Lake Ontario and tributaries: Hopefully cooler temperatures and forecasted rains will bring more salmon into places like Eighteenmile Creek. Pier action has been spotty for salmon, although there have been some success stories like 14-year-old Sarah Syracuse of Newfane reeling in her first salmon using a green glow Little Cleo in the early evening with her father John and sister Sidney. She ended up out-fighting a 25-pound salmon for 20 minutes and successfully bringing in the bruiser to the Olcott Pier – all on 8-pound test line. As far as the action, some nights are better than others. According to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors, there were some trout at the dam – browns and steelhead – but the salmon were still in the lower stretches, with fish seen jumping in the harbor. A good rain will change that. Try trolling the harbor with large J-13 Rapalas. If you fish early morning or it’s overcast, try using treated egg skein under a float in some of the bigger holes of the creek. When the weather cooperates, you can still troll the pier heads with all your traditional fall baits early morning or just before dark. Daytime trollers can also pick up the occasional mature king or head out deeper for trout or immature salmon. Remember that lake trout season in Lake Ontario is now closed. The smaller creeks could use a good rain to get things flowing and pull fish in.
Lake Erie and tributaries: The yellow perch fishing continued to be hot off Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point. We’ve had reports from 55 to 70 feet of water. Ed Belbas of North Tonawanda was doing well in 65 feet off the Catt; Paul Jackson of Sanborn said in 60 feet of water off Sturgeon Point was best. The team of Dave Muir and Mike Eschborn were the ones to follow, though. They won the 4th Annual Richard Brauer Memorial Perch Tournament with 100 perch that weighed in at 56 pounds, six ounces – less than a pound ahead of Dave Schaffer and Ken Meister with 55 pounds, 9 ounces. Walleye fishing was starting to dwindle, but if you wanted to give them a go, head west. A few were still being caught off Cattaraugus Creek, but the better fishing has been west of Dunkirk off Barcelona to the state line. Tributary trout action could use a boost with some rain. Until then, look for most fish in the lower stretches in creeks with decent water flow. Casting the mouths of the creeks is also an option, as is trolling the mouths with a small boat.
Upper Niagara River: As water temperatures start to cool, muskie fishing should start to pick up around the river and Buffalo Harbor areas. Some muskie were being caught around Strawberry Island, the Huntley Power Station and outside weedbed edges with large tubes, body baits or spinnerbaits. Using a three-way rig with live bait (large chubs or something similar) can also work along certain drifts as fish start to move into the river system. Bass action was still strong around Strawberry Island and the head of the river on shiners, crabs and tubes.
Lower Niagara River: River anglers could use some cold temperatures and rain to trigger a fresh run of fish. Early morning was still the best time to target kings in the river, using treated egg skein off three-way rigs if you are drifting in a boat. However, there were usually a couple of other times that fish will hit, like midmorning and around lunchtime, so you have to pay attention and capitalize on hits when they happen. That can make a difference on some days. Shore anglers were still catching kings off the NYPA fish platform, utilizing the free shuttle service the power company is providing from Lot C at the Visitors Center from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Remember that the Artpark Stairs are open again, too, but this is better for the trout fishermen. Bass were still an option, especially down river around Fort Niagara and the green buoy marker at the bar. Tubes, spinnerbaits and live bait like shiners and crabs will catch fish for you.
Chautauqua Lake: Muskie action should continue to improve as waters start to cool down. Your best bet should be in the section of water off the weedbeds. Trollers have been picking up some suspended fish over 25 to 35 feet of water. Lyre sizes vary from 5 to 8 inches in length, with firetiger the color pattern to start with. Some walleye were starting to show up more regularly in the deeper holes. Try jigging for them with spoons, Rapalas, blade baits or shiners. The trusty jig tipped with a crawler can also produce an ’eye for you. Try Upper Dewittville Bay and off Lighthouse Point in 12-20 feet of water, according to Craig Robbins.
Lake Ontario tributaries, harbors and piers: Lower than normal water levels has the king salmon run off to a slow start in many of western New York's Lake Ontario tributaries. On Eighteenmile Creek at Fisherman's Park anglers were catching a few salmon at first light or later in the day during overcast conditions. Salmon and trout numbers have been a little better in Oak Orchard Creek, with small pods of salmon and scattered steelhead and brown trout holding in the stretch below Waterport Dam. The Genesee River has better water flow and salmon have shown in good numbers in the section below the falls. Smaller tributaries like Johnson and Sandy creeks are very low. On those creeks, salmon were confined to the lower, slack water areas. Egg sacs, salmon skein, egg pattern flies and streamers work well for migrating salmon.
Orleans County: The county’s tributaries are looking for a little more help from Mother Nature, with water conditions remaining low and clear at last look. With the nighttime low temperatures still above normal, tributary temperatures have not fallen off to the point that would spur the spawning runs in any great numbers yet. When wind conditions are right, shore casters and small boaters are catching fish around the mouths of the tributaries. The best results are still occurring early morning and late evening. There are a decent number of fish in all the tributaries within Orleans County; they are just not that active yet. A reminder that the Erie Canal closes on Oct. 19 and then shortly after that the dewatering process should begin, creating better flows in area tributaries.