Lingering cold keeps anglers trekking trout streams, but warming trends could heat up the warm-water fisheries.
Hatchery trucks deliver trout stock into streams and ponds with water temperatures mainly below 50 degrees. Even most inland lakes have shallow-water reading in the high 40s during most overcast days. Yet Great Lakes feeders often pump warmer waters that draw everything from suckers to smallmouth bass; bullheads bump shorelines everywhere they can find a degree or two jump in water warmth.
LOC (Lake Ontario Counties) derby entrants cast from shore or travel to less than 100-foot depths for entry-sized fish. Lake Erie perch prospectors began heading out of Buffalo Harbor and Cattaraugus Creek this past week.
“You can catch trout, bullhead, suckers and bass,” was the Lake Erie feeder-stream catch report from Dave Watts at Dave’s Bait & Tackle in Derby. The mix of cool and warming water had warm-water species moving in as the trout are moving out.
Warming rains later this week could shift the bulk to bass and suckers in the smaller creeks and an uptick in catfish at the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek. Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving saw about 10 boaters headed to the lake to scout for perch in both directions – Dunkirk Harbor to the West and Sturgeon Point to the east. He reminds early-season anglers to check for walleye in the river before heading out to lake waters in search of post-spawn ’eyes.
Access at the Catt looks good. Miller noticed side docks going in at the state launch and Hidden Harbor Marina; the Town of Hanover ramps had not been started as of Monday. Sturgeon Point Marina officially opens May 15, but dredging operations may close or confine launching access at the marina.
Boaters able to get on Buffalo Harbor waters have been having fun with perch inside the breakwater, but those schools are on the move. Lucky casters moving with electric trolling motors hit into rare schools of crappie occasionally, but the perch bite prevails.
Lower Niagara River
Smelt dipping has shown but remains slow in 37-degree water. Dippers check every evening since the Smelt Dip & Fry event last weekend, but the take has been slow or non-existent. The last of Lake Erie Ice Boom ice could up the temperatures and smelt run this weekend.
Steelies still hold solidly in the lower river, with an odd run of brown trout seen from Fort Niagara up and into Devil’s Hole. Minnows and Kwikfish prevail as bait.
LOC Derby entrants are mainly bringing in lake trout, which show best between Wilson Harbor and the Niagara Bar; three 20-pounders were weighed in on Monday.
Bar action varies, but waters just east of the bar, between Two Mile Creek and Wilson Harbor, have been the target center for lakers and some kings. The coho and brown trout run continues along shore just outside the mud line from feeder streams and the Niagara River. Boaters trolling the shore have been heading out to 50-foot depths in hopes of hooking into Chinook (king) salmon along the way. Shore casters still have a shot at cohos and browns from piers in Wilson, Olcott and Oak Orchard.
Fishing Derby/tourney/clinic update
• Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Rudd Derby goes to May 17, ranking rudd by length with ties settled by weight. For registration details, call 407-3021.
• LOC Derby continues to Sunday. Anglers can register a day before entering a fish in Salmon, Lake Trout, Brown Trout and Walleye Divisions. For registration and weigh-in site details, go to loc.org.
• Wilson Invitational, a salmon contest at Wilson Harbor, will be held on Saturday. For info, go to wilsonharborinvitational.com.
• Southtowns Walleye Association holds its May 17 and its Walleye Tournament June 7-14 on Lake Erie and upper Niagara River waters. For entry details, call 649-8202 or go to southtownswalleye.org.
• Lake Ontario Pro-Am Series in Niagara County goes May 24-25 and May 31-June 1. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• East Aurora Fish & Game Club Teach-Me-To-Fish program, 1016 Luther Road, East Aurora, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. June 7. Call Dave Barus at 652-2256 or 597-4081.