Snow here, water flow there, and fishing possibilities are almost everywhere.
That Tuesday morning snow cover cooled lake surfaces and made shore walking a bit skidish, but the bite is on for piles of perch, some salmonids and a bevy of bass and muskies worth a catch-and-release run or two before the Nov. 30 season closer.
Hunters are getting set for the big-game firearms season opener on Saturday and many a lake and stream will see reduced if not total lack of fishing pressure through the next week of predicted warming weather.
After an early fall run of above-average water temperatures, waters on the big lakes and smaller inland lakes and streams are seeing normal early-November readings.
Bass and muskies, generally active above 50-degree readings, have shown a continued presence for the few boaters working the upper Niagara River. Most of the river action has been wherever shore or anglers adrift can get onto relatively clear water, not easy to find with all the winds moving through this past week.
Keep a good mix of hard baits and sources for fresh supplies of live bait. Trout and perch have many a line cast in their direction. Bass and musky season is coming to a grand finale come Nov. 30. Until then, bass, especially smallmouths, and muskies deep and shallower are there for some fun fish fights.
Not many boaters could get out for perch this past week, but a couple mornings offered smooth enough waters to anchor and connect. The Sturgeon Point to Cattaraugus Creek perch alley remains along either side of those 50-foot depths and the hot spots vary each day out.
Last cycle of better bites came from just east of Cattaraugus Creek and Foxes Point. But when things calm down from the latest round of rough waters, the pump house wall at the Evans-Angola Bar could pick up again. Bait schools show everywhere at times and nowhere when searching for perch.
Stream anglers face similar but less nomadic conditions while trying to get somewhere over the rainbows. Trout numbers are up for Cattaraugus Creek and smaller nearby feeder streams.
Creeks either side of the Catt have draw good numbers and fair sizes of steelies. Smaller streams from Eighteen Mile Creek to Chautauqua Creek settle out quicker after each rainstorm and offer good trout responses. A Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters report notes fishing smaller tributaries has been the best seen in four years.
Upper river waters have been stained much of this past week. Shore casters still find good perch action, but the trout bite slowed even more than last week.
Most of the trout activity has been in the lower river away from shoreline staining. Waters below the power plants have seen considerable runoff, but above the hydro outflows are clear enough for trout to see passing minnows, skein and egg sacks. Boaters and shore casters alike have had better trout outings than anglers working down current. Next best area has been the Niagara Bar off the river mouth.
Bar drifters have sobering surprises on either side of the Niagara Bar. When winds and waves allow for drifts along bar edges, catches range from oversized lake trout to the occasional coho salmon.
Most drift rigs work, but a silver Kwikfish with any overspray pattern has picked up the most fish and greatest species variety this past week. Boaters have seen peak periods vary, with chart patterns working at times and nice catches showing during lulls in the tables. For perch peaks, try to find areas away from trout and pike movement in feeder streams, creeks and rivers. Ponds offer some relief, at times.