A big benefit of being in the fishing business is attending the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST. Held in Orlando each summer, ICAST gives a preview of all the new fishing equipment, tackle, marine and outdoor products that fishermen everywhere are going to see very soon and want, perhaps, even sooner.
Of all the new, interesting and innovative products – there are many, my favorite is always the new fishing lures. Every year there are literally hundreds of new lures or variations to current lures. Some lures are futuristic, some are perfectly shaped and colored, some are changed in other ways – many of them have anglers dreaming of catching a fish with every cast. The new lures and variations are that convincing.
Not too many anglers can resist trying out these new lures. Every year I stock up on more than I should, but they all look so good and some turn out to be valuable additions to my tackle box. If you don’t try them, you will never know if they would work for you or not. Beside, trying them is part of the fun!
Last year, I stocked up with 18 of the new LIVETARGET swim baits. Most of them were in the larger sizes and had very different actions than what I would have thought. The old adage is, “Big fish like Big meals,” and that means…throw Big Baits. Sometimes that is true and sometimes it isn’t, but the LIVETARGET swim baits proved that adage true for me. When fishing them in farm ponds, it seemed that they attracted the larger bass time after time. A crank and drop retrieve was magic on most days.
This year at the ICAST show, LIVETARGET once again caught my “Angler Eye” with their innovative Injected Core Technology (ICT). I have not had a chance to test these just yet, but they just look like they are so good, I already have that magical feeling…that they will catch fish, especially the Slow Roll Shiner and Ghost Tail Minnow. While you never know until you get one to the water, I will be finding out very soon. Even the names of these lures are catchy!
Rattlesnake skin fishing rod handle by Master Rod Builder, Charter Captain Tom Marks.
Life is about sharing your passion, making new friends and finding that next…First Cast
By Bob Holzhei
No matter how old you are, there is always a next first cast.
I slowly walked to the pond behind our rental home in Punta Gorda, FL to field test the custom fishing rod I asked a friend, Charter Captain Tom Marks, to make for me. He is an avid outdoor angler from Derby, NY who vacations to Florida in the winter, and he lived just a short morning walk from our location. Lucky me!
Tom orders his rod building supplies from Mud Hole, a rod building and tackle crafting company from Oviedo, FL.
I tied on a Size 2/0 Mustad worm hook with a Mr. Twister Tri-Alive plastic nightcrawler, after Outdoor Writer Dave Barus, from East Aurora, NY showed me how to rig the hook to make the worm totally weedless. Weeds, lookout! Here I come!
The custom metallic red color 7-foot rod, complete with a rattlesnake skin handle, created a “one of a kind” treasure. It was my first cast with a new custom rod. I slowly opened the bail on the STX Abu Garcia Reel and gingerly arched the rod behind me. The bait was cast to the other side of the narrow pond. In that first cast, the line was suspended in mid-air for a moment and frozen in my memory. A motionless flying worm! I hoped a screaming osprey from the nearby swamp would stay where he was. He did.
I fished in my early years, once a year, but only if dad had a good year on the farm. We’d drive just over an hour to Tawas, MI to board a perch fishing boat – The Miss Charity Isle. A love affair with the natural world was conceived on our family farm that was nourished each year as crops sprouted from the ground.
As I got older, I’d ride my bicycle to nearby ditches and adjoining cuts located near Quanicassee, MI to fish for perch from the piers.
As I got older and married, I took my three boys on a charter salmon fishing trip out of Ludington, MI to rediscover the love for once-a-year fishing moments from my childhood. We boated 12 nice-sized salmon. Needless to say, I was all-in. The following spring, I purchased a used 18-foot 11-inch Sportcraft boat. I was hooked, reeled-in and would enjoy a lifetime love affair with the natural world through fishing.
Today, the boat has been stored in a pole barn for the past three years and I suppose I should sell it. Anglers go through stages of fishing, first fishing from nearby ditches, then to cuts, piers and eventually a boat is purchased. I’ve transitioned back to where I began and this summer am again fishing from piers with the first cast of the day once again near my childhood home.
As I returned 70 years later, I was surprised that the landscape had drastically changed. There were no perch or panfish in the area. The perch party boat had relocated to a southern port and was taking folks to fish across Lake Huron to Port Austin, at the tip of the Michigan Thumb. That’s a long way to travel across the lake for fish dinners at a restaurant. Perch could be ordered from various restaurants in the area and the menu clarified, “The perch come from Lake Erie.”
My wife and I camped for a month at a city park on Lake Huron, noticing first that between 12 to 16 campsites were vacant. This popular park was always filled to capacity. After visiting with campers, I found that the park had raised camping rates from $90.00 a month to an outrageous $1,000.00 per month. That just seems like too much for a campsite park with only water, sewer, and electricity. No additional amenities were provided. Internet and cell phone service was only available occasionally (or non-existent). After the first week, I longed for the month to end and will return to the west side of Michigan where Lake Michigan awaits our return.
I suppose it’s good to camp (and fish) at new places from time to time, to determine where my wife and I feel most comfortable taking that next first cast.
I think I can recall every one of those first casts – there have been many. The bottom line, I love to fish and revisit those old memories that helped make me who I am.
The statewide bass season opens on Saturday, June 15, as well as the Great Lakes muskellunge season on that same day, as anglers get ready to rumble.
First off, we need to emphasize the point that Lake Ontario is open for business! Despite the high water levels and State of Emergency along the shoreline with a 5 mph no wake zone within 1,000 feet of shore, the fishing is great!
In the Orleans County Open Tournament last weekend, it was a Niagara County team fishing the eastern fringe waters of Niagara County to win the contest. The winner was the Dublin Up team from Wilson led by Capt. Carl Martin of Pendleton. The Dublin Up team started fishing 10 miles west of the Oak, starting in 60 to 80 feet of water. By the time they hit the 100-foot mark they had 5 salmon in the box and started to fish for lake trout. After dropping the speed to 1.5 mph, they had a good grip on the rod and it turned out to be the biggest fish of the tournament – a 22.30-pound king salmon. They managed to catch some lake trout and steelhead for a 124-pound box, good for second place behind Capt. Rob Wescott and the Legacy Team from Hilton.
Day 2 they did it again with a 121-pound box to win the event. They were targeting salmon and lake trout first thing in the morning by going 2.0 to 2.2 mph. They put 4 kings and 1 laker in the box. When they slowed the speed to 1.5 mph, they hit an 18-pound laker right away. Throw in some steelhead to round out the box after the team’s third laker and the result was their first win. Meanwhile, Wilson and Olcott action continues to be good to very good.
Capt. Joe Gallo of Two Bulls Sportfishing reports he did well last weekend working the 110 foot water depth line from Wilson to Olcott. He had good salmon bites on a combo of high spoons and deep meat dragging the bottom. The meat produced the year’s best biggest king so far for his boat, a 27 pounder. Green flashers out 150 feet took many fish all weekend
Saturday’s northeast blow dropped the water temperature 9 degrees so Sunday morning they headed north and found a warm pocket of water in 350 feet of water. They worked 21 bites off the same spoon, flasher, and meat program from the first two days with mostly mid-teen kings with 2 fish right around the 20-pound mark.
The next big derby is the Summer LOC Derby set for June 29 to July 28. Check out www.loc.org.
Lower Niagara River action has been good from boats, but finding a place to fish from shore had been difficult at best. The NYPA platform is underwater and the gorge shoreline offers little relief from the water. Boaters are doing well on a wide variety of fish species. Steelhead and lake trout are still available according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Walleye and bass are hitting with regularity, too. MagLips, Kwikfish and live bait like shiners will catch you fish. For bass, tubes and swim baits work well. You can start using live bait to target bass on Saturday.
Remember that musky season opens June 15 in the Great Lakes, too. The Upper Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor is the best place to be for consistent musky action. Bass fishing has been very good there as well. The foot of West Ferry Street is a good place to target.
Don’t forget the kids fishing contests coming up this weekend:
The 24th Annual City of Tonawanda Kids Free Fishing Derby will be taking place on June 15 in Niawanda Park from 9 a.m. to noon. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at the Bandshell in the park. Grab bags will be handed out to the first 200 kids registered. Awards will follow at 11:30 a.m. For more info call John White at 692-6306.
33rd Annual Niagara County Youth Fishing Derby is June 15 being hosted by the Wilson Conservation Club, 2934 Wilson-Cambria Road (Route 425), Wilson from 8 a.m. to noon. This contest, for kids ages 3 to 14, is based on length. No trout and salmon will be judged. Youngsters may fish any Niagara County waters. All kids will receive a consolation prize. Awards presentation is at 1 p.m. For more information call Mike at 585-205-1353.
There will be a Catch and Release Kids Fishing Derby at Wide Waters Marina, Lockport on June 16 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for fishing; lunch and awards will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is being hosted by Moose Lodge 617, 204 Monroe Street, Lockport.
Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Local resident Eric Jackson, a champion kayaker, USA Bass team captain, and president/CEO of Jackson Kayak.
Elite Kayak Anglers from Around the Globe to Attend First-of-Its-Kind Competition
Cookeville, Tennessee selected to host the first-ever Pan-American Kayak Bass Championship May 28-31, 2019
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, along with USA Bass and Pan-American Sportfishing Federation, announced today that Cookeville will serve as home to the inaugural Pan-American Kayak Bass Championship, May 28 – 31, 2019.
The first-of-its-kind in the world, the four-day event will welcome more than 100 of the most elite kayak bass anglers from around the globe to Center Hill Lake. The exclusive competition is invitation only and is expected to include participants from Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, Canada, and more. More than forty Pan-American countries will be invited.
“Cookeville is a world-class destination and the perfect place to showcase our state’s warm hospitality and incredible natural resources, including the lakes, rivers and streams unique to our Upper Cumberland,” said Commissioner Mark Ezell, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “This is a tremendous win for Tennessee, and we know Putnam County will set a high standard for visitors who want to return year after year.”
In addition to being an inaugural Pan-American championship, officials with the Confederation Internationale de Peche Sportive (CIPS) will be in attendance to evaluate the potential for officially making kayak bass fishing a world championship level sport.
“Cookeville and Center Hill Lake quickly became the clear choice to host this historic event,” said Tony Forte, U.S. Angling founder and USA Bass president. “Kayak fishing is exploding worldwide and the Pan-American Sportfishing Federation felt it was time to make it an official sport.”
“This event is not just a launching point for Pan-American countries, but also in-line to become a world championship sport and push toward Olympic recognition. Our USA Bass team led by Captain Eric Jackson is looking forward to hosting kayak bass fishing’s best. We thank the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau for their support and hope to see plenty of fans at the event and following via various media outlets.”
The visitors’ bureau plans to leverage its strong partnerships with local outdoor enthusiasts, such as Jackson. As an Olympian, champion kayaker, and president/CEO of Jackson Kayak, partners such as this will offer an added advantage in hosting and supporting the logistics for this event.
Cookeville is no stranger to high level fishing attention, having hosted multiple internationally televised fishing shows on the Outdoor and Sportsman Channels and the World Fishing Network, e.g. Major League Fishing GEICO Select Series, Fishing University, and Kayak Bassin’ TV.
“We have been working for several months to recruit this big win for our community,” said Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development, Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau. “As we prepared the bid-proposal for this event, we knew Cookeville-Putnam County was a natural fit.”
“We have an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who want to compete on calm and bass-filled waters,” added Ledbetter. “Aside from the outstanding hospitality of our community, the value of our natural assets allows us to welcome anglers from all over the world.”
Participants are expected to arrive early for pre-fishing various area waters, e.g. Center Hill, Cordell Hull, Dale Hollow Lake, Caney Fork, Falling Water, and Calfkiller Rivers. They are also anticipated to stay and explore more local attractions, waterfalls, downtown life, etc. following the competition.
Other destinations considered for hosting privileges included Columbia, SC; Hot Springs, AR; and Branson, MO.
The media value for exposure during this event is anticipated to be immeasurable with several high-level outlets already showing interest in covering the competition, e.g. Pro Team Journal by Strike King, Outdoor Channel Strike King’s Fish Hard, and World Fishing Network.
The visitors’ bureau will be working with the Pan-Am event staff and area hospitality partners, as well as the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to ensure the championship is executed successfully.
About the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau: The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, a program of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the designated destination marketing organization (DMO) for Putnam County and is funded by a portion of the Putnam County lodging tax, a tax paid by visitors’ and collected by local lodging partners such as hotels, bed & breakfasts, etc. Ranking at 17th of Tennessee’s 95 counties, the visitors’ bureau is tasked with inspiring travel and overnight stays in Putnam County. Primary marketing pillars in drive and fly markets include outdoors; fitness/sports; motorcycling; arts/culture; and culinary/crafts. Most recent U.S. Travel Association statistics note visitor spending in Putnam County generated $2.7 million in local tax revenue, providing a tax relief for local residents with a savings of $358.47 per household. Explore more at VisitCookevilleTN.com.
For more information about the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, email@example.com.
Sean from Pittsburgh, Pa. caught this wild 10-1/2 pound Coho salmon last weekend fishing with Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane.
Boat and shore anglers scoring on Lakers, Browns, Coho’s and some King’s too
Lake Erie ice boom still in place
Some ice chunks continue to come down through the Niagara River system, serving as obstacles in the upper and lower river sections. This stems from the fact that the ice boom is still in place at the head of the river between Buffalo and Fort Erie. Winds from the southwest will push ice pieces over the flexible boom. As of Tuesday morning, there was 372 square miles of ice left. There needs to be 250 square miles of ice or less before the boom is pulled. Ice thickness varies right now from 6 inches to 28 inches. We will keep you posted.
In the upper river, Jeff Pippard at Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda reports that perch have been hitting around Beaver Island State Park at the marina and in many of the bays around the Island. Just look for the emerald shiners. A few rainbows and lake trout have been taken off Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda (NY) on spinners, too.
There has been good trout action in the lower Niagara River around Devil’s Hole and Artpark from boat and shore, according to Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. Boat drifters are using minnows, shiners and egg sacs. Shore casters are using spinners, spoons, jigs and egg sacs or egg imitations. Some captains insist that there are some smelt in the river, marking large pods of bait away from the shoreline. However, none have been dipped yet at night. Some local smelt dippers insist that this could be the week. Remember the Lewiston Smelt Festival will be in Academy Park in Lewiston on May 3 starting at 5 p.m. New this year is a smelt eating contest. If you want to sign up, call the Niagara River Region Chamber at 716-754-9500.
For Lake Ontario and the tributaries, steelhead are hitting flies on the surface in some of the creeks. Browns have been hitting eggs, so sacs and beads will do the trick.
Pier action has been good in Wilson and Olcott according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott. Spoons, spinners and eggs.
Out in the lake, trolling stickbaits in shallow water is working in front of 4 Mile Creek and Wilson Harbor to take browns. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown reports good action on a mixed bag, including a number of Coho salmon on Dreamweaver Super Slim “Get ‘er Done” spoons and Jr. Challenger Lady Bug lures off the boards, the downriggers and flatlining off the back of the boat in relatively shallow water. Capt. Alan Sauerland of Newfane was fishing spoons and stickbaits to take lake trout, brown trout and bass. The lakers were coming from 65 to 70-feet of water in front of Wilson.
A few Chinook salmon are also being caught. Just a reminder that if you are fishing the lake and catch any Coho salmon, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is still conducting a study to help them determine the success of stocking spring yearlings versus fall fingerling plants. DEC biologists are asking anglers to donate any Coho salmon heads and the information of your catch, whether the fish has a tag or not.
The process is straight forward. Catch a Coho and check for an adipose fin clip. Mark all the information at a freezer site such as Fort Niagara State Park, Wilson Harbor (Bootleggers Cove and the Wilson Boat Yard) and Olcott at the Town of Newfane Marina to name a few. Bags and labels are available in the freezer. Make sure you provide the information of where you caught the fish, whether it had a clip and total length of the fish. For more information contact Mike Connerton with DEC at 315-654-2147.
Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Niagara Falls USA Fishing Report for Feb. 13, 2019
It’s a free fishing weekend in New York!
Feb. 16 and 17 are designated Free Fishing Days in the state, originally approved to help promote ice fishing in the state. It looks like there will be plenty of that going on, but thanks to some untimely warm-ups…make sure you check your ice thickness, especially around the shoreline. While you don’t need a fishing license, you do need to abide by the regulations for the body of water you intend to fish. Check out the DEC website at dec.ny.gov for more info.
The only hardwater action going on in Niagara County is Wilson Harbor in Tuscarora Bay. Steelhead, pike and panfish are the species of fish being caught.
Soft water action in the lower Niagara River has been on fire, at least when you can get out there. Heavy winds last week pushed lots of ice into the river and created problems for a few days around the launch ramps. When the ice was gone, though, it was game on. And it’s blowing again right now!
Capt. Matt Yablonsky has been doing well on trout and walleye using a mix of minnows, egg sacs and plugs like MagLips or Kwikfish. These are all fished off three-way rigs.
All the main drifts are holding fish and they are eating everything. Incidentally, the daily limit on walleye is ONE FISH in the lower Niagara River.
Shore anglers in the gorge are also catching some fish using No. 4 spinners, jigs and egg sacs, but caution is advised due to the icy shoreline.
In the Lake Ontario tributaries, these are tough to fish right now with the ice and varying temperatures. Look for open water near the first impassable barrier upstream, like Burt damson 18-Mile Creek, and similar barriers.
Above Niagara Falls, walleye action has been good for jiggers in some of the deeper holes. Denis Kreze of Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, even caught an Atlantic salmon this past week. A very rare catch indeed for this stretch of upper Niagara River.
The Niagara River Anglers have rescheduled its Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead contest for the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario tributaries. The new date is March 2nd and the hours are sunrise to 2 p.m. with awards to follow at Lewiston No. 1 Fire Hall. You must be a member of the club to compete. Call Paul Jackson at 998-8910 for more info.
Also on March 2 is the Antique Fishing Tackle Ice Breaker show at the Elk’s Lodge on North Canal Road in Gasport, NY, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring your old fishing tackle in.
Jim Dunkleman of Gasport and Seth Halter of Gasport with a pair of lower Niagara River steelhead. They were fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown.
Lastly, the WNY Boat Show is coming up next week, set for Feb. 20 to 24 at the Adpro Center at One Bills Drive in Orchard Park, NY. Admission is free on Wednesday and Thursday. Check out www.wnyboatshow.com for details. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303
If You’re Not Catching 100 Fish a Day, We’ll send a Guide with You
Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Musky
Fly-In Paradise in Ontario, Canada
By David Gray
Every January, Jeanne MacLean leaves the far north and makes a trek back to her home state of Missouri. Jeanne says it is like “coming back home.” She comes to visit friends and to set up a display in the Kansas City Boat and Sportshow for her Fletcher Lake Lodge.
Jeanne has many ties to Missouri. She was born and raised in Trenton, Missouri. Her father, Fuzz LePage, was a career Missouri Highway Patrolman. Few knew his real first name, everyone just called him Fuzz. He had a love for law enforcement and when off duty, he had a love for flying.
When Jeanne was 14 and Fuzz had 20 plus years as a Highway Patrol Officer, Fuzz retired from active law enforcement and moved the family to Warroad, Minnesota. Fuzz purchased a flight service business and began serving lodges, as well as anglers and hunters, flying customers and gear into remote Canadian locations.
One day on a return flight, Fuzz pulled back the throttle on his float plane, dropped into Fletcher Lake and taxied to the lodge dock. Fuzz wanted to meet the owners and thought he might pick up a new customer, offering them his flight services. In this part of Ontario, there are thousands of lakes, many of them gems, with Fletcher Lake being one of those diamond gems. The lodge owner informed Fuzz that his wife had recently passed away and he was going sell the lodge.
Fuzz made a quick return flight and told Jeanne, “Get a bank loan quick and buy Fletcher Lake Lodge.”
Jeanne did just that, buying the lodge in 1981. The first part of the lodge was constructed in 1960.
Prior to the 1983 fishing season, a forest fire swept thru the region burning the camp and destroyed the lodge. Only one of the 14 structures, a guest cabin survived. Considering the size of the rebuild task, it was amazing that their crew pitched in to rebuild the lodge and enough cabins to take care of all the incoming guests.
After High School, Jeanne worked for a year as secretary and then for a year at a Montana Elk hunting outfitter. Then her dad called about buying Fletcher Lake Lodge.
Fletcher Lake Lodge is the longest continuous exhibitor in the Kansas City Boat and Sportshow. She says working the show is much about getting to see friends and customers. Almost all of the lodge guests rebook every year.
Watching folks stop at the Fletcher Lake Lodge booth in the sport show, it is obvious the customers are friends. While interviewing Jeanne for this article, comments from customers were, “Absolutely the best walleye fishing” and “Magical fishing” and “Great fishing with wonderful lodge people” and much more.
Jeanne says her favorite day at the lodge is when the float plane arrives with new guests. With a 90% plus rebook, the guests are all friends and each get a hug and give a hug when they get off the plane. Nice way to start a fishing trip vacation!
Fletcher Lake is the only lodge on the lake. There are no roads to it. A short, but extremely scenic, 30 minute float plane ride from Kenora, Ontario, brings you to the lodge.
The lodge offers American Plan which is the most popular. Breakfast and gourmet dinner is served in the lodge. Lunch can be in the lodge, sandwiches packed for the day or the traditional shore lunch (PS – don’t ever miss a traditional shore lunch!).
Fletcher Lake offers outstanding walleye, smallmouth and northern pike fishing. It is Conservation fishing. You may keep only two fish a day for a dinner or shore lunch. The lodge also has easy portages to a trophy lake and two musky lakes you can fish for the day. The musky is said to be a fish of 10,000 casts, but Jeanne says at their musky lakes, “You won’t catch a 54-incher, but you will catch more musky in a day than you will believe.” A rare and unique fishing experience only for guests of the lodge. Most of the fishing is self-guiding, but Jeanne says if a boat with two anglers is not catching 100 fish a day, you are doing something wrong. We send out a guide to show places and how to catch them.
In 2018, three lady anglers (guests) were struggling a little on finding fish. Jeanne sent them out with guides Shane and Kevin. At the end of that day, total number of fish caught by the three ladies was 362. Jeanne will not forget 362, as 362 was also Fuzz LePage’s Missouri Highway Patrol badge number. Now that’s pretty amazing.
Fletcher Lake Lodge has, along with other outfitters, teamed up with the Ontario Government to create a unique Trophy Waters program in the area.
Fletcher Lake Lodge is the only accommodation on Fletcher Lake and offers exceptional Canadian Fly-in fishing and hunting packages. The remote location is only accessible by traditional Canadian bush planes and ensures exceptional fishing and hunting experiences.
Jeanne and Fletcher Lake Lodge can be reached in two ways: email and telephone. Their email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org and their phone contact is: Winter, 218-386-1538; Summer, 807-224-3400.
Happy New Year’s! Now that the ball has dropped on 2019, area fishermen should be aware of some changes in regulations. Lake trout season is now open below Niagara Falls in the Niagara River and on the Niagara Bar in Lake Ontario. Also, walleye fishermen must note that the daily limit drops from 3 to 1 fish per person from Jan. 1 to March 15 in the lower river.
If you fish the Canadian side of the river, in either the upper or lower stretches, the new license year also started up Jan. 1. Be aware of these changes if you take advantage of the mild winter conditions we are now experiencing.
As far as Niagara River fishing conditions, it was a little spotty before the last wind and rain storm New Year’s eve. Fortunately, water conditions weren’t destroyed. Action should be good going into the weekend with mild conditions in the forecast. Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait & Tackle in Lewiston says there are steelhead, brown trout and walleye all being caught.
Anglers seem to be using more pinks and oranges when using egg sacs, beads and spinners. Kwikfish and MagLips are also hot lures off three-way set-ups at times. Minnows are working to take fish, too.
In the Upper Niagara River, lake trout and walleye are being caught around the Thompson’s Hole area on jigs.
In the Lake Ontario tributaries, Gianni Etopio of Youngstown caught a dozen trout to start off the New Year using jigs, egg sacs and beads in 18 Mile Creek. His biggest brown was 28 inches and his biggest steelhead was 29-1/2 inches. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports that wax worms are also producing a few trout – on a single hook or on a jig and fished under a float.
The Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is Jan. 18-20 at the Conference center in Niagara Falls. Check out www.niagarafishingexpo.com for details.
Mark your calendar for the new “Birds on the Niagara” Festival set for Jan. 25 and 26. More to come on that one before the event.
It’s November 30 and there are quite a few noteworthy occurrences that take place.
For example, muskellunge season closes today with one exception – the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario. The upper Niagara River produced a few nice late-season fish, like the 50-inch trophy reeled in by Rebecca Gaulteri of Hamilton, Ontario. She was fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island over the weekend and managed to catch the fish of a lifetime. Joining her was her husband, Francesco and her dad Chris Mills (who also caught a 45-inch fish the same morning).
John Anthone of Sanborn hit a 30-plus pound 49 inch musky on Nov. 29, also fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli.
Below Niagara Falls, water was stained, but still fishable after the most recent storm. The lower river had been hot the past week as waters cleared and trout fishing took off. Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reported that beads, egg sacs and Kwikfish/MagLips lures (all fished off three-way rigs from boats) has been good to very good for a mixed bag of trout.
Just ask 87-year-old George Gregory of Lewiston who was fishing with his son Kurt and Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston. They caught double-digit trout over the long weekend using primarily egg sacs, catching steelhead up to 13 pounds and some nice browns. What had them talking though, was a lake trout that both father and son caught at the same time. Remember that lake trout season is closed on the NY side until Dec. 31. However, on the Canadian side of the river, the lake trout season opens on Dec. 1.
Shore fishermen are still doing well with the good conditions, especially off the NYPA fishing platform. However the platform closes at dusk on Nov. 30. Nancy Colavecchia of Niagara Falls caught her first-ever steelhead with a green egg sac while fishing off the platform. She was fishing with Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls who caught nearly double-digit steelies on egg sacs and 4 walleyes on jigs. Drabczyk also reported that spinners and beads are also working in chartreuse, orange and pink colorations.
The Niagara Musky Association will be hosting the John Henning Memorial Lower River Musky Tournament, a catch-and-release event, that will be held Dec. 2 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. You must be a member of NMA. Contact Scott McKee at 225-3816.
Fishing has been a bit slow in some of the Lake Ontario tributaries for steelhead and browns. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctor in Olcott says that there are fish (mostly browns) around, but not much pressure from anglers. Hot baits in the tributaries have been spikes, egg sacs and beads. Gianni Etopio of Youngstown has been using his own hand-tied marabou jigs to take a mix of salmon, steelhead and browns.
Dec. 1 starts up the catch and release season for bass fishing. The only exception is for Lake Erie were anglers can keep one fish if they so desire, but the minimum size is 20 inches in length. Consult the DEC regulations at www.dec.ny.gov.
Kevin Nakada of Hobie holds a hefty smallmouth caught trolling on an offshore reef on Lake of the Woods.
Add systematic trolling to your kayak angling skills
By Mike Pehanich
Kayak anglers would do well to adopt one of fishing’s most misunderstood, underrated and underutilized approaches to mapping structure and finding fish. And Torqeedo motors can make the practice many times more effective!
Trolling is an angling art probably as old as the dugout canoe.
Today, however, some anglers view it with a jaundiced eye.
Attitudes toward trolling generally stem from waters fished and species pursued. Tournament bass anglers tend to snub the practice. Fishermen pursuing species like trout, salmon or walleye over the broad expanses of the Great Lakes and other spacious waters regard it as a critical means of finding fish spread across vast watery acreages.
Opinions vary, but kayak anglers in general have been fairly open-minded about trolling. For many, however, it is simply a way to keep a lure working while traveling to the next target location. Relatively few treat it as a technique worthy of practice and refinement.
Too bad! Knowledge, ambition and experience can transform trolling from a passive practice to a fine angling art. What’s more, refined trolling techniques can make anyone a better angler and shorten the learning curve on new waters, large and small.
Authors of the trolling “hate mail” cite reasons that don’t always mesh. They may view trolling as too boring or too easy or second cousin to “snagging.” Some complain that it takes no skill, that it is a game of dumb luck, then later argue that it is unfair or too deadly. Some simply dismiss it on aesthetic or philosophical grounds, scolding the practice for its detachment.
But advanced trolling is a blend of science and art, success hinging on knowledge, strategy and repeated practice and refinement.
Buck Perry, the father of structure fishing, taught anglers how to find fish and map bottom structure with the use of versatile lures, called “spoonplugs,” that excelled as trolling and mapping tools. He developed these baits in 1946 – years before Lowrance put popular sonar units into fishing boats. Designed to run at very specific depth ranges, spoonplugs communicated to Buck and his followers structural contours, drop-offs, points, grasslines, and bottom content. When used in the right way with Perry’s systematic approach, they caught fish – big offshore fish that other anglers missed.
Modern bass boat fishermen have the advantage of electronics and fishing platforms that Buck Perry never dreamed of. For better or worse, few today include in their arsenals the precision trolling approach that was the linchpin to Perry’s success.
But, for all their beauty, convenience and functionality, bass boats are not well suited to the kind of precision trolling Perry did or modern day successors do today. Smaller and more agile craft are far more effective under the guidance of a well-schooled troller.
The kayak advantage
Kayaks, on the other hand, comprise a category of very agile watercraft, and kayak anglers would do well to factor sophisticated trolling practices into their angling strategies whether tournament money, a better day’s fishing, or simply better knowledge of a new lake are at stake. Done with skill and deliberation, trolling can help one learn and map water quickly and find concentrations of fish that might otherwise never see your lure.
Here are a few good reasons to add advanced trolling techniques to your skill set.
Trolling enables the angler to fish large structural elements, eliminate unproductive water, and locate prime structure in a short period of time.
Knowledge gained about a body of water from systematic trolling can help anticipate fish movement.
Trolling is useful in finding active suspended fish.
The trolling tools available today are the best to date, and you can tailor them to specific needs.
The variety and range of trolling lures available today is extensive, and a number of lure manufacturers and trolling experts now provide guidelines for running specific lures at precise depths.
With rifle sighting and marker buoys, a skilled troller can overcome the limitations of lower end electronics – or even no electronics at all.
And, yes, trolling still gives you a shot at catching fish when you are simply dragging the bait behind you on your way to a target location.
Advantage of electric motors
Trolling effectiveness hangs on the tools in play and the angler’s ability to use them.
Well-selected rod, reel and line combinations enable lures to run with desired action at selected depths and even telegraph bottom content.
Craft and propulsion variables matter, too.
Increasingly in play in KBF tournaments, electric motors offer the kayak angler the advantage of highly accurate speed control.
The lithium battery-based motors of Torqeedo, title sponsor of the 2018 KBF National Championship and its landmark $100,000 first place purse, lift control capabilities to a new level.
Precise speed control– Lure speed is a critical variable — second only to depth control in importance – in triggering strikes. The Torqeedo Ultralight 403 motor, Hobie Evolve and Wilderness Systems Helix kayak motors provide real-time digital speed readout measured to 0.1 mph accuracy.
Hands-on rod control– With rod in hand, an experienced troller can read bottom content (soft bottom, rock, gravel, shells) and lure action and detect short strikes through lure vibration. Paddle propulsion forces a troller to leave the active rod in a rod holder.
Speed– Contrary to popular belief, lures do not always have to be trolled slowly to be effective. In fact, trolling at speeds well upward of five mph often trigger strikes in warm water conditions.
Map App and add-ons – A free Torqeedo app employs a Bluetooth transmitter module (Apple and Android only) for wireless link between onboard computer and smartphone. Phone display includes analogue speedometer, a GPS map screen showing real-time boat location, waypoint and zoom-in capability and other navigational and battery life information. Mapping and waypoint marking capability enable an angler to pinpoint productive areas and return to them easily.
Light weight–The Torqeedo, Hobie and Wilderness Systems motors and their power sources were designed specifically for kayak propulsion. They add little to the total weight of the craft and do not compromise safety or maneuverability.
Embrace trolling or let it go, but before you dismiss it from your game plan, consider it as an approach to map and learn water quickly, pinpoint fish-holding structure, and add more fish – often big fish – to your catch.
Strategic trolling can catapult your on-the-water education and multiply your fish totals. Embrace the art and science of the practice and see what happens!
Chautauqua Lake is noted as a popular Musky fishery.
Bass, Walleye, Lake Trout, Musky…Imagine
All-you-can-eat Crab Legs
Sandy Beaches for kids and family fun
More than 20 Wine Tasting Vineyards within 20 minutes drive
By Tyler Frantz
DUNKIRK, New York- As the 150 Mercury engine on Buffalo-native Ken Christie’s Triton bass boat sliced across choppy roller waves, sending a chilling spray of Erie lake water onto our exposed faces with each downward smack of the bow, I felt the nervous excitement of a daredevil kid preparing for his first BMX stunt in unchartered territory.
It was my first time fishing lake Erie, and though the skies looked a bit ominous, my outlook was bright for the incredible angling opportunities I’d been told exist there.
Just the afternoon before, Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association’s newly retired Executive Director Dennis Scharadin and I had arrived at Sunset Bay Beach – home base for Chautauqua County Fish Camp – surprised to find a bustling Jersey Shore-like beach scene with sand, lakefront condos and upbeat tiki bars just a few miles down the road from the rural backwoods territory owned by the historic Seneca nation.
It had been a welcoming reception into camp, featuring a colorful dinner discussion with fellow writers at Cabana Sam’s Restaurant, where crab legs came “all you can eat” and Schuylkill County-folk would be happy to learn there was Yuengling Gold Pilsner on tap.
But the light-hearted banter of the previous evening now shifted to a serious focus on fishing, the real reason for making the 5-plus hour drive north- to sample some of what northwestern New York has to offer the traveling outdoorsman.
It took scant convincing, for with the first cast of a drop-shot tube into 27-feet of water, my rod tip was pulsing under the weight of a six-pound smallmouth- my very best bass to date.
Moments later….(Click the picture below to learn the other exciting details of this incredible trip.)
Barb Carey, founder of WI Women Fish shows off the day’s first sturgeon, caught from a Hobie Pro Angler.
By Mike Pehanich
Sturgeon ancestry dates back to the dinosaurs. But catching these giants from a kayak, is a fresh new sport!
For us outdoor folks, Northwoods travel comes with great expectations. Anticipation grows feverish when the destination is a renowned fishery.
My destination this August was the Rainy River, fabled for its seasonal runs of walleye, cherished as the fertile connecting water to the diverse fisheries of Rainy Lake, its source to the east, and Lake of the Woods, the million-acre drainage to the west.
I arrived at River Bend’s Resort (www.riverbendsresorts.com)on the Rainy River, a short boat ride from the river’s mouth at the southeast corner of Lake of the Woods. My imagination waxed rosy with visions of walleye gobbling jigs, cartwheeling smallmouth bass, and lightning-quick attacks from northern pike and musky.
However, my hosts from Hobie Cat, the resort and Lake of the Woods Tourism had added a new wrinkle. They had relegated the game species the area is noted for to back-up roles. First we would challenge lake sturgeon, known more as a fish of mystery and an evolutionary survivor than as a target for sport fishermen.
My hosts had added another twist to the hunt. We would take the ancient brutes on from Hobie kayaks.
Anatomy of a sturgeon
One look at even an artist’s rendering of a sturgeon is enough to tell you that its family roots reach deep into the geological past. Credit its gift for survival to crude yet efficient characteristics acquired early in its evolution — a streamlined body built on bone and cartilage; a tail strangely fashioned for speed and maneuvering; an oddly tapered snout; an armor-like exoskeleton highlighted in younger specimens by a jutting serrated backbone; a complex set of sensory and feeding organs in its nose including barbels to locate desirable forage; and a highly functional snout made to stir up lake bottom and suck in food like a vacuum.
Sturgeon grow BIG, too, a trait that makes any species more desirable. Paul Johnson, the resort owner who served as both our guide and host, has witnessed catches of sturgeon up to 62 inches in length and 75 pounds. The river’s hook and line record, caught just this past May (2018), measured 75 inches in length and weighed well over 100 pounds.
Our Rainy River sturgeon had a comeback story to tell as well. Before the middle of the 20thcentury, overharvest and pulp mill pollution had endangered sturgeon populations in the region. Common sense initiatives set the stage for a mighty comeback. Environmental regulations led to improved water quality, and enlightened conservation measures and catch-and-release practice ushered in the robust, invigorated population found in the Rainy River and adjacent waters today.
It is a species more than worthy of protection. Sturgeon can live to a ripe old age, with some able to live 150 years or more and reach weights in excess of 200 pounds.
A sturgeon breached 50 yards offshore within minutes of my arrival at River Bend’s Resort, leaving no doubt that this was sturgeon country.
“In peak season in April, it’s boat-to-boat across the river along the Minnesota portion of the Rainy River,” explained Paul Johnson, who with wife Brandi owns River Bend’s and Walleye Inn resorts in Baudette, Minn.
Minnesota opens limited “keep” seasons for sturgeon in spring and summer, but most fishermen are content to release their quarry after doing battle. “A lot of sturgeon fishing’s popularity has to do with the size of the fish,” continued Johnson. “Most anglers aren’t targeting sturgeon to keep them. They just want the opportunity to catch these prehistoric monsters.”
Despite the clear presence of sturgeon in the area, local guides opined that we would find bigger numbers upstream near the town of Birchdale.
We launched our kayaks — a couple of Hobie Pro Angler 14s and i11S inflatable models along with several of the new Hobie Compass kayaks — above Birchdale. Two sets of rapids made for a scenic and modestly adventurous start. From there, we eased our way toward prime sturgeon haunts, catching smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger and northern pike along the way.
Breaching sturgeon gave our party of eight a fair hint of where to anchor, though we wished we had had sonar units to pinpoint holes and other key feeding areas. We spread out along the river, and settled in for the game of patience known as sturgeon fishing.
Tackle and technique
We geared up with tackle tailored to a big fish brawl – mostly medium heavy to heavy rods and reels spooled with 50- to 65-pound braid.
Terminal tackle consisted of a swivel, short monofilament or fluorocarbon leader of no less than 20-pound test, a #2 to #4 circle hook and adjustable bell sinkers from one to four ounces in weight.
Our bait selection was an unglamorous mix of two to three nightcrawlers and recently thawed emerald shiners, the latter added “extra scent for the sturgeon to find the bait,” in Johnson’s words.
The art of anchoring
We learned quickly that anchoring a kayak for sturgeon fishing in a moderately swift stream like the Rainy River is damn near an art form all its own.
“We use a breakaway buoy anchor and an anchor trolley system,” explained Kevin Nakada, the Hobie pro who guided us through the paces of this new skill. “With the system, you can position the kayak to fish comfortably in the current yet detach the kayak quickly from the anchor to fight the fish.”
The buoy anchor consisted of a 3.5-pound anchor and several feet of heavy anchor chain that more than doubled the anchoring weight. Sixty feet of anchor rope ran from the chain to the buoy, a conventional bumper buoy generally used to protect moored boats from banging into a dock. A 7-foot tagline, terminated with a bowline loop, ran from the buoy to the anchor trolley, a pulley system positioned on the starboard sides of our kayaks. The trolley allowed us to position the anchor tagline at the starboard stern of the kayak. Anchored thus, we could fish comfortably downstream without our kayaks struggling sideways in the current.
Barb Carey, founder of WI Women Fish, a Wisconsin-based organization dedicated to teaching women to fish with skill and confidence, earned the first hook-up. Sturgeon on, she freed her kayak from the buoy anchor and took off on a summer sleigh ride.
All of us within earshot rallied to her shout, detaching, too, from our anchor tethers and pedaling the Mirage Drives to close the quarter mile or more distances between us. The sturgeon made sure we had time to witness Barb’s battle and photograph the prehistoric fish.
Sturgeon are bulldogs in battle. They dive deep, pull drag and put serious strain on tackle. The highlight of many sturgeon battles, however, is a surprising aerial display.
Barb’s fish obliged with a writhing perpendicular leap. The sturgeon’s hang time drew cries of excitement from the convergence of kayakers. The fish’s size and profile doubled the excitement.
Even a modestly proportioned sturgeon possesses considerable strength, evidenced in the tugboat rides it took the kayaks upstream and down. Interestingly, the drag of the kayak allows the angler to battle these big fish even with limited line capacity.
Paul slugged it out with another sturgeon an hour later. Then action lagged for the rest of the afternoon.
Evening was closing in when writer Jody Rae’s rod bent into a throbbing arc. Whoops and hollers signaled a special fish, and we all converged on the day’s closing action. When the fish finally tired after a long battle, Kevin Nakada snared it with a tail noose. He carefully led the subdued fish the short distance to shore where Jody and fish posed for photos.
It was a fitting end to a fabulous adventure, a meeting with a fish from prehistory on legendary water during the dawn of a new sport.
Paul and Brandi Johnson, owners of River Bend’s and Walleye Inn (www.riverbendsresorts.com)resorts in Baudette, MN, run guided fishing trips for sturgeon as well as for other Lake of the Woods and Rainy River sport fish (walleye, northern pike, sauger, perch, smallmouth bass and crappie). Hobie kayak rentals are available as well. Contact Lake of the Woods Tourism (www.LakeoftheWoodsMN.com ; 1-800-382-FISH ) for additional information on sport fishing, lodging and area activities.
Without a set of wheels, a loaded kayak can be tough to transport a long ways to the water.
By Mike Pehanich
Getting a kayak from your vehicle to the water can sometimes be the toughest challenge of the day. Save time and energy for the fish by outfitting your kayak with a set of wheels!
One of the kayak angler’s most important accessories seldom reaches the water.
The kayak cart!
Wheeled kayak carts enable the angler to transport the craft from vehicle to remote launch areas with tackle and accessories already aboard.
Tire options enable the kayak owner to match cart selection to land surface. Carriage design will vary, too. Some carts are specifically made for kayaks while others double as transport devices for canoes and other small craft as well.
Some kayak manufacturers design or recommend specific carts to fit scupper holes in their kayaks. This style of cart generally simplifies mounting and transport.
Some carts require straps to secure the kayak during transport.
A cart functions as a fulcrum. If you select a cart designed for variable positioning, you may have to adjust cart location to the size, weight and locations of your load for best results. Positioning the cart near the center of the cumulative kayak mass is a safe and generally effective strategy.
Wheeling ‘em in
Airless wheels eliminate a major cart maintenance concern, but inflatable wheels offer advantage over soft terrain.
“The inflatable style wheels are great for soft mediums, especially sand and mud,” notes Kevin Nakada of Hobie. “They spread the kayak’s weight and load over a larger surface area. You may want some bounce to your wheels when you are hauling a loaded kayak over sand dunes.”
Hobie’s Trax 2-30 Plug-in Kayak Cart has pneumatic tires and small diameter rims that prevent pinching and valve damage under heavy loads. The cart has a 242-pound capacity. Tires can be deflated, too, for better performance on soft terrain.
Hobie’s standard cart is economical and efficient when hauling the kayak over a range of ground conditions. But hardcore kayakers concerned with durability and reliability over paved launch areas or hard, coarse gravel or rock terrain might opt for a tougher, more durable set of wheels. Hobie’s Heavy Duty Plug-in Cart fills the bill and offers a 225-pound load capacity, too.
“We also have a stowable fold-up style called the Hobie Fold and Stow Plug-in Cart,” says Nakada. “It’s compact, so you can take it on the water with you. It comes with a storage bag you can fit in your front hatch so you don’t have to walk your wheels all the way back to your vehicle if you’ve had a long haul to reach water.”
The Plug-in carts are all designed to fit the scupper holes of Hobie kayaks for quick and easy set-up and transport. Wheels are detachable on all models.
Some specialty manufacturers also make carts to fit kayak scuppers. Make sure any such cart choice adapts to your kayak before making the purchase.
Big bass often situate themselves in shade provided by thick, sloppy surface vegetation. The author used a frog to lure this hog from hiding.
Hollow-bodied frogs draw bites from bass in thick cover even during the hottest weeks of the season
Find fine froggin’ areas on natural lakes, reservoirs, ponds, strip pits, backwaters, development lakes and more
Tackle match-ups and frog selection improve hook-up ratio
By Mike Pehanich
Sure, bass fishing in Illinois can get iffy during the August doldrums, but big fish are still there for the frogmen of summer!
Illinois waters have met the dreaded Dog Days. That’s the excuse many anglers use to binge-watch Netflix series in an air-conditioned family room and ponder the coming football season rather than try their luck with doldrums bass. But for those willing to contend with the elements and buck their lethargy, August can produce some surprisingly good catches. And you don’t necessarily have to plumb deep water for structure-oriented bass to cash in on the action!
Some shallow water bass are there for the taking all through late summer on most bass waters. Many sit unmolested and far from a fish hook for weeks on end by hiding in dense, impenetrable cover where few lures can travel – with the exception of members of the faux frog family!
And, just to dump more cold water on any lingering “too-hot-for-bass” sentiments, I harken back to the Nories Frogfest events that I covered and competed in a few years ago. The bass on the Chattahoochee River tournament waters — Eufaula and Seminole — had no problem rising to the occasion during that hot and steamy month of August. In fact, many 6- to 9-pound largemouth came to weigh-in. And if you think Illinois is hot and steamy in August, spend some time on those Alabama/Georgia/Florida boundary waters!
Hollow-bodied frogs were designed to ride across the roof of the matted vegetation and pad beds that house summer bass. Their dual-hook configuration creates a cradle for the frog body. Designed and weighted to ride with the hook points up and tucked tight to the plastic, artificial frogs amaze and delight with their ability to travel snag-free through the jungle.
I took my faux frogs out for a doldrums test run two weeks ago on a central Illinois strip mine lake with water temperatures already well into the 80s. The fake amphibians did not disappoint. Fishing a duckweed-lined strip pit with a Jackall Iobee frog, I watched the moss fly on a number of explosive strikes. More importantly, I managed to convert nearly all those strikes into landed fish.
Frog fish almost anywhere
Part of the beauty of this late season frog fishing is that you can catch bass frequently from the most unassuming of waters.
I find fish ready to gulp a frog on Illinois waters from the Wisconsin state line to the Ohio River.
Fishing with angling buddy Ken Frank on a small housing development lake, we enjoyed exciting and, at times, even frantic froggin’ action in and around nasty vegetation that grew to the surface. One largemouth literally knocked my Nories NF 60 frog nearly two feet into the air. But that was just the beginning of the high-flying act. The bass followed the bait through the air in an arcing leap and somehow nailed that frog on the way down! A short time later, Ken took a five-pound-plus bass — his largest frog bass to date — on another Nories NF 60.
Natural lakes nearly always feature bays and flats with emergent vegetation, pads, matted aquatic vegetation and other prime areas for frogging.
Scout out the back bays and creek arms of reservoirs as well as thick beds of milfoil and other thick-growing vegetation on main lake flats.
Farm ponds and golf course water hazards are prime froggin’ waters, too. (Get permission to fish first.)
I’ve chronicled some of my best frogging days in central Illinois before including outings with Chef Todd Kent on strip mines and Illinois River backwaters. Fertile strip mine lakes, quarries and draw pits with emergent vegetation like cattails and reeds or with overhanging trees and deadfall can be prime locations for frogging.
The key on all of these waters is to find suitable habitat – usually lily pads, matted jungles of dense aquatic growth, duck weed or brush cover — and to cast your frog into the most inviting locations within that stretch or patch of habitat. Target edges and pockets and unusual mixes of cover such as stumps or transitions from one type of aquatic plant to another. As matted vegetation begins to decay later in the season, target any “cheesy” area marking decay. Bass position themselves in the hollows they create.
On some lakes, even “habitat” becomes optional. I’ve fished a number of small lakes and ponds where bass holding tight to bank or sea wall will take a frog placed right against the shoreline or even eased into the water from the bank.
Frog retrieves vary in speed, style and cadence. Try to develop at least two basic retrieves:
1) a chugging/lunging stylethat imitates a frog working his way through the grass, and
2) a back-and-forth walking stylethat enables you to work the frog enticingly in open water or, better yet, keep a struggling frog in front of the bass’s face in a hole or pocket within a grass bed.
As a general rule, I fish a frog relatively quickly to cover water and find fish but slow my retrieve if I draw a strike or see other signs of active fish. Over time, however, you will learn to interpret the fish’s “sign” language and dial in quickly on what frog retrieve the bass want.
Tackle and timing
Tackle and timing are key! Employ a rod with muscle and backbone but with a tip soft enough to allow you to work the lure – and the fish to grab and hold on – before a mighty “heave-ho” hookset.
As for line, braid is the only way to go. Mine generally ranges from 50- to 65-pound test. Braid of that measure is strong enough to drive a hook home in thick cover and drag 10 pounds-plus of vegetation and fat bass to boat.
Avoid the temptation to strike at the first sign of surface commotion. Often a bass will miss the bait entirely on its first swipe or merely pull the lure down by its skirted legs. It often needs a second gulp to get the bait securely into its mouth.
Make sure the bass has hold of the frog before you set the hook. Consider that moss and vegetation and water will hit the air before the bass has the lure in its mouth. The temptation to strike immediately can be overwhelming, but control your nerves and wait for evidence that the fish has taken the frog before you pull the trigger.
Still, I don’t recommend the “Count to three” or “Count to 10” advice that many fishermen suggest. The chances of the fish either rejecting the faux frog or taking it down dangerously into its gills and gullet are just too great for me to recommend the practice.
My approach requires some practice and experience, but the rule is simple. When the frog disappears, drop the rod tip and reel just enough to feel some sign of the fish’s presence. Then set the hook. Hard!
Frogs come in a lot of tantalizing colors these days. No doubt, you will develop your favorites, but the only critical decision to make here is to have a mix of light-bellied frogs and dark-bellied frogs. Keep in mind that the fish rarely sees more than half the frog at any given time, and the view is from below. Often the view of the lure is filtered by matted vegetation that masks everything but the frog’s profile.
I divide my frog colors into three categories: 1) conventional green patterns, 2) other white or light-bellied baits, and 3) brown, black and other dark bellied baits. If I have at least one frog from each category with me on a good “froggin’” day, I am confident at least one of them will catch bass.
Up the hook-ups
Missed strikes and lost fish can make frog fishing one of the most frustrating of angling pursuits. That’s why frog fishermen are on a never-ending quest to improve their hook-up ratio.
I outlined some bare tackle basics earlier. While more and more anglers have caught on to the importance of rod, reel and line selection to frog fishing success, many still don’t realize that the type of frog they use matters, too.
Many good frogs have hit the market in recent years, but I’ve found my best hook-up ratio comes by far when I am using the Nories NF 60and Jackall Iobee frogs. Their Japanese creators clearly factored “improving hook-ups” into their design task. Both are premium-priced lures, but well worth the investment.
Among more popularly priced frogs, the Booyah Pad Crasher delivers a high percentage of hook-ups. If you like to modify your frogs by placing BBs in the body cavity for better frog visibility in really thick slop, you may feel more comfortable doing so with this economical but quite effective frog.
Note: The Nories NF60 had almost disappeared from the American market in recent years, but Munenori Kajiwara, owner of Japan Import Tackle (https://www.japanimporttackle.com) in Wheaton, Illinois, informs me that Nories is bringing back the NF 60 this coming month and that he will be well-stocked for the late summer/fall frogging season and 2019. Lee’s Bait & Tackle (www.leesglobaltackle.com; phone 847-593-6424) in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, will be among Illinois dealers carrying these and other baits in the Nories line.
Learn more about Catch a Florida Memory programs and submit catches today at CatchaFloridaMemory.com.
By Amanda Nalley – Florida FWC
Allison Stattner is rocking the fishing world. A participant in Florida’s Saltwater Angler Recognition programs, Stattner is one of only a handful of elite Saltwater Fish Life List “30 Fish Club” members, joining the ranks when she checked the permit of a lifetime off her list back in May. This means she has caught and documented 30 of 71 different species of fish in Florida and has been rewarded for her fishing efforts.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Saltwater Fish Life List is part of the Catch a Florida Memory program and is designed to increase the diversity of saltwater fish targeted by anglers, reducing fishing pressure on the most commonly sought-after fishes. The wide array of species also leads anglers to try different fishing locations and techniques, expanding experiences for avid anglers and cultivating interest in fishing for those new to the sport.
Stattner’s permit was caught while fishing out of Bahia Honda Key. She was ready to head back in from a day of tarpon fishing, but the captain suggested that she throw out one last bait before slack tide.
“The reel started screaming faster than any other tarpon bites,” said Stattner. “We waited for the fish to jump. Nothing. Maybe 15 minutes later I started to see color off the bow – my permit daydream!” Stattner posed for a quick photo with her catch, then released the estimated 35- to 40-pound permit back into the water.
Only 10 other anglers currently hold the “30 Fish Club” distinction for Catch a Florida Memory’s Saltwater Fish Life List.
Anglers receive prizes and recognition as they work on their Saltwater Fish Life List, starting with the “10 Fish Club.” The “50 Fish Club” and “71 Fish Club” distinctions have yet to be reached, so the big question is: Who will complete their Saltwater Fish Life List and become the first Life List Master Angler?
The Saltwater Fish Life List isn’t the only way to get recognized through Catch a Florida Memory. Anglers of all ages and skill levels can also earn prizes when they submit a Saltwater Grand Slam (three specified fish caught in 24 hours) or Saltwater Reel Big Fish (30 different species that meet a minimum qualifying length).
Catch-and-release fishing and responsible fish handling practices are encouraged to help minimize stress on fish, and anglers do not have to harvest their catches to qualify. Photos of the angler with each fish are required.
For more information:
Learn more about Catch a Florida Memory programs and submit catches today at CatchaFloridaMemory.com.
It’s March 15 and it’s the final day of walleye, northern pike, tiger musky and pickerel fishing seasons in New York. We’re also less than a week from the arrival of spring. However, someone forgot to tell Mother Nature. We were dumped on again, with another 6 to 8 inches of snow in Niagara. Despite the late white stuff, there are trout in most all of the streams and in the Niagara River.
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been crawling around the rocks in the gorge area and he picked up a few fish in the lower Niagara River this week using a white and silver jig in the Devil’s Hole area. Water was high with visibility at about 10 feet. Water clarity has been an issue for Capt. Mark McGranahan of Sparky’s Charters, too. He was offering trout some egg sacs, minnows and plugs like Kwikfish and MagLips and managed to hook into a few. Action was not consistent though. It appeared there was a large amount of bait in the river, too. If this weather continues to stay cold with a chance of snow or ice, they may not open the New York Power Authority fishing platform or the NYPA reservoir access points. You can check by calling 716-796-0135 Ext. 45.
March 18th is the 13th Annual John Long, Sr. Memorial Raffle and Feast to be held at Niagara Active Hose on Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. This is the big fund raiser for the year with the Niagara River Anglers Association. Call Paul Jackson at 731-4780 for more information.
In the Lake Ontario tributaries, conditions have been fair to good for trout. White flies and jigs have been working well. Jig tipped with a wax worm also have been catching some fish.
Next rain or melt-off should produce a solid push of fish. Water has been cold, so fish low (deep) and slow according to Scott Feltrinelli, a local fly fishing guide out of Rochester area. Both steelhead and brown trout are being caught, depending on where you are fishing. If you can make it on the lake, you can troll the shoreline for browns with stickbaits.
The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association is looking for some volunteers to help put their pens together and get them ready for the salmon and trout stockings in April. On April 7, volunteers will be meeting at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott at 9:30 a.m. to work on the pens. For more information contact Alan Sauerland at 504-7789. Incidentally, the first meeting of the year for LOTSA will be April 12 and it will be on tournament spring king fishing. The meeting is in Lockport at 7 p.m., Cornell Cooperative Extension.
If you are looking for an opportunity to buy, sell or view antique fishing tackle, the 29th Annual Antique Fishing Tackle Show is the ticket. This is the longest-running event of its kind in the state, giving you a trip down memory lane as it relates to the fishing industry. The show is slated for March 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge No. 41 located at 6791 North Canal Road in Lockport. Admission into the show is $5 for adults. Kids 16 and under are free. Tables are still available if you are interested in displaying for $15 before March 17, $20 after. This is a great chance to get an appraisal on some old fishing tackle that may be lying around your basement or in your garage. For more information contact Dan Bedford at 713-9410.
Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Today is the final day of the NYS Winter Classic competition. That doesn’t mean the fishing will stop though. Lower river action has been good to very good for boaters bouncing bottom with three-way rigs. When the wind is out of the south or southwest – like it is today – go with MagLips and Kwikfish lures in silver and green or chartreuse. Silver and pink will also work. When the wind isn’t there to help you, switch over to minnows or egg sacs. Use the same three-way set-up if you are fishing from a boat.
If you are fishing from shore, tossing jigs or fishing a jig under a float and tipped with a small worm is very effective.
If the water is clear, you may have to get your bet out a bit deeper.
Anthony Henley of Buffalo was using a slip bobber to get his offering as deep as 14 feet with his jig under a float. You can also cast spinners or spoons to get your bait out and into the fish zone.
Steelhead, brown trout, lake trout and walleye are all available in the system.
If you venture into Canadian waters, make sure you have a current license. The new license year started on January 1. And know your seasons. Walleye season closes Feb. 28 on the Canadian side of the river but closes March 15 in New York.
Lake Ontario tributary action has been good for the most part. Four Mile Creek, 12 Mile Creek, 18 Mile Creek and Keg Creek all had fish in them the past week. Mostly it’s been trout, but there have been some pike around, too.
In the streams, trying using a jig under a float and tipped with a worm. Egg sacs will also work. For Taven Lukehart of Pennsylvania, he was finding success with Lick-em-lure eggs, catching his first ever steelhead at 13 years old.
Pike season closes on March 15 as well.
Speaking of kids, don’t forget that the WNY Sport and Travel Expo will be held March 8-11 at the Erie County Fairgrounds. The first 100 kids through the doors on Saturday, March 10 will receive a fully-rigged cane pole. Bass Pro Mike DelVisco will also be giving a seminar on getting kids started in fishing and he is also running a special coloring contest promotion through Texas Roadhouse March 5 and 6 locally. Check out www.eriepromotions.com for details.
This report is early this week because I am heading out to the World Fishing and Outdoor Expo in Suffern, NY early tomorrow morning. Stop in and say hi if you are going to be in the area.
Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
Destination Niagara USA,10 Rainbow Blvd.,Niagara Falls, NY 14303
With Lake Erie some 90 percent ice covered, the Niagara River is becoming very clear, making things a bit more difficult to be consistent on the water.
One tip is to downsize your presentation with slightly smaller baits like egg sacs or smaller MagLips in 2.5 or Kwikfish in K8.
A silver-green Kwikfish was the hot lure on Wednesday as Terry Belke from WGRZ did some filming for Channel 2 out of Buffalo, fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters. Wobbling baits fished off three-way rigs were the most effective enticements due to a southwest wind that was blowing in some warmer temperatures.
It is supposed to be 50 degrees here today, drop into the 20s and 30s over the weekend, but shoot back up into the 50’s early next week – bring some rain along the way. That rain, along with melting snow and run off, should add a little stain to the river water.
Earlier in the week, Capt. Chris Cinelli and Capt. Ted Kessler, both of Grand Island, did very well using pink egg sacs to pull in some nice steelhead. Browns and lake trout are also available. Fish can be found from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar.
Walleye can also be caught and the daily limit is only one until March 15 when the season closes.
The warming weather should open up more water at places like 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam, too. Jigs fished with a wax worm and under a float is one approach. Egg sacs and egg imitations are another. Water flow has been good according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott. Water clarity is also good right now. Both browns and steelhead are being reported.
Over in Wilson Harbor, roughly 10 inches of ice was being reported. Pike, steelhead, perch and panfish are all being caught.
Nearby Lake Erie walleye action has been good to very good on the hard stuff. Fish (walleye) up to 15 pounds have reported the last week off Hamburg with 10 to 12 inches of ice thickness. Top baits have been Jigging Raps and minnows.
Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Destination Niagara USA: Where Adventure Comes Naturally
Temperatures continue to put a damper on open water anglers in the Niagara River and in area tributaries. However, that’s going to change for the better this weekend as temperatures will shoot up into the 30s and it may even hit the 40 degree mark next Tuesday.
Whether you are fishing in the river or the streams, there’s no rush to get on the water. Let things warm up a little bit. Greg Schloerb of Amherst reported that fishing improved once the slush off the top of the water was gone on 18 Mile Creek at Burt Dam. He caught some dandy steelhead using his homemade olive-colored jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float. He caught steelhead to 12 pounds.
In the lower Niagara River, action has been a bit more difficult with ice floes coming down through the system. If you can find areas that offer a better drift, take them. Gary Hall of Niagara Falls and Gary Fiori of Lewiston both hit the water last Wednesday and caught some nice steelhead, before they got too cold. Dress accordingly. That water is 32 degrees coming down the river.
The Niagara River Anglers Association held its annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead contest last Saturday out of Lewiston
Landing along the Niagara River, a celebration that’s been going on for a quarter of a century. Despite frigid temperatures that saw wind chills dip to below zero, some 32 brave fishermen fought high winds and heavy ice floats to compete for the biggest trout – with a focus on steelhead and browns. When the scales closed at 2 p.m., Dan Spangler of Ohio was the top dog with a 10.26 pound steelhead. He caught the fish on a MagLip lure, fishing with Capt. Mark McGranahan of Sparky’s Charters. Second place was 9.74 pounds, reeled in by Justin Graham of Washington State and fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. Third place was Jack Taylor of Batavia with an 8.34 pound steelie. He was fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters. Taylor also reeled in the big brown trout, a 3.74 pound fish – one of only two browns caught in the contest. Conditions were tough and hats off to the victors, as well as all of the hardy folks who competed.
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
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Bass Pro Shops is celebrating the return of fishing season and inviting customers to trade in used gear to be donated to local charities in exchange for big savings. The 2018 Spring Fishing Classic is a free celebration taking place February 16 – March 4 at Bass Pro Shops locations across the United States (March 2 – 18 in Canada and Alaska).
Customers that donate used rods and reels (in working order) can receive trade-in savings of up to $200. The used fishing equipment will be donated to local nonprofit organizations. Bass Pro Shops has donated nearly 290,000 products to youth-focused nonprofit organizations as part of the company’s mission to inspire everyone to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors.
The Classic also includes free fishing seminars for all skill levels, pro appearances at Bassmaster University (Bassmaster University not applicable in Canada), activities for women and children and free giveaways. Visitors will also see a variety of special offers to upgrade their gear before they hit the water.
“The annual Spring Fishing Classic—a free event that reaches more than seven million people each year—provides great opportunities for families to get ready for fishing season and creating lifelong memories together on the water,” said Bass Pro Shops communications manager Katie Mitchell. “We encourage all anglers to participate in our rod and reel trade-in program which has collected and donated about 290,000 products to local organizations that teach young people to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors.”
Free Seminars and Family Events
The 2018 Spring Fishing Classic again offers opportunities to learn from the pros during Bassmaster University hosted by some of the greatest anglers in the sport. Local pros will also host free fishing seminars throughout the 17-day event. For a full list of sessions and special appearances, visit www.basspro.com/classic.
Women’s Fishing Workshops
Available with introductory fishing information and helpful tips on Saturday, March 3 at 1:30 p.m. (Saturday, March 17 at 1:30 p.m. at Alaska and Canada locations). The first 25 seminar attendees of each advertised local pro seminar and the Women’s Fishing Workshop will receive a Bass Pro Shops protective dry box.
Next Generation Weekend
Offers free activities focused on teaching kids the basics of fishing. Kids activities are available from noon to 5 p.m. on March 3 and 4 (March 17 – 18 at Alaska and Canada locations). Free activities include casting challenges, a fishing workshop, fun craft, and a photo download.
A number of special offers are available during the Spring Fishing Classic:
Customers using a Bass Pro Shops credit card to purchase new gear throughout the Spring Fishing Classic can receive up to $100 via instant rebate. (U.S. locations only)
Attendees can also enter for a chance to win a fishing trip with Garmin professional angler Jason Christie. The winner will receive a one-day fishing trip, a Garmin echoMAP Plus Fishfinder, a $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card, travel and accommodations—a total retail value of $4,999. Register at the stores or online at www.basspro.com/classicsweeps.
Enter for a chance to receive a Bass Pro Shops gift card valued up to $2,400 with the purchase of select boat models from Tracker Marine.
Yes, people are catching fish, but you do have to work for them. More importantly, right now, is the fact that the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is about to open, slated for Jan. 19-21 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. Check out the website at www.niagarafishingexpo.com for all the details and make sure you print out your $5 parking voucher for the city parking lots. With 70 guest speakers, 120 seminars and clinics, as well as over 150 vendor display booths, this is a fishing extravaganza like no other. I can’t emphasize enough, how good this event is from an educational standpoint. You are guaranteed to learn something new. There are too many quality speakers to list. Simply click on the website and be amazed.
One of the educational opportunities for the Niagara Fishing Expo already started this morning, when Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls hit the lower Niagara River and took out a couple brothers for a trout fishing lesson. Yes, on-water lower river trips are available through Monday morning, held in conjunction with the Expo. Despite the cold conditions, Craig and John Austin of Niagara County, still managed to go 4 for 7 on steelhead this morning, they were using MagLips and fished off three-way rigs. It’s been tough fishing with the colder weather, but that should change this weekend when things will warm up into the 40s. Last Thursday, when the temperatures soared into the 60’s,
quite a few people made it out and took advantage of the spring-like weather. Rick and Jason Henniger of Ohio reeled in a dozen nice browns and steelhead in the lower Niagara fishing with Campbell, using MagLips and Kwikfish in gold and silver. The best fishing was downriver, away from the boating pressure on Artpark. Shore fishermen have it a bit tougher with the shoreline shelf ice and extreme caution is advised.
The last warm up also produced some good walleye fishing in the lower river according to Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. He reported better than a dozen fish caught last week using minnows and Kwikfish. Just a reminder that the walleye limit in the lower Niagara River is only one fish per person from Jan. 1 to March 15.
Off Lake Ontario, Wilson has some safe ice, but Olcott was busted up with the excessive run-off created by the warm weather and ensuing rain. Water is stained in 18 Mile Creek, but it’s still fishable. Use jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float to take trout and a few Coho salmon that are still hanging around. Things should open up nicely this weekend.
ill Hilts, Jr.; Outdoor Promotions Director
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Show is ON, Jan. 19- 21
A January thaw is already underway in Western NY and it could spell good news all the way around for anglers. For starters, the lower Niagara River is back in business for boaters and shoreline casters. T he gorge area has been producing lake trout, steelhead and walleye for casters using jigs in green and white. Lake trout to 13 pounds and steelhead to 12 have been reported. Wear ice creepers when walking the shoreline. Boaters started catching fish on Monday and today was pretty good for many of the captains plying the waters in search of trout and walleye. Kwikfish and MagLip lures fished off three-way rigs have been the most effective. Beads and egg sacs will catch fish, too. Be careful of any chunk ice floating down. Fish can be found from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar.
The streams are slowly starting to open back up again and while the openings are limited, you can do well. Shawn West of Lockport caught his personal best brown trout this week, an 18 pound bomber that hit a bead. Jigs will also work, tipped with wax worms and fished under a float.
There is still good ice in Wilson and Olcott. Biggest fish was a 44-inch Northern pike hauled in by Jarame McClelland of Newfane, his biggest pike ever out of Wilson. It hit a pike chub off his tip-up. Keep your fingers crossed we don’t lose too much ice. Olcott is producing some nice trout through the ice on Voodoo jigs for Roy Letcher.
The fifth annual Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is just around the corner, set for Jan. 19th through the 21st at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. We’ve been talking about this for a month – and with good reason. If you want to learn anything about fishing, this is the show for you. As far as education is concerned, it’s one of the best on the Great Lakes. With over 70 speakers and over 120 different seminars, you can’t go wrong finding something that you are interested in. Salmon, trout, bass, walleye, perch, musky, electronics, rigging a boat, getting started with fishing, check out the website at www.niagarafishingexpo.com for a complete rundown of seminars. The speakers are top notch, too. Bassmaster elite pros Shaw Grigsby and Mark Menendez, salmon fishing greats Jake Romanack and Dan Keating, walleye pros Mark Romanack and Lance Valentine – the list is a long one. Go to www.niagarafishingexpo.com.
The Niagara River Anglers Association will hold its annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest on Saturday, February 3 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. out of Lewiston Landing (at the launch ramp). Eligible waters are all waters of Lake Ontario and the tributaries, as well as the Lower Niagara River; awards and dinner to follow at the Lewiston #1 Fire Hall on 6th Street, Lewiston. Sign-ups will be taken at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston, The Slippery Sinker in Olcott or at the dock on that Saturday morning. For more information call Paul at 998-8910.
Bill Hilts, Jr.- Outdoor Promotions Director
Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd.,Niagara Falls, NY 14303
While weather forecasters are calling for a white Christmas followed by a blast of Arctic air from the North Country, anglers right now have been limited in where they can get a line wet. High winds, rain and snow melt contributed to muddy conditions in the Niagara River both above and below Niagara Falls.
Shore fishermen should be the first to be able to target trout in the lower river from the Whirlpool to Artpark. Jigs, egg sacs or egg imitations like trout beads fished under a float are good options for drifters. Casters can use spoons, spinners or jigs to hook up with a steelhead or brown trout. Lake trout are still around, too. Remember that laker season opens on January 1. January 1 is also the start of a special walleye regulation. The daily limit drops from three to one until March 15 to help protect spawning females.
In the upper river you can try to target trout with egg sacs just above the upper rapids before the white water. Some perch can be found in some of the marinas where water clarity is a bit better. Find some emerald shiners for best success.
Lake Ontario tributaries have been low and slow in Niagara Falls USA. At Eighteen Mile Creek at Burt Dam, the water flow was limited and more clear than stained. In those situations with clear water, downsize your presentation with lighter line, smaller hooks and smaller baits. Steelhead and brown trout are available, but they have been limited in numbers. In Wilson, the harbor ice that had started to form was busted up from the weather conditions. With temperatures soaring into the mid-40s on Saturday with rain, we are probably back to square one.
Here are a few last minute gift items for Christmas to consider: A Lake Ontario Counties derbies Season Pass at www.loc.org. You can save $20 by purchasing one before Dec. 31 – a great stocking stuffer. You can also buy tickets for the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo Jan. 19-21 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. Admission tickets and special clinic tickets are available. However, the popular LOTSA Salmon School is already sold out – the earliest ever! Check out www.niagarafishingexpo.com. Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!
Personal CARRY-IN-YOUR-POCKET Live Bait Container…it’s called “BAIT-UP”
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By Forrest Fisher
Are you one of those anglers dedicated to simple fishing with live bait? If you wade a stream or walk the shoreline of a small pond or lake, fishing with live bait just become easier and more fun with this product. This product is versatile enough to allow live bait angler to carry minnows, leeches, hellgrammites, shrimp, crayfish and baits, even sand fleas for coastal waters, and at the same time, this device eliminates the usual hassles that hinder keeping live bait functional and alive. No batteries are required!
CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO THE RIGHT to see a video on how it works.
“Bait Up” and its patent-pending Dual-Lid/Floating Basket design allows the angler to quickly choose live bait without searching through water, sometimes it can be icy cold! The design of Bait-Up also allows the angler to completely submerse the device to replenish stale, low-oxygenated water without the loss of any live bait. What does this mean for today’s active angler?
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“Bait UpTM” allows the live bait angler to conveniently keep, carry, view, and select live bait without being bothered by the movements and demands essential to be successful while fishing with live bait.
Devil’s Hole Stairs to Gorge – Repaired and Reopened!
Big Musky on a Good Bite All Week
Walleye, Steelhead and Lake Trout fishing good from Shore and Boat
There’s another storm blowing in this weekend, but Niagara County could luck out on some of the rain and white stuff, should it arrive. Keep your fingers crossed!
This just in from New York State Parks: The stairs into the Niagara Gorge at Devil’s Hole State Park will be reopened on Saturday, November 18, after having been closed all summer so that they could be rebuilt. The stairs had been expected to be closed until Spring 2018. This is great news for shore fishermen who like to cast for trout in the Devil’s Hole area.
Lower Niagara River trout fishing has been good from both boat and shore. We will have to wait and see what the storm blows in for water clarity. Rain and wind in Lake Erie can sometimes impact the lower river fishing. Conditions were near perfect the past week and steelhead are cooperating nicely along the Artpark shoreline. Boaters were bouncing egg sacs off three-way rigs to take some nice steelhead. Of course, you will catch some lake trout along the way. Be careful with them and release the fish immediately. Lake trout season is closed until Jan. 1 in New York waters, Dec. 1 in Canadian waters. Other baits that you should try if the egg sacs don’t work for you include plugs like MagLips and Kwikfish. Minnows will also catch you a fish or two, as will egg imitations like yarn flies.
From shore, any egg or egg imitation will catch fish as will spoons, spinners and jigs. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls is still doing well off the New York Power Authority fishing platform to catch walleye, trout and the occasional Coho salmon. This week he was using homemade jigs.
Upper Niagara River musky fishing was good the past week according to Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. He caught three on Monday using large common shiners.
In the Niagara Musky Association’s Tim Wittek Memorial Musky Tournament last Sunday, a total of 28 anglers competed – catching 16 fish for the day. Top fish was a 50 and a half inch fish caught by Jeremy Schneider of Stratford, Ontario using a homemade body bait. Second place was John Pensyl of Lockport with a 48-inch fish jigged a Red October Tube. Third place was Stratford with a 46-inch ‘lunge jigging a Red October Tube. All the fish were released unharmed to fight another day. Other notable catches included a 46-inch musky reeled in by Daniel Lacko of Kenmore, a 43-inch fish hauled in by Andrew Lacko of Kenmore (Dan’s father) and Andrew Porzio of East Aurora with a 40-inch ‘lunge. The season closes on Nov. 30 in the upper river and around the state – except in the lower river and Lake Ontario. That season closes on Dec. 15.
The Lake Ontario tributaries like 18 Mile Creek are still muddy but not high. Some salmon are still struggling to swim around as the browns and steelhead are taking over. While eggs and egg imitations are still good baits to use, the past week seemed to switch over to more of a live bait presentation like crawlers, wax worms and spikes according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors.
Smaller Streams HAVE FISH NOW, especially AFTER EVERY RAIN
Musky Tournament is ON, Nov. 5
Weather conditions have certainly impacted the fishing this past week. High winds and rain resulted in water temperatures dropping 5 degrees since last weekend. That said, it could be just what the “Fish Doctor” ordered to force a transition into the next phase of fall fishing.
In the Upper Niagara River, the last month of musky fishing action improved with the adverse weather, just in time for the Niagara Musky Association’s Tim Wittek Memorial Catch and Release Tournament. The action will take place on Nov. 5 out of the launch ramp area at the foot of Sheridan from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. To get your blood circulating again, there will be a post-tourney chili-fest at the foot of Sheridan in Tonawanda. Cost is $25 to enter this catch-and-release “iron man” tournament. Call Scott McKee at 716-225-3816 for more information. If you just want to find our more information about fall musky fishing in the Niagara, stop in at the NMA monthly meeting at the Eldredge Club, 17 Broad St., Tonawanda, NY, on Tuesday night (Nov. 7) starting at 7 p.m. Guest speaker will be Marc Arena with Red October Baits. Water conditions were murky this week thanks to the wind. The lower river musky season extends to Dec. 15.
And speaking of the lower Niagara River, we had a report that there were some boats on the water today, just prior to the weekend. The first fish they caught was a musky – drifting MagLips off three-way rigs. They also caught a walleye before they hit some trout – steelhead and lake trout. Lake trout season is closed until the end of the year, but sometimes you just can keep them off the hook!
In the gorge area of the lower river, shoreline casters are still catching a mix of salmon and trout. Treated egg skein fished under a float has been a consistent producer for Rich Pisa of Kenmore around the whirlpool area. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was picking off some steelhead and salmon on a No. 4 spinner while casting the New York Power Authority Fishing Platform before he was chased off due to high water levels (probably due to the high winds).
If you want to check whether or not the Fishing Platform is open, call 716-796-0135, ext. 45. It usually closes down for the winter around Dec. 1.
At Olcott Harbor and 18 Mile Creek, good reports of steelhead and brown trout have surfaced to complement the salmon that are still hanging around upstream at Burt Dam. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports that there are king and Coho salmon in various stages of their life cycle, including some fresh ones entering into the system. Egg skein and egg sacs work best. If the water is stained, chartreuse and orange-colored egg sacs are best. If we get the rain we are supposed to receive, you can try drifting an egg sac or a single egg in some of the smaller streams like Keg Creek to the east of Olcott, or 12 Mile Creek at Wilson, west of Olcott. Fishing pressure should drop off a little bit as whitetail deer fall into their rut stage and as crossbow season opens Nov. 4.
The regular big game season kicks off for the Southern Zone on Nov. 18. Waterfowl and other small game are also open to spread the activity out. No reports on perch in the harbors, but if the waters are clear enough, they should be starting to move in and become active. If you catch any nice fish, please share with us at email@example.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
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Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!
Today is Tuesday October 31, 2017.
This Halloween, the trick is to make the perfect cast with that special fly to that very special spot and catch that ever-elusive fish you have been dreaming about for years.
This fall has been an absolute bonus year for both Lake Ontario and the tributaries of Orleans County.
Those with small boats are still doing well in the near-shore waters of Lake Ontario, while all of our tributaries within Orleans County are alive and producing an abundance of the cold-water species.
Salmon are still entering the tributaries from the lake in good numbers, and the brown trout and rainbow/steelhead trout are starting to really pick up in numbers.
With temperatures falling to more seasonal levels and with water flows at excellent levels, great fishing is in the forecast for well into the future this year.
The Erie Canal has yet to start their dewatering process, so good water flows should continue well into the winter months.
On the lower stretches of the “Oak,” perch fishing has been good and reports have an occasional northern pike being taken, along with a bass or two in the mix.
On Lake Alice it’s been mostly bass in the upper stretches.
I haven’t had any fishing reports from the Erie Canal, but I have to believe that at least bass are still active. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are many fishing activities going on right now so you will have to pick
and choose what you want to do.
For example, salmon fishing is good in Olcott right now at 18 Mile Creek and the lower Niagara River still has a mix of king salmon, Coho salmon and steelhead. If you want trout, you can catch them wherever there is good water flow. The most popular areas are the Niagara River and 18 Mile Creek, but you can do well after a rain in some of the smaller streams, too. Fishermen were picking up some trout in places like Keg and 12 Mile Creeks last week. Anglers are getting a few perch on Lake Erie and there are some hungry bass around as well. There are lots of fish to cast for if you so choose.
The piers in Wilson and Olcott are both good spots with spoons or spinners. The talk of Olcott this past week was the huge musky that was caught off the Olcott pier by a fisherman using a homemade spinner. According to reports, the fish was over 60-inches long, which would put it into a 50 pound class of fish. Huge! It was released to fight another day. The same angler did manage to catch a nice brown trout for the smoker later in the day.
In Olcott Harbor and up the creek, some nice salmon and trout are being caught by casters and drifters. One salmon caught by John Miller of Pennsylvania stretched 45 inches long! At Burt Dam and Fisherman’s Park, there have been lots of fish, but also lots of fishermen. Mostly salmon right now, but steelhead and browns are both being taken as well.
Lower Niagara River action for salmon has been slowing down for boat drifters in the Devil’s Hole area. A few kings are still being caught, but Coho salmon have arrived, as well as a few trout. Steelhead and browns are both possible catches. Lake trout season is closed, but you may start to catch a few when the water temperatures finally drop below 60 degrees – probably this weekend.
Shore casters are still doing well in the gorge on salmon, but it is starting to slow a little bit. Spoons and spinners with glow in the dark tape is one approach; treated egg skein under a float is another option.
Downriver, boat drifters are started to target steelhead along Artpark. Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston even managed to pick up a few salmon there while targeting trout. Ethan Brolinski, a 7 year-old fisherman from Lewiston, was casting around the launch ramp in Lewiston this past week when local captain Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls tossed him a “lucky” fishing lure to use. Before Ethan’s day was up, he managed to catch 3 Coho salmon from the docks.
Today is Tuesday October 24, 2017.
The temperature yo-yo continues with the temperatures looking more like late September than late October.
Runs of all of the cold-water species are on again and off again on all of the tributaries within Orleans County.
That’s not to say that there is any shortage of any of the cold-water species in our tributaries, they are not the bigger runs that one would normally see this time of year.
Temperatures will be above average into late next week and beyond.
What this means to me and others is that the tributary season will be extended this year and that is great news.
Another positive part of this whole weather thing is that people with boats still in the water have been having great success in the near-shore waters of Lake Ontario off Orleans County.
All of the inland stream and lakes have been fairly quiet right now, but bass fishing is still doing well, especially on the upper reaches of Lake Alice. Please don’t forget that bass season closes on November 30th this year, so bass catch and release starts on December 1st.
Yellow perch are being caught on the lower Stretches of the “Oak”.
The Catch and Release Fly Fishing Derby at the St. Mary’s Archers Club was, once again, a great success with some fantastic fish being weighed in. There was great food being served, great prizes being awarded and great new friends made.
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: email@example.com
Sportsman’s Lodge, Oak Island Resort, Eagle Ridge Lodge
Catch a Sturgeon here too!
By David Gray
It goes without saying that Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake of the Woods, Minnesota, is one of those iconic destinations where everybody with a fishing rod meets to catch fish. If you are a walleye angler and live in the north or mid-west, you have probably visited (or heard of) The Sportsman’s Lodge. It’s a bucket list destination for every honest angler.
If you have never been to Sportsman’s Lodge, you need to go. You WILL enjoy the lodge, the staff and most of all, the fishing. Anglers can target walleye, sauger, northern pike, musky, sturgeon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch or crappie. Choices. A good thing. I’m drooling again! On each of three trips there, my friends and I caught more than 50 walleye and sauger per trip, simply jigging with a minnow, the old-fashioned fun way. Hard to beat the fun. So many fish.
Located right on the Rainy River, Sportsman’s Lodge offers long-standing fishing success story traditions with a proven heritage. The service of hosting outdoor guests started here in the 1940’s (Jesmes Resort) and has continued to grow since. For the last decade, Gregg and Diana Hennum have expanded services with modernization and new comforts for guests.
For 46 years Sportsman’s Lodge has been a family owned and operated resort. Family-owned means the guests are treated like family and that is evident the minute you walk thru the door.
The staff are hard-working, friendly folks, dedicated to assuring that your stay is nothing but the best. Sportsman’s Lodge can handle groups from 2 to 200. They host weddings, family reunions, corporate groups, meetings and father-son fishing trips. The Lodge is full service. They provide anything and everything you need.
The great restaurant selections are offered in two large dining rooms: the Dockside and Riverside. At the end of the day, the “Sandbar” will accommodate your fish catching tales and provide refreshments for relaxation, the bar is over 70 feet long! A choice of hotel rooms, cabins, villas, ice houses and, of course, fishing guide services are at your option and are available. You only need to bring your clothes, a camera, yourself and be ready to put some fish in the boat.
In 2003, Sportsman’s Lodge expanded with the addition of Oak Island Resort, 34 miles up the lake by water. Oak Island is smaller, but a full service operation for multi-species fishing. Favorite fishing targets from this location include musky, walleye and smallmouth.
Not far from Oak Island Resort is Eagle Ridge Lodge, a beautiful and ultra-private vacation home resort with all the allure of the wilderness and all the comforts of home. Eagle Ridge provides the best of both worlds not often found on an island located in one of the worlds best sport fisheries.
In any location, you have choice of meals and guides, or if you are an accomplished angler, bring your own boat and guide yourself.
Gregg shared that a new “Adventure Package” is becoming popular. You leave Sportsman’s Lodge main location in Baudette on a Charter Boat, then fish your way up the 34 miles to Oak Island, stay overnight, then fish your way back. A no-hassle fun fishing outing, though customized trip packages are also available.
Fishing is king at Sportsman’s Lodge and Oak Island Resort. Winter Ice fishing is very popular and Gregg added, “More people are coming in the summer to get some relief from the heat of farther south, but winter fishing is also a tradition here for hundreds of families.”
Sportsman’s Lodge is a large, family-owned resort that has not forgotten its roots of treating guests like family. Fishing is king at Sportsman’s Lodge. This location on the Rainy River area of Lake of the Woods is noted to be the Walleye Capitol of the World. I asked Gregg Hennum why, he answered, “Because we have 10 Million of them!” After just spending three great days at Sportsman’s Lodge, I think it may be more than 10 Million!
My buddies and I can’t wait to go back next year.
Scott Scheffler, Marina Director for the Town of Newfane and heading up Fisherman’s Park at Burt Dam/18 Mile Creek, reports that some dandy brown trout are starting to show up in the creek a bit more readily. It’s a nice complement to the salmon and steelhead that are already on the scene. Fresh fish can be found in all of the deeper holes further down towards the harbor and fish are still being caught off the piers and in the lake.
When there’s a northeast wind, you can’t fish the piers at all because of the waves. However, when those winds subside, get out there and start casting spoons, spinners, rattlebaits, stickbaits or whatever. The fishing usually turns on! Another popular method is to use treated egg skein under a float. You can anchor or drift from a boat, too.
Over in Wilson, they are still picking up some yellow perch off the piers, as well as some nice trout. Use spinners and spoons for trout. Use minnows for the perch. Don’t rule out lake fishing either. If the weather cooperates – and it will be this weekend – don’t be afraid to try trolling for salmon and trout off the creek mouths or even out deep. There are plenty of fish to be caught!
The lower Niagara River salmon action is starting to wind down a little, but they are catching some silver fish that are fresh in the system. Casting glow-in-the-dark spinners and Little Gem spoons under low light conditions work best. Rat-L-Traps can also produce salmon.
Rich Pisa of Kenmore caught six kings from shore on Monday and four on Tuesday, so they are still getting them just fine. Even his father Richard picked up a few nice kings, fishing the Whirlpool area with treated egg skein. Boaters are still catching kings and coho’s as well, with an occasional trout. It won’t be long before lake trout start showing up to spawn. Remember that the lake trout season is closed now until the end of the year.
In the upper Niagara River, bass action has been good in the east river (east side of Grand Island) on shiners. A few musky are starting to show up, too.
St. Mary’s Archers Club Tourney set for Oct. 18-20th
Today is Tuesday October 10, 2017.
This is the time of year that the crispness in the air and the changing of the leaves begs us to get outside and enjoy the wonders that Mother Nature is providing us with.
With the amount of rain we have received over the past several days, flows on all of the tributaries within Orleans County are at a slightly high level with a slightly stained water clarity.
Salmon are being reported in all our tributaries and the water flows are keeping them on the move and spread out. Brown trout are starting to enter the tributaries.
When the weather cooperates, fish are still being taken in Lake Ontario especially in those close-to-shore waters.
On the lower stretches of the “Oak” perch are starting to show up in some decent numbers from the County Marine Park to the bridges area.
The upper stretches of Lake Alice are still producing some nice bass, mostly smallmouth, while bluegill and crappie fishing has dropped off a bit.
The Archers Club Catch and Release Fly Fishing Derby will be held on October 18th, 19th and 20th this year which is always a great event.
Tomorrow will be the last day of operation for the Erie Canal System but will not signal the beginning of the dewatering procedure. There is work to be done on the canal so water will remain in the system for a while yet.
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.
King’s, Coho Salmon on Niagara Bar ON-THE-MOVE to Devil’s Hole
Browns Biting at Night from Shore
Rainy Weather May Cause Big Run
Bass & Walleye Biting in Upper Niagara/Lake Erie
Get ready for another slug of fish to arrive in the lower Niagara River and area tributaries off Lake Ontario! Both wind and rain are in the forecast and that could be the trigger to bring some more fish into area waters.
In the lower Niagara River, Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters called me at 9:30 a.m. to say he had limited out for his two customers. That’s six salmon in just a couple hours. Not every day is like that, but if the rains in the afternoon trigger a run, there are a bunch of fish – kings and Coho salmon – hanging out on the Niagara Bar waiting for a push from Mother Nature.
We haven’t seen good numbers of Coho salmon in the fall in a number of years. This is great news! For boaters, the Devil’s Hole area is the place to be. Pautzke-treated egg skein is the ticket for taking Pacific salmon, fished off three-way rigs.
Shore fishermen have been doing pretty well too. Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield has been tossing glow-in-the-dark spoons and spinners to take salmon early in the morning. When that sun comes up though, fishing gets a bit tougher in that Devil’s Hole area.
From shore, Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been using the same kind of hardware. He’ll also toss a Rat-L-Trap. Today he started catching some brown trout mixed in with his salmon in the Whirlpool area. He also reported some good bass fishing along the shoreline at Artpark.
If you enjoy fishing around the Schoellkopf Site near the Discovery Center (yes, there’s an elevator there), this new access point will be closed Oct. 11-12, next week, as they use a crane to complete some work.
Over at Olcott and 18 Mile Creek, Burt Dam has seen more fishermen than fish. Hopefully that will change soon. Some fish are being caught from boats anchored around the harbor, as well as around the piers.
Pier casters are only picking a few fish up now, but hopefully that will change, too. Spoons and spinners will work, but harbor boats are using treated egg skein and fished under a float.
Boat trollers are still pounding the mature salmon with flasher and fly or meat until they hit. Sometimes it’s tough getting them mad enough to strike, but when they do you have your hands full. If the weather cooperates, you can always run out deep off Wilson and Olcott to take a mix of salmon and trout.
Capt. Alan Sauerland of Instigators Charters out of Wilson found some salmon and trout in 450-plus feet of water, but he had to go deep to find the right temperatures. His riggers were from 75 to 110 feet deep, the divers were 280 and 300 feet back and he needed 500 feet of copper line to hit the fish zone with spoons and flasher-fly presentations.
In the Upper Niagara River, bass and walleye are still the primary focus. Capt. Chris Cinelli has been hitting some nice fish at the head of the river with shiners and spinner-worm combos. 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 Falls USA Fishing Forecast for September 21, 2017
Egg Skein from Boats is #1
Glow-In Dark Spoons are Hot from Shore
Increasing Near-Record Temp’s Could Slow Run
The salmon run is happening in the Niagara River right now from both boat and shore. From boat, treated egg skein is the ticket. From shore, try tossing glow in the dark spoons or spinners under low conditions.
The amazing weather we’ve been experiencing does have a down side. Water temperatures in the river have risen by 4 degrees already and it could impact the salmon run.
If the Chinook and Coho’s make it up into the warm water, they probably won’t last long…or they could head over to the tailrace of the power plant and the fishing platform guys and gals will do better. Things have slowed down a little there. Some bass and walleye are still available in the river, too. One area is just north of the Lewiston Landing area, where they have also been taking some perch. Directly relating to the run of salmon in the river is the Niagara Bar fishing.
Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters reports that the Chinook (kings) are staging again at the drop-off in 70 to 80 feet of water with E-Chip flashers and A-Tom-Mik flies or meat. Glow in the dark spoons work early morning and at dusk.
In Olcott and Wilson, there has been some pier action for salmon and trout. Again, spoons and spinners work best. There was actually a hot bite for steelhead the past 24 hours for some reason up a Burt Dam, but with the warm temperatures near record-breaking the next 4 or 5 days, those fish will probably head back out into the lake.
Speaking about out in the lake, trollers are using spoons, flasher-fly, flasher-cut bait or J-plugs to take salmon and the occasional trout inside of 100 feet of water. Fish are also available out deep.
Wilson harbor was also producing some nice northern pike on spinnerbaits.
Check out some of the catches featured this week in the Buffalo News website to see what’s really happening here fishing-wise (www.buffalonews.com).
Upper Niagara River action has been good for bass and walleye the past week. Try fishing around the head of Strawberry Island, at the head of the river and around the walls off Buffalo.
National Hunting and Fishing Day is Sept. 23. Niagara County’s version of this celebration is tied directly to the Wildlife Festival sponsored each year by the New York Power Authority and the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs. The Festival is held both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the NYPA Visitor’s Center located at 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston. Call 716-286-6661 for more information.
All of the old stand-by presenters and vendors will be in attendance like the Primate Sanctuary, the Buffalo Zoo-mobile, Hawk Creek and Nickel City Reptiles.
The Niagara River Anglers has their fishing pond set up and the Niagara Federation’s shooting trailer will be up for some plinking. Did we mention that this is ALL FREE? It’s great fun for the whole family. This event will be held, rain or shine.
If you are a goose hunter, this is the final weekend for the nuisance goose season, ending on September 25.
Lake Ontario, Niagara River, Piers, Creeks – All Have Fish.
Shore or Boat, Grab Your Gear.
The salmon are snapping all around Niagara Falls USA as the mighty fish have shown up in the Niagara River and off the piers in Olcott. Lake action is continuing too, for pier head trollers seeking a mature king. Out deep, some salmon are available along with a mix of two and three year olds, as well as steelhead.
Let’s start with the Niagara River where king salmon action in Devil’s Hole area was on fire from both boat and shore. Boaters were drifting treated egg skein all week to take some limits of kings. Three way rigs get the presentation on the bottom. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls reported good success every day he’s been out, with his best day being 9 mature kings.
For shore casters along Artpark, Devil’s Hole and the Whirlpool, glow in the dark spoons and spinners have been taking fish under low light conditions.
A few walleye and bass are around, too. Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield was 5 for 7 on kings Tuesday, before he went into work in the Hole. Remember that the stairs at Devil’s Hole State Park are closed for improvements until next spring. The New York Power Authority fishing platform is open and kings are being taken by hardware tossers, especially in the tailrace of the power generators. If you want bass and walleye, fish are hitting drop shot rigs and tubes, as well as live bait like leeches, crabs and shiner.
Out in the lake, the Niagara Bar has been a little slow for king action. Your better bet is to target mature kings on J-plugs, spoons, flasher-fly and flasher-meat rigs inside 100 feet. Capt. Mike Johannes of On-the-Rocks Charters out of Wilson, reports that the Niagara Bar was ice water after the recent northeast winds. He was finding good action in 300 to 400 feet of water straight out from his home port, 40 to 80 feet down on the riggers, 300 copper and 10 colors of lead core. Use flashers and meat for the biggest kings, UV orange spoons for steelhead. Out of Olcott, Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane was doing some thrill-seeking out to 500 foot depths, focusing his DW spoons and A-Tom-Mik flies in the top 80 feet of water.
Off the piers, Cleo’s and other heavy spoons are taking both salmon and trout, but the action isn’t hot and heavy. We need a good cool rain to really trigger a run. The east pier at Olcott is now open.
Mark your calendars for National Hunting and Fishing Day on Sept. 23. The big celebration in Niagara County is the Wildlife Festival at the New York Power Authority’s Visitors Center, set for both Sept. 23 and 24. Doors are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and it’s free. This event is cosponsored by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs and there will be a fishing pond, shooting trailer, archery and crossbow demos and more. Carmen Presti with the Primate Sanctuary will be there along with a pile of kids activities. Bring the whole family! Good luck and good fishing in Niagara Falls USA.
Allowing Lures, Lines, Rigs, Rules and Laws, to Meet Each Other
Communication, Great Fishing and Laughter Create EFFECTIVE FUN
Summer Fishing for Lake Erie Walleye in Chautauqua County, NY
By Forrest Fisher
If there is a language common between anglers and fish, they were talking to each other off Chadwick Bay in Dunkirk, New York, during the Great Lakes Experience earlier in August. More than 20 charter boats each caught dozens of walleye. Yes, each. If we average the catch at 20 fish per boat, that’s about 400 walleyes in less than four hours of fishing. And when the fish are biting, good things happen, especially when folks from local, state, county and federal positions get together to discuss the recreational fishery and all that goes with it.
That’s what happened during the 9th Annual Great Lakes Experience Fishing Day. About 100 people from Erie County, Niagara County and Chautauqua County were invited to fish together. Attendees met at the harbor at about 6:00 a.m. on August 9, 2017, for the annual Tim Horton’s “Meet & Greet” session. Nothing like donuts and hot coffee at sunrise! We divided into groups from there as we were assigned to captains from the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (ELECBA), that provided a unified effort with a simple goal: To catch some fish and share more about reasons why the Lake Erie resource is so important and so priceless.
I was fishing with Captain Jim Skoczylas (Ultimate Adventure Sportfishing (716-796-5372) and first mate, Tom “TJ” Yetzer. They provided guests on board Jim’s 31-foot Tiara, a fun and comfortable time, even in the 4 to 6 foot waves that came up later in the morning.
Skoczylas says, “While the fishing has been really good this year, each day we play it by ear to adapt when we need to change lures and methods. On some days the fish want crankbaits, other days they want spinner/worm rigs, on finicky days – color matters, but on most days this year, it has not mattered too much what you put down there. The walleye have been looking to eat and there are many year classes, especially young fish, in our New York, Lake Erie, fishery right now. Many of us are wondering if there might be a shortage of emerald shiners and smelt – the primary baitfish groups out here, because the fish usually want to eat our lures quite readily.”Between hearing Yetzer holler, “Fish-on, who’s up?” and Tom Hersey, Erie County Commissioner of Environment and Planning say, “Oops, I think I might have lost that one (four times),” there was lots of kidding, laughs and honest fascination with the rigs and processes used to catch fish.”
On the other hand, Ally Pawarski, Sales and Services Manager with the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission, didn’t lose a single fish and was tuned-in for the whole trip – landing the largest walleye on our boat.
Dan Rizzo, Commissioner of Erie County Parks, Chris Catanzaro, Project Manager for the Erie County Harbor Development Corporation, along with Patrick Kaler, CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Visitors Bureau, all enjoyed fish-catching and common conversation. I was happy to be among this dedicated group.
We talked about the fishing goodness, Buffalo Harbor State Park boat ramps, the Central Train Station location, Canalside activities, Buffalo Riverworks, Lake Erie recreational access, kayaks, the health of the fishery, the Coast Guard, the people and the fun of the outdoors on the waterfront. Add in ideas for marketing and distribution, thoughts of a virtual fish-catching program from Lake Erie on the internet, on-board drone videos for future customers fishing Lake Erie along the New York shoreline, and you can see, conversation was all-inclusive with new ideas.
Running 12 coordinated lines at depths of 70 to 80 feet down in 85 to 105 feet of water, and using all the gear dressed up with spinner/worm rigs and stickbaits, we hooked up with 26 fish in a very short 4 hours on the water. Diving planes, weighted leadcore lines, downriggers and lots of lures and stickbaits were all part of the presentation mix with a trolling speed of 2.1 mph. It was a perfect scenario for catching fish and to discuss issues/answers.
After the fishing, the perfect walleye fish fry lunch was served at the Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Club. We heard from several speakers, perhaps the most notable was about raw sewage overload on our Great Lakes from Rich Davenport, Director from the Erie County Fish Advisory Board.
Everyone enjoyed a great time networking about life in the outdoors and the incredible natural resource, Lake Erie, and agreed to work hard together to keep this treasure alive and well into the future.
There were representatives from the NYSDEC, including Stephen Hurst – Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources Bureau Chief from Albany, Patricia Riexinger recently retired from that same position, Don Einhouse and Jason Robinson, fisheries biologists from the NYSDEC Lake Erie Fisheries Unit, a host of legislative leaders – Senators and Assemblymen, the charter captains and their crews – the proper combination for networking and laughter too.
This annual event allows local groups to bring certain very real issues to light and provides the potential for discussion on the battlefront of conservation, the outdoors and our Great Lakes resources. There is nothing like a face-to-face meeting of the minds. Issues and solutions, in between catching fish and a few grins, become a solid focus.
Amidst the apparent visual complexity of multiple rods/reels, downriggers, diving planes, planer boards, temperature measurement and trolling gear, and lots of lures, the confidence in the voice of our hosts on board each charter craft was reassuring. Confidence reigns.
The event was organized by Zen Olow (Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Club), Lance Erhardt (Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association) and Andrew Nixon (Executive Director Chautauqua County CVB), and a supporting cast of dozens.
By request, the Orleans County Hotline Report will now be updated every Tuesday instead of Wednesday.
First, the location of the Rotary Derby Awards Ceremony this Sunday has been changed from the Carlton Rec Hall to the Black North. Hope to see all of you there for a great time and I know that great food and drink will be available. After a slow start to the derby this year, the leader board is filling up with some fantastic catches in all of the categories, and there’s still time to enter and be one of those on the leader board at the awards ceremony.
Hit and miss showers are in the weather forecast over the next week, so let’s hope for more miss and less hit.
The mid-water fishing, around the 200 feet of water mark, has started to come on with mostly salmon in the catches. The off-shore fishing has moved out to almost the border and is producing a good mixed bag of both salmon and steelhead. The baits being used are all over the place so the best advice I can give is to use what you have the greatest confidence in and then change as needed.
Please remember that we now have two great ports to fish out of and two great charter fleets for you to book trip with, Point Breeze and Bald Eagle Creek Marina. The marinas at Point Breeze have been working all season long to provide the very best of service while fighting the high-water conditions as has the great crew at Bald Eagle Creek Marina.
On Lake Alice, around the Waterport Bridge, catches of Bluegill are good but a lot of smaller fish in the mix. Please remember that those smaller fish are the future catches so put them back to grow into next year’s catch. Bass fishing on Lake Alice remains good to very good in the upper reaches.
On the lower stretches of the “Oak” a good mixed bag of the warm water species is being taken. One gentleman I know of says that Gar pike fishing in this area are just about the best anywhere.
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.
When a Fishing Rod Icon creates a Walleye Fishing Eyecon®
By David Gray
Part of the fun in the sport of fishing is the never-ending search for new equipment that works and fishes better. Last April, a friend introduced me to a new rod, the Eyecon ECS-70LF from St. Croix. The rod had such a “great feel,” I talked him into letting me borrow it for a couple of months so I could try it out.
The Eyecon ECS-70LF is one of the most impressive rods I have used in a long time. It says “Walleye Series” on the rod and it does a great job presenting finesse baits, but that is not all this rod does. The rod fishes well for walleye, crappie, bluegill, float fishing for smallmouth, and is great when spin fishing for trout. I used the 7-foot Eyecon with 3-pound line and 1/32 ounce jigs for trout and the rod was pure joy. Such are the numerous unadvertised advantages, since it can also handle medium-sized crankbaits with ease too.
How a fishing rod casts, or more precisely, how the rod transfers energy to cast a lure, is where most rods fall short. It is one performance task to bring a large bass or walleye to the boat, but a very different performance task to achieve casting distance and accuracy. The Eyecon excels in both performance tasks.
My first use of the Eyecon was an eye-opener. When I picked it up, it made me stop to do a double-take on the rod, then the line and the lure. There was a captivating synergy in just picking the rig up to hold. Simple moments that are remembered like that mean good things. My first cast with the Eyecon surprised me. It went 10 feet farther than I was aiming. My second, third and fourth cast did the same. Every cast was 10 to 15 feet further than my aim point. The Eyecon is so efficient at transferring energy, it was casting farther than most similar action 7-foot spinning rods.
My experience with fishing rods is that when they can cast light lures well, they usually do not have super-sensitivity, but the Eyecon surprised me there. It is a very sensitive rod and lives up to its finesse label.
Every once in a while, a new product raises the performance bar and the Eyecon does exactly that. Everything that you want a fishing rod to do well this rod does extremely well.
The Eyecon ECS-70 LF is as a great buy in a 7-foot spinning rod. It delivers a higher level of fishing performance, helps you fish better and makes you a better fisherman. You gotta love fishing tools that allow you to achieve all that. I have one of my own Eyecon’s now. They sell for $120-$130 and come with a 5-year warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service.
If you need more info: http://stcroixrods.com/products/freshwater/eyecon/.
Integrated Map Provides Fish Locations, Shore Fishing Access, Boat Access
Depth Contours ZERO-IN on Hotspot Fishing Locations
Bait Shops, Marina Locations, Shipwrecks, ALL HERE…ALL FREE
By Forrest Fisher
There is a NEW interactive, online, Western New York Hotspot Fishing Map application that is yours FREE at this link: https://wnyfishing.mrf.com.
The regional website map has been designed for everyone, including for cellphone and laptop use. It is the perfect “get-it-now” reference tool for many user groups. Boaters, anglers, scuba divers, vacationers and many other groups, family fishing groups, now have good waterway reference map. Need to research waterway areas of the Greater Niagara Region of New York State BEFORE the trip? Here is your resource.
The map spotlights lake depth contours, boating access points, marinas, shore fishing sites, sunken wrecks, fish species locations, bait shops, information sources, dining establishments and give all that to the user with GPS coordinates. Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties offer some of the best freshwater sportfishing the world has ever seen!
World class walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, musky, trout, salmon, all here, and many species of panfish. Nearly everything an avid fisherman would ever want. Carp and Channel Catfish too.
The Greater Niagara Region has established a reputation that boasts excellence in sportfishing, boating, kayaking, and outdoor on-the-water recreation. Hire a charter, bring your own boat or fish from shore, the new regional map website will be useful for everyone who looks to quench a hungry angling appetite.
The website map is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast and for families looking to get back to finding the family fun of the outdoors through fishing and boating. There are many other outdoor attractions, state and county parks, hiking paths, bird-watching opportunities (the Niagara River Corridor is internationally recognized as an important bird area), hunting options and more. There are cultural, historical and recreational highlights from Lewiston in Niagara County, to Buffalo in Erie County and to Jamestown in Chautauqua County. The new website and map app offers access to outdoor information and adds value for visitors and residents alike.
The website (https://wnyfishing.mrf.com) offers information to get you started and headed in the right direction, from charter listings to marina information; from shore fishing spots to license information. Unfortunately, it can’t help you set the hook and reel the fish in!
Greater Niagara – You’ll “fall for us” all over again reel soon!
This map was made possible through the funding of Erie and Niagara Counties. It was prepared cooperatively between Erie and Niagara County’s respective Sportfishing Promotion Programs, with assistance from the Erie and Niagara County Fisheries Advisory Boards. Additional maps may be obtained by calling: Buffalo-Niagara CVB at 800-BUFFALO or Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. at 877-FALLS US.
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.
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.
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
I love to find hidden treasure, but not the gold or silver kind.
Hidden treasure for me is finding jewels of rarely fished small waters. By small waters, I mean privately owned farm ponds, strip pits, businesses with water retention ponds, and even golf course water hazards. Places a lot of people don’t even pay attention to or don’t even know they are there.
Many city parks departments and state fisheries departments stock small waters for public fishing, but a lot of these get very little fishing pressure.
There are thousands of these hidden small water treasures across America and are great places to catch fish in uncrowded conditions. Most are full of bass, crappie, perch, hybrid bluegill and catfish. All you have to do is search them out.
They are perfect for just walking the bank, launching a small johnboat, canoe, kayak or float tube. If you only have a few hours to fish, they are great! You can pretty well count on certain areas holding fish every time you go.
Unless they are public waters though, they are private and accessible only by permission from the landowner or the person in charge. You can try calling, but it is much better to get permission in person. Be courteous and thankful. You might also offer to share your catch if they allow you to keep fish.
My best tip for catching fish on small waters is to make as little noise or vibration as possible. In small bodies of water fish can see you. In fact, vibrations travel farther in small waters, so even if they can’t see you, they can tell someone is near the edge of the water. If fishing from the bank, walk up quietly and stay out of sight. It’s a good idea to even wear camouflage clothing.
Look for channels, humps, brush piles, lay down trees, weed beds, moss, cattails, lily pads, logs and tree stumps — anything that offers habitat for feeding fish.
For catfish, go with all the normal stinky catfish baits, as well as worms and I also like using shrimp bait. If it’s crappie you’re after, jigs and minnows are always good, but I have also caught some really big crappie in small water on crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
Perch jerkin’ is always fun and even more so if you go with ultra-light equipment. If the small waters happen to be stocked with hand size hybrid bluegill, you are in for a real fight and a great time.
For baits, look around for natural baits the fish are already feeding on. Catch some of these natural baits and impale them on a hook or match them as close as possible with artificial baits you have in your tackle box.
The crown jewel in the hidden treasure of small waters is the largemouth bass. America’s most sought after fish can grow very large in small waters, as long as the forage is right. So don’t let the size of a lake fool you into thinking there are no big bass in it.
Remember, George Perry’s world record bass came from Montgomery Lake in Georgia which is little more than a muddy slough — the silted-in remnants of an oxbow off the Ocmulgee River that continues to flow just a few yards away. Studded with cypress knees and shaded by Spanish moss, it is narrow enough to cast completely across.
Dixon Lake, a small city lake located in Escondido, California, is well known for several potential world record bass. One was caught and released and another was found dead.
I personally believe that the next world record largemouth bass could very well come from small waters like a pond, small lake or strip pit. It might just be your state’s record bass, but you would settle for that wouldn’t you?
With spinnerbaits and crankbaits, I can make a lot of casts and cover a lot of water. Plastic worms are good too, and use frog baits through the moss and lily pads. If I am fishing at night there’s nothing like the heart-stopping moment when a big bass hits a topwater bait.
After you are done fishing for the day, make sure you leave the property more clean than when you arrived. Now, go find the person that gave you permission and thank them for a great day, and offer to share your catch if you kept fish. Ask if you can come again, is it OK to bring a family member or two…and should you contact them each time?
Now, clutch them to your chest and love them like a wealthy uncle because yea verily I say unto you, these places are small treasures worth their weight in gold. Well, clutching them to your chest and loving them may be a little much, but make sure you let the property owners know you appreciate them.
Do everything you can do to insure you can keep coming back. Lastly, keep your small waters to yourself and don’t tell any of your fishing buddies where you found your hidden treasure.
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
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.
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 LowerNiagara 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.
Certain optional kayak gear is handy and necessary.
Customize your fishing kayak for comfort and function.
By Jim Low
With a new Kayak, there are quite a few features to look for, understand and think about. Here are some of the features that are important to me:
ADJUSTABLE SEATS & FOOT BRACES
Before writing a check, take time to sit in several kayaks to see if you can stand to sit in it for hours. Try to find a dealer that will allow you to test “drive” kayak before purchase. Ideally, a seat should have an adjustable, padded back rest. The seat should also be padded with a material that allows water to drain away from your kiester.
Equally important are adjustable foot rests. Pushing on these anchors you in your seat, providing a solid paddling platform. They should be adjustable, not only for different leg lengths, but to allow you to change your leg position to avoid stiffness. The surfaces of these pedal-like accessories should have a non-slip surface.
Sometimes these are built into the kayak’s hull and hold rods upright. This works fine, as long as you don’t encounter any overhead obstructions. Much better are rod holders with swiveling mounts that fold parallel with the deck. Having multiple rod holders allow you to switch baits without re-rigging.
Most kayaks have fore and aft cargo compartments, but these are hard to reach on the water. Small compartments within reach of the seat are more practical.
You don’t need much of an anchor for kayak fishing, but they do come in handy when you want to hold your position against current or wind. Anchors need ropes, and having loose rope around your feet is inconvenient, not to mention dangerous. Anchor trolleys keep your anchor rope organized with cleats and allow you to instantly tie off anchor rope at the desired length and release it just as quickly. A small, foldable anchor will fit easily under or beside your seat, out of the way but available when needed.
You laugh, but nothing is worse than cracking open a drink only to have it tip over in your lap moments later. Well, okay, lots of things are worse, but a spilled drink is bad enough. When not holding drinks, cup holders are useful for holding snacks, phones, lures, pliers and a dozen other things.
ACCESSORY MOUNTING SYSTEMS
These really are the mothers of all accessories. Factory-installed accessory mounting systems permit you to customize your kayak in ways limited only by your imagination. They accept universal mounting plates can be drilled to accept anything you want. This is an easy way to keep cell phones, tablets, GPS units and other electronic devices handy. Naturally, if you are short on imagination, manufacturers have lots of ideas, including tackle bins, live wells, rod holders, fish finders and, yes, cup holders.
Paddling into the wind can be a challenge when fishing on lakes or large streams. A rudder or tracking skeg keeps you on track without constant correction. This is especially handy for trolling.
Speaking of trolling, trolling motors made specifically for canoes and kayaks are available. Hobie offers kayaks equipped with their patented MirageDrive, the original kayak peddle-drive system. These items aren’t cheap…unless you compare their prices to the cost of a bass boat.
One often-neglected accessory is a top-quality paddle. A cheap paddle will wear you out if it doesn’t wear out first. Don’t balk at spending a couple hundred dollars on an ergonomically friendly paddle that keep you, your wrists and shoulders out of the orthopedic surgeon’s office for years.
Fishing kayaks have become so popular that organizations dedicated to them are springing up around the country. Missouri has two that I know of: Missouri Kayak Fishing Association and the Show Me Kayak Fishing. You might consider hooking up with these folks for help learning the ropes of kayak angling. Once you go ‘yak, you’ll never look back!
By Forrest Fisher with guide, Frank Schoenacker (Infinity Charters)
When great guides and charter captains talk, honest anglers that don’t always catch fish listen. So I listen very well. I’m as honest as they come. One thing I’ve discovered, when anglers share life through the gift of a fishing charter, good things can happen!
During a recent Chautauqua Lake fishing trip for one client couple, there came lasting memories and lots of fishing fun.
The client contacted my friend and local guide, Frank Schoenacker, in December, as she had purchased a charter fish trip as a Christmas gift for her boyfriend. Frank said, “They both fish, but haven’t done much walleye or musky fishing. So last week, they had a couple of firsts. She landed her first ever walleye, which was a nice 17-inch fish, then she followed up with 5 more! That’s not all, her boyfriend caught his first musky while fishing for walleyes.”
Frank added, “I teach my clients to fish simple. It all starts with meeting them at a common place. At Chautauqua Lake, for many guides and for me too, that place is the Bemus Point boat launch. The next thing is not overcrowding the action and the people aboard. On Chautauqua, I limit clients to two people maximum and I don’t fish when I have clients. I provide equipment and have it setup before the trip.”
When Frank talks, he explains juicy details, “On my boat, I use an 8-horse kicker to troll weed edges at slow speed (1 mph or so), mostly using a very simple, old-fashioned, spinner/worm harness. Small beads, a small spinner blade and small hooks are essential when fishing Chautauqua.Lots of reasons why, they have to do with catching your targeted species.Boat control and using electronics to see the weed edge is critical. My boat is a tiller steer, so I have direct contact with my motor and boat direction. I tie my harness with small hooks (size one), then use a small copper or fire-tiger blade (size 2) off a clevis, then I usually add small red beads as attractors – or whatever fish think those are!They work.”
Schoenacker uses a sliding-sinker for weight on his 6 to 8 lb braid as mainline. He adds, “Pretty much an old school setup. Normally I’m anywhere from 8 to 14 feet of water depth depending on the weed edge where we fish. Early in the season when water is cool, I’ll use nightcrawlers (sometimes half-worms are better than whole ones) and I start to use a rubber worm soon after, as white perch get pesky and they won’t touch a plastic worm.” He was smiling with a big grin.
“Starting at the tail end of June, I fish a rubber worm instead of a live worm pretty much all the time. When the bite slows at mid-morning, I have one client go to a live worm. Sometimes we can get an extra bite or two. “
What if the fish aren’t biting?Franks says, “I move around and pre-fish before guided trips so I have a plan based on wind and weather for the day. Generally, during the early season I’m in the lower lake mostly (south of Route 86 bridge). This year (2017), the channel in Bemus was good early.”
“It’s not as simple as I’m making it sound, you need to adapt and you know when that needs to happen after a few decades of fishing, ”Schoenacker says.“Weed lines off the creek mouths are good, so I look around Prendergast Bay, Dewittville Bay, Goose Creek, etc. The fish tend to be active at different places and at different times, so this is where the knowledge of the guide comes in.Add the varying style of fishing we can do and add the potential to change position, “run and gun,” from spot to spot, we find them most every day we try.”
If you live on or near the lake, that is a bonus.He adds, “Pre-fishing helps me have several spots planned. Any angler that fishes today needs to have pretty good electronics so they can see the fish for as many times as they work the weed line. I have also seen that when walleyes are active, the white perch are less of a problem. I’m seeing several good year classes of walleyes in the lake now, lots of 13-14 inch throwbacks, then there are numbers of 17 inchers and then a class of 20 inch-plus fish. “
Anglers are pleased that the walleye population is doing well in the lake and folks are also very pleased that the DEC lowered the walleye minimum size limit to 15-inches in 2017.Schoenacker adds, “I do some musky trolling, but my primary focus is on fishing for walleyes.”
“I’ll fish the weed lines until the water warms and fish move deeper. At that point I move to open water trolling and snap-jigging. Snap-jigging works for me right on through the fall. I like the weedline and jigging programs best because you hold the rod and feel the fish hit. Hard to beat that for sure,” says Schoenacker
Schoenacker adds, “I want to help people have more fun finding and catching fish, so I’m sharing some of my program plan with walleye anglers everywhere that plan to fish Chautauqua Lake sometime soon.This gives you the background on my simple walleye program, but don’t forget, you can always call me for a hands-on trip.”
Lastly, Schoenacker has two boats, he uses the smaller one (Lund Pro–V Tiller with 60hp Yamaha and 8hp Yamaha) for that up-front experience on Chautauqua Lake, but he is also a licensed Lake Erie Charter Captain and member of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and National Association of Charter Boat Operators. He will also share his fish–catching secrets while aboard his Pro-Line 25 (powered by Evinrude 225hp ETEC and 9.9hp Yamaha kicker). You can reach Capt. Frank Schoenacker by phone at 585-406-5764, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on his website at: http://www.infinitycharters.com/.
You know, we never stop learning when people that know way more than we do are willing to share.Hat’s off to Captain Frank!
May 28, 2017; Bison City Rod & Gun Club, Buffalo, N.Y.
141 Kids, 322 Total Attendance; 21 Volunteers; 8-Learning Stations
By Forrest Fisher
The forecast for rain and fog was swept aside when bright, sunny skies with a gentle 75 degree breeze surprised families with kids from Buffalo and Western New York. They came to fish and learn at Bison City Rod & Gun Club for the 13th Annual Jimmy Griffin Memorial Teach-Me-To-Fish event.
Once a polluted waterway that would burn from the heat of a lighted match, today the Buffalo River waterfront is clean, alive, and hopping with fish, kayaks, canoes and kids with fishing poles. The Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeeper Group is a big part of the clean-up progress.
The kids and their families all learned a bit more about the adventure of the outdoors through the fun of fishing, many for the very first time!
While the river was running a bit muddy from recent heavy rains, the steady flow of riverfront kayakers, sailboats, canoes and power boats showed proof that water color is not a deterrent. Kids fishing from the Bison City fishing pier were busy. Even single adults without kids came to discover the fun and adventure of “how-to-fish”. More and more people want to know.
Lynda Kollar, Rose Barus and Linda Cooley energized a positive first-moment connection with folks at the registration welcome station.
Kids and parents learned “How-To-Fish” and what to do from Western New York bass pro, Scott Gauld, who took time to share “easy tips” for everyone in the program. He explained that catching a fish with a rod and reel (bait or artificial lure) is not only possible, it is fun and not difficult. Gauld provided that special seal of “sure-fun is right around the corner” that only a professional angler might be able to influence for new onlookers. Kids went away looking for the fishing pier!
Marine Unit 2 with Erie County Sheriff Tim Dusza and his team, provided tours of their vessel. Everyone learned about water-safety, kids were allowed to blow the horn and turn on the flashing lights. Big smiles there!
Russ Johnson and Bob Carlson, members of the East Aurora Fish & Game Club, who have perfected the system for educating kids and parents on how to tie a perfect Palomar Knot and Clinch Knot, taught everyone how to tie on a hook in only a few seconds.
Rigging a weedless plastic bait, a plastic worm or jig tail, was made easy with a hands-on demonstration by junior Bassmasters Alex Gauld and Collin Voss, as they provided each youth with a souvenir plastic creature bait sample from Cabela’s. The kids could use the bait to fish with or take home. The girls seemed to pick the pink squiggly-tail crayfish!
Environmental Conservation Officer, Jeff Jondel, and firearm safety instructor, Joe Mills, provided hands-on firearm safety training. They shared the rules of responsibility for parents and kids, so they could experience the Cabela’s BB-Gun Range, an inflated and fully enclosed, fully safe, “bounce house” style event. The NRA safety-instructors provided easy 1, 2, 3 steps for responsible use of a firearm, using a BB-gun. Kids and parents took turns checking their aim using Daisy Red Ryder BB-Guns, shooting at suspended souvenir paper targets. Happy kids took their targets home with ear-to-ear smiles as souvenirs.
Lifetime youth educator and certified New York State Archery champion, Paul Stoos, worked with Earl Farrel, Sr., to provide first-time how-to lessons for kids at the Cabela’s Archery Booth, using air-suspended floating ball targets.
Charter Captain Jerry May and walleye master, Ted Malota, taught kids how to cast a spincast fishing rod with hookless casting baits. The kids were sailing their lines a very long way toward hula-hoop targets in just minutes. Ted shared, “Wow, some of these kids are really good with so little practice!” Fun for all!
The kids and adults fished from “George’s Landing,” the legacy honor name for the Bison City fishing pier. It was a fun and exciting adventure station for kids, even more exciting for some parents who had never touched a live fish before. On-site fishing educator, Dave Solowski, provided eager kids with bait, pre-rigged rods, reels, bobbers, hooks, split-shot and plenty of nightcrawler bait supplied by Weekley’s Worms. Weekly’s Worms provides more than 50 million redworms and nightcrawlers to anglers every year. Imagine that!
Dockside outfitter, Donna Kayes, provided solid “pre-fish confidence” while outfitting each youth with a life-preserver before entering the fishing pier area. Several first-fish catches were recorded, with new adventure and fun had by all. The fish were placed in the aerated “Lunker Pool” and released by the kids after the event. Kids that did not catch a fish enjoyed seeing the swimming fish that others caught. After the event, the kids helped release all the fish to swim another day, a meaningful lesson in conservation for our youth.
At the newest learning station, “OUTDOOR AWARENESS,” outdoor educator, Sheri Voss, provided hands-on lessons for families with advice on how to stay prepared, protected, informed and proactive, whenever they head outdoors. There was special focus on deer ticks and the Lyme disease outbreak in northeast USA.
As families completed the learning station tours, a 70-page slide show was shown on the 7-foot screen indoors, allowing for continued fishing and outdoor adventure education. While observing the screen, the kitchen crew provided world famous Sahlen’s grill-cooked hot dogs, Perry’s Ice Cream, Paula’s Donuts, Gwen Jozwiak’s hand-made “fish cupcakes,” beverages and other munchies.
During the random gear raffle, 76 happy youths won a free rod/reel combo. Everyone else, adults too, took home fishing maps, tackle, and special prizes from the “Bison City Tackle Treasure Chest.”
The kids and the adults were all BIG WINNERS!
This special youth outreach event is annual event sponsored and coordinated by the Bison City Rod & Gun Club with special thanks to Ted and Doraine Malota, Cabela’s, Erie County Federation of Sportsmen, WNY Safari Club, Sahlen’s Meat Packing, the Norby Antonik Foundation, Weekley’s Bait, Paula’s Donuts and 21 dedicated volunteers who donated their time to help youth and their families learn more about the outdoors through the fun of fishing!
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.
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.
Fly fishing for trout is a new adventure for fishermen more familiar with trolling for Great Lakes walleye or casting for tournament bass.That makes it a new adventure for yours truly.
The new unfamiliar tool? A lightweight fly rod about eight-feet in length with a single-action reel that holds a heavy-looking fluorescent color “fly line” with a long, fine, clear leader tied to the end.
We were fishing Quittapahilla Creek, a small stream in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania (near the candy-making city of Hershey), known locally as the “Quittie,” and my mentor for the day, Chuck Swanderski, a member of the Doc Fritchey Trout Unlimited Chapter, shared some of the history of this waterway.
The creek starts as a clear, clean, upward bubbling spring, just a few miles upstream from where we were standing.Problem was that it had become an industrial waste discharge outlet for 80 years ending just after WWII.At that time, the stream was dead with little aquatic life and no fish.From WWII until about 1990, the area had become a waste dump when concerned citizens started a clean-up with organized angler groups.They petitioned for grant monies and project funding from state and federal sources, and got them.
Trout Unlimited assisted with the hard work and planning efforts, providing manpower for stream improvement that included invasive plant removal, stream clean-up, riparian buffer tree plantings, bank retainer netting, in-stream boulder structure placement and habitat construction, cedar chip trails (anti-deer tick), safety-minded access, parking areas, stream stocking and harvest monitoring.And more.
The downstream areas of the riffles created from water flow over the in-stream boulder placements become highly oxygenated, providing preferred comfort zones for oxygen-seeking trout.They are also preferred areas for anglers to ply their skills with fly presentations.
For this day, Chuck provided me with an intro to learning on-stream etiquette and made it a fun adventure for yours truly. He supplied details about the usual “how to do” things with the nearly weightless feathered hooks.It might have been a sort of day-long ordeal for Chuck, but I think we had some great fun.
We shared conversations, we laughed, and we joked about modern life, mostly comparing it to ancient life in America five decades ago when we were kids. Lots to compare with 27 cent gas and Dick Tracy wristwatches from back then.Beam me up Scotty.We’re almost there!
It is humbling to watch a skilled fly angler cast a nearly weightless fly with so little effort.Chuck was VERY good.With a curious and watchful eye, it is easy to see that there is an artful rhythm to the whisper of the unassuming fly line soaring gently overhead to land so softly in a riffle 40 feet upstream. No sound, no vigor, just a small feathery sample of barbless food for a hungry trout.
As I listened to Chuck direct my ability to make unfettered motion with a 50-year old Fenwick “gold series” fiberglass fly rod and fly, I forgot about all of the many issues on my mind. Paying bills, story deadlines, emails to answer, calls to make and the ever-growing to-do list for around the house back home in East Aurora, New York, five hours north. They all disappeared during these few hours of on-stream renewal. I was developing something I had only heard about from other fly rod anglers, a kinship with the natural world of a water flow and feathered, fuzzy hooks.
My heart and soul was at peace with nature in this restored stream. I was feeling quintessential on the Quittie! The gurgle of the flowing water was such a welcome sound. It is, perhaps, a sacred signal that these same swish and chinkle sounds occurred hundreds of years before.
At that moment, I was again stopped in mid-thought, feeling bonded by nature to our forebears. I thought to myself, again, such peace. I measured my heartrate, it was 52. Indeed, heart-found peace! This fly rod stuff was really good stuff.
Earlier we tied on a two-fly rig using nymph stage Hare’s Ear flies to imitate aquatic insect larvae in the stream. After an hour of casting skill improvement, we moved from hole to hole and rifle to riffle checking for active fish. The fish were moving toward the fly, but would turn away, perhaps the wrong size or pattern. Maybe my leader was too heavy. So Chuck switched me to a hand-made streamer fly made by his old fishing buddy at Neshannock Creek Fly Shop from another favorite fishing spot of his near Pittsburgh (visit http://www.ncflyshop.com/).
The retrieve was fairly simple when compared to some bottom big jig bass fishing tactics. This simply was cast out with a roll cast, then retrieved in a pull, pull, and stop manner. Bringing in a few inches of line with each pull.
On the second cast, a 15-inch rainbow trout slammed the fly. Wham! My arm jolted forward as the fish ran the other way, then leaped high in summersault fashion some four times before coming to our welcome net about 45 seconds later. My heart rate zipped a bit too, awesome fun that was measurable. What fun this was! We carefully released the fish to fight another day, maybe to provide these same moments of fun for some youngster tomorrow or the next day.
Lastly, Chuck was really happy to share something that might serve as a learning lesson for thousands of other streams in the country, the Quittapahilla Creek Garbage Museum.Here was a collection of hundreds of various shapes of disposed plastics. Bottles, baby toys, plastic chain, plastics in many forms, most of it tattered, broken, but still identifiable.
According to a written message from the Garbage Museum Executive Director, an educator person who placed numerous informational learning signs for others to study and whose name is not known to me, “Most plastics will DECOMPOSE, but never BIODEGRADE.Breaking into smaller chunks, the plastic molecules will be with us for millions of years, ingested and excreted millions of times by fish, birds and other organisms.”After reading this I thought to myself…and we wonder where cancer comes from – something we didn’t have much of 50 years before plastics.
Then I recalled the movie named “The Graduate,” where most of us remember the most significant word from that steamy movie made in 1967, “plastics.”There is goodness and not-so-goodness, perhaps, with every invention.I wondered if the preceding native ancestors, the Lenape Indians, would continue to use plastics if they understood what we now know about plastics?
It was getting late, we had walked about 3,000 feet downstream stream from the public parking lot on this 34-acre Quittie Nature Park stream and the temperature was 90. It was time to recap our trip with friends from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association at the nearby Snitz Creek Brewery, a tasteful beer-making facility not far from the stream. We took a beer plant tour with co-founder, Patrick Freer, then discovered a few moments later that there is nothing quite like a microbrew they call “Opening Day IPA.” This is particularly true among fellow fly-rodders that can tell a tale, if you know what I mean. “No, my fish was bigger. I caught two. I caught four.” And on and on. You get the picture. A fun, thirst-quenching, long-winded, joke-filled lunch. The best kind.
When friends and community work together to create a revitalized stream treasure and nature area, the future is brighter for everyone. On a related note though, while we seem to have saved our second amendment with our current legislators – a good thing, the work of clean streams and waterways may become more challenging due to currently retracting rules of the Clean Water Act. Be watchful as sportsmen, speak up when we need to.
Hats off to all those volunteers that take the time to reclaim lost parts of nature for the benefit of our common future.
April showers brought more than May flowers in the Ozarks. They brought near-record flooding and a mess that residents are still trying to clean up.
That’s the bad news.
There’s also plenty of good news.
Though reservoirs such as Truman, Table Rock and Taneycomo are still high, guides and resort owners report that the fishing has been surprisingly good. If anything, they say, the floods may have helped the fishing.
And then there’s the long-term outlook. Fisheries biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation say that high-water springs usually result in boom year-classes of fish because of the added cover in which fry can hide from predators.
“We’re certainly not minimizing the hardships the high water has brought for many residents,” said Brian Canaday, chief of fisheries for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “But some of our largest year-classes of fish have come in these flood years. So this wasn’t a bad thing as far as the fish were concerned.”
At Table Rock Lake, a 43,100-acre reservoir near Branson, Mo., the water level reached almost the top of flood pool in late April after almost 10 1/2 inches of rain in a three-day period. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing water ever since.
It is now down to 11 feet above normal and some boat ramps are still hard to access. But those who have been able to get on the lake have found good bass fishing.
Buster Loving, a longtime guide on Table Rock, has guided his customers to some impressive catches throughout May.
“The bass were in the process of spawning when the high water hit, and they didn’t move,” Loving said. “For the most part, they stayed where they had fanned out their nests.
“I’m fishing the old banks. Those places might have been in 10 to 12 feet before, and they went to 25 to 30 feet after the water came up. But the fish have still been there.”
Loving remembers years when the high water hit before the spawn and the bass would pioneer into newly flooded cover.
“I won back to back tournaments one year when the lake was flooded,” Loving said. “The fish were in flooded campgrounds, around buildings and lantern holders and in green yards.
“But I haven’t seen that as much this spring.”
The huge releases from Table Rock into Lake Taneycomo caused some nervous times for resort owners, residents and fishermen for a time. But now that release rates have slowed to a fishable rate, trout fishermen are finding excellent fishing. They’re even catching some fish not normally found in the nationally known trout lake that were flushed out of Table Rock.
“I’ve never seen so many smallmouth bass caught,” said Phil Lilley, who owns Lilley’s Landing Resort and Marina in Branson, Mo. “And the trout fishing from the dam to the Lookout area has been really good.”
“We’re seeing lots of 20-inch rainbows and more browns than normal, too.”
Lilley isn’t surprised. Every time high water hits at Taneycomo, an abundance of shad is flushed from Table Rock into Taneycomo and it sets off a feeding spree among the trout.
White jigs, shad flies, drift rigs and spoons have been the most effective lures.
The fishing has also been good at Truman Lake, the 55,600-acre reservoir in west-central Missouri that was hit hard by flooding. As of May 18, the water level was still 20 feet above normal pool, but guides such as Jeff Faulkenberry are still helping their clients catch limits of crappies.
“The crappie spawn was about over when the water came up,” said Faulkenberry, who runs the Endless Season Guide Service. “The fish just followed the water into the new cover.
“You have to move around to find them; they’re not bunched up in one place. But if you stay on the move and fish the green bushes, you can catch a limit. The key is finding the schools of shad and fry.”
The biggest problem at Truman? Access. With the lake still high, some of the boat ramps are inaccessible.
Saturday, September 24, 2016 Kids and Adults Invited to Discover the Fun of the Outdoors Johnny Morris named 2016 Honorary Chair
National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to celebrate conservation successes of hunters and anglers. From shopping center exhibits to statewide expos, millions of citizens have learned to appreciate America’s sportsman-based system of conservation funding. That system now generates more than $1.7 billion per year, benefiting all who appreciate wildlife and wild places.
In locations all around the country, kids and adults alike, can share in a few of the fun and challenging hands-on activities that include fishing, outdoor gear, archery, firearm safety and much more. Sportsman and conservation groups will feature exhibits with displays of hunting and fishing equipment with demonstrations of outdoor skills.
National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) has named leading national conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder, Johnny Morris, to serve as the honorary chair for NHF Day 2016. A lifelong sportsman with a passion for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation, Morris is one of the country’s foremost leaders working to ensure natural habitats, wildlife and the outdoors remain healthy for future generations to protect and enjoy.
“America’s sportsmen and women are among our nation’s most active conservationists and it’s important we recognize and celebrate everything they do to protect outdoor habitat and ensure thriving populations of wildlife,” said Morris. “I’m proud to lend my support and raise awareness for hunters and anglers, America’s conservation heroes through National Hunting and Fishing Day.”
The NHF Day event is just one more of the ways Morris is honoring the unsung heroes of conservation. Later this year, Morris will unveil the new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, a 315,000-square foot conservation destination envisioned as a tribute to America’s hunters and anglers. Through immersive habitats and interactive displays the experience will inspire future generations to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors.
“NHF Day is continually looking for folks that have a true passion for the outdoors and is very involved with conservation,” said Misty Mitchell, national coordinator, National Hunting and Fishing Day. “Johnny Morris is leading the charge in all facets of conservation. We couldn’t be happier to have him serve as our National Chair.”
This annual event takes place on Saturday, September 24, 2016, with activities taking place across the country.
Morris joins a distinguished group that has included Jim Shockey, Eva Shockey, Craig Morgan, Bill Dance, T. Boone Pickens, Louise Mandrell, Hank Williams Jr., Jeff Foxworthy, Wade Boggs, Arnold Palmer, the USA Olympic Shooting Team, Tony Stewart and others.