So far this past week we’ve changed the month, clock setting and elected new and incumbent leaders, but fishery features remain the same.
Salmonid seekers trek for trout; panfish pursuers search for perch.
And both fisheries abound for Great Lakes stream walkers and boaters willing to work open waterways on chilly days.
Chinook salmon have just about finished their fall spawning runs, but those unpredictable coho salmon move in and out of Lake Ontario’s shoreline shallows, giving trout anglers bonus bites at times and sites unexpected.
With most hunters busy with deer, ducks, geese and upcoming trapping-season openers, many a fishing hot spot will be open to all who enjoy less crowded areas where the fish are biting.
Cooler air draws increased numbers of rainbow/steelhead trout into feeder streams. The cold also tightens schools of perch in relatively deep areas of big lakes and bays. This week, the best reports came from Lake Erie and Irondequoit Bay.
Cattaraugus Creek cleared up quickly after the Sandy showers; smaller feeders dropped back to low water level. But the rainfall raised water levels enough to get fish moving in the small streams.
“Silver Creek and Walnut Creek had good fish,” Rick Miller said of the trout run. Farther west, Chautauqua Creek drew more trout traffic than Canadaway Creek after the hurricane harangue.
At the Catt, trout numbers remain lower but improving. Fish can be found well above Gowanda, but the hefty fall runs of rainbow/steelhead trout seen a decade ago just do not show. Casters go with a variety of bug flies and small spinners up stream. Closer to the mouth, a casting spoon might work now that the runoff rush has passed.
Shoreline stain lines have moved closer to shore and boaters are doing the same to land on perch schools. Before the storm, 45-to-52-foot depths were all that was needed slightly west of Sturgeon Point to get at or near limit numbers of perch.
Now, mid-40s depths have been good directly off Cattaraugus Creek. Boaters had just a couple days to check out perch movements since Sandy, and the results have been good for not only numbers but better sizes of ringbacks. Promised warming weather for the weekend might have perch prospectors digging around near-shore depths off both Sturgeon and the Catt.
Catch counts and amounts are high for biters big and small in the upper river.
Musky anglers, drifting and casting, have upped their muskellunge logging around the islands on the north side of Grand Island.
Bass bites abound on either side of the island; perch schools move in close enough to be within reach of shore casters. Ringbacks, and some respectable rock bass, have shown at the foot of Ontario Street and points west.
Lower river drifters see mainly lake trout all about. From the fort at the mouth up to the Devils Hole drifts on both sides of the Niagara, lakers hold sway.
These trout hold in virtually every drift that hold brown trout and steelies, says Capt. Frank Campbell, whose charter bookings regularly hop from the upper to the lower river right now.
Shore casters have a better chance at catching the few lingering salmon; kings have moved into shoreline eddies to spawn and then die.
Things just keep getting better for stream fishing on the bigger feeders and somewhat better in the smaller streams along the Ontario shoreline.
Water flow through Waterport Dam varies, but the fish influx continues to rise and catch odds increase for good numbers of brown trout at both Oak Orchard and Eighteen Mile Creek.
Pier casters can connect during early morning (first light to sunrise) and evening hours well into the night at Wilson, Olcott and Oak Orchard (and points east) for a good mix of steelies, browns and the occasional coho salmon. The cohos seem to be more prevalent in waters east of the Niagara River and county shoreline.
Only one coho has been confirmed amid slew catches of lakers around the Niagara Bar; coho often move into Oak Orchard Creek as far as the Marsh Creek outlet.
Irondequoit Bay waters have settled out to a clarity level just right for perch picking. Ron Gatz at S&R Bait & Tackle in Rochester has stocked hefty fathead minnows that attract well and hold through many a perch tug.
Chautauqua Lake crappie schooling usually becomes an item after ice-out in early spring. This fall, boaters have written stunning stories about pencil bobbers tipping well after dark around Chautauqua’s shallows. The bite is slight, the night can be nippy, but good number and sizes have come off some evenings well after the sun has set. For a current update on the calico run, check with Bill Van Camp at Big Catch Bait & Tackle on Niagara Street.