1. Lake Ontario and tributaries – The spring weather has continued and more people have been taking advantage of some inshore trout fishing – browns and lake trout primarily with an occasional Coho or Chinook also showing up. For the browns, troll inside of 20 feet with stickbaits or spoons off boards. Look where the water is a little stained if you can find something off color. Firetiger, rainbow, brown trout and natural colors are all working. Fish off boards away from your boat. Lake trout have been everywhere. John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda was fishing just west of the river in 50 feet of water and couldn’t keep four lines in. Their biggest laker was 20 pounds. In front of Wilson it was the same story – lakers in 60 feet of water. Some lake trout have been reported in water as deep as 80 and as shallow as 35 according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. In the streams, 18 Mile Creek was down to a trickle on Wednesday and some of the smaller streams could use a fresh slug of water. We could get some rain on Thursday but we will be at the mercy of Mother Nature. We are on the downhill slide of the trout run, but a few fish are still being reported. The upswing is with warm water fish species like bass (catch and release), suckers and panfish. The LOC Derby will be May 6-15 and registrations are coming in hot and heavy now. Go to www.loc.org for details or sign up at any Niagara County location. The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Tournament, set for May 20-22 this year, has a live website now for registrations at www.lakeontarioproam.net. The Wilson Harbor Invitational is May 7 this year. Website is www.wilsonharborinvitational.com.
2. Lower Niagara River – Mike Fox of Lewiston reported good numbers of smelt are still being caught in the river, but who knows for how long. It’s been a much better run than last year. The Lewiston smelt festival will be held May 6. Trout action has been decent the past week. They can be found from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar. Minnows, egg sacs and wobbling baits like Kwikfish or MagLips are all good baits to use, but it seems to change daily and you need to be flexible. Steelhead and lake trout top the list; a few browns are also available. Spoons and spinners top the list of lures from shore. Warm water fish are starting to pick up. Remember that the stairs at Whirlpool State Park are closed.
3. Upper Niagara River –Some keeper perch have been reported in Buffalo harbor area. Trout should still be available off Unity Island and out of Broderick Park, as well as off Bird Island Pier when you can get out there. Egg sacs, minnows and spoons or spinners will catch fish. Use emerald shiners for perch or other panfish along traditional river sites. Speaking of panfish, they should be turning on soon around Grand Island in the canals, bays and shallows.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries – Yellow perch action has been hot the past week. Fish can be found in as shallow as 30 feet or as deep as 60 feet in areas between Cattaraugus and Sturgeon Point. You might have to move around to find the schools of perch, but when you do you can catch well. Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport was fishing with Mike Lewis of Pembroke on Tuesday and they did well at the 56 foot mark on Tuesday in that same area. The key was staying on the school, using his electronics to find them; his new Minn Kota trolling motor with a GPS chip to stay on them. John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda was fishing with Kevin Gunther of Niagara Falls over the weekend and they did well on big jumbo perch, too, hitting the mark in 57 feet of water. Make sure you keep the smaller ones if their air bladder is bursting. Keep them as part of your catch because there’s a good chance they will not survive. Tributaries are still holding a few trout, but the increase in water temperature has started to turn on panfish, bass and catfish, too. Flow was good and drop back trout are still available.
5. Chautauqua Lake – Craig Robbins reports crappies are being caught consistently in 8 feet of water in Ashville Bay. Use a blue jig tipped with a minnow.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters –
Lake Alice – The bluegills and crappies are starting to turn on according to Mike Waterhouse of Orleans County Tourism. Water temperatures were approaching 56 degrees and fish were active.