Tricks from Hurricane Sandy were not as gritty as expected for area anglers.
In fact, fisher folk may be treated to fairer-than-expected skies and some productive, mid-fall fish outings, once the rains lose their reign.
Officials have been warning both anglers and waterfowl hunters about critically low water levels. Now, with the recent rounds of rainfall, water bodies from pools to ponds and most of the smaller feeder streams have an elegant sufficiency of height and flow.
One access, the launch area of Sturgeon Point Marina, remains shallow to boat passage. That problem is the result of seche, backwashes of sand, at the entrance to the marina. Officials there have left the ramps open for access with the caution to “launch at your own risk.”
Lake Ontario’s shoreline got jimmied and buffeted, but storm damage was less than expected, water levels rose enough to open mouths of smaller feeders and anglers were on the water sooner than expected after Sandy’s blasts.
Inland lakes took some Sandy between the toes, but accesses that were open before the storm will be open for weekenders willing to ride out the rains.
Rainfall will keep most trout streams stained with stiff currents; continued showers might call for some insulated raingear out there. But given the tricky horrors predicted for this entire week, anglers could be bringing home a Halloween bag of treats during early-November outings.
Streams will be muddied for a few days, and side docks are being pulled or are already out at Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point, but fishing prospects for the weekend look much better than they did earlier this week.
Cattaraugus Creek shows a mud flow right now; clarity may improve by the weekend, if rainfall is slight, says Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving.
Smaller feeders such as Silver Creek, Walnut Creek and Halfway Brook all showed good water levels for trout entry by Tuesday afternoon. If anything, current flow from the Catt could be good, because the lake level remains low the big creek could draw even more trout than the usual run of rainbow/steelhead stock.
Perch pursuits have been wide and varied before storm winds arrived. Boaters have run to deep waters (60- to 70-foot depths) or held in tight packs closer to shore at Sturgeon (42- to 50-foot depths) in search of big fish. At Sturgeon, boaters encountered mixed sizes of ringbacks, with an assortment of white bass and the occasional sheepshead nodding.
Off the Catt, boaters did well deeper and shallower, but the bigger perch seemed to be sitting on shelves closer to shore. Next trip out, you might try 40-foot depths just east of the river along drop-offs and around those mini humps that hold minnow schools and bottom grubs.
Northerly breezes did not stain river waters nearly as much as watchers had worried. Lake Erie waves stirred up some mud, but drifts around Grand Island and through the lower river still offer good bass numbers as well as salmonid strikes.
Water temperatures, in the mid 50s now, stand five or more degrees above normal and shoreline largemouths in the upper river and open-current drifted in both the upper and lower river to produce smallmouths regularly.
The king salmon run is done, but a fair number of steelies and browns have moved into the lower river. Lake trout dominate most drifts and shoreline casting sites. Lakers remain closed for the season until Jan. 1, but as steady feeders in all water temperatures, they can be found near the bottom of lakes and rivers where other trout spawn, feed and avoid larger predators.
Mother Nature was good-natured to anglers along the Ontario shoreline. Wave heights were far less than predicted; anglers were casting from piers at Oak Orchard, Olcott and Wilson before and just after Sandy’s hefty breezes on Tuesday, said Wes Walker at Slippery Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott.
At both Olcott and Oak Orchard the brown count is way above normal, with an unusual number of coho salmon showing off piers and some well into Oak Orchard up to the March Creek outflow.
A heavy casting spoon such as a Little Cleo has been deadly on incoming trout along piers. Smaller baits and egg imitators have been the ticket up streams.
Water let-offs at both Burt Dam and Waterport Dam may rile things in Eighteen Mile Creek and Oak Orchard Creek, but look for good flow and fish presence in all Ontario feeders at or shortly after this weekend.
Catch and Clean Tournament
The Lake Ontario Tributary Anglers Council will stage its third annual Catch and Clean Fishing Tournament on Saturday out of Fox Hollow Lodge in Altmar near the Salmon River Hatchery.
Each entrant must make the best effort to fill at least one garbage bag along with caught fish for contest entry. For registration and contest details, call (607) 239-7861.