always pay attention to the detail. Everything is important from knots to swivels; line and water temperature to GPS speed and more. If he ties a knot and it doesn’t look right he re-ties it. If his swivel looks worn, he changes it. If the line has a bad spot in it, he cuts it out. These little things are often overlooked and when the big fish does hit you want to be ready.

The 2015 summer Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) winning King Salmon came from Olcott Harbor area on Monroe County.

2) FOLLOW THE FISH: Who hasn’t heard “never leave fish to find fish!? I like to turn it around,” says Yablonsky. “Once you find fish don’t leave them! What I mean by this is watch the water currents, surface temperatures, wind direction and temperature/speed at the lure. If you figure out a pattern it will help you locate the same school of fish throughout the day and on days that follow. This is most important during the spring and early summer when the schools of fish are tight and pockets of warm water are small.”

3) QUALITY TACKLE: Just to get to the water you need quite a few expensive items: Boat, motor, trailer, electronics, downriggers and a truck to tow all of it. It’s already cost a pile of money just to get to the water. “Don’t go cheap when it’s time to buy fishing tackle. Most of the time it’s the least expensive items that are most important such as hooks, line and swivels. When big fish hit, these are the items that are most likely to fail. You get what you pay for!”

4) HARD WORK AND PERSISTANCE: Once you have the right gear, have found the fish and stayed on them, pay attention to angling details. Begin your search early for that trophy salmon or trout. Don’t miss the morning bite and, more importantly, pack an extra sandwich so you won’t miss the early afternoon bite. This is where the law of averages takes over. The more fish you catch, the better your chances are that you are going to catch the BIG one. “Put your time in and get the net wet,” emphasizes Yablonsky, who has won the Grand Prize in several of the LOC Derbies numerous times with both salmon and lake trout. It’s a numbers game for him, especially with lake trout. “During the spring derby I’ll catch 500-plus lake trout in 10 days. Out of those 500 fish, we catch three to five fish over 20 pounds on average. That’s less than one percent.”

LOC Derby dates for this year are July 1-31 for the Summer; August 19 to September 5 for the Fall. For details on weigh stations and registration outlets, check out www.loc.org. And don’t forget about the 40th Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby slated for August 20-28 with an increase prize structure! Check out www.fishodyssey.net.

Fish Doc Offers Big Fish Prescription

At the extreme eastern end of Lake Ontario, is one of the most consistent performers in competition fishing. Captain Ernie Lantiegne of Oswego, operates Fish Doctor Charters (www.fishdoctorcharters.com; 315-963-8403). Some might say he has an inside track on the salmon and trout fishing – he was a Department of Environmental Conservation fisheries biologist for 22 years. He also spends a tremendous amount of time on the water and some would even claim he thinks like a fish. He is, as the name implies, a doctor of fish, so to speak.

Capt. Dan Evans of Wilson shows off a 20 pound steelhead caught out of his home port just days before the Summer LOC Derby started. The good news is that he released it … so it’s still out there!

Like Yablonsky, his work starts well before there’s any derby or tournament. “Preparation, homework and laying out an effective strategy are vital,” says Lantiegne. “When you finally make it on the water, commitment and confidence are important as you adapt to changing conditions. Sometimes it’s just plain old instinct that takes over.”

Jake Romanack of Michigan shows off a big king taken on the Niagara Bar in May.

Check out the leader board and the press releases on the LOC Derby website. You don’t need a big expensive boat to get it done. Time and time again, small boaters with less equipment find their way to the winners circle each and every event. However, being prepared for that big fish when it decides to rock your world is an important part of that winning philosophy when it comes to tackling trophy salmon and trout. “Don’t leave anything to chance, be it your vehicle, boat and motor, electronics or your fishing equipment.” There is no room for excuses and these bruiser fish have a great knack for finding those inferior links to your fishing approach.

Lantiegne relies heavily on his previous fishing history. He has either a mental or written diary of every spring king he’s caught over 25 pounds and every summer king over 30 pounds. ‘I know where it was caught, what it was caught on and what the conditions were,” says Lantiegne. “Start keeping records if you don’t already. Check out the leaderboards of the derbies because certain areas of the lake hold big fish certain times of the year.”

If big kings are what you’re after, Lantiegne’s approach is relatively simple. “Location is crucial for catching big kings,” says the Oswego captain. “Big kings usually avoid the heavier fishing pressure. I have never caught a king over 35 pounds in a pack of boats. Seek out quieter waters.” He also will focus on certain baits like a flasher-fly combination.

His favorite flasher is a ProChip or HotChip flasher in an eight-inch size. Leader length is critical, too – between 23 and 30 inches from flasher to fly. He fishes slower and deeper than normal, as well, targeting a speed between 2.1 and 2.5 miles per hour.

“Big male Chinooks spend much of their lives in 40 to 43 degree water,” says Lantiegne. “They love the deep freeze, so don’t be afraid to go down after them. Ignore the larger bait concentrations that attract smaller kings. Big boys can’t compete with the smaller, faster salmon for food.”

With the popularity of copper lines increasing in recent years, this is a perfect way to get your bait offering out away from the boat. “Copper lines run from a planer board or down the chute consistently catch my biggest kings every year. I’ve also found that running fewer lines in the water can lead you to catching bigger fish in the long run.”

When you finally do land that big boy, treat that fish with care. Don’t do anything to that fish that will cause it to lose weight, such as causing the fish to bleed from the gills. Keep the fish wet and get it to the scales as soon as possible. Don’t throw that fish on the scale until the weigh master is ready for it, too. An ounce can mean a difference between a grand prize fish and a divisional winner. You also have to be in it to win it. Every year there are heart-breaking stories of derby winning fish that never made it to the scales because someone decided that they would never be able to compete against diehard anglers or didn’t want to spend the money. If there’s a derby going on, take the time to enter and cash in!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, July 1, 2016

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Lake Ontario and Tributaries 

Some monster fish are being caught out there. Captain Dan Evans of Wilson reported a 32.5 pound salmon hauled in by Todd Garzarelli on Tuesday.  According to Evans with Lone Wolf Sportfishing, fishing for both salmon and trout has been good from 80 to 350 feet of water depending on wind direction.  He was finding 48 degree water 60 feet down, stacking spoons on either side of that temperature break.  Silver-green glo/black colors have been working best off copper rigs and downriggers.  Spin doctors and A-Tom-Mik flies have worked best off the divers.  White with green dot doctors and hammer flies are at the top of the list for him.

He also hit a milestone last weekend when Harry Camardella of Wilson caught the biggest steelie Evans has ever taken off his 32 foot Luhrs, a 20-pound steelhead.  With the LOC Derby starting July 1, don’t be surprised if we break the 20-pound mark for each one of the trout species and 35 for the king salmon division.

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Over in Olcott, Capt. Bob Cinelli was using all spoons to take a mix of salmon and trout – including a nice 12 pound Atlantic. Riggers, divers, and coppers.  His best copper rigs were back 350 and 400 feet.  Fish seem to be laid out west of Wilson all the way down the lake.  His best fish catching depth was the 65 to 80 foot zone.

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The Lake Ontario Counties Summer Salmon and Trout Derby is slated for July 1-31, 2016.  A total of $29,000 will be up for grabs during July around the lake, including a Grand Prize of $10,000 for the biggest salmon weighed in.  Four different species categories will be offering a $1,000 prize for the biggest fish in each.  In addition, a weekly prize of $1,000 will also be given out to the largest salmon and $250 each to the largest lake trout, brown trout and rainbow/steelhead.  And, if you are a member of the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association, you can win another $500 in cash just for entering the largest salmon caught by a LOTSA member and witnessed by a LOTSA member.

For $10, become a member of a group that’s fighting for every fish in the lake.  Find out more on LOTSA at www.lotsa1.org. For information on the LOC Derby go to www.loc.org. Capt. Paul Czarnecki of Tri-State Charters will give a talk on fall salmon fishing at the next LOTSA meeting on July 14 at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara starting at 7 pm.

Lower Niagara River

Lower river action continues to be slow for bass and walleye because of the moss situation, however, some spots in the river where the moss isn’t bad are near launch ramps at Fort Niagara.  Minnows or crayfish work best.  The Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding its annual bass contest on July 23.  To find out more information go to niagarariveranglers.com or call 807-6111 at Creek Road Bait and Tackle.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal 

Moss is still a problem in the upper river, too, but according to Scott McKee, president of the Niagara Musky Assn., the most is manageable for trollers and casters pursuing Mr. Toothy.

The 26th Annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby is set for July 6th through the 17th. With more than $20,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, there should be plenty of anglers lining the banks of the canal from the Niagara River to Albion.  Categories include bass, sheepshead, northern pike, carp, catfish, bullhead and walleye.  To find out more information contact Steve Harrington at 772-7972 or visit the derby website at www.eriecanalderby.com.

In the Hooked on the Tonawanda’s tournament held June 25 and 26, some impressive catches came to the scales including a 22.4 pound carp reeled in by Matt Steffan of Williamsville; a 5-1/4 pound Northern pike hauled in by Dan Dolan of Grand Island; Matt Melendez of Buffalo caught the biggest bullhead, a 1.22 pound fish; Richard Jopp of Buffalo led the charge with a .43 pound perch; and Sean Franklin of Buffalo placed first with a three pound bass.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, June 24, 2016

Lake Ontario, Niagara River
Free New York State Fishing Days This Weekend

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Lake Ontario and tributaries 

New York State’s Free Fishing Weekend is set for this weekend, June 25-26.  There are plenty of events for the entire family to keep people busy – and happy – right here in Western New York!

In this day and age where nothing seems to be for free any more, the Empire State will offer up an opportunity to fish all around the state without purchasing a license.  You do have to follow the fishing regulations in the water you intend to fish however.

For salmon and trout, action has started to heat up a little bit out of Wilson and Olcott.  Boats have been heading out to 350 feet and beyond off Wilson for a mix of steelies and kings.  Action has been a bit closer off Olcott with some fish being taken in as close as 150 to 180 feet of water – when they can get out there.  Spoons are the primary enticement, but don’t rule out flasher-fly or flasher-cut bait, especially for bigger fish.  Target the top 60 feet according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker.  There are also fish in the 330 to 380 depth contour.

The Summer LOC Derby is set for July 1-31.  Go to www.loc.org for details. More cash is up for grabs.

The Olcott Lions Club will be hosting its annual kids fishing contest on Saturday, June 25 at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott from 8 a.m. to noon.  Get the kids out and enjoy the local fishing.

Lower Niagara River

Action in the Lower Niagara River has been plagued by moss, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish.  Capt. Dave Tripiciano organized an outing for young Shelby, a teenager with Muscular Dystrophy last Tuesday out of Youngstown.  Using the expertise of some local fishermen like Tim L., they managed to lift Shelby’s 350 pound wheelchair into the boat and drift for smallmouth around Fort Niagara.  They found an area that was pretty-much moss free and caught bass up to 4 pounds.  Shelby was granted this trip through an organization called Moment of Peace Adventures of Pennsylvania and, in addition to visiting Niagara Falls (and being the first physically-challenged person to utilize the facilities at the re-opened and revamped Terrapin Point), they had a great time.  Tim had been doing very well in that area on smallmouth the two days prior, too.  When he fished in the main river, though, it was a tough go with the moss. Shiners were the best bait, fished off three way rigs.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal 

In the Kelly’s Korner’s opening day bass contest, it was Dan Hudson of Tonawanda winning with the best two fish weight of 10.25 pounds.  Not far off the pace was Bob Hubler of Niagara Falls with a total of 10.07 pounds, but he had big fish that hit 5.75 pounds.  He was using a big chub in 40 feet of water to take his lunker catch off Wanaka, where many of the fish came from.  Bass are still available in the river, too, with the bass opener in Canada happening on Saturday, June 25.

There are numerous events that coincide with the New York State Free Fishing Days weekend and at the top of the list is the Tonawanda’s Fishing Tournament sponsored by Gateway Harbor, that will go the entire weekend.  Register for the event if you are an adult for a nominal fee.  Kids under 16 can register for a free youth division.  You are restricted as to where you can fish in the Canal, what amounts to about a one mile stretch between Tonawanda and North Tonawanda from the Niagara River to the City line.  You can register at area tackle shops or stop down to Gateway Harbor in North Tonawanda on Friday to register.  Species categories include bass (both largemouth and smallmouth), bullhead, channel catfish, carp, perch, northern pike and walleye.  The weigh station will be open 7 am to 6 pm on Saturday; 7 am to 3 pm on Sunday.  This is a transition year for the event as the local organizing committee hands the contest off to the Boys and Girls Club of the North Towns.  A new website location for an entry form can be found at www.bgcnt.net and the organization will be taking the lead role after this year.  After last year’s wash out, organizers are hoping for some decent weather to show off the Canal’s angling potential and help to showcase this natural resource.

Speaking of the canal, some local anglers were worried that the dewatering that was going to take place from Middleport to Brockport on Monday, June 27, was going to affect the Erie Canal Fishing Derby July 6-15.  It looks like after three days, the Canal will be opened up from Middleport to Albion; the remainder will be opened by the weekend.

A huge Family Fishing Day will also be taking place out of Broderick Park both Saturday and Sunday this weekend starting at 7 am each day, as well. This is their 8th Annual event.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Boating Fun, Precautions, Tips

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Don’t Miss the Boat

National Fishing and Boating Week is held the first part of June every year, a time to create a better awareness for these popular outdoor pastimes.  Boating is a natural outdoor activity all across the country and here in the Greater Niagara Region of Western New York, it’s most appropriate because we are surrounded by water.

With two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario), the Niagara River and the Erie Canal leading the way, boating is a perfect way to spend time outdoors with family and friends.  However, with the fun comes a fair amount of responsibility.  Boating education is extremely important – from how to operate your vessel to what to do in an emergency situation – and should all be part of your wheelhouse of knowledge before you start driving a boat around your local waters, no matter where you are.

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While we can’t cover everything in one simple blog, we can certainly help point you in the right direction to help get you the education that you need. One way is through an organization called the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation based in Washington, D.C.  This is their mission statement: “The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating and thereby increase public awareness and appreciation of the need to protect, conserve and restore this nation’s aquatic natural resources.”

Yes, once you become a boater and/or a fisherman, you need to become a steward of these treasured natural resources and water is at the top of the list.  Boating and fishing truly do go hand in hand.  You may not need a boat to go fishing or you don’t have to fish if you have a boat, but combining the two can lead to spending so much more quality time with family and friends.  It can also lead you down the path for outdoor adventures that can last a lifetime.

Getting Started 

The RBFF is an excellent way to get started because there is so much information available on that particular website alone.  You can get into the information that you need before you even select a boat, determining what boat might best meet your needs.  From there you can get into boating basics, boating responsibly and places to boat – all key components for safety and responsibility when it comes to boats and boating.

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In New York, a new boating education law was passed May 1, 2014 that requires any person born on or after May 1, 1996 to have a boating safety certificate to operate a motor boat.  Approved courses are offered regularly by New York State Parks, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons.  You must be at least 10 years of age to take the course.  You must be at least 14 years of age to operate a vessel.  That said, no matter what your age, if you have never operated a motor boat before, these courses are a good plan of attack to get yourself into the swing of things.

To find out more about boating in the state and to print out a copy of the New York State Boaters Guide, click over to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation at http://nysparks.com/recreation/boating/ and to find out when there will be a course in your area.

The link for classes is http://nysparks.com/recreation/boating/safety-courses.aspx?cnty=Niagara&sort=1.

In addition to the state parks, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary gives a vessel exam blitz that can help keep your boat current as far as safety requirements.  The next vessel exam in Western New York will take place June 25 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at Youngstown at the Fort Niagara launch ramps.  Contact John Roach at 716-751-2057 for more information.  He also has similar exams on July 9 at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park and August 6 at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott.

Invasive Species

New Law on Invasive Species.  As part of an aggressive effort to prevent invasive species from entering and damaging New York water bodies, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adopted new regulations earlier that require boaters to remove all visible plant and animal materials from boats, trailers and associated equipment, and to drain boats prior to launching from DEC lands.

The regulations, which are currently in effect, pertain to all DEC boat launches, fishing access sites and other DEC lands where watercraft such as boats, kayak or canoes, can be launched into the water. You should visibly inspect the water craft and remove any mud, vegetation or other organisms that might be clinging to it. In addition, you should drain any water from the vessel, such as from the bilge, live well or other holding tanks that might be in the boat. Drying the boat is also recommended. Again, it’s all part of being a responsible boat owner who is a steward of our natural resources.

4th of July Safety Tips 

If you are out on a boat during the 4th of July holiday – a popular boating time – BoatUS has some safety tips to consider when on the water.  For starters, be cognizant of the boat’s carrying capacity – don’t overload the boat with people!  In addition, make sure that everyone on board has a personal flotation device or life jacket.  The greatest chance for an accident is at night after the fireworks when everyone is heading back to the launch ramp or marina at the same time.  Be careful out there!  It’s not a bad idea to show a little patience and take your time returning to the launch ramp or marina.

If you are going to be boating at night, make sure all the lights are in working order.  If you are a paddler with a kayak or canoe, steer clear of the main boating areas at night and make sure you have Coast Guard-approved navigation lights.  Assume that no one can see you, which could very well be the case.

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Another important consideration is to boat when you are sober – especially at night.  You can face a Boating While Intoxicated charge and it’s an operator’s responsibility to keep everyone on board safe.  Drunk driving on the water will have a negative impact on your driver’s license, too.

Share the Day Plan

Finally, before you head out on the water with any kind of a vessel, make sure you remain consistent with some type of a plan to let other people know where you will be going, who will be going and when you expect to return.  Keep it simple and to the point.  Even if you are at the launch ramp, leave a little note on your windshield with the details of where you are going and when you expect to return.

It’s better to be safe!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, June 17, 2016

Wind Direction Moved Fish Out to 450 Feet

Lake Ontario and tributaries 

Lake action is a little messed up right now with recent winds, however, fish are available if you want to go out there and chase some salmon and trout around.

The Reel Pleasure crew of Sal Macaluso and Captain Bob Fontaine recently took their maiden fishing voyage on the Andrea Raye this season for a four-hour jaunt and managed to hook six fish – they used a variety of tactics that included downriggers, dipsy divers and lead core lines. All had hits using spoons or flasher-fly combos at the magic depth, which was 50 feet down from the surface.  They were over 450 to 500 feet of water straight out of Olcott.  One steelhead was boated; a second was lost at the back of the boat.  Outdoor writer Will Elliott was the only person to bring a fish to the net.

Some brown trout are still available inside of 75 foot depths. With the bass opener this Saturday, June 18, 2016, 18 Mile Creek from Olcott Harbor to the dam could be a good spot.  Also Wilson Harbor.

Fishing should continue to improve as conditions settle back into a normal summer, just in time for the Summer Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby set for July 1-31.  Check out all of the details at www.loc.org.

For the youngsters, the Wilson Conservation Club will be holding its county-wide fishing derby from 8 am to noon on June 18.  Make sure you hit the measuring board by noon, too, at the clubhouse located on Route 425 in Wilson.  Awards will follow at 1 pm.

Lower Niagara River

Moss is still an issue and hindering any kind of fishing activity.  Ed Garcia with the Niagara River Anglers Association sends word that the club will be holding its annual bass contest on July 23.  Check them out on Facebook or at www.niagarariveranglers.com.

Upper Niagara River 

The state’s regular bass season opens up on Saturday, June 18 and if you’re looking to keep a few for the frying pan, they must be at least 12 inches long.  More and more, anglers are practicing catch and release on these fish.  Speaking of bass, Kelly’s Korners in Niagara Falls will be holding an opening day bass contest on June 18 and most of the fishermen and women will be hitting Lake Erie.  It’s your best two fish for the day.  Hours are from 5 am to 4 pm that day.  You must be signed up by June 17.  For more information call 716-283-2040.

Remember that bass season doesn’t open in Canadian waters until June 25.

Great Lakes muskellunge season opens on Saturday in New York, too, and catch and release is also being practiced more and more – especially with a 54 inch minimum size for the Great Lakes.  Take special care with this fish if you do catch one to ensure it will survive.

A bunch of kids contests coming up this weekend.  The City of Tonawanda offers up a kid’s derby at Niawanda Park in Tonawanda on Saturday, June 18 from 8 am to noon.  Get there early. On Sunday June 19 – Father’s Day – there will be a Kids fishing derby at Widewaters Marina in Lockport, hosted by the Lock-City Moose Lodge 617.  Registration is at 7:30 am; fishing from 8-11 am.  Call 716-417-4198 for more info.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

 

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, June 10, 2016

Lake Ontario, Niagara River
Cold Front Turn Fishery Topsy-Turvy

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Bob George with his first ever muskie, 35 pounds, pushing 50 inches. Congrats! Frank Campbell, Niagara Guide Service (on right), has customers return year after year for good reason. Contact Captain Campbell at 716-284-8546.

Lake Ontario and tributaries 

Rough conditions and cool temperatures the past week has made it pretty rough on the fishermen.  On Monday, we only know of a couple charter captains who braved the waves and while conditions were uncomfortable, they did catch fish.  The most consistent fishing has been in 350 to 450 feet of water with a mix of steelhead and kings in the top 100 feet.

Spoons work best up high; flasher-fly combos work best down deep.  Cold water could be found down 50 feet, so patterns for this time of year are messed up according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker.

There have been some fishing in the 100 to 150 foot range, too. Some browns can be found inside of 40 feet off Olcott and Wilson.  Because of the cold water, some browns can also be caught off the piers.

In 18 Mile Creek in Olcott, the river water was in the mid-60s, so the bass are also starting to turn on all the way to Burt Dam.  Remember bass season doesn’t open until June 18, so if you are going to target bass, make sure you use artificial baits.

Panfish and pike are also available in both Olcott and Wilson Harbors.

Some kids fishing derbies are on the angling docket for the next couple of weeks, including the youth fishing derby sponsored by Faith Lutheran Church on the west side of 18 Mile Creek in Olcott Harbor, it will run from 8:00 a.m. to noon. For more info call Joe Thomas at 531-5815.

On June 18, the Wilson Conservation Club will be holding its annual county-wide fishing derby for the kids from 8:00 a.m. to noon.  Measure your fish by noon at the club located on Route 425 in Wilson.  Awards will be held at 1:00 p.m.  Call 930-7500 for more info.

On June 19, there will be a kids fishing derby at Widewaters Marina in Lockport, hosted by the Lock-City Moose Lodge 617. Registration at 7:30 am; fishing from 8:00 -11:00 a.m.  Call 417-4198 for more info.

Don’t forget about the kid’s derby at the Town of Newfane Marina on June 25, which also happens to occur on our New York State Free Fishing Weekend.

Lower Niagara River

Fishing has really slowed down the past week. Not because the fish aren’t there, but because the dreaded moss has finally arrived in larger quantities to take some of the joys out of fishing in this productive stretch of water.  There are actually a few steelhead still hanging around, but it’s anyone’s guess how long that will be.  Bass is a better option for getting a fish to hit, but the moss really limits how much time you can keep your lures in the water.

Remember that the Catch and Release season is in effect in the Niagara River until June 18 and only artificial lures can be used up until then.  Tube jigs, swim baits and jerk baits are all good options for this time of year.

Upper Niagara River 

Nothing was on fire the week with the cold front weather.  Musky anglers can’t wait for the June 18 opening, next Saturday, and neither can the bass guys, since opening day for bass in New York occurs the same day.

Speaking of bass, Kelly’s Korners in Niagara Falls will be holding an opening day bass contest on June 18 and most of the fishermen and women will be hitting Lake Erie.  It’s your best two fish for the day.  Hours are from 5:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. that day.  You must be signed up by June 17.  Best two fish total weight wins the prize money. For more information call 716-283-2040.

Northern pike, perch and other panfish can also be caught throughout the upper river and even into the Erie Canal.

There will be a kids fishing derby at Widewaters Marina in Lockport on June 19, hosted by the Lock-City Moose Lodge 617.  Registration begins at 7:30 am; fishing from 8:00 -11:00 a.m.  Call 716-417-4198 for more info.

Speaking of the Canal, the “Hooked on the Tonawanda’s” giant Fish Derby is set once again for June 25-26, the same weekend as the free New York State fishing days. Check out www.bgcnt.org for details.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, June 3, 2016

Lake Ontario, Niagara River
Warm Weather Causing Changes!

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Lake Ontario and tributaries

Action in the lake has been good for a mix of salmon and steelhead out of both Wilson and Olcott.  Writer Paul Liikala of Ohio was out fishing with Capt. Bob Cinelli out of Olcott earlier this week and they limited out on kings and steelies, with two salmon in the 20 pound class.

Reports coming in show fish in the 250 to 350 foot range in the top 100 feet of water.  Some salmon are down 80 to 100 according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker; steelies in the top 30 feet – but that was before the east blow on Wednesday.  Don’t know what that will do to the lake.  There were some cold water upwellings and some trollers found 39 degree water just 40 feet down in some spots.

Smallmouth bass have been hitting in the creeks and harbors. Remember you must use artificials. Anything goes for pike, though, and Wilson has been a good spot.

A few perch and panfish in both Wilson and Olcott. More perch are being reported off Golden Hill State Park.

A few browns have been caught off the piers on spoons.

National Fishing and Boating Week kicks off on June 4 and continues through June 12 as the country celebrates these popular outdoor pastimes.  Helping to initiate local angling activities is the 25th Annual Kids Fishing Derby at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge east of Lockport.  Registration begins at 7:30 am.  The actual contest is from 8 am to 11 am.  There will be three different age categories. The event will be held at Ringneck Overlook on Oak Orchard Road.  Call 585-948-5445 for more info.

The Town of Newfane Marina will host a kids contest on June 25, too. For the adults, the Oak Orchard Open fishing contest will be held Out of Point Breeze in Orleans County June 10-12.  To find out more information call 585-589-3103.

If you would like to learn more about fishing for king salmon in the summer, Capt. Roger Young with Papa Smurf Charters out of Wilson will be the featured speaker at the next Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Assn. meeting June 9 at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara starting at 7 pm.

Lower Niagara River

Fishing changed considerable over the weekend with the unseasonably hot weather.  Water temperatures shot from the 50’s into the upper 60’s and trout were tough to come by, getting chased out into the lake.  Bass have started to turn on even more with artificial baits like tubes and swim baits good options for smallmouth.  Silver bass are still around, too.

The dreaded moss is starting to show up on the scene a bit more, creating problems for both drifters and casters.

Some good news on the stocking front the past week as plants of 33,000 bonus Coho salmon and 8,000-plus brown trout were put into the river.

On the boating ends of things, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be hosting a Vessel Exam at the Lewiston Launch Ramp from 10 am to 2 pm on June 4. Call John Roach at 751-2057 for more info.

Upper Niagara River 

Upper river action for bass and panfish is available from the head of the river to Niagara Falls.  Remember bass must be artificial baits only, catch and release until June 18.

Other youth contests coming up include the kid’s derby at Niawanda Park in Tonawanda on June 18 and a kid’s event at Widewaters Marina in Lockport on June 19. It will be held from 7:30 am (registration) until noon. Fishing will be from 8-1 am. Call Phyllis at 417-4198 for more info.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, May 27, 2016

Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Niagara River, Chautauqua Lake, Finger Lakes

Captain Vince Pierleoni and Team Thrillseeker outsmarted the bruiser King Salmon to finish in the money in the professional division of the Pro-Am Tournament on Lake Ontario last.

Weather Helps Fishing Action! 

We finally saw some west wind blow some fish into local waters, but it wasn’t easy fishing for the Pro-Am tournament last weekend for sure.  According to Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Team Thrillseeker (who placed in the money yet again for the Professional Division), transition time in the lake is rapidly approaching with the super warm weather arriving this weekend.

Combine that with four straight days of calm weather before the recent winds at mid-week – there are some quality king salmon around, but there is no set pattern for a consistent bite.  You can find fish (kings, lakers and steelhead) in 80 to 300 feet of water, from 20 to 100 feet down.

It’s been a mix of techniques and baits working. One approach that has worked better for bigger kings has been a flasher with cut bait.  N&D is one brand type that keeps surfacing around fishing circles as a good brand according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors.  One interesting note is that the fish have been moving around with the more favorable west and southwest winds.  Last Saturday, tournament teams out of Wilson and Olcott all headed west in pursuit of salmon.

Capt. Jim Gordon of Olcott, who was not fishing in the tournament, headed straight out of his home port of Olcott to take a dozen nice kings for customers just a mile or two straight north.  No one did that good in the tournament that day.  In the 32nd annual Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament held May 20 to 22 out of Wilson and Olcott, it was the Shark Tank team led by Capt. Greg Gehrig of Oswego leading the way with an impressive score of 599 points in the Classic Division and 391 in the Trophy Division – based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound – to win the tournament.  They also won the ITO flies big fish for the contest with a 24 pound king salmon.  For their efforts, they won more than $29,000.  Second place was Capt. Rich Hajecki and his Yankee Troller team out of Rochester.  They were just 10 points behind the winners in the Classic or 12 fish category.  They won $8,000.  Third place in Trophy was Dirty Goose led by Capt. Casey Prisco with 341 points.  Fourth place was Team Thrillseeker led by Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane with 338.  Third place Classic Division team was Thrillseeker with 505 points.  Fourth was Free Spirit with 498 points led by Capt. Paul Czarnecki of Waterford, PA.

Rochester anglers are happy with yellow perch taken from a marina waterway.

In the Amateur Open on Day One it was Abe DeBadts of Rochester and his Fishin’ Physician Assistant team with a score of 88.49 points.  Winner of Day 2 was Greg Wiacek of Lockport and his Fisherman’s Daughter team with a score of 72.52 points.  For Day Three, it was Mean Machine and Kyle Hovak of North Tonawanda taking the day with a score of 80.10 points.  However it wasn’t enough to win the Amateur Open Cup for the best two days of fishing combined.  That was reserved for Anonymous led by John Muehl of Maryland, NY, who scored 150 points over two days.

Next contest is the Oak Orchard Open set for June 10-12 out of Point Breeze.

The 1st Annual Reelin’ for a Cure is set for August 19 out of Niagara County, an event that will get the ladies out fishing on Lake Ontario and competing for fun prizes while at the same time raising funds for cancer research.

For more info call Stephanie Pierleoni at 716-481-6388.

Lower Niagara River

The first signs of the dreaded moss have started to show up to the dismay of anglers. You can still fish without much of a problem, but be forewarned – it will be here before we know it.

Trout are still available in the river – steelhead and lake trout – and smallmouth bass are starting to turn on now, too.

Shiners and Kwikfish top the list for trout; Kwikfish, tubes, shiners and swim baits will all trick smallies into hitting.  Best areas have been around Fort Niagara, Peggy’s Eddy and the clay banks for bass; Devil’s Hole for the trout and the occasional bass.  You can still pick some of these fish up from shore, too.  Spinners are taking some nice fish.

Upper Niagara River 

The shoreline bite can be good for walleye at night or under low-light conditions as post-spawn fish move in to feed.  Worms work best.  Panfish action has been good around marinas and around Grand Island bays, channels and tributaries.

A couple fishing contests to mark down on your calendar, including a kids fishing contest at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge on June 4 at the Ringneck Overlook starting at 8 am; the City of Tonawanda kids fishing contest at Niawanda Park with registration at the bandshell along River Road on June 18 starting around 7:30 am; and a Teach Me To Fish program at the East Aurora Fish and Game Club on June 4.

Lake Erie and Tributaries 

Perch action seems to be picking back up again according to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Thumbs Up Charters.  He had customers out this week, including Salvador, James and Raymond LaChase of Rochester, and they did well between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek in 56 feet of water.  The key is finding the fish and staying on them.

The walleye bite has been best at night with stickbaits along the shoreline, but that could be changing this week according to Fonzi, who is anticipating those post-spawn fish to turn on any day.

Bass action around Buffalo Harbor has been decent with shiners, drop shot rigs and tubes.

In the Annual Southtowns Walleye Association In-Club Perch Tournament last Saturday, Ben Slawatucki won the five-fish contest with a weight of 6.98 pounds.  Jim Dolly Sr. was runner-up with 6.81 pounds.  There were nearly 170 anglers in the fun contest that requires the weight of your 5 biggest fish in the tally.  These perch are all post-spawn now

Chautauqua Lake 

Smallmouth bass are hitting three-inch tubes in a pumpkinseed color around Warner’s Bar in 12 to 24 feet of water.  You can also pick up some nice bass by moving into the weed pockets with a black and blue pig and jig according to Craig Robbins of Jamestown.

There is also a top water bite in the mornings and evenings off the Mayville Flats, Rock Island and the point off Lakewood Bar. You can also hit the dicks in Dewittville Bay and along the condos with buzz baits or spinnerbaits in white and chartreuse.

This is opening weekend for inland musky (not Great Lakes) and you can find success throwing over-sized jerk baits and bucktails over weed beds in places like around Wee Wan Chu Cottages and trolling in the southern basin of the lake in Ashville Bay in 10 to 14 feet of water.

Finger Lakes 

Seneca Lake – This Finger Lake will see a busy weekend because of the National Lake Trout Derby that will run through Memorial Day.  Not too many people have been sharing information going into this popular contest, but going into this week lake trout were being taken in 90 to 150 feet of water on spoons, flasher-fly combos and jigs tipped with plastics or live bait.

Atlantic salmon can be found near the surface with stickbaits, spoons or streamers. Good luck! Good to www.laketroutderby.org for information.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Polovick Lightning Strikes Twice in Lake Ontario

Master Angler Wins Second Grand Prize, says, “Timing is Everything!”

Marty Polovick of Lockport, New York, believes that lightning CAN strike twice in the same spot, that is, as far as winning the Grand Prize in the Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derbies and his fishing rod is concerned.

Polovick won his second Grand Prize, this time in the spring contest held May 6-15, 2016, by reeling in a 26 pound, four ounce king salmon to take the $15,000 top prize.  He also earned an extra $500 for big fish of the day and a check for $1,000 by catching the largest salmon by a Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Assn. (LOTSA) member.  He had previously won a Grand Prize in the 2011 Summer Derby with a 36 pound, 14 ounce king.

On the final weekend of the derby, the weather forecast wasn’t pretty.  They were calling for high winds on the lake Saturday, but not until after 11 am or so.  The crew of Doug Parker of Lockport; Matt Dunn of Newfane; and Matt’s father, Marc Dunn of Lockport along with Polovick boarded Matt’s 27-foot Tiara aptly named “Streaker” out of Bootleggers Cove in Wilson.  The water was flat early in the morning and they headed west to an area off Six Mile Creek where they boated three nice salmon in the high teens.  Using an 8-inch Dreamweaver Spindoctor (white glow and green dots) rigged with a white John King Baithead with a piece of Crowes Cut Bait, they put their downrigger on the bottom in 100 to 110 feet of water.  The fish hit between 8:30 and 9 am, taking Polovick about 20 minutes to reel the king to the boat.  When they hoisted the fish up onto the handheld scale, it was heavier than they thought so they pulled lines and ran into port to weigh their prize catch at Bootleggers.  By the time they finished up weighing in the new leader and filling out the paperwork, it was too rough to go back out into the lake.  Timing is everything.  It’s interesting to note that Parker, Dunn and Dunn tagged teamed to tie for the Grand Prize in the spring of 2014, but the timing was off by a week. They had to settle for first place in the Salmon Division. Again, it was that timing thing…but this time they got it right. They will split the cash up equally between the four of them.

“It was a team effort all the way around,” said Polovick who is no stranger around local Niagara County fishing circles. He is active with LOTSA, serving on its Board of Directors. “We also won this for Pat Comerford of East Aurora who passed away earlier this year. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him as a mentor and fellow fisherman.” Pat was also a previous LOC Derby winner. Unfortunately, sometimes time is too short.

First place in the Salmon Division was Tracy Lindsay of Seneca Falls, NY with a 25 pound, four once king caught opening weekend, May 7. He was fishing with Capt. Scott Fletcher of Kings Ferry, NY aboard his 25 foot Starcraft named “Blue Moon”; and friends Eric Carlson of North Syracuse and Steve Fiorello of Liverpool, NY. Lindsay won the $2,000 first place prize plus big fish of the day at $500.

“We were fishing west of Wilson about two miles during the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament,” said Lindsay at the Awards Ceremony. “We were using a Michigan Stinger “42nd Spoon” working a double header at 7 am. Our downrigger was 130 feet down over 180 feet of water. Twenty minutes later we boated the big fish. It helped us to place second in the WHI, too.” He hopes to use some of the winning proceeds for a new deck at home.

In the Brown Trout Division, Ryan Massey of Oriskany Falls, NY was fishing with Capt. Dave Wilson of Oswego aboard the captain’s 28-foot Baha named “Spankmayer.” Also on board was Ryan’s nine year old son, Aidan, and a couple of buddies from Vermont (Steve and Dave). On the first Saturday, they were fishing east of Oswego when they hooked into a nice fish at 7:45 am. They had been using Otter boards and placed a Smithwick stickbait in blue and silver about 100 feet back of the board. Less than 10 minutes later, they were netting his 16 pound, two ounce brownie.

“It wasn’t the biggest brown that I’ve ever caught, though,” said Massey. “The biggest I ever caught was one better than this one … but I wasn’t in the derby. I would have won. Now the rule is for everyone in the boat to be in the derby and it finally paid off.”

Second place brown trout was a 15 pound, seven ounce fish that was hauled in by Mike Spinelli of Rochester. To go with the whole “timing” theme, he caught is fish the final day of the derby in Irondequoit Bay – because the lake was too rough from high winds.

“I was fishing with Steve Greive of Irondequoit and Dave Allison of Greece aboard Steve’s 25-foot Sea Ray named ‘Skamaniac.’ I knew there were browns in the bay, so we just trolled around with a chartreuse Rebel Fastrac 100 feet behind the board and we hit the fish over 60 feet of water. It only took about five minutes to bring the fish in.”

Greive also had a fish on the board, a 15th place brown at 11 pounds, four ounces; and Spinelli also helped David McGowam of Rush, NY with a, 11th place fish – a 12 pound, eight ouncer caught off Mike’s boat. Both of those fish were caught in the lake.

The lucky Laker Taker was no stranger to the winner’s circle either. Patrick Barber of Niagara Falls was fishing with his brother Richard (also from Niagara Falls) on Friday the 13th. While trolling the Niagara Bar off the mouth of the famed Niagara River aboard the infamous “Killer B’s” Crestliner, the duo was starting to face rough conditions on the lake. Dick wanted to go in. As he started to pull rods, the 27 pound, 8 ounce fork tail hit their chartreuse holographic Kwikfish rigged with Hammerhead cowbells. “And this time my brother was able to net it successfully!” That’s another story for another time.

Richard placed fourth in the spring contest with a 21 pound, six ounce lake trout. All told, their derby winnings are over $80,000 now for the “Killer B’s” fishing squad. It was weighed in at Creek Road Bait and Tackle, a new last minute addition for the spring to save the day in the weigh station department.

Second place lake trout was a 25 pound, 11 ounce fish out-fought by Robert Batchelder of West Burke, Vermont. He was fishing out of Wilson with Norm Paquette of Lyndonville, VT (aboard Norm’s 24-foot Thompson named “Care Free”); Richard Rice of Sutton, VT; and Michael Rice of Lyndonville, VT. They were trolling a flasher-fly rig west of Wilson about half way to the Niagara Bar, 135 feet down over 150 feet of water on the downrigger, when the fish hit on May 10 at 7:15 am. “We use to fish with a friend who made his own ‘Harris’ fly – green, yellow and white with sparkles – behind an E-Chip flasher that was green and white. That’s what we used this time. It was the biggest laker of my life and it came at a good time.” Timing is everything.

Top Youth Lake Trout was a 13 pound, 12 ounce fish reeled in by Zachary Enos of Canandaigua. He “caught it in Lake Ontario” according to his expert testimony, weighed in at Hughes Marina in Williamson.

In the Walleye Division, Tim Farmer of Dexter led the pack with an 11 pound 14 ounce fish from Chaumont Bay off Jefferson County. He was fishing with his sons, Paul and Richard, as well as Jan Coburn of Henderson on the opening day of walleye season, May 7. They were fishing out of the “Lucky Lund,” a 19 footer that does them well. The elder Farmer, a charter captain for over 30 years, attributes his success to the “luck of the Irish … and being at the right place at the right time.” In addition, his mom had passed away around St. Patty’s Day this year and it could have been a little gift from above.

“I like fishing worm harnesses and tried to get the boys to put one out that afternoon,” said Farmer. “They finally listened to me and we put a blue and silver Northland Bait worm harness out 100 feet back from the board. Our next fish was the winner. We thought it was a pike when it hit. This was a proud moment with my boys.” Speaking of the sons, they also place high in the contest, finishing in third and fifth with an 11 pound, six ounce and a 10 pound, 13 ounce fish respectively. They have also placed in the top two in the Walleye Division four times previously, winning twice.

Sometimes the timing is off just a little bit, like Dan Peschler of Pulaski can attest. He weighed in an 11 pound, 14 ounce walleye the day after Farmer’s catch with a fish of the same weight. First angler in to the scales is the tie-breaker. Peschler was fishing with Robert Holdsworth of Pennsylvania at 2 am in Oswego Harbor and his fishing partner was sleeping aboard Peschler’s 16-foot Mini-Fish Magnet, a DuraNautic. The walleye hit a black and silver Smithwick lure trolled 50 feet behind a mini-Off Shore board over eight feet of water. Peschler is another regular in the winner’s circle.

Jared DiFrancesco of Baldwinsville took home the youth trophy in the walleye division with a nine pound, three ounce fish. “We were fishing in 20 to 30 feet of water using planer boards,” the 14-year-old youngster said. “During the week we fished there were a lot of snags. We lost nine lures.”

His lunker walleye was caught on May 8th around 4 pm in the afternoon. The youngster was fishing with his father and Tony Chatt of West Monroe, last year’s Lake Ontario Pro-Am Challenge Cup winner with “Five More Minutes.” The winning fish took a Smithwick stickbait. It was weighed in at Woody’s Tackle in Pulaski. DiFrancesco is a ninth grade student at Durgee Junior High School and plays soccer and is on the track team. Asked if fishing, soccer, and track are his favorite sports the youngster quipped, “No… messing around is my favorite.”

Next up on the LOC Derby calendar is the Summer Derby, set for July 1-31. The Fall Derby is slated for August 19-September 5, 2016. For a complete leaderboard for the spring contest go to www.loc.org.

New York’s 1000 Islands – St. Lawrence River Summer Vacation Treat – Part 2 of 2

Where to EAT!

Appetizer platters are usually not colorful and also tasty, this one was both, to be found at the Channelside Restaurant.

The St. Lawrence River carries the fresh water from the five Great Lakes to the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean, creating a unique fishery.  The Thousand Islands Region of New York State has a long history as a premier vacation destination, including a long, storied history with angling.

This is the river that Arthur Lawton caught his impressive 69 lb-15 oz muskellunge back in 1957, a record that still stands today in the Empire State.  On the weekend my wife (Sandy) and I visited, it was the opener of walleye and northern pike season.

However, this area is also more laid back than many tourist destinations as far as the fish guide community.  When I contacted Allen Benas, the head guy with 1000 Islands Fishing Charters, he didn’t have his boat in and he couldn’t find anyone else that did either.

Boldt Castle is one place that visitors must see, it is mesmerizing with story tales and history.

That’s not to say there isn’t good fishing available this time of year, there is.  For walleye, some of the best action is around the horn near Henderson Harbor and around the mouth of the nearby Black River.  With the Lake Ontario Counties, the Annual Trout and Salmon Derby is going on, anyone targeting walleye can try their luck there if they want the best chance to win.  The leader going into the final day of Derby action was an 11 pound, 14 ounce ‘eye caught off the Black River on opening day.  Check out www.loc.org to see the final leaderboard.

In addition to the fishing that these hotspots have to offer, don’t forget about the many boat tours that are available.  If you’ve never been to Boldt Castle located on Heart Island, you owe it to yourself to take the tour and delve into this tragic love story.  While this may be the most popular of all, Clayton Island Tours is now also offering Rock Island Lighthouse tours, and you have the option of being in a glass bottom boat to take in the river life beneath the surface of the water.  To find out more, log on to www.claytonislandtours.com.

Local wineries are making a name for themselves too.  This time around, we visited the Thousand Islands Winery (www.thousandislandswinery.com).  If you like dry whites (to go with your seafood of course), you’ll want to sample their Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or semi-dry Riesling, these were “all-approving” to our palate.  There are many other things to sample here too.  Their operation is in the shadow of the 1000 Islands International Bridge.

An important part of all my getaways – short or long – is the food.  Anyone who knows me knows that I like to use dining establishments as important waypoints and landmarks so that folks know where I am at all times!  This time around was no different, starting with The Clipper Inn at Clayton.

This is a fine dining establishment that I’ve never had the pleasure to sample, but it is a restaurant that has been in the Simpson family for 35 years.  The Simpson Family is native to the 1000 Islands area and goes back even farther.  Mary was our waitress and she gave excellent recommendations, starting with our Seafood Pate appetizer and on to our entrees.  My salad was slathered with, of course, 1000 Island dressing.  I had a king crab and Delmonico steak combo that was to die for.  Sandy had a Boston cod dinner that was exquisite.  As is usually the case when the food is this good, I ate way too much.  If you are in the area, this restaurant comes highly recommended.  Check out www.clipperinn.com, remember that you will need reservations.

Our Saturday evening dinner was also exemplary, with the icing on the cake being on the water as the name suggests, at Channelside.  The view is mesmerizing and the food is very good.  We started things out with some Channelside Chips that are reminiscent of nachos, but with a personalized touch and unique flavor. We also had Bang Bang Shrimp, that was a great treat.  My plate for supper was a perch dinner , and then a Haddock fish fry for Sandy.  Both of us left begging for more, if we only could have finished both!  The flavor was special.  Check out the menu, visit www.thechannelside.com.  Our waitress was Lori, also a great server.  The service can make or break a meal no matter how good the food is.

This is the tasty Musky Breakfast Platter from Koffee Kove Restaurant

Breakfasts were at the Koffee Kove Restaurant, where owner Laurie runs a tight ship with more good eats.  While muskellunge fishing was out of season, the Musky Breakfast wasn’t.  Give it a try.  The Everything Omelet was their version of a tasty garbage plate that was also very appealing if you have a hearty appetite in the morning.  They’ve been around for 44 years, so they must be doing something right.

Sandy and I love exploring new restaurants as we can find our way around town. And let’s not forget the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel either, more good food to chew on if you want to stay close to your lodging.

No stop would be complete without a visit to the 1000 Islands River Rat Cheese shop.  Their aged cheddars are scrumptious and there’s always something new that ends up in our cooler for the trip home.  The fresh cheese curds are to die for (at least if I listened to my doctor)!  To see the wide selection of products go visit www.riverratcheese.net.

This is only the tip of the iceberg (lettuce – with Thousands Islands dressing of course), when it comes to what the area has to offer.  You can find many more offerings at the Chamber of Commerce website at www.1000islands-clayton.com.

This area is also part of Jefferson County, featuring other locations like Sackets Harbor, Henderson Harbor, Watertown and Alexandria Bay.  Ask for a travel guide at www.visit1000islands.com or call 1-800-847-5263.

I can think of thousands of reasons to spend more time there!

Niagara Fishing Forecast for Friday, May 20, 2016

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Marty Polovick of Lockport, New York, won the Grand Prize in the Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby that was held May 6-15, reeling in a 26 pound, four-ounce king salmon to take the $15,000 top prize.

Tournament Week Kicks off into High Gear 

Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament Week is upon us, with the main event starting on Friday out of Wilson and Olcott.  A total of 50 teams will be competing for some great cash prizes based on a unique scoring system.  East wind continues to be a problem, but action finally turned on for some decent spring salmon fishing on Tuesday for many of the boats.  Exact details are sparse because of the tournament, but many boats were catching fish between Wilson and the Niagara Bar, as well as east of Olcott.  Decent kings, too, in the 20 pound class. A 31 pound king was caught off St. Catharine’s last weekend as the catch was flying around social media circles.

In the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Charity Fishing Outing last Wednesday, a total of 24 boats hit the waters around Olcott.  The captain guiding the crew to the biggest fish was Capt. Mark Vilardo with Kingfisher.  His 19 pound, 3 ounce king took the top prize with numerous in the 18 pound class on other boats.  It was a fun time had by all as the local fishery was showcased.

Look for a mixed bag this weekend at the tournament weigh in at Krull Park at 2 pm each day.  Check out www.lakeontarioproam.net for details.  Marty Polovick of Lockport won the Grand Prize in the Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby held May 6-15, reeling in a 26 pound, four ounce king salmon to take the $15,000 top prize.  He also earned an extra $500 for big fish of the day and a check for $1,000 by catching the largest salmon by a Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Assn. member.  On the final weekend of the derby, the crew of Doug Parker of Lockport; Matt Dunn of Newfane; and Matt’s father, Marc Dunn of Lockport along with Polovick used an 8-inch Dreamweaver Spindoctor rigged with a white John King Baithead and a piece of Crowes Cut Bait (aka N&D Bait) to take the winning fish.  They put their downrigger on the bottom in 100 feet of water.

The lucky Laker Taker was Patrick Barber of Niagara Falls while fishing with his brother Richard (also from Niagara Falls) on Friday the 13th.  They were trolling the Niagara Bar off the mouth of the Niagara River in 25 feet of water on the bottom when the 27 pound, 8 ounce fork tail hit their chartreuse holographic Kwikfish rigged with Hammerhead cowbells on the rigger.  Big brown trout came from Oswego when Ryan Massey of Oriskany Falls reeled in a 16 pound, 2 ounce fish east of the harbor.  First place walleye was weighed in by Tim Farmer of Dexter, an 11 pound, 14 ounce fish from Chaumont Bay.

Lower Niagara River

Devil’s Hole is the place to be for a mixed bag of fish, but with the closure of the gorge early in the week because of the transmission line removal, it forced guides down river to try and target other areas and other fish species.  Kwikfish and minnows are the best baits to use.  Mitch Grant of Virginia was showing off some of his new Rapid Fishing Solutions gear while fishing with Capt. Bruce Blakelock on Tuesday.  They reeled in some nice smallmouth bass on tubes and swim baits.  It won’t be long before the hard baits will be working on the smallies, as those water temps were just starting to hit 50 degrees.  We told you about the green can area working for the Killer-B’s at the mouth of the river on lake trout.  During the derby they reeled in over 100 lake trout.

Upper Niagara River 

KIDS FISHING CLINIC: There will be a Teach Me to Fish Clinic at Bison City Rod and Gun Club in Buffalo on Sunday, May 22 starting at 2 pm.  Get there a little early for registration.  Fish the harbors, inlets and creeks for a mixed bag of panfish and bass around Grand Island and along River Road.  The Erie Canal is open for fishing now, too.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

New York’s 1000 Islands – St. Lawrence River – Part 1 of 2

ny1000islands1

Summer Vacation Treat – Fishing, Touring, Eating.  Part 1 of 2

The Thousand Islands Region of New York State has a long history as a premier vacation destination combining the picturesque and subtle setting of the area with the tradition of sheer outdoor enjoyment.

The St. Lawrence River carries the fresh water from the five Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.  While the past may conjure up a mystique of monster muskellunge and a bonanza of bass, and other fish species, it is what the present offers that has wonderfully enhanced a recent visit to Clayton, New York, this spring, at the amazing Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel.

The new 1000 Island Harbor Hotel is radiant in the sunset and offers great views, great rooms and great food.

The new 1000 Island Harbor Hotel (www.1000islandsharborhotel.com) is outstanding, offering 105 deluxe guest rooms and suites to visitors to the area. The facility was designed in such a way that a majority of the rooms face toward the majestic St. Lawrence River.

My favorite aspect of the hotel is the Riverside Patio that allows for a great meal and is a perfect place for a perfect sunset.  Open air, gas-fire pits, burned brightly in the fresh air as we relaxed and sampled some great food options.  Throughout this Hart Hotel complex, there were pictures of “the good old days” that reminded guests about those times gone by, but not forgotten.

The Clayton area is one area that remembers their roots very well, a lesson we can all learn from.  All visitors have an opportunity to learn about the rich history the area offers.

Here, I am struggling with safely releasing the fish from the new YoZuri lure, all went well and we released the fish to fight again.

One of our side-trips was an afternoon casting and observing some of the new Yo-Zuri hard crankbaits at nearby Lucky Star Lake in Chaumont, New York.  The lake is just a short drive from historic Clayton.  The lake provides a 2,000 acre wildlife territory that offers both hunting and fishing for customers.  Angling action takes place on a 100-acre lake that’s loaded with bass, pike, crappie and other panfish.

We were greeted by “Bird,” a friendly black lab who lives for retrieving.  While her specialty is rocks and dropping them on your feet (steel-toed shoes are advised), this time around it was sticks.  The first one was over 8 feet long and difficult to throw.  We broke off a smaller piece and started the process of throwing to Bird.  My wife Sandy and I alternated stick-tossing with casting the new lures.  My better half did great reeling in largemouth bass that kept her busy.  I was keeping Bird busy, or maybe it was the other way around!  Either way, we had a great time outdoors that left Sandy saying, “When can we go fishing again?”

This wonderful dog is DzBirddz, 8-foot throw sticks were the norm for this lovable dog.

Lucky Star (www.luckystarranch.com) was recently acquired by Otis Technologies  (www.otistec.com).  Doreen and Jody Garrett were wonderful hosts.  This was a company that was started by Doreen when she was just 16 years old.  For those of you not familiar with Otis, it’s main focus is on modern, high-tech, firearms cleaning. Otis offers a low cost, lightweight and efficient gun cleaning system that you can carry into the field on your belt loop should you encounter a mishap.  That’s what happened when Doreen was hunting with her father years ago.

The company, based out of Lyons Falls, New York, has many more outdoor products with the newest focus on hearing protection, including one example they call the “Ear Shield.”  The Otis Sound-Reduction Chamber Technology does not require any batteries and it does everything you need to protect your ears.  I think they would be great around the house, too, for my wife – when she is mowing the lawn or using the chain saw.

A second form of hearing protection was called Flugz.  These are form-fitted ear plugs that you preform and shape to fit yourself, easily and efficiently, to personalize the reasonably-priced plugs to your own ears.  Check these things out because there is something there that will work for you…and your wife.

Please check out part 2 of 2 on this series next week, to learn more about fishing the St. Lawrence and musky, walleye and bass.  I’ve also included information on the unique and tasty wineries of the area, historic castle places to visit and where to enjoy some of the best food.

In the meantime, you can find out more offering from the Clayton Chamber of Commerce website at www.1000islands-clayton.com.  This area is also part of Jefferson County, featuring other locations like Sackets Harbor, Henderson Harbor, Watertown and Alexandria Bay.  Ask for a travel guide at www.visit1000islands.com or by calling 1-800-847-5263.  I can think of thousands of reasons to spend more time there!

ny1000islands5

Niagara Fishing Forecast for Friday, May 13, 2016

Lake Ontario and tributaries

The Yankee Troller team led by Capt. Rich Hajecki lead the field of nearly 50 competitor boats to take the 2016 Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament last Saturday. Many of the fish landed were fooled using a 150-foot diver pulling a Familiar Bite Whip Flash/Meat combo off 6-Mile Creek west of Wilson Harbor, New York.

An East wind is the nemesis of Lake Ontario salmon and trout fishermen, and we’ve had a bunch of it the last couple of weeks.  Despite the less than ideal conditions, it was the Yankee Troller team led by Capt. Rich Hajecki leading a field of nearly 50 boats to take the annual Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament last Saturday – the WHI.  The one day event target’s salmon only and the team scored the tournament limit of six salmon – all kings – and averaged nearly 18 pounds per fish. Pretty impressive!!  There wasn’t anyone close to them.  The team fished from 6 mile to 4 mile in 100 to 225′ of water.  In practice they had some bites on Dreamweaver spoons, but during the event it was all Familiar Bite Meat.

Their best set-up was a 150-foot diver pulling a Familiar Bite Whip Flash/Meat combo.  They also had a similar combo going on a rigger.

The LOC Derby is going on right now and the current Grand Prize leader is Tracy Lindsey of Seneca Falls with a 25 pound, 4 ounce salmon weighed in at Wilson.  The first place lake trout 24 pounds, 1 ounce caught by Brent Burgess of Portland, NY while fishing out of Wilson.  All these fish were caught on Saturday, so the fishing turned on for big fish. Seeking out active fish hasn’t been easy with the east wind.

Wednesday morning, Capt. Kurt Driscoll found some kings in tight around Wilson in 40 to 60 feet of water, all in the top 30 feet, where his deepest rigger was set. He was trolling hot, too – down speed was 3.4 mph using spoons in black-white-green-gold.

The LOC Derby continues until Sunday at 1 pm, May 15.  Awards will be held at Captain Jack’s on Sodus Bay starting at 4 pm.  Check out the leaderboard at www.loc.org.

Don’t forget that Don Johannes and Pete DeAngelo 3 fish- one fish contest is set for May 19. Register by 7 am the morning of the event in either Wilson or Olcott — In Olcott it’s the Slippery Sinker and the Boat Doctors; in Wilson at Bootleggers Cove Marina or the Gas Shack.

The Lake Ontario Pro-Am tournament is set for May 20-22 and the deadline to sign up for everyone is May 16 at 5 pm. Find out everything on the website at www.lakeontarioproam.net.

It’s a celebration of our fishing resources, for sure, an event started up by the late Skip Hartman of Olcott in conjunction with Lowrance Electronics – 32 years ago!

Remember to save those salmon heads from clipped fish.

Lower Niagara River

The big news is that the Devil’s Hole area in Lower Niagara River will be CLOSED on Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday according to National Grid officials.  The culprit is the removal of some old transmission lines and numerous precautions are being taken – including closing boat traffic, Artpark Trail No. 7 and even the Robert Moses Parkway from traffic.  It might be for only 90 minutes per day, but it’s anyone’s guess how long it will really take.  That’s starting Monday, May 16.

Trout are still hanging on as the warm water fish are becoming a bit more active.  Kwikfish are working on lake trout; steelhead prefer shiners. Filming a TV show on the lower river recently with Mid-West Outdoors, we managed to catch seven different species of fish.  The number one species we caught were numerous silver bass in the Wagon Wheel area just south of the launch ramp on swim baits.  While drifting for bass, Bob George with Buck Knives had the surprise of his life – a 50 inch musky!

Check out the Facebook page for Niagara USA Fishing and Outdoors to see a video of it. Because it’s not in season, it was released immediately.  It still provided a nice thrill.  He was using a Strike King Rodent soft plastic bait.  John Antone of Sanborn was fishing with Capt. Steve Drabczyk recently and he managed to catch five different species.  Egg sacs and shiners worked best but the key was using a 7 foot leader.

Some big smallmouth bass in the six pound class were caught last week in the river and at the river mouth during the annual media event utilizing tubes and swim baits.  The key was fishing the baits slow.

Speaking of Television shows, if you want to see Niagara County in a positive light, check out Fishing University next weekend on the Outdoor Channel.  It will air on Friday, May 20th at 12:30 pm, Sat., May 21st at 4:30 pm and Sun., May 22nd at 9:30 am Eastern.  It’s another way to promote our great fishing, as well as the area!

Thanks to Jennifer Pauly and the Lower River Chamber who took the lead on this effort last fall.  The Niagara River Anglers Association will hold their next meeting on Monday, May 16, starting at 7PM at the Jetport Restaurant, 7100 Porter Rd., Niagara Falls.  If you wanna know more about this fishing resource in Western New York, attendance is free.

Upper Niagara River 

Not too many reports to share, but this should be a good time to target panfish around Grand Island and along River Road.  Use minnows if you are targeting perch or crappies.  Bass anglers must still use artificial baits in the river.  Northern pike and walleye seasons are now open, too.

The Erie Canal is open for business and offers some good fishing options this time of year.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Outdoor Adventure in SW Florida is Memorable

The colorful Roseatte Spoonbill is plentiful in Southwest Florida

A little Florida sunshine is a perfect way to recharge your internal batteries.  One of our favorite spots continues to be Southwest Florida, home to the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel (www.fortmyers-sanibel.com).

Mystique

Ever since we were exposed to this outdoor playground through the adventure antics of Dr. Marion Ford and the writings of Randy Wayne White, the area has always presented itself with a certain mystique. While there are plenty of the normal tourist-focused areas that seem to dominate with the snowbirds from January to April, the region never ceases to amaze us as we make that extra effort to see where the back roads will take us and what hidden treasures are available to be revealed for the first time.

Wildlife

The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is always at or near the top of our list, the largest mangrove wilderness in the country.  The bird life that inhabits the sanctuary is simply amazing.  This time around, it was the Reddish Egret that was in the spotlight, part of a new telemetry study to learn more about the habits of these rare birds.  As luck would have it, one of the special winged wonders took up residence in front of a group of camera clickers, also allowing birders to check off another feathered friend from a bird bucket list of sorts.  The Darling NWR is also part of a larger complex (also named after Darling) that encompasses the Caloosahatchee, Matlacha Pass, Pine Island, and Island Bay National Wildlife Refuges – a large complex of nearly 8,000 acres.  The majority of the lands (and waters) in these refuges are nesting and roosting islands for the plethora of bird life that either migrate through or call this important habitat home. Check out http://www.fws.gov/refuge/JN_Ding_Darling/About_the_Complex.html.

Adventure – Fishing

One morning we meet with local charter captain Ryan Kane of Southern Instinct (www.southerninstinct.com; 239-896-2341.  No one can appreciate what he does more than me as a fellow sportfishing promoter and ambassador of the area’s natural resources.  Kane really gets it and he’ll do whatever it takes to make each and every outing a memorable experience.

As we met at the Port Sanibel Marina, the outlook wasn’t the best.  Strong winds from the southwest from one direction; freshwater being funneled down the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee creating unsettled conditions near the mouth of the river, an estuary of sorts.  This isn’t Kane’s first rodeo, though, he opted to stay in from the Gulf of Mexico waters because of the winds.  Other local charters braved the winds to try and hit the Causeway Reef, an artificial structure that came from the old causeway that connected the mainland to Sanibel, before the winds peaked.  It was holding some nice sheepshead in the four to five pound range – some excellent eaters for the frying pan.  There was a question whether the tradeoff was worth it.  While the captains might think so, the passengers might not.  We went back to the basics and to Kane’s roots.

“This is Shell Creek where my grandfather took me and my brother to fish when we were little kids,” reflected Kane, who’s been guiding full time for six years now.  This is his favorite sheepshead spot and he still fishes it regularly with customers when conditions limit the areas he can target.  “It’s all about figuring out what people want and what would make the best experience overall.  I specialize in families, especially families with children since I have three of my own.  I’ll do just about anything to make each and every experience a memorable one.”

Captain Ryan Kane with a saltwater Sheepshead, loves to take families with children fishing.

No sooner had we started fishing a cut when a large manatee floated alongside his 24-foot Pro-Line that he’s converted into a fishing machine.  My wife Sandy was mesmerized and before it was all over she was petting the soft snout of the marine mammal that some people refer to as a sea cow.  That was the experience that she will remember for the rest of her life … and will keep her coming back for more.  It didn’t hurt that she also reeled in the biggest redfish for the day, allowing her to state: “I could get used to doing this.”

Ryan looked at me with a big smile. “I think that’s what every guy wants to hear from his wife!”  After catching four or five species of fish, we headed out into San Carlos Bay where we found a shoreline island with mangroves and a weed bed. “This looks perfect for redfish – it has everything they would be looking for in this kind of a wind,” said Kane.

Tossing a red jig tipped with a shrimp for bait, he almost immediately hit a fish.  However, it wasn’t a redfish.  It turned out to be our biggest sheepshead for the day.  The next 10 fish were redfish and we had a blast reeling in the magnificent fighters.  We ended up with seven different species for the day including a pile of mangrove snappers, ladyfish, pufferfish, catfish and even a sting ray reeled in by the novice Sandy.  All around us was incredible bird life and the picturesque scenery of places like Sanibel and Captiva islands.  Life is good.

Kane is expanding his business to include a bigger 36 foot boat, a Contender that he will be able to use off-shore as well as inshore when the conditions allow for it.  Families will be more comfortable and the added advantage of having a head on the boat will be worth its weight in gold.

Side Trips

In keeping with the dolphin theme of Florida (even if you are a Buffalo Bills fan), the Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery in Cape Coral is a new attraction that is really picking up a head of steam (www.wickeddolphinrum.com) not just in Southwest Florida and around the state but around the country.  Billed as Florida’s only true rum distillery made with all local products, this relatively new business that started up in 2012 from a Long Island family (yes, a New York connection) is already award-winning.  We received a private tour from head distiller Dan Termini and he gave us the complete low-down on the sourcing of all the ingredients, the cooking process, the fermentation and the distillation that takes place.  The end result is one great tasting product.  At the top of the list for us was a Coconut Rum that’s become a local favorite.  Don’t rule out the Florida Spiced Rum or the Rumshine.  They make a total of 11 different products currently.  They estimate that some 22,000 people will tour the facility in 2016.  And it’s all natural.

Dan Termini, head distiller of Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery, offers an educational tour for more than 20,000 visitors every year.

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, Fort Myers – If you’ve never been to a classy dinner theatre before (or even if you have), the Broadway Palm does it right night after night with top quality performances (we saw Show Boat), tasty buffet dinner and more.  Check out www.broadwaypalm.com for a list of what’s coming up and what options are available should you be in the area. You won’t be disappointed.

Accommodations

Tip Top Isles Resort and Marina – This is a nice place we stumbled across with some assistance from the tourism office. Resident manager Mark Sturgeon was extremely accommodating and there were quite a few positives that jumped out at us.  One was the fact that they offered pontoon boat rentals at a reasonable price. They had a fleet of seven when we were there.  Room rates were also very reasonable considering it was peak tourist season.  Sturgeon was really high on an off-season special that included a single room for three nights and two half-day boat rentals for two people for less than $300.  Check out www.tiptopisles.com.  It’s conveniently located to Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island, as well as many other local attractions.

Outrigger Motel – Located on Estero Blvd. on Fort Myers Beach, this accommodation has a little bit of everything.  It’s also a great place to witness a sunset, Southwest Florida style! Sunsets are a tradition there, with the main gathering place at the Tiki Bar located just off the beach.  If you like shells or shell collecting, this is a prime destination and we haven’t found any place better in the continental U.S.  The shells at the Outrigger this year were the best we’ve ever seen there!  And if there’s a critter inside the shell, you must toss it back!  The rooms are spacious, comfortable and they even have a built-in kitchen if you want to cook up your catch after fishing.  Check out www.outriggerfmb.com for all of the details and seasonal rates.

Niagara Fishing Forecast for Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Jake Romanack with a hefty King Salmon caught trolling with a Mag-Lip 3.5 on Niagara Bar near Fort Niagara, New York.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Mark Romanack of Michigan reported that his son, Jake Romanack, and his friend, Jarod Higginbotham of Yakima Bait, fished the Niagara Bar Tuesday morning while filming an episode of Fishing 411 TV.

The much anticipated salmon bite has kicked into high gear.  The crew boated three kings over 20 pounds, plus three bonus Coho and countless lake trout.  The Yakima 3.5 Mag Lip plug stole the show producing all the big kings and Lakers.  The top colors included NFL, gold/orange flame and Pay Day.  Most of the fish came in 100 feet of water, east of the Red Can.

Riggers 50 to 60 feet down produced well as did 300-foot wire rigs fished with Off Shore boards.  A few Coho were in the top 20 feet of water.  That’s the best piece of information that we can give you with what is happening starting on Friday.  If you are looking for lake trout, they seem to be all over the place.

Bill Fekete of Ransomville was fishing with his son, Corey, every chance they got, have been doing well on Lakers.  Fire tiger pattern has been working the best – spoons or sticks.  Best depth was 50 down over 70 feet of water on the Niagara Bar for them.  Friday, May 6, kicks off the spring Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby – a 10 day contest that focuses much of the angling effort on the waters off Niagara County.

This is the spot on the lake that offers the best chance at winning the $15,000 Grand Prize for the biggest salmon.  There’s another $25,000 in other prizes, too, with divisions for salmon, brown trout, lake trout and walleye – the latter starting at one minute after midnight on May 7, the opening of walleye season in New York. Check out www.loc.org for details.

Also on May 7 is the start of the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament. Best six salmon for the day wins the big bucks, based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound. Less than two weeks after that one is the granddaddy of trout and salmon tournaments, the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament, held out of the ports of Wilson and Olcott May 20-22.  Deadline to register is May 16 at www.lakeontarioproam.net. With a bigger emphasis on the amateurs, each single day is an event with more than 100 percent return on your registration dollar for the Amateur Open and for the Pro Division.

The Don Johannes and Pete DeAngelo Memorial one fish-three fish contest is May 19 this year, another fun event leading up to the Pro-Am. Sign up at the Boat Doctors or the Slippery Sinker in Olcott; Bootleggers Cove Marina or the Gas Shack in Wilson.

Lower Niagara River

Corey Fekete of Ransomville, New York, fishing with his dad (Bill) had a fun day catching lake trout and King Salmon this on Firetiger color spoons on Niagara Bar.

Plenty of excitement around town for the Smelt Festival on Friday, May 6. Things kick off at 5 pm at Lewiston Landing.  Trout fishing has been holding on, but it hasn’t been easy for sure.  Steelhead and lake trout are still available with minnows or egg sacs.  At the mouth of the river, the bass are just starting to turn on (catch and release only, no live bait) and Capt. Bruce Blakelock of Lewiston was guiding Mitch Grant and George Thomas of Virginia, co-owners of the Trailer Hook Pal.  They were in town for a media event that was going on all week and they had some new products to use.  Best baits were tubes and swim baits in a green pumpkin color.  The tubes were rigged with Tube Mate Spinners by Trailer Hook Pal, a new added enticement that really seemed to trigger the fish to hit.  They were just starting to turn on Tuesday and it will continue to improve as the waters continue to warm.  Several fish were over 5 pounds.

Upper Niagara River 

The head of the river at the Buffalo Harbor was really starting to turn on for bass fishing Tuesday. Buddy Prause, VP of Sales and Marketing for Yo-Zuri, was in town from the Florida office, along with three factory reps from Japan.  They were testing some new baits that really seemed to work wonders on the smallmouth, despite 43 degree water around the breakwalls.  All they used were hard baits – specifically the Hardcore Longbill Series in 90 mm Orange Tiger and Ayu, as well as the Hardcore Spin in several different colors.  The blade seemed to mimic the flash of the emerald shiner.  Prause caught is two personal best smallmouth on the trip and they were amazed at how good they worked in the cold water.  The bite was tough overall, too, and plastics did not seem to be as effective.  At least on this day.  May 7 is the opening of walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger musky seasons throughout the state. However, tiger musky is still closed on the Great Lakes until the regular musky season opener on June 18 this year.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303 | 1.877 FALLS US, f:  716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Lake Ontario Fishing Contests Abound in May

The Thrillseeker Team, one of the most dominant fishing tournament teams on Lake Ontario, did well last year.

The unofficial start of spring on Lake Ontario is the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby, set for May 6-15 this year (www.loc.org).  This is a big fish contest, focusing in on salmon, brown trout, lake trout and, as of May 7 when the walleye season opens in New York, walleye. More than 4,000 anglers will be hitting the waters of this Great Lake in pursuit of the biggest salmon for the 10 day contest – worth a check for $15,000!  Not bad for doing something that you love.

Fishing contests are not for everyone, but if you are going to be on the water fishing anyway, it’s not a bad idea to ante up and take a chance.  Like the state lottery, you have to be in it to win it.  Every year when I write the press release for the LOC events (there is also a summer and fall contest), every single time there’s a story about the winning fisherman – or woman – who won the prize on their first derby ever, for first fish ever, or first time on Lake Ontario.  The stories, and the memories, are priceless.  There are also the stories of the fish that didn’t get away, but they weren’t in the derby; or not everyone on the boat was in the LOC.  The fall contest Grand Prize is $25,000, pretty serious in the cash department!  That could buy a new fishing boat and lots of tackle!!

Check out the leaderboard on the website to see where the best places to fish are in the spring.  Based on previous success stories, the waters from the Niagara River and the Niagara Bar to 30 Mile Point east of Olcott, New York, affords your best opportunity to take home some cash – year after year.  Part of the reason for the early season success is because of the Niagara River, the biggest flow of water coming into Lake Ontario.  That water is also a bit warmer come May as the waters of a much-shallower Lake Erie funnel their way through the Niagara River system.  These attract the baitfish – smelt and alewives at the top of the list – and in turn those tasty tidbits attract the predator fish.  The predator fish attract the anglers from around the country.  Last year some 40 different states were represented in the LOC events.

Before the spring LOC contest is over, the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament will see some 50 teams targeting spring salmon only.  This year, the contest is set for May 7.  The best six salmon will be brought to the scales for a one day event. Grand prize is $25,000.  The competition is fierce as teams focus their energy on catching spring kings.  The key is the size, because scoring is based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound. For information check out www.wilsonharborinvitational.com.

This is all a precursor to the granddaddy of tournaments, the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament – the 32nd annual contest out of the ports of Wilson and Olcott.  No tournament on the lake has been around longer or touched the lives of more fishermen and women.  In the Pro Division, teams are serious when the contest is going on.  Incentives are that more than 100 percent of the entry fee money goes back into the prize structure (unheard of) and an extra $20,000 in cash is being dangled out in front of the teams like a carrot in front of a donkey.  Again, 10 points per fish and a point per pound is the scoring for the day, but there are tournament minimum sizes and, for the Classic Division, the first 12 legal salmon and trout is the goal each day – for three days in a row this year.  Consistency combined with knowledge is needed to place high in this event.  How serious is this tournament?  Observers are provided by each team to go on another boat to make sure the rules are being followed!

In the Amateur Open, the tournament atmosphere is still present, but with a lot less pressure.  No observers are needed.  Each day is a separate contest; best three fish is the goal, a mix of salmon and trout.  It’s a celebration of our fishery and a perfect way to rub elbows with fellow anglers from around the lake.  Deadline to register is May 16.  For more information, visit www.lakeontarioproam.net for rules and registration information.

Competition fishing is not for everyone and there’s still plenty of world class angling opportunities on the lake should you not want to be part of the contests going on.  If the derby or tournament bug bites, though, you could become addicted!

Niagara County Fishing Forecast

Lake Ontario, Upper Niagara River, Lower Niagara River

Lake Ontario and tributaries

The first king salmon started showing up in slightly more reliable numbers as anglers prepare for May fishing contests.  However, sharing information as far as locations and details is a bit more difficult.  Remember that a study on king salmon will be starting up on May 1.  The primary focus is three year old kings with an adipose fin clip.  Be sure to save the head of any king with a clip and deposit them into the freezers located at Fort Niagara at the fish cleaning station; Bootleggers Cove and Wilson Boat Yard in Wilson, as well as at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park; in Olcott at the Town of Newfane Marina.  That said, the county Fisheries Board is looking to collect a bit more information including the total number of salmon caught during the month of May.  Pick up at copy of the form at the Town of Newfane Marina or email ncfdb1@gmail.com for a copy.  We need your help!

Trolling the shoreline for browns and Cohos with stickbaits is still an option and the lake trout bite continues to be very good out to 80 foot depths.  Spoons are the lure of choice.  A few trout are still up for grabs in area tributaries, but the warm water fish like bass are slowly turning on to replace the trout.  Derbies and tournaments are starting up for salmon and trout very soon, with the Spring LOC Derby kicking off on Friday, May 6.  There is a $15,000 Grand Prize for the biggest salmon and Niagara County is where you want to be based on previous winners.  Details at www.loc.org on weigh stations and registration outlets.

The Wilson Harbor Invitational Derby is set for May 7. Their website is www.wilsonharborinvitational.com.

The granddaddy of tournaments, the 31st Annual Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament is set for May 20-22 out of the ports of Olcott and Wilson. Website is www.lakeontarioproam.net.

Lower Niagara River

Trout are still cooperating for anglers drifting and casting in the lower river, but some trips produce more bass than steelhead or lakers. Minnows or small egg sacs are the top enticement for drifters and are also working for shoreline casters. Spinners are another top casting lure. Boaters have been taking trout in the Devil’s Hole area, but the lower river sections can also be productive if the winds cooperate out in the lake at the Bar. It’s been a little lumpy out there. For all you smelters, the smelt run is still going on but it seems to be on the downhill slide. Remember that the Lewiston Smelt Festival is set for May 6 at Lewiston Landing complete with a smelt fry courtesy of the Niagara River Anglers Assn. and the Lower River Chamber of Commerce.

Upper Niagara River

As the waters slowly start to warm, the perch and panfish action will continue to improve along the river shoreline and around Grand Island.  Bass fishing is all catch and release with no live bait so if you are targeting largemouth or smallmouth, keep that in mind.  Fishing for panfish, though, Emerald shiners are the bait of choice.  Buffalo Boat Harbor is seeing a fair amount of keeper perch being caught on shiners, too.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303 | 1.877 FALLS US, f:  716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Lending a Hand to Lake Ontario King Salmon Study

Dan Knuth from Utica, holds up one of the heavily schooled, monster spring King salmon found off Niagara Bar in Lake Ontario. They are called “SCREAMERS” for good reason, they will smoke a weak reel drag and snap a line during a burst run, but right now Lake Ontario fish scientists need angler help.

If you fish Lake Ontario, like the Beatles song goes, we all need a little help from our friends – and this is the perfect time to lend a hand … while you are fishing!

The Niagara County Fisheries Development Board working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Niagara River Anglers Association (NRAA) and Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Association (LOTSA) want to get a better understanding of the makeup of the large number of Chinook salmon that show up along the Niagara County shoreline every May.

This coming May (2016), many of the three-year-old class of Chinook salmon will have their adipose fin missing (clipped) if they were raised in the Salmon River Fish Hatchery.  And if that fin is clipped, the fish will have a coded wire tag implanted in their head that identifies their stocking type (direct versus pen reared) and their stocking location.  Biologists need the head for the study.

kingsalmonstudy2

In order to obtain this information, we need the help of all anglers fishing Lake Ontario out of the ports of Fort Niagara/Youngstown, Wilson and Olcott.  We are requesting the head from any Chinook salmon caught in the month of May that is harvested for food and has the adipose fin missing.  Only 3-year old kings with the adipose fin missing.  These heads can be placed in a bag and then in freezers located at Fort Niagara, Wilson and Olcott in specific locations (Fort Niagara State Park next to the fish cleaning station; Bootlegger’s Cove Marina next to the ship’s store; Wilson Boat Yard next to the Gas Shack; Wilson-Tuscarora State Park near the fish cleaning station; and the Town of Newfane Marina (Olcott) adjacent to the fish cleaning station. The DEC will collect the heads from the freezers, as well as analyze the data so that it can be used as another piece of information to help with management of the king salmon program.

This is the last year class of Chinook salmon that were clipped and marked in the lake.  Therefore, it is our last chance to capture this important data to help with managing the Chinook salmon program in Lake Ontario.  Assisting with this program is a win-win situation for all – you will be helping yourself as well as your fellow anglers.  We all need a little help from our friends!

Just a quick comment on the spring salmon fishery in Niagara and Lake Ontario: One of the best places to be in the entire Great Lakes in the spring is anywhere from the Niagara Bar off the mouth of the Niagara River to 30-Mile Point east of Olcott, New York.  This is where the salmon hang out because of the forage that’s available.

When the kings are in, it’s some of the best salmon fishing you’ve ever seen anywhere.  These fish are champion fighters.  Catching a 15-pound fish in the spring is like catching 30-pound fish in the fall, tearing out 100 yards of line like an NFL running back in an open field run looking to the end zone – without any contract disputes or ham strings to worry about!

To find out more information, check out www.niagara-usa.com and click on the fishing section.  A free map outlines all of the information you need to know to get you connected.

Thanks for your help!

Niagara River Fishing Report – April 21, 2016

John Van Hoff with a 20 pound Niagara Bar laker caught off Lewiston, New York.

Lower Niagara River

Mike Fox of Lewiston reported good numbers of smelt are still being caught in the river, but who knows for how long.  It’s been a much better run than last year.  The Lewiston smelt festival will be held May 6.  Trout action has been decent the past week.  They can be found from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar.  Minnows, egg sacs and wobbling baits like Kwikfish or Mag-Lips are all good baits to use, but it seems to change daily and you need to be flexible.  Steelhead and lake trout top the list; a few browns are also available.  Spoons and spinners top the list of lures from shore.  Warm water fish are starting to pick up.  Remember that the stairs at Whirlpool State Park are closed.

Upper Niagara River

Some keeper perch have been reported in Buffalo harbor area.  Trout should still be available off Unity Island and out of Broderick Park, as well as off Bird Island Pier when you can get out there.  Egg sacs, minnows and spoons or spinners will catch fish.  Use emerald shiners for perch or other panfish along traditional river sites.  Speaking of panfish, they should be turning on soon around Grand Island in the canals, bays and shallows.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303 | 1.877 FALLS US, f:  716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Lake Ontario and tributaries Fishing Forecast – Niagara County

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The spring weather has continued and more people have been taking advantage of some inshore trout fishing – browns and lake trout primarily, with an occasional Coho or Chinook also showing up.

For the browns, troll inside of 20 feet with stickbaits or spoons off boards. Look where the water is a little stained if you can find something off color.  Firetiger, rainbow, brown trout and natural colors are all working.  Fish off boards away from your boat.

Lake trout have been everywhere.  John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda was fishing just west of the river in 50 feet of water and couldn’t keep four lines in.  Their biggest Laker was 20 pounds. In front of Wilson it was the same story – Laker’s in 60 feet of water.  Some lake trout have been reported in water as deep as 80 and as shallow as 35 according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker.

In the streams, 18 Mile Creek was down to a trickle on Wednesday and some of the smaller streams could use a fresh slug of water.  We could get some rain on Thursday but we will be at the mercy of Mother Nature.  We are on the downhill slide of the winter trout run, but a few fish are still being reported.  The upswing is with warm water fish species like bass (catch and release), suckers and panfish.

The LOC Derby will be held May 6-15 and registrations are coming in hot and heavy now.  Go to www.loc.org for details or sign up at any Niagara County location.

The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Tournament, set for May 20-22 this year, has a live website now for registrations at www.lakeontarioproam.net.

The Wilson Harbor Invitational is May 7 this year. Website is www.wilsonharborinvitational.com.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303 | 1.877 FALLS US, f:  716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Share the Outdoors with a Youth Turkey Hunt

Steve Schicker, host of Forever Wild Outdoor Adrenaline Adventures that appears on The Sportsman’s Channel, and 5-Time New York State turkey calling champion explains what kids need to do to bag that first bird during youth hunting weekend.

New York’s spring youth turkey hunt is just around the corner, set for April 23-24, 2016.  This is a perfect opportunity to give junior nimrods the opportunity to have the outdoor stage all to themselves – along with an adult mentor, of course.  All the young hunter needs is a Junior Hunting license and a turkey permit.  The accompanying adult must also be a current hunting license and turkey permit holder.

There are some ground rules, as there should be.  The adult mentor can assist in the hunt by calling, but they can carry a firearm, crossbow or bow (or attempt to kill a bird during the youth hunt).  We mentioned crossbows.  Junior hunters must be at least 14 years of age if they wanted to try that challenge.  The reason? Crossbows are not classified as archery equipment in the Empire State.  Crazy!

Junior hunters can harvest one bearded bird during the youth hunt weekend.  This would become part of the two-bird bag allowed during the May 1-31 spring season if they are successful early.  A second bird can be harvested starting May 1.  There isn’t a better way to “Share the Outdoors” than to get a kid out turkey hunting!

According to Steve Schicker, host of Forever Wild Outdoor Adrenaline Adventures that appears on The Sportsman’s Channel, now is when you want to be scouting these birds for the youth turkey hunt weekend or opening day for the regular season.

“I like to drive around and glass the fields,” said Schicker.  Locating the birds should be first on your list.  “Whatever you do, don’t call these birds before the season opens,” emphasized Schicker, a five-time New York State Turkey Calling Champion.  “Try to identify where the birds are roosting and then prepare accordingly.”

Once the hunt is underway, though, the emphasis is placed on safety.  Since we are coming off a year when accidents in the field had no fatalities, it’s important to keep that record going.  Hunters are outfitted entirely in camouflage clothing, so there are certain things you can do to make things safer on the whole.  Some of the other things that Schicker pointed out were:

1) Find a big tree to use as a backdrop and to lean against – larger than your shoulders;

2) Don’t stalk what you think is a bird. It could be another hunter;

3) Never where red, white or blue;

4) Never shoot at sound or movement, always identifying your target before you pull the trigger;

5) Always look beyond your intended target;

6) When another hunter moves into your area, speak up loud and clearly. Don’t wave or move;

The Mosquito Repeller in Realtree Xtra Green™ camo is convenient to carry and is suited for hunting use.

When it comes to the actual hunt, Schicker suggested to try and do some things a little differently if you are hunting on public land or areas that receive a lot of pressure.  “You don’t have to actually call to make a difference if you are trying to pull a bird in.  Try scratching the leaves or the ground to make it appear that there’s another bird there.  You can also sound like a bird coming down out of the roost first thing in the morning, too. Figure out what the birds want on any given day.”

On a personal note, there’s one thing I would encourage every turkey hunter to purchase before heading out in the forests and fields.  One of the most valuable tools in my turkey hunting arsenal is my Thermacell Repeller.  It’s a perfect defense against unwanted guests like mosquitos and makes things more comfortable when you are outdoors in potentially adverse situations.  If you have a new hunter with you, it’s a great way to make sure that insects won’t keep them away from a second hunt.  Two new products include Max Life Insect Repellent pads that last up to 12 hours and a tree hanger that can help to give you maximum coverage when in the woods.  Check out www.thermacell.com for details. Good luck, stay safe out there and take a kid out hunting!

Niagara River – Niagara Fishing Forecast for Friday, April 15, 2016

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Lower Niagara River – Trout action has been decent of late as the weather conditions finally settle down. A call from Mike Fox of Lewiston noted that he reported good numbers of smelt on Wednesday night and hopefully that will continue with the warmer weather finally arriving. While the Lewiston smelt festival will not be held until May 6, the early dippers can do well. Keep your fingers crossed! Trout can be found from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar. Minnows, egg sacs and wobbling baits like Kwikfish or Mag-Lips are all good baits to use, but it seems to change daily and you need to be flexible. Steelhead and lake trout top the list; a few browns are also available. Capt. Jeff Draper of Grand Island had the brown trout touch earlier this week using minnows to take double digit browns on the Niagara Bar – fish up to 10 pounds. Shore casters can use spinners, egg sacs or egg imitations fished under a float. Remember that the stairs at Whirlpool State Park are closed. The NYPA fish platform is open again, as is the shoreline access and the reservoir.

Upper Niagara River –Trout should still be available off Unity Island and out of Broderick Park, as well as off Bird Island Pier when you can get out there. Egg sacs, minnows and spoons or spinners will catch fish. Use emerald shiners for perch or other panfish. Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield received 200 rainbow trout and 100 two year old browns last Friday; Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls received 1,720 brown trout and 200 two year old browns. Gill Creek, the outflow of the lake, also received 560 yearling browns. Those fish have been cooperating for anglers.

Bill Hilts, Jr.
Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation
10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303 | 1.877 FALLS US
f:  716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Lake Ontario – Niagara County Fishing Forecast for Friday, April 15, 2016

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Lake Ontario and tributaries – Spring has finally arrived this week to the joy of both shore and boat fishermen. In the weather department, the bullhead contest in Wilson was a week off. This weekend will be more like May than April. Shoreline trollers are working the waters inside of 15-20 feet to take a mix of browns and Coho salmon with an occasional steelhead thrown in. Stickbaits in fire tiger, rainbow trout and black-silver or black-blue have all been working off boards. Some boaters have been using spoons to take some fish, as well.

Casting spoons or spinners off the piers is another way to take a trout or two. Fishing minnows under a bobber will also work. In the streams, fresh trout are still available, primarily steelhead. Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek is still producing, but so are some of the smaller streams like Keg. Fish a small jig under a float and tip it with some meat. Egg sacs will also work.

Over at the Oak, one surprise for a trout caster was a 15-plus pound walleye reeled in by Matt Bedient of Lockport. He caught the monster on a jig.

Walleye season is closed and he released the lunker immediately. Remember that come May 7 when the season opens. Walleye is a category in the LOCWalleye is a category in the LOC Derby. The LOC Derby will be May 6-15 and registrations are coming in hot and heavy now. Go to www.loc.org for details or sign up at any Niagara County location.

Richard Haun of Niagara Falls braved the cold temperatures to win the Wilson Bullhead Contest last weekend with two fish totaling 3.69 pounds. He as using nightcrawlers at Wilson Tuscarora State Park after dark. Second place was Terry Molinari of Appleton with 3.56 pounds. He was fishing near the cow bridge in Wilson with worms and shrimp at dusk and after dark. John Pittsley of Niagara Falls and Bob Shank of Wilson tied at 3.53 pounds but Pittsley won the tie-breaker with length of his two fish. Top youth angler was Zachary Heath with two fish totaling 2.21 pounds. Nearly 40 anglers competed in the contest.

The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Tournament, set for May 20-22 this year, has a live website now for registrations at www.lakeontarioproam.net.

Bill Hilts, Jr.
Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation
10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303 | 1.877 FALLS US
f:  716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

It’s all About the Fish and Some Help from Friends

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Salmon and trout rearing pens have delivered a powerful addition to the Lake Ontario and Lower Niagara River recreational fish industry. This beautiful cold-water monster was caught April 10 near Lewiston, New York, below Niagara Falls. Frank Campbell/Niagara Region Charter Service Photo

It’s all about the fish.  Fishing groups and other business organizations are getting ready to start putting their pens together in an effort to accept salmon and trout from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  Pens?  Are we talking writing implements?  What’s the explanation?

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Since 1998, groups have been building holding pens for salmon and trout in Lake Ontario for a two-fold purpose: improve the survival rates of the fish being stocked; and to imprint the fish to a particular area or body of water.  This is crunch time and early to mid-April is usually when volunteers rally to get the annual effort kicked off.

For example, the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA) in Niagara County, New York, spearheads an effort in the Port of Olcott at the Town of Newfane Marina.  Since 2005, the group has been building these holding pens to house some 67,000 Chinook salmon for three to four weeks.  The club added another pen in 2006 to hold 3,500 steelhead.  It’s all about the fish.

On April 9 at 9:00 a.m., volunteers convened at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott to assemble the pens and secure the netting.  This is all in preparation for receiving the fish from DEC on April 13 at 1:00 p.m.  Things start to happen quickly once that is complete, but much more volunteer support is always needed.  When the fish are in the pens, they must be fed 4 or 5 times a day.  Fishermen and women; youngsters with their Dads; Boy Scouts and other groups, all pitch in to lend a hand at feeding the adopted fish for the port.  If you are local or nearby to the area and want to know more, go on the LOTSA website at www.lotsa1.org to sign up or identify additional information.

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During recent studies conducted by DEC, the agency discovered that fish survival rates in the pens actually out-survive the direct stocked fish at a rate of better than two to one – good news when you are trying to get the biggest bang for your angling buck.  However, the study isn’t over with yet.  This is the final year for checking fish that have been fin clipped and outfitted with coded wire tags in the snouts of the kings, many of which were reared in pens first.  Local angling leaders are pushing to expand those efforts, too, by getting more people involved with the collection process.

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Led by LOTSA and the Niagara County Fisheries Development Board, the interested parties are hoping to get freezers in place by May 1 at Fort Niagara in Youngstown, New York, to complement the freezers in Wilson and Olcott.

Because of all the big fishing contests during the month of May, it is hoped that many of the participants will cooperate and look for the missing adipose fin, giving them cause to save the head of the fish and ultimately the coded wire tag for biologists.  All the information of that fish is on the tag – including where and when it was stocked.  The study should be completed this coming fall after the salmon run – three-year old fish that will be facing their end of its life cycle.

Again, this is more information to allow DEC to better manage the fishery.  There are 10 different pen-rearing projects along the south shore of Lake Ontario as far as the Empire State is concerned; more on the Canadian side of the lake.

It’s a perfect way to “share the outdoors.”

It’s all about the fish!

Figuring out Whitetail Deer Management in New York

Karen Cinelli of Newfane with her biggest Niagara County buck to date. Would you pass on this deer during an antlerless-only season?

To the dismay of many deer hunters in Western New York, the state announced last fall that they would be going through with their plan to adopt new regulations in 12 Wildlife Management Units around the state where deer populations have gotten out of control.  This includes WMUs 9A and 9F which encompass all of Niagara County and all or portions of Erie, Genesee and Orleans counties, among others.

“Responsible management requires periodic adjustment of hunting rules to ensure that deer populations are compatible with local socio-economic interests as well as maintaining a balanced ecosystem,” said NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner, Marc Gerstman, when the rules were announced.  Public input was weighed along with the negative impacts associated with problems like tick-borne diseases, increased deer-car collisions, effects on forest habitat regeneration and general deer overpopulation.

The new regulation called for the first 15 days of the early archery season and all of the late bow and muzzleloader seasons to be antlerless only in the following units around the state: 1C, 3M, 3S, 4J, 8A, 8C, 8F, 8G, 8H, 8N, 9A and 9F.  Because management objectives were not being met in these units, the state felt it was prudent to enact these regulations as soon as possible.

On the cover, it seems like a wise decision.  However, numerous hunters were upset over the fact that DEC originally said that the agency would not enact any new deer hunting regulations until 2016 after public hearings were held. It certainly put people like Dale Dunkelberger of Lockport in a tough place. Dunkelberger, who serves as the Region 9 representative to the Conservation Fund Advisory Board and a person “in the know” when it comes to Albany issues as it relates to the DEC, had been fielding negative comments ever since the new regulations were proposed earlier in June of 2015.  He assured people that nothing would take place until 2016.  Bam!  The hammer dropped and Dunkelberger took more heat for it even though he was not directly involved in the decision or the process.  He was only the messanger and he was shot for it.  Well, not really shot, but you know what I mean.

“Many people called me to oppose the changes, but it was difficult to explain to them that I was only one voice, no matter how many calls I received.  Changes normally won’t take place until there’s a review by the Deer Management Task Force for an area, which takes place every five years.  Every call I received was negative.”  Therein lies a lesson to be learned: Let your voices be heard!!

The sporting community carries some massive power when it comes to issues and concerns that affect our outdoor pastimes, be it our Second Amendment rights or the regulations that oversee our natural resources.  Public input is important and DEC failed to perform the basic community outreach as far as this most recent regulation was concerned.  I must stress “adequate” public outreach.  They did have a comment period for the regulation, but after being assured nothing would happen in 2015, most sat back and did nothing.  There was very poor communication with the hunting community.  In the end, there were less than 200 comments according to DEC.  DEC took it as it didn’t matter to deer hunters.  They are now considering rescinding this particular regulation and holding off until 2017 before any more deer management decisions will be made.

On the flip side, how much of a problem was there in places like Niagara County (where I live) and are there only certain areas posing a threat to agricultural lands, gardens or shrubs?  Many hunters we spoke with didn’t see an overabundance of antlerless deer around and they wondered where was this directive was coming from?

To add to the confusion, the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) enables wildlife biologists to assist landowners and resource managers to develop property-specific deer management plans on their property.  Some modifications are being made to make things easier.  Permit durations will be extended from one to three years in length. With Niagara County being primarily private land, shouldn’t this be the way to manage the problem areas?

After it was all said and done, the new regulation kept many serious hunters out of the woods the first 15 days of the archery season.  Niagara Falls taxidermist Tim Young of Niagara Falls (Trophy Room Taxidermy) made the best point when he commented: “When the state changed the archery season and went with an Oct. 1 opener, serious bow hunters found that they could pattern a big buck during that early season before there was any pressure. You might get one good shot at that trophy.  Why would an archery hunter head to an area with a big buck knowing that they wouldn’t be able to shoot it?  They wouldn’t.  Ditto for the late season muzzleloader hunters in the Southern Zone.  It forced them to hunt other areas, and the real reason for the regulations change – reduce the numbers of antlerless deer – just didn’t happen here in Niagara County.  It just made hunters angry.”

Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Niagara River

Niagara Fishing Forecast for Friday, April 8, 2016

1.Lake Ontario and tributaries – The topsy-turvy weather has put a damper on fishing action for sure. Cold temperatures and a few inches of snow at the very least kept many fishermen home instead of on the water the past week. Piers were ice covered again when they weren’t under water; high winds kept boaters from trolling the shoreline. Some action in the tributaries for trout in places like 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam, but water was high and muddy. The better fishing was in the smaller streams like Keg Creek. It probably won’t warm up at all until next week. A few bullhead and catfish are being caught in Wilson, but it’s not easy fishing. Worms and dead minnows are producing a few fish. The Wilson Conservation Club will be running a bullhead contest this weekend starting April 8 at 5 pm and running through April 10 at 1 pm. Weigh in for your best two fish will be held on Sunday morning between 9 am and 1 pm at the Wilson Conservation Club, Route 425, Wilson. Register at the Slippery Sinker in Olcott (778-0713) or CMC Auto Repair in Wilson. We told you about the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Assn. getting their pens ready to accept fish from the state on April 9th. Be at the Town of Newfane Marina at 9 am to help. They will also need help feeding the fish after they are put into the pens, which it was just announced that it would take place on April 13 at 1 pm. Check out the group’s website at LOTSA1.org for details on how you can help. Speaking of LOTSA, the group will be holding its monthly meeting on April 14 and keynote speaker will be Capt. Rich Hajecki with Crazy Yankee Sportfishing, one of the top tournament fishermen on the lake. The meeting will take place at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, 4487 Lake Avenue (Route 78), Lockport starting at 7 pm.

2. Lower Niagara River – After the recent storms muddied the water up earlier in the week, things started getting clear by Tuesday. Wednesday was good for Capt. Frank Campbell with a couple customers from Georgia (Chip and Douglass Holloway) who were in town visiting Craig Avery of Lewiston. Using chartreuse colored Pautzke Fire Dye on minnows, they caught about a dozen steelies in three hours, the biggest tipping the scales at 13 pounds. However, we’ll have to wait and see what the 40-plus mile an hour winds will do on Wednesday afternoon and into the evening to the water conditions. Trout can be found from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar when it’s fishable, but the bigger numbers seemed to be down river. Minnows, egg sacs and wobbling baits like Kwikfish or Mag-Lips are all good baits to try when you can get back out there. Steelhead and lake trout top the list; a few browns are also available. Shore casters can use spinners, egg sacs or egg imitations fished under a float. Remember that the stairs at Whirlpool State Park are closed. And when we get wintery weather like this, the NYPA fish platform gets shut down, as does the shoreline access and the reservoir. It will re-open when it gets warmer. No reports on smelt by dippers yet.

3. Upper Niagara River – Stained water and winter conditions impacted fishing the past week. Trout should still be available off Unity Island and out of Broderick Park, as well as off Bird Island Pier when you can get out there. Egg sacs, minnows and spoons or spinners will catch fish. Use emerald shiners for perch or other panfish. On April 8, Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield will receive 200 rainbow trout and 100 two year old browns at 10 am. That same day at 11 am, Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls received 1,720 brown trout and 200 two year old browns. Gill Creek, the outflow of the lake, will also receive 560 yearling browns. Get out there and take advantage of those trout!

Bill Hilts, Jr.
Director, Outdoor Promotions, Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation,10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303; p: 716.282.8992 x.303 | 1.877 FALLS US; f:  716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Fish Stocking in New York Provides Fun Opportunities

Atlantic Salmon fingerlings are stocked in Lake Ontario

In New York State, the inland trout and landlocked salmon seasons open on April 1.  This is a special day in the outdoor arena from an angler’s standpoint, on par with the opening of bass, walleye and musky seasons to name but a few.  However, with the fact that Great Lakes tributaries have open trout fishing opportunities through the fall, winter and spring, the inland opener has lost a little of its luster.  One of the things that has helped the state raise the level of enthusiasm, though, has been the many fish stocking programs – giving enthusiasts more fish to catch in places that may have never seen a certain species before.

More important than the season opener, is where and when the fish are actually going to be stocked!  One case in point is the stocking of trout in waters like Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield, New York and Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls, New York.  Even the outflow of Hyde Park Lake, Gill Creek, receives healthy fish stockings in April to allow for some inner city opportunities for trout where casual anglers have never seen them before.  Trout stockings normally take place by the second week in April for these small inner city waters, after the opening day frenzy that sees many fly casters and worm dunkers alike sharing the most popular waters in New York’s favorite trout areas.

The purists of the sport may head to areas that do not receive supplemental plants of fish. Those are the areas that support native populations of trout, sustained through natural reproduction. Those fish can offer a bit more of a challenge.  It all depends what your preference is.  The important thing is that people are fishing and enjoying the great outdoors in a manner that is fun and satisfying.

Dr. John Syracuse and his daughter, Sydney, admire a handsome brown trout that started in a stocking program.

New York is blessed with some fantastic inland trout waters.  The Catskill and Adirondack regions have world renowned reputations.  That said, there are other trout haunts within the Empire State and one of the best ways to take a short cut to find out where those secret spots are is through reading.  A recent book penned by friend and fellow outdoor scribe J. Michael Kelly of Marcellus, New York, entitled “Trout Streams of Central New York” (www.burfordbooks.com), offers up his own personal trout insights – a treasure chest of angling information to anyone who wants to target trout.  It comes highly recommended for novice and veteran anglers alike.  I can’t wait to sample a few!  His words are like the aroma wafting from a favorite restaurant, it gets your inner juices flowing for a taste.

Getting back to the stocking scene, hatchery trucks will be hitting the streams and small lakes a week or two before the start of the season in late March, allowing the fish to become acclimated for opening day excitement.  In many cases, fish are stocked well into the season.  New York actually started the whole stocking craze back over 150 years ago with the opening of the Caledonia fish factory in 1864. It still functions today, one of 12 facilities the state operates for annual stockings.  Check out the NYSDEC website at www.dec.ny.gov for a complete list of stocking dates, numbers and locations.  Grab a rod and get out there!

Heritage fish raising in New York, this is the Caledonia Fish Hatchery in 1934, raising trout in the cold-water raceways.

Selecting a Great Lakes Charter Captain

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The five Great Lakes – Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior – afford anglers some of the best freshwater fishing in the world.  Finding the fish, though, isn’t always an easy proposition.  Whether you are an occasional angler seeking out new waters, someone with your own boat looking for a short-cut to learn the program for an area, or someone brand new to the fishing scene, hiring a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed charter captain is the way to go.  But, who do you go with?

Charter captains are the true ambassadors to the Great Lakes, carrying the torch to promote the angling resources for an area.  But all captains are not created equal and prospective customers should do their homework before they lay down a deposit for a trip on the water.  Here’s some tips that might be able to help you make that final decision:

  1. Don’t shop by price alone.  With many charter operations, you get what you pay for.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Find out if they are full time or part time; how big is the boat and is there a head (lavatory) that works (if a head is important, such as if there are ladies involved); what other services do they provide (such as fish cleaning).  Is the price for fish cleaning included?
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  3. It’s not unusual to ask for references.  Make a call or two to see if the experiences jive with whatever stories you’ve been told.
  4. If you are trolling, ask how many hook-ups or releases you might experience for a particular time of year.  Getting the fish into the boat is your job.
  5. All fishing experiences are different, depending on the species and the time of year.  Find out how they fish and what you might expect on a typical day.  Bottom line, it’s still fishing.
  6. Ask them what you need to bring.  Usually a cooler, camera and rain gear are all good things to have.  Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen.  Bug repellant can also work when there isn’t any wind to help keep gnats away.  Bring some drinks and snacks.
  7. Ask about the weather and what constitutes a blow-off day or cancellation. What happens with the deposit money and how much is it?
  8. Is there a first mate?  Is he included in the charter fee?
  9. Talk to the captain.  See if you are comfortable with him or her.  First impressions can mean a lot.
  10. How long is the trip?  How many hours of fishing time is there and how long do you need to run to a fishing spot?

That should help to get you in the ballpark, and many of these questions will also work for you no matter where you are fishing, even if it’s outside of the Great Lakes Basin.

The most important thing is to have a good time.  You can tell when a skipper is working hard for you and the number of fish you bring to the boat is only a small part of the experience.

Now go out there and chase some fish!

Cooking Your Goose

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Corned Goose Breast is a Great Treat!

Every year in early March, I attend the World Fishing and Outdoor Expo in Suffern, New York.  During the course of the four day show, I usually share outdoor recipes with former state trooper Dave Rath of Fulton, New York, and many other friends along the way.  Another favorite game recipe friend is John Yonke of Putnam County, a retired Environmental Conservation worker from New York.  Not just sharing the recipes in writing, but physically cooking them up and chowing down on everything from salmon and trout to pheasant, goose and venison recipe concoctions, we snack away (together) to our hearts content on outdoor game that make our palate smile.

One of my absolute favorites is a corned goose breast that Rath brings to the table every year.  If you think that goose isn’t in your wheelhouse for favorite outdoor game meats, you need to try this recipe.  I was a goose fan anyway, with three or four recipes from teriyaki jerky to goose kabobs that have marinated in a combination of Weber’s horseradish mustard and Italian dressing.  This one is at the top of the list.

The Rath Recipe: Simple and Tasty!

Take four goose breasts, cleaned and ready to go.  Put four cups of water into a gallon-size sealable plastic bag (or container) and add a cup of Morton’s Ready-Quick along with one to two tablespoons of pickling spice and one chopped onion. Place all of the ingredients into the bag and let it sit in the refrigerator for 48 hours, turning occasionally.  If you are not ready to cook the goose breasts yet, you can toss them into the freezer with a little bit of the liquid added.

When you are ready to start the cooking process, rinse the goose breasts well.  Place into a slow cooker and add some potatoes, carrots, onions and celery.  Add a half a cup of wine for a little extra flavor, red or white, but red is preferred because goose is more like beef.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste, the only other spice that you will need.  Cook approximately 4-5 hours on low and then be prepared for some excellent eating.  Carve the meat in thin slices, make sure you are cutting against the grain of the meat.  You will not “diss” goose meat again and it could even give good cause to hit the fields when geese become fair game in local fields and waters.  Enjoy!  And make sure you share with a friend.

Goose Season Hunting Tips for New York’s Southern Tier

Due to expanding numbers of local goose populations in the South Area of New York State, there will continue to be a relatively new late Canada goose season, March 5 – 10, this year.

Hunters will be allowed to harvest five birds per person per day.  The South Area starts in Niagara County (at the Lake Ontario shoreline) and extends south in Western New York through Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties and further east along the Pennsylvania/New York border.  Check out the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) website at www.dec.ny.gov for the exact boundary location.

Scouting is Important

Scouting is typically 90 percent of whether or not you’ll be successful.  You’ll need to know what the birds are doing and where they’re going each day.  Remember, these birds were hunted earlier this year, especially if they are local birds, so they’ve been part of the action since last September.

Simplicity is the key.  A small number of quality-looking decoys may be a better situation than having an excessive number of imitation birds.  Good camouflage is a must, too.

Use Good Camo

By good camouflage, we mean a few different things.  One, you’ll need to match to the surroundings as best as you can.  If you’re using ground blinds, you’ll need to use whatever vegetation is available for that specific area.  If you have corn stalks in your lay-out blind or ground blind from last fall and there’s nothing like that around, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.  Don’t leave anything out around your blind that can give you away either. If there’s snow on the ground, you need to blend in as best you can.

One thing that may aid the cause is using helpful tools like Wing Wavers to help these birds focus on movement – and away from where you’re set up. By using Wing Wavers or something similar, the movement will help to attract geese near where you’re hiding out.  It will also draw their attention away from you and that’s a good thing.

Knowing where the birds are and where they want to be at different times of the day is the key to success for any waterfowl season.  Much will depend on the weather for that time of year and how much open water is available. We might spend one or two days scouting before I even hunt a day.  If the birds are on private land, be sure to get permission.

We play the wind and weather to our advantage.  You don’t have to be big on blinds, with some preferring to hunt the hedge rows – especially if there are deep ditches and good natural cover.  That’s all you need to be successful.

Snow Goose Season Also Open -BONUS

The bonus is that this is a time of year when snow goose season is also open.  We’ve hunted these same areas this time of year before and noticed a good number of geese around too.  This should be fun!

The wind is a key ingredient to success.  Birds will enter a field before landing by flying into the wind, so if you can position yourself for either pass-shooting or getting the birds to land in your decoys, it can be a rewarding hunt.  Try throwing out a dozen or so decoys and use them as a starting point for the birds.  Once the birds start landing in a field, they’ll start to pile in.  When that happens, we’ll usually get plenty of shooting.  Add, if it’s windy, the muffled sound will often go unnoticed to the birds milling around in the field adjacent to us.

When we hunt the water, we’ll be using floating goose decoys just like we would for duck hunting – leaving an opening for the birds to land in.  Later in the day is usually better for us, when birds are returning to the water after spending time in local fields feeding.  This year (2016), with the mild winter and not much ice cover, there should be plenty of water available for local bird populations.  With the mild weather, it could entice flight birds to start heading north early.  If that’s the case, we could see a mix of flight birds heading north into this South Area.

Time will tell.