Grandson helps Grandpa catch giant rainbow trout at Lake Taneycomo

The big rainbow trout were biting on Lake Taneycomo over the weekend. Payden Hays and his Grandpa, George Hays, both residents of Lee’s Summit, made the trek down to Branson over the weekend. Their goal was to help George, who has fished his whole life, catch his very first trout.

They rented a boat from Lilley’s Landing Resort and Marina and took off to Monkey Island, a place where Payden has found success in the past when other spots won’t produce. Sure enough, the fish were there. In less than an hour, George had landed his very first trout at 86 years old!

When the fishing slowed, they made a move down lake past the Landing. It was a good move. Within minutes, they were seeing giant rainbows coming after their marabou jigs. George casted out and felt a slam. Fish on! A couple minutes later, his second trout was in the boat, only this time it was a lunker! The beautiful rainbow trout was 23.5 inches long and weight 3-pounds, 13-ounces. It was the biggest rainbow Payden had ever seen caught over several years of coming to Lake Taneycomo.

Visit Lilley’s Landing to learn more about how you can schedule your next trip to Lake Taneycomo too!



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Fishing Report: Orleans County, New York Lake Ontario, Lake Alice, Erie Canal for October 13, 2016

The cold temperatures and frost of Monday night and Tuesday morning should go a long way in convincing salmon that it’s spawning time. Even though daytime temperatures will be back up in the 70’s this week, tributary temperatures are definitely heading in the right direction.

Some solid reports have Brown trout and even some Atlantic salmon entering the mix. The best action is still occurring around the mouths of the tributaries and from small boats working the shoreline.

There are fish all the way up to the dam on Oak Orchard, but not as heavy as you would expect at this time of year.

Basically it seems that everything is about two weeks behind where you would expect it to be. A good rain would go a long way towards bringing things back to something close to being normal.

On Lake Alice the cooler temperatures have moved many of the species back to the weed beds around the lake. Bluegill and Crappie are still being taken from the Waterport Bridge but not in the numbers they were a week ago.

Don’t lose out on some great fishing, food, friends and prizes at the St. Mary’s Archer’s Club Catch and Release Derby which will be held on October 19th to the 21st this year. It is truly one of the great events of the fall fishing season.

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.


DIY Dry Fly Floatant

Dry flies need to float – you can wear out flies with false casts to keep them dry and afloat, or you can use commercial or home-made floatant.

Float High and Dry in High Mountain Country or Anywhere Else

When my friend and coworker, Mark Van Patten, gifted me with a made-to-order fly rod in honor of my retirement a couple of years ago, I was honored and a little intimidated. Mark comes from a long line of fly-fishers and began throwing dry flies not long after taking his first steps. He had his own television show, The Tying Bench, for years. Fly-casting is so deeply etched in his muscle memory, I suspect he could cast in a coma.

Naturally, I feel obliged to “do right” by this special present. I got the perfect opportunity earlier this summer when a friend invited me on a backpack trip to catch golden trout in the Beartooth Mountains of southwestern Montana. The fish were biting when I got there, and we proceeded to wear them out on dry flies. Unfortunately, I also was wearing out my flies with the many false casts necessary to keep them dry. Watching me tie on a third fly, one of my companions considerately asked if I had any “floatant.”

“Any what?” I asked, like the fly-fishing novice that I am. Chris made his way over to me and produced a tiny plastic bottle from which he dispensed a drop of clear fluid onto my fly. The mysterious potion rendered my fly unsinkable for the next half hour.

For those of you who already are initiated in the ways of the Elk-Hair Caddis and Parachute Adams, please feel free to have a good laugh at the expense of the newbie. For the rest of you, here’s a helpful bit of information about floatant. It’s a compound of two petroleum products designed to keep dry flies from absorbing water, thus becoming wet flies. The compound typically includes a waxy substance that coats the fly and a lighter component that is liquid at air temperature and serves as a carrier for waxy stuff, sort of like paint thinner is a carrier for the oil and pigment in house paint. Like paint thinner, the light, fluid component of floatant quickly evaporates, depositing the waxy part on the fly. I made a mental note to buy some of this goop for future trips.

The biggest problem you are likely to face when making your own floatant is getting it into a tiny bottle for convenient use, this eye-dropper bottle worked perfect.

When I got home, I fired up my computer, fully intending to send a bit more of my hard-earned green in exchange for floatant. Then my inner Scrooge McDuck asserted himself. There’s a YouTube video for everything else under the sun. Surely someone had posted one about how to make your own fly floatant. I googled it, and came up with dozens of hits. Visiting several of these pages made it clear that anyone can make fly floatant if they have access to two ingredients – white gas and paraffin. Since I own a Coleman camp stove – the old kind with a refillable tank – and since my wife uses paraffin for canning jelly, I had everything needed, and I proceeded to mix up a batch.

Here’s how I did it. I thoroughly dried an aluminum water bottle with a tight-fitting stopper and poured in about half a cup of white gas. Next, I used a kitchen grater to shave very fine curls of paraffin onto a piece of paper. I made a LOT of shavings – more than enough loose shavings to fill a measuring cup. Using the paper as a funnel, I poured half the shavings into the water bottle, shook it up, put the bottle inside a clear plastic bag and put the whole thing on a piece of black plastic in full sun on my deck. After an hour or so the bottle was almost too hot to hold. I took it out, shook it again and peered down into the bottle to see if all the paraffin was dissolved. It was, so I dumped the rest of the paraffin shavings into the bottle and repeated the process. The next check revealed kind of a slushy mixture, so I added more white gas, let it warm up one more time and came up with a thick, clear fluid.

I was reasonably confident that this would do the trick, but I needed some means of dispensing it. I remembered a bottle of eye drops in the medicine cabinet. I hadn’t used the stuff in years, so I pulled out the stopper, drained and dried the inside with tissue paper and poured some of my home-made floatant into it. After letting it come to room temperature, I squeezed a little onto a fly, worked it in with my fingers and after a few seconds dropped it into a glass of water. It floated like a cork.

I have since used the stuff in the field and it works great. I added a little more white gas after an early-morning trip when it was cool enough to turn my home-made floatant slushy again. I can’t emphasize enough the approximate nature of the measurements given above. I didn’t measure anything. If you try this, keep adjusting the mixture until all the paraffin is dissolved, then test its fluidity by putting it in the refrigerator. If it gets too thick to squeeze out of your chosen dispenser, add more white gas.

The DIY sites I visited recommended heating the gas-paraffin mixture in a hot water bath. I’m sure that works, too. I shouldn’t need to say this, but if you use a water bath please heat the water and remove it from your kitchen range, hot plate or whatever before bringing the gas-paraffin mixture anywhere near it. We don’t want anyone setting themselves on fire just to save a few bucks on floatant.

My cost for the project was zero. I had everything I needed to make enough for 10 lifetimes. Not counting time waiting for the sun to heat the bottle, I’d say I spent half an hour on the project. Compare that with $5 to $12 for a little bottle from commercial suppliers.

Good fishing!

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

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

Lake Ontario – King Salmon & Steelhead Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

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

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

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

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

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

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

Beginner’s Luck Wins Again!

Summer Lake Ontario Fish Derby Shares Big Cash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden Trout Mother Lode

Like a Peacock and a Goldfish Combined in a Dream, Simply Beautiful!

The Montana Golden Trout at 10,000 feet above sea level in Sylvan Lake showed a marked preference for dry flies while we were there, while those Brook Trout in nearby Crow Lake at an even higher elevation preferred cone-headed wooly buggers.

For the first time in more than two decades, I planned not to attend this year’s annual conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Then fellow member and OWAA Legal Counsel, Bill Powell, asked when I planned to fly to Billings, Montana, for the event. When I told him I wasn’t going because of the expense, he didn’t play fair. He told me that if I skipped the meeting I would also miss a chance to catch California Golden Trout in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, not far from Yellowstone National Park.

I knew just enough about trout fishing to be aware of this subspecies of rainbow trout, which is native to the South Fork of Kern River in California. I had seen artist Joe Tomelleri’s illustration of a Golden Trout and found it improbable to say the least. His painting looked as if someone had crossed a peacock with a goldfish.

You might wonder, as I did, how the California Golden Trout got to a lake in Montana. The story I heard was that a shipment of Golden Trout was on its way to the East Coast when the train carrying them broke down near Billings. Knowing that the trout would be dead before the train was fixed, some 19th-century angler put a bunch of them into milk cans, strapped them to mules, hauled them 6 miles and up 3,000 feet from the neighborhood of Roscoe, Montana, and dumped them into Sylvan Lake. They have thrived there ever since.

The prospect of seeing these near-mythical fish in person was almost enough to make me raid my retirement account to pay for the trip, almost. But Bill, who has shared many a duck hunt with me and knows my weaknesses, informed me that several writers and photographers whose work I admire and whose company I enjoy already were signed on to make the trip. I registered for the conference immediately and began counting the days until our adventure commenced.

Then reality set in. I had to figure out how I – who live in Missouri, roughly 700 feet above sea level – was going to get from the trailhead at 7,000 feet elevation to the lake at 10,000 feet, carrying a backpack with food, water and camping gear. So, in addition to daydreaming about cool mountain air and ravenous, jewel-like fish, I began hiking 5 miles in hilly terrain with a 35-pound pack twice a week.

The distance and the hills didn’t bother me. At 65 I’m still fairly fit, but I knew that nothing I did around home could prepare me for the thin air I would encounter 9,300 feet farther above sea level. So my excitement was tempered by worry that my lungs wouldn’t be able to supply my legs with enough oxygen to get me up the mountain.

Following a high elevation hike to Sylvan Lake was rewarded with a gracious and delicious meal featuring Golden Trout.

My moment of truth came on July 20, when seven of us set out for Sylvan Lake. Bill, along with Chris Madsen and Jack Ballard, are more or less my age. However, they are accustomed to strenuous hikes at altitude. Hannah Kearse and Birdie Hawkins are in their early 20s. They live at elevations even lower than Missouri, and they too, expressed concern about the hike. Nevertheless, they had 40 years on me. I figured on watching them disappear up the trail ahead of me, not an altogether unpleasant prospect, but not exactly an ego booster either.

The remaining hiker, Tim Mead, of Charlotte, North Carolina, is 78. He was both, my reason for optimism and my worst fear. On one hand, surely I could keep up with a near-octogenarian whose home was at almost exactly the same elevation as mine. On the other hand, what if he left me huffing and puffing in his dust? That would be the end of believing I am in pretty good shape for my age.

I need not have worried. Tim and I made it to the top with enough reserve energy to go straight to the lake after setting up our tents in case the weather turned. We quickly discovered that even Joe Tomelleri’s extravagant rendering of the California Golden Trout could not do justice to the real thing.

Writers are seldom at a loss for words, but when these fish came to hand we were all reduced to the sort of incoherent babbling you expect of an adolescent boy in the presence of Shakira. No superlative can do justice to the visual feast presented by these shimmering amalgams of gold and jewel tones.

Although nothing could match their beauty, the flavor of the 10 Golden Trout we killed that day was a pretty close second. Jack and Chris cooked them in foil with a dab of olive oil to prevent sticking and a pinch of salt for piquancy. Starchy, freeze-dried entrees and brownies with black walnuts, coconut and dried black cherries considerately provided by Bill completed a feast fit for King Midas.

The glacial cirque that cradles Sylvan Lake provides a beautiful backdrop as Tim Mead catches supper.

I thought I would be hiked out after Day 1, but Day 2 offered the chance to hike another 2 miles and 1,500 feet each way to Crow Lake, where Brook Trout were on the menu. These fish proved even more willing than their golden cousins to take a fly. Once again we feasted on the fruits of our “labor.”

Birdie, Hannah and I laid a feast of ramen noodles cooked with fresh zucchini, broccoli and carrots, to which we added foil-cooked Brook Trout. The brownies were gone, so we improvised dessert with excess energy bars, dried fruit and other goodies that no one wanted to carry back down to the vehicles the next day.

The hike out on Day 3 was a breeze, thanks to lighter packs, downhill grades and two days’ altitude acclimation. At the end, we were more than ready for tall glasses of locally brewed beer and half-pound burgers with various wonderful toppings at the Grizzly Bar and Grill in Roscoe.

Backpacking to fish for alpine trout isn’t for everyone. I’m not sure how much longer it will be in the cards for me, but if you want to visit Sylvan and Crow Lakes, take a look at Montana Hiking Trails or

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, July 22, 2016

Lake Ontario, Niagara River

Steve Liebler of Williamsville with his 30.02 Lake Ontario King Salmon

Lake Ontario and Tributaries

Action on Lake Ontario continues to be very good for trout and salmon trollers working out of the mouth of the river, Wilson and Olcott. In the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s King Salmon Tournament last weekend, Fisherman’s Daughter came away with the win for big fish – 27 pounds 14 ounces and the 3-2-3 win with 65.56 pounds for three fish! Impressive totals.

Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters has been doing great all week. Last weekend this was his hot set-up on the Niagara Bar. Morning bite was in 190-205 feet of water around the red can, 40-60 down and an all-spoon bite. Early afternoon bite was 140-150 feet of water, but closer to the Canadian line, 55-80 feet down with still mostly a spoon bite. Silver Streak lures were taking most bites. Afternoon/early evening bite was 100-150 feet of water on the ledge. Tried to turn a few but was never able to. He ended up by 4 mile. He couldn’t keep his spin doctor and A-Tom-Mik flies in the water. Afternoon matures all came on flies.

There has been a good mix of fish off Olcott 40 to 50 feet down over 80 to 100 foot depths. Spoons or flasher-fly rigs. Of course, you can also fish out deep over 300-plus feet of water for a mixed bag of salmon and steelies. Stephen Liebler of Williamsville reeled in a 30.02 pound salmon earlier in the week to take over the lead in the Salmon Division on a flasher-fly. Larry Wills of Lewiston is still leading for the Grand Prize with a 30 pound, 15 ounce fish. Wade Winch of North Tonawanda is still the top steelie catcher, but Alfonse Gouker of Pennsylvania got close Sunday with a 17 and a half pound steelhead weighed in at The Slippery Sinker. Bob Turton of Sanborn lost hold of the lake trout lead when Ephriam Burt weighed in a 24 pound, three ounce fish in the eastern basin around Henderson Harbor. First place brown is still 17.06 pound brown trout caught out of Wilson by Thomas Gies of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The derby continues to July 31 and the website to follow the action is

Lower Niagara River

Moss is slowly starting to dissipate and bass are starting to cooperate a bit more. The Niagara River Anglers Association Bass Contest is this Saturday, July 23, and you can sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Crayfish and shiners are the best live baits; tubes and drop shot rigs for artificials.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal

While bass numbers have been decent, bass size has been smaller for the Bassmaster pros fishing the bracket tournament right now. Catch some of the live action at The two top fish catchers going into Thursday action was Kevin Van Dam and Brett Hite with 20 pounds 8 ounces and 21 pounds, 14 ounces respectively. Action continues through Friday.

The Erie Canal Fishing Derby is over as far as the fishing is concerned, but the real excitement will take place at the Awards Ceremony on Sunday in Gasport at the fire hall starting at 3 pm. The unofficial leaders for the different divisions are: Here’s some of the leaders so far: Ron Robel of Wheatfield with a 8.4 sheepshead; Craig Udell of Gasport with a 19.9 pound carp; Patty Young of Kent with a 9-plus pound catfish; Albert Whaley of North Tonawanda with a 7.9 pound pike; Shawn West of Lockport with a 3.58 pound walleye; Joe Cwiklinski of Depew with a 2.9 pound bullhead; and John Justice of North Tonawanda with a 3.8 pound bass. The website is

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!

Beat the Heat: Catch a Trout

Rainbow trout grow fat and develop vivid colors eating natural food in Missouri’s wild-trout waters.

Trout Parks in Missouri

This is the time of year when the only way to enjoy time outdoors is to have all or part of your body immersed in water. It’s the perfect time of year to immerse yourself in one of Missouri’s many trout waters.

The Show-Me State has a wealth of trout-fishing options, thanks to five cold-water hatcheries operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Missouri’s four trout parks – Bennett Spring, Meramec, Montauk and Roaring River – each has an MDC hatchery to supply its needs, and MDC’s huge, modern Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery at Branson rears trout for the world-famous Lake Taneycomo trout fishery, plus trout streams and the winter urban trout fishing program in cities around the state. In all, these hatcheries crank out 1.6 million stockers a year. If that number doesn’t astonish you, your astonishment threshold is much lower than mine!

But that’s just a number. The proof of Missouri’s trout fishing is in the catching, and the catching is good. The daily limit in trout parks is four fish. If you are willing to rise early and know what you are doing, it’s no great challenge to hit this mark. Savvy trout anglers know that the water just outside trout park boundaries can be even more productive than fishing inside the parks.

These two anglers were well on their way to a limit of four fish each at Montauk State Park.

This raises the question of permits. You need a daily trout tag ($3 for adults, $2 for anglers 15 and younger) to fish inside trout parks. You don’t need this tag outside the parks, but you do need a fishing permit if you are age 16 through 64. Also – very important – you need a Trout Permit ($7 for adults, $3.50 15 and younger) if you want to keep trout caught anywhere outside of trout parks.

There is some fine print to consider at Roaring River State Park, and you would do well to acquaint yourself with special regulations that apply on the 23 blue-, red- and white-ribbon trout streams. All this is listed in the annual Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations, which is available wherever fishing permits are sold or at

It’s worth noting here that while MDC operates hatcheries at Missouri’s trout parks, it does not own the parks. Meramec Spring Park, just outside St. James, is owned and operated by the James Foundation. The other three are owned and operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In addition to trout fishing, these state parks offer park stores with fishing gear tailored to local conditions, restaurants, swimming pools, hiking trails and campgrounds and cabins where you can retire for cool beverage.

Believe it or not, the DNR might have to shutter its trout parks if park-loving voters fail to turn out for Missouri’s general election November 8. The November ballot will include a vote on whether to renew the one-tenth of 1-percent sales tax for parks, soil and water. This tax comes up for renewal by voters every 10 years. The tax provides about three-quarters of the operating budget for state parks, so you can bet that most of the parks and trails will be closed should the tax fail to get a majority of voters’ approval.

This proposition will be titled “Constitutional Amendment 1.” The DNR will be forced to shut down or dramatically reduce fishing opportunities at Bennett Spring State Park, which has been a haven for Missouri anglers for 93 years, if the parks tax fails to get voter approval. If you value this legacy, tell everyone you know to vote yes to extend the tax for another 10 years.

But I digress. My personal favorite among Missouri’s incredible array of trout waters is the North Fork of the White River. This gorgeous stream meanders through Douglas and Ozark counties on its way to Lake Norfork. The 8.6-mile stretch of the North Fork from the upper outlet of Rainbow Spring to Patrick Bridge is a designated Blue-Ribbon Trout Management Area. That means anglers can only use artificial lures and flies, you can only keep one trout a day, and it must be at least 18 inches long. In practical terms, this guarantees a high-density of 12- to 18-inch trout and superb catch-and-release fishing. It also ensures there are plenty of adult trout to spawn each year and maintain the North Fork’s wild trout population.

Trout caught here and in Missouri’s other wild trout streams are impossible to confuse with hatchery-reared fish. Their colors are beyond belief, and their flesh – if you catch a keeper and can bring yourself to eat it rather than taking it to a taxidermist – is simply out of this world. It has the color of wild-caught salmon and rich, complex flavor. Smoked on a charcoal grill, it puts store-bought product to shame.

The Summary of Fishing Regulations has a wealth of information about the North Fork and other Missouri trout waters. After perusing it in the air-conditioned comfort of home, grab your fishing gear and wade into the chill waters of your chosen stream for some of the world’s best trout fishing.

A Tiny Stream System for Trout

Secrets of Stream Babble, Stream Gurgle and Stream Whisper

Wild brook trout from a stream are among the most highly prized gifts of nature, especially when your trip is simple and productive.

My neighbor likes to take a folding camp chair to the local trout stream before the season opens, sit by the water’s edge, and just listen.  Often the banks are covered with snow, but he doesn’t mind.

“The babble of water running through a quiet woods is the purest form of therapy,” he says.  “For me, it’s better than meditation.”

When the trout season opens in April, the banks of the little stream may yet be covered with snow.  Or the leaves could be out, painting the forest that bright shade of emerald we only see in spring.  Or something between those extremes.  We never know as we prepare vests, rods, and reels in the weeks prior—and it doesn’t matter.  Being in the forest, listening to a stream gurgle and whisper past rocks and fallen trees, is a real world, far from the soul-killing artifice of computers, spread sheets, bills, economies, and urban sprawl.


It might as well be the other side of the moon.

We tread along on the day of the opener, from a wide spot on an “Unimproved Road” down into the little river valley.  The streams we like during the early season—the ones closest to home—are small.  All are less than 20 feet across from bank-to-bank and can be crossed almost anywhere with a pair of knee-high boots.
Not to say these streams are only good early in the season.  The tactics we use work all summer and into fall, when the trout season closes again.

Small-stream trout can feel the vibration of footfalls near the stream.  And, because a hole more than 4 feet deep is almost unheard of, trout are never far from the surface—meaning they can easily see your approach.  So we slip quietly down to the water, keeping our heads low, often fishing from our knees.

brooktrout2The first spot I directed my partner Mary to is the best “hole” on the stream.  No more than 2 to 3 feet deep, it has broken water over more than half the surface, created by a riffle above the head of the pool.  The stream is only 12 to 14 feet across at this point, depending on water levels.  Wild marigolds and trilliums stand by her feet as she takes the hook from its arbor on the rod blank.  It’s been a warm, early spring, and the water is already 50°F.

We would only find trout under broken water that day.  A disturbed surface distorts the trout’s vision and hides your approach, often allowing a careful angler to hook trout in lies only a few feet away.  Our rods were 8-foot ultralights from the St. Croix Panfish Series.  The line is 4-pound test Maxima Ultragreen or Berkley FireLine (braided line doesn’t absorb water, and therefore doesn’t sink toward the end of the day).

We have a teeny stream float on the line—like a little Red-Wing Tackle Black Bird, tiny clear-plastic Brennan Loafer, or bitsy Thill Shy Bite.  Immediately below that we crimp on two or three very small split shot—just enough to stand the float up.  Below that we tie on a minuscule #10 SPRO Power Swivel, to which we tie about 2 feet of 4.5-pound Raven Invisible 100% Fluorocarbon.  The rig terminates with a size #10 or #12 Owner Mosquito Hook, baited with a single waxworm or tiny red worm.

Here is the smallest Drennan Loafer, in the background (left) is the Red Wing Black Bird and (right) Thill Mini Shy Bite.

All the weight is up by the float.  The bait is allowed to swing freely in the current.  In a tiny stream, it’s impossible to float a bait too high.  Trout will see it anywhere, from the bottom right up to the surface.  No need to put weight by the hook.  And, we used the same two hooks all day long this day—never snagging up, which can spook the entire pool.

The greatest advantages of using tiny floats for small-stream trout: Trout always bite down on a live bait first.  The moment they bite, the float goes under.  If you set immediately, the hook is always in the mouth—not the gullet or stomach.  You can safely release every trout, all day long.

The float keeps the hook in their mouth by resisting, keeping the line tight.

Floats keep the bait off bottom most of the time, avoiding snags, leaves and detritus that foul the hook.
And, most important of all, tiny floats allow you to drift a bait way downstream, well beyond the “spook zones” all around you and your partner.

As it drifts, time stands still.
The forest whispers.
The stream burbles.
The birds sing.

When the float darts under, it leaves no doubt as to why.  Most of the trout are under 10 inches long, some coming from drifts only 6 inches deep under broken water (another advantage of having no weight near the hook).  Though this stream has produced browns in the 7-pound range, our biggest this day will be a brook trout only a foot long.  But the sides are adorned with sparkling gems of blue and red that quickly disappear as the trout darts from my hand back to the relative security under a rippling surface.  High above the tree tops wave in a wind that never reaches the valley floor where the stream makes its way through emerald alleys to a lake far below.

Polovick Lightning Strikes Twice in Lake Ontario

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Niagara Fishing Forecast for Friday, May 13, 2016

Lake Ontario and tributaries

The Yankee Troller team led by Capt. Rich Hajecki lead the field of nearly 50 competitor boats to take the 2016 Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament last Saturday. Many of the fish landed were fooled using a 150-foot diver pulling a Familiar Bite Whip Flash/Meat combo off 6-Mile Creek west of Wilson Harbor, New York.

An East wind is the nemesis of Lake Ontario salmon and trout fishermen, and we’ve had a bunch of it the last couple of weeks.  Despite the less than ideal conditions, it was the Yankee Troller team led by Capt. Rich Hajecki leading a field of nearly 50 boats to take the annual Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament last Saturday – the WHI.  The one day event target’s salmon only and the team scored the tournament limit of six salmon – all kings – and averaged nearly 18 pounds per fish. Pretty impressive!!  There wasn’t anyone close to them.  The team fished from 6 mile to 4 mile in 100 to 225′ of water.  In practice they had some bites on Dreamweaver spoons, but during the event it was all Familiar Bite Meat.

Their best set-up was a 150-foot diver pulling a Familiar Bite Whip Flash/Meat combo.  They also had a similar combo going on a rigger.

The LOC Derby is going on right now and the current Grand Prize leader is Tracy Lindsey of Seneca Falls with a 25 pound, 4 ounce salmon weighed in at Wilson.  The first place lake trout 24 pounds, 1 ounce caught by Brent Burgess of Portland, NY while fishing out of Wilson.  All these fish were caught on Saturday, so the fishing turned on for big fish. Seeking out active fish hasn’t been easy with the east wind.

Wednesday morning, Capt. Kurt Driscoll found some kings in tight around Wilson in 40 to 60 feet of water, all in the top 30 feet, where his deepest rigger was set. He was trolling hot, too – down speed was 3.4 mph using spoons in black-white-green-gold.

The LOC Derby continues until Sunday at 1 pm, May 15.  Awards will be held at Captain Jack’s on Sodus Bay starting at 4 pm.  Check out the leaderboard at

Don’t forget that Don Johannes and Pete DeAngelo 3 fish- one fish contest is set for May 19. Register by 7 am the morning of the event in either Wilson or Olcott — In Olcott it’s the Slippery Sinker and the Boat Doctors; in Wilson at Bootleggers Cove Marina or the Gas Shack.

The Lake Ontario Pro-Am tournament is set for May 20-22 and the deadline to sign up for everyone is May 16 at 5 pm. Find out everything on the website at

It’s a celebration of our fishing resources, for sure, an event started up by the late Skip Hartman of Olcott in conjunction with Lowrance Electronics – 32 years ago!

Remember to save those salmon heads from clipped fish.

Lower Niagara River

The big news is that the Devil’s Hole area in Lower Niagara River will be CLOSED on Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday according to National Grid officials.  The culprit is the removal of some old transmission lines and numerous precautions are being taken – including closing boat traffic, Artpark Trail No. 7 and even the Robert Moses Parkway from traffic.  It might be for only 90 minutes per day, but it’s anyone’s guess how long it will really take.  That’s starting Monday, May 16.

Trout are still hanging on as the warm water fish are becoming a bit more active.  Kwikfish are working on lake trout; steelhead prefer shiners. Filming a TV show on the lower river recently with Mid-West Outdoors, we managed to catch seven different species of fish.  The number one species we caught were numerous silver bass in the Wagon Wheel area just south of the launch ramp on swim baits.  While drifting for bass, Bob George with Buck Knives had the surprise of his life – a 50 inch musky!

Check out the Facebook page for Niagara USA Fishing and Outdoors to see a video of it. Because it’s not in season, it was released immediately.  It still provided a nice thrill.  He was using a Strike King Rodent soft plastic bait.  John Antone of Sanborn was fishing with Capt. Steve Drabczyk recently and he managed to catch five different species.  Egg sacs and shiners worked best but the key was using a 7 foot leader.

Some big smallmouth bass in the six pound class were caught last week in the river and at the river mouth during the annual media event utilizing tubes and swim baits.  The key was fishing the baits slow.

Speaking of Television shows, if you want to see Niagara County in a positive light, check out Fishing University next weekend on the Outdoor Channel.  It will air on Friday, May 20th at 12:30 pm, Sat., May 21st at 4:30 pm and Sun., May 22nd at 9:30 am Eastern.  It’s another way to promote our great fishing, as well as the area!

Thanks to Jennifer Pauly and the Lower River Chamber who took the lead on this effort last fall.  The Niagara River Anglers Association will hold their next meeting on Monday, May 16, starting at 7PM at the Jetport Restaurant, 7100 Porter Rd., Niagara Falls.  If you wanna know more about this fishing resource in Western New York, attendance is free.

Upper Niagara River 

Not too many reports to share, but this should be a good time to target panfish around Grand Island and along River Road.  Use minnows if you are targeting perch or crappies.  Bass anglers must still use artificial baits in the river.  Northern pike and walleye seasons are now open, too.

The Erie Canal is open for business and offers some good fishing options this time of year.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

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

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

Niagara River – Niagara Fishing Forecast for Friday, April 15, 2016


Lower Niagara River – Trout action has been decent of late as the weather conditions finally settle down. A call from Mike Fox of Lewiston noted that he reported good numbers of smelt on Wednesday night and hopefully that will continue with the warmer weather finally arriving. While the Lewiston smelt festival will not be held until May 6, the early dippers can do well. Keep your fingers crossed! Trout can be found from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar. Minnows, egg sacs and wobbling baits like Kwikfish or Mag-Lips are all good baits to use, but it seems to change daily and you need to be flexible. Steelhead and lake trout top the list; a few browns are also available. Capt. Jeff Draper of Grand Island had the brown trout touch earlier this week using minnows to take double digit browns on the Niagara Bar – fish up to 10 pounds. Shore casters can use spinners, egg sacs or egg imitations fished under a float. Remember that the stairs at Whirlpool State Park are closed. The NYPA fish platform is open again, as is the shoreline access and the reservoir.

Upper Niagara River –Trout should still be available off Unity Island and out of Broderick Park, as well as off Bird Island Pier when you can get out there. Egg sacs, minnows and spoons or spinners will catch fish. Use emerald shiners for perch or other panfish. Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield received 200 rainbow trout and 100 two year old browns last Friday; Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls received 1,720 brown trout and 200 two year old browns. Gill Creek, the outflow of the lake, also received 560 yearling browns. Those fish have been cooperating for anglers.

Bill Hilts, Jr.
Director, Outdoor Promotions

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

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

Adirondack Mountain Fishing Guides

Finding Help to Catch Ausable River Brown Trout

Veteran Adirondack fly-fishing guide, Ken Khalil, educated our group on how to fish muddy, fast-rising water in the Ausable under conditions when most anglers would have opted for extra coffee over a long, late breakfast.

A top priority of many baby boomer, wanna-be trout anglers is to keep up with that ever-aging bucket list as we age.  Among my priorities is to fish more with a fly rod and learn about what many fly rod anglers all seem to say and share, “fly fishing is so relaxing- once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back!” So when some fishing friends wanted to make a trip to the Adirondack Mountains to fish the infamous Ausable River for brown trout, I was all ears.

Amidst the majestic mountains and winding roads above the quaint Adirondack Olympic village of Lake Placid, site of the world famous 1980 USA-Russia hockey game known as the “Miracle On Ice”, we met up during an evening rainstorm. Over a few local microbrews, we discussed our hopeful plan to fish the morning.

Since we had never fished here before, hiring a guide was a logical choice for day one and that turned out to be a great decision.  We met with Ken Khalil, a local guide of over 20 years experience and this artist of the stream showed us how to catch brown trout in high muddy water conditions.  This was on a day that all of us thought we would be relishing a late breakfast due to the weather.  Guides that know what they are doing are a pleasure to fish with and learn from.

There were four of us and step one was to go over everyone’s gear and that included the rod, reel, line, leaders, knots, waders, wading staff and fly assortment.  I had brought along a rod that I had made myself some 40 years ago from a yellow-color fiberglass Fenwick FL90-6 blank (90 inches long made for a 6-weight line).  It has a soft action, is limber and is only gently loaded with level 5-weight line and an 8-foot leader.  While most of the world has switched to more modern materials, our guide saw my “different” rod and was immediately attracted to ask some questions about it.

With a humble, inquiring voice, he finally asked if he could try it out.  Of course, I agreed, he could show me how to use it!  We never stop learning.  After 15 minutes or so, explaining to all of us how we would start fishing, he directed us to take a spot on the stream then came over to me to say, “I am so impressed with your rod, I love the action, the delivery, the usability of the rod in general.” I felt like a million bucks!  He explained the difference between some of the very expensive graphite models sold in many stores today and the old action.  Special old-gear moments are priceless and never to be forgotten, especially when on a famous trout stream with a world class guide!

Ausable River brown trout are handsome and beautiful, notice the secret streamer-nymph style fly in the jaw of this fish that fooled so many trout on this day.

With the fast-flowing, muddy water, no one expected to catch anything.  We praised the courage of our guide for even attempting to bring our group to the stream.  Little did we know, Ken Khalil was an expert with fast-rising, off-color (muddy) water on the Ausable.  Between the four of us, we landed and released 11 trout in less than three hours!

When a guide expert shares his techniques and talents during extreme conditions, you tend to remember that fellow for all time.  Khalil is one of those who instructed us individually within our own capable performance, adjusting leaders and fly types and sizes until he fine-tuned all of us to be effective.  Go figure!  All this for less than $200 each.

The lighthearted Khalil provided my skill-set and aging, but never-used fly rod, with a custom-made Matuka fly that he ties up for his guests.  I dubbed it the ruby-throated Khalil Matuka and got him to give us all a very funny laugh in the light rain.  “It’s a pattern some others use too, I didn’t invent the name of the fly, but now you’ve made it unique Forrest!” He replied with a confident grin.

The design he offered allowed the fly to flutter and wiggle as we stripped it back after casting cross-current.  It looked alive and like something between a minnow or other bait fish, such as perhaps, a sculpin, but also, several terrestrial-looking critters too.  It worked well since the fish only got to see this for a quick moment, or there goes lunch!  The fish struck at the fly instinctively and with a ferocious wallop.  What fun we had!

I was instructed to cast about 10 feet upstream of a quickly forming eddy current area and then retrieve in stripping fashion, quickly, across the meddle of the reversing riff.  Wham!  Happened several times.

The secret fly to catching Ausable brown trout in muddy water when most anglers cannot see three inches under the surface and one would consider that the fish would not see it as well. The fish could find this fly!

While fishing on an evening trip, we were fortunate to see much wildlife also found in the area along Route 86.  This included three curious deer who watched me and my attempt at a fly casting demonstration, which admittedly, was not very good.  During the same trip, we were amazed by a large 30-pound beaver that worked on building his dam a bit higher.  We watched a beautiful Osprey soar from high overhead to latch onto a three-pound brown trout, then rise rapidly, screeching his usual call, an eerie sound amidst the gentle trickle sound of the river.  Several good reminders that the Adirondack’s are still a very rugged and wild area that now also enjoy moose and black bear populations on the rise.

For more information on fishing the Ausable River or Sarnac River area of the Adirondacks, contact one of the following folks that we met there:

  1. Jones Outfitters, located right in Lake Placid Village, 2419 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY, contact proprietor Chris Williamson, 518) 523-3468
  2. Expert guide, Ken Kalil, email:, phone (518) 524-2697 or website:

For the latest river conditions and fishing reported a frequently updated link can be found here:  The New York State inland trout fishing season opens April 1, but much of the Ausable is open all year long and is a catch and release stream, so be sure you know where you are.  Check the game syllabus. We released all of our fish.

Lastly, guess what?  They were right!  I’m officially hooked on the fun memory of learning new things about fishing with a fly rod in my hand and the peacefulness we enjoyed on this trip.  None of us can wait to get back there again!

Wishing tight lines to all.

Fish Stocking in New York Provides Fun Opportunities

Atlantic Salmon fingerlings are stocked in Lake Ontario

In New York State, the inland trout and landlocked salmon seasons open on April 1.  This is a special day in the outdoor arena from an angler’s standpoint, on par with the opening of bass, walleye and musky seasons to name but a few.  However, with the fact that Great Lakes tributaries have open trout fishing opportunities through the fall, winter and spring, the inland opener has lost a little of its luster.  One of the things that has helped the state raise the level of enthusiasm, though, has been the many fish stocking programs – giving enthusiasts more fish to catch in places that may have never seen a certain species before.

More important than the season opener, is where and when the fish are actually going to be stocked!  One case in point is the stocking of trout in waters like Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield, New York and Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls, New York.  Even the outflow of Hyde Park Lake, Gill Creek, receives healthy fish stockings in April to allow for some inner city opportunities for trout where casual anglers have never seen them before.  Trout stockings normally take place by the second week in April for these small inner city waters, after the opening day frenzy that sees many fly casters and worm dunkers alike sharing the most popular waters in New York’s favorite trout areas.

The purists of the sport may head to areas that do not receive supplemental plants of fish. Those are the areas that support native populations of trout, sustained through natural reproduction. Those fish can offer a bit more of a challenge.  It all depends what your preference is.  The important thing is that people are fishing and enjoying the great outdoors in a manner that is fun and satisfying.

Dr. John Syracuse and his daughter, Sydney, admire a handsome brown trout that started in a stocking program.

New York is blessed with some fantastic inland trout waters.  The Catskill and Adirondack regions have world renowned reputations.  That said, there are other trout haunts within the Empire State and one of the best ways to take a short cut to find out where those secret spots are is through reading.  A recent book penned by friend and fellow outdoor scribe J. Michael Kelly of Marcellus, New York, entitled “Trout Streams of Central New York” (, offers up his own personal trout insights – a treasure chest of angling information to anyone who wants to target trout.  It comes highly recommended for novice and veteran anglers alike.  I can’t wait to sample a few!  His words are like the aroma wafting from a favorite restaurant, it gets your inner juices flowing for a taste.

Getting back to the stocking scene, hatchery trucks will be hitting the streams and small lakes a week or two before the start of the season in late March, allowing the fish to become acclimated for opening day excitement.  In many cases, fish are stocked well into the season.  New York actually started the whole stocking craze back over 150 years ago with the opening of the Caledonia fish factory in 1864. It still functions today, one of 12 facilities the state operates for annual stockings.  Check out the NYSDEC website at for a complete list of stocking dates, numbers and locations.  Grab a rod and get out there!

Heritage fish raising in New York, this is the Caledonia Fish Hatchery in 1934, raising trout in the cold-water raceways.

IceArmor® Clam Dry Skinz Gloves

DRY SKINZ Photo1Staying Dry, Keeping Warm – a Winter Priority

If you are an avid angler, hunter, or love to participate in anything outdoors, you have DRY SKINZ Photo2likely seen or read hundreds, if not thousands, of product reviews. Just about every TV show, magazine and website has them. The STO team does real world In-The-Field Product Reviews that are offered free and represent the consumer viewpoint. Nothing is more disappointing than getting to your destination and then discovering that the product you selected cannot you’re your expectations or the environment as anticipated.

Test Date: Dec. 20, 2015; Location: Bennett Spring, Missouri (Ozarks)

Activity: Stream Trout Fishing; Air Temp: 41 degrees

Water Temp: 54-56 degrees, spring fed all year long.

dryskionzIf you live in the ICE Belt of the northern United States and Canada, and you like to Ice Fish, then you already know about the IceArmor Clam brand. Clam is a leader in Ice Fishing Gear and related equipment for hard water anglers, especially those outdoorsmen that frequent the frozen north and get their hands wet. We had the opportunity to visit Clam Corporation in Minneapolis, Minnesota during the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers conference in September, 2015, and met with Clam staff to discuss new products. Dry Skinz Gloves entered the product discussion at that time. We learned that Dry Skinz Gloves are exclusive to IceArmor by Clam, where they are a relatively new product. Dry Skinz gloves are constructed with a waterproof, breathable membrane to offer a seamless and waterproof fit that is snug, but comfortable, over your fingers and hand. They offer dexterity and touch control, and they also provide an extra-long cuff for complete protection from wetness. We think they work everywhere outdoors, and we recommend that you don’t go outside when it’s cold and wet without them. Cost is under $30 and sizes are available to 2XL. After testing, we think this product is PRICELESS!