Chilly weather and hunters hunting have left most fishing hot spots clear.
Gun season for deer starts at sun-up on Saturday, so many who might have been out for trout or in search of perch will be in tree stands, ground blinds and away from some fantastic fishing prospects this weekend and thereafter.
Most Great Lakes feeders have been well-fed with enough water to draw incoming trout. A few smaller streams might need another round of steady rainfall, but most of the popular access sites are just right for the bite.
Perch perplex. Schools on the bigger and smaller lakes move and sizes vary from lake to lake and spot to spot. Among inland lakes, Keuka and Seneca have been the most consistent for larger ringbacks; Erie and Chautauqua have produced high numbers. On every open-water area, boaters have to not only locate schools, but the search for sizeable perch can be challenging each day out.
Timing is nearly everything. Boaters and shoreline casters alike know those change-of-light periods at sunrise and sunset can produce powerfully. But as stream waters cool and bait schools slow their movements, some of the better fishing times often occur later in the morning for stream waders and later in the afternoon for open-water boaters.
Babe Winkelman’s standard reply to the question “When is it the best time to go fishing?" is always “When you can get there …" Some of the best trout and panfish catches right now have been posted at all hours of the day.
Continued cold spells keep game animals on the move and fish moving in varying, patterns — slower in cooling water but still on the feed where they can find forage. Best advice: go slow until you know.
If size matters, go smaller as the air and waters cool. Many baitfish schools are the younger classes and clearing waters let trout, pike, bass and walleye know what food is set before them. In streams especially, try the smaller items normally sent down an ice-fishing hole — mousie grubs, single-egg rigs, etc.
Browns, steelies and some cohos and an occasional Atlantic salmon often pass on the bigger rigs but get tantalized by mini-sized lures and live baits.
Cattaraugus Creek might be stained for a few more days, but the smaller feeders should be clear by the weekend. Chautauqua Creek has been good through recent rains; Canadaway Creek has its ups and downs, but mostly ups of late. Gerri Begier at Bill’s Hooks in Dunkirk has good reports of stream waders going with single-egg and wooly bugger presentations. Dunkirk Harbor activity has been slow; trout activity, by now, should be good. Harbor hard-core hackers credit reduced outflow from the power plant for the lull in fish movement right now.
Upper river musky movement slowed, but a few nice fish have been caught and released when waters gain a slight stain. Anglers continue to take on the toothy tribe until the Nov. 30 closer.
Clearing waters in the lower river have casters and boaters moving around to tease the trout. Lakers are everywhere, but the better bite for steelies and browns has been down current, according to both charter captains Frank Campbell and Chris Cinelli.
Each day out has been a coin-toss between Kwikfish and egg sacks, with the steelie bite better on sacks.
Water levels vary at every feeder stream; trout have made moves into every fishable stream along the Ontario shoreline. Earlier this week, Four Mile Creek and Eighteen Mile Creek had good water and fish presence, but Twelve Mile Creek was slow. By the weekend, that and other streams could be good.
In every stream, smaller baits are big. Single-egg, mini jigs, egg flies,and anything tiny has a chance to tease trout.
Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott gets good but mixed reports of trout activity in streams either side of Eighteen Mile right now. “But the perch fishing is good everywhere — Wilson, Olcott, Oak Orchard, and eastward,” Walker said.
Farther east, Irondequoit Bay perch are all but beaching in the shallows.
Boaters on the Webster and state park side rarely have to anchor in more than 20 feet to hook into robust ringbacks. Live bait species all work — fatheads, golden shiners and rosy reds.
The perch run at the north end continues, said Larry Japp (cq) at Roy’s Marina on Route 14 at the northwest side of the lake. Boaters have moved into 25- to 30-foot depths just south of Geneva on the west shoreline for plug perch that hit either minnows or grubs. Japp noted that nearby Keuka Lake has also been good for perch.
Look for a lively discussion of outdoor writing at the Southtowns Walleye meeting Thursday evening. The November meeting at 5895 Southwestern Blvd. in Hamburg will begin at 7 and is open to all anglers and interested outdoors folk.