By: Ted Kessler
It’s been one of the toughest steelhead seasons I’ve seen in at least 20 years on the Lower Niagara River. We need ice on Lake Erie for our season to be good and this is the second season in a row we haven’t had ice. If there’s ice on Erie, Lake Erie can’t get rough because it’s capped off. When the wind blows the ice protects the water from getting muddy. With ice we have clear water down here on the Niagara River. Clear water means good fishing. However, with no ice this season we had a lot of days with muddy water, which keeps us from fishing.
On the other hand, when we’ve been able to fish we’ve been getting a nice mix of steelhead and lake trout. A lot of the steelhead have been bigger fish this year. They’ve been at least two pounds larger, on average. The browns have been hit or miss. As the weather starts warming in April, and warmer water flows down the river, the fishing is going to improve.
Fish wise, it’s been half dozen fish with 75 percent steelhead and 25 percent lake trout. When conditions are good we’ll catch more. Depending on what you want to catch will dictate where you fish. Steelhead will be higher in the river and lake trout and brown trout will be down in the mouth.
The bad news is fishing for the next few days is on hold. We have some horrendous weather moving in today and tomorrow, which will muddy the river up and keep us off the water for a few days. However, by mid next week I’m expecting to be back on the water catching browns, steelhead and lake trout. I’m geared up for the season to steadily improve. Spring fishing is normally productive.
It’s been two main things: egg sacks and live emerald and spot tail shiners. Just like every year, I’ve been using Natural BorX O Fire cured eggs in pink, white or yellow mesh. We mix these methods at the same time. I’ll fish one guy with an egg sacks and another with a shiner. It’s been 50-50. We are catching fish on both. Right now they are feeding on eggs, but some of these fish are coming off the sawn and keying in on live bait like they would normally in the spring.
The highest concentrations of fish right now are on the Art Park drift and up in Devils Hole. These will remain good, but as the spring program kicks in the Niagara Bar and the Fort Niagara area will start fishing well, too. This tends to disperse the boat pressure, too. And, there’s been a lot of that this season.
Editor’s Note: Ted Kessler operates Rivermaster Fishing Charters. For more info on his charters please visit www.rivermastercharters.com.