Tributaries are low and clear there as well. Most of the same information we mentioned for the Lake Erie tributaries also applies for the Lake Ontario streams. Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston noted that conditions were prime in the Niagara County streams he checked on Monday and egg sacs did the trick for him. Ken Jackson of Sanborn reported clearing conditions at 18 Mile Creek and jigs worked for him earlier in the week on steelhead. Johnson and the Oak were both holding fish, but levels were dropping.
Conditions in the Niagara River below Niagara Falls have been super clear, creating a situation that is making fishing a bit more difficult than it needs to be. Combine that with a large amount of bait in the river and you will have to work for every fish you catch. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reports that he picked up a few fish on Tuesday using a white and silver jig in the Devil's Hole area. Water was high and visibility was about 10 feet. Capt. Mark McGranahan of Sparky's Charters reports that the water clarity was bothering the boaters, too. He was throwing a smorgasbord of trout egg sacs, minnows and plugs like Kwikfish and MagLips and managed to hook into a few this week. Action was not consistent. Try running some lighter line, longer leads, smaller hooks and smaller baits. Walleye season closed on March 15 on the New York side of the river.
Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that Canadaway, Walnut, Big Sisters, Eighteenmile Creek and Cayuga all have trout in them. Fish are mostly "holed up" in pools due to low water right now. Water conditions have been running clear. Timing is critical for increased success. Fishing just after ice out, rain or snow melt off will increase odds so if we do get dumped on with snow, that could help the cause a bit. Not every hole has fish right now so walking will also increase chances of a catch. 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 (slow retrieve) according to Feltrinelli. Water temperatures are unusually cold for this time of year as winter is holding on. There has been a mixed bag of dime bright steelhead moving into the tributaries and older seasoned fish dropping back to the lake. It will not be long before we see the first smallmouth bass caught.
Bill Hilts Jr. is a past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Hilts is an avid outdoorsman, an outdoor writer who has contributed articles to numerous national and local magazines, newspapers, and other publications. Hilts is also responsible for Niagara County Tourism Sportfishing Programs. He freelances from his home in Sanborn N.Y. Hilts was inducted in the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame in the Spring of 2007!
Personal Floatation Device (PFD) law: As a reminder, between November 1 and May 1, anyone underway in a boat (less than 21 feet long) must wear a securely fastened PFD. This includes canoes, kayaks, rowboats and motorboats.
Trout fishing has recently been tough on the lower river, due to very clear water conditions. Better success has been during morning hours or on days with light fishing pressure. Egg sacs and live minnows have worked best. Walleye season is now closed as of March 16.
There has been a decent steelhead bite at Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks, including a few fresh fish. Eighteenmile has slightly low and clear flow, and Oak Orchard has moderate and clear conditions. Fishing pressure has been light on the smaller streams and not much fishing information has been available.
When conditions have permitted, trollers have seen a good brown trout bite along the shoreline in 8-20 feet of water. Key on areas near stream/harbor mouths, in murky waters or in areas with a slightly higher temperature. Trolling with small to medium sized stickbaits or spoons run behind planer boards is the top tactic. Lures run directly behind the boat get less trout attention.
Cattaraugus Creek is murky green with a slightly higher flow. It should remain at a fishable level through the weekend, but will start to come back up with any significant snowmelt or rain. All other Lake Erie streams have been low and clear as of late. Steelhead fishing has been slow with no recent reports of fresh fish movement. However, there is a slight bite improvement in the afternoon as water temperatures rise a few degrees. Target steelhead in the deeper holes and drift offerings slow and low for best results. Trout fishing from the Dunkirk Harbor pier is on hold as ice has returned.
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