By: Chris Shaffer
In Buffalo to film Lake Erie smallmouth bass fishing with live Fire Dye minnows I got a call from Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charter Service Monday asking me if I wanted to go fishing. He said there were still plenty of steelhead and lake trout in the Lower Niagara River and I wouldn’t need heavy winter apparel like we are used to. Instead, a light jacket would do and fishing, he said, would be as good as the brutal winter months produce.
Tuesday was a blast. We didn’t bring spawn sacks or cured eggs. Instead, Campbell bought a pound of minnows. We dyed them in Blue & Chartreuse Fire Dye on the dock and after 30 minutes we put them in fresh water, let them shed the excess dye and placed them in the livewell.
We started in Devils Hole and caught four steelhead and a lake trout in five drifts. While other boats struggled to generate strikes action was constant on our boat. Maybe it was a coincidence, but the live Chartreuse and Blue Fire Dye minnows were getting bit quick and often. As high as the water is in the Niagara River right now I was surprised we were able to get a good drift. However, it seemed the steelhead and lake trout were seeing the bright baits and keying in on them.
We migrated downriver to find slower water and caught steelies and couldn’t keep the smallmouth and a few white bass off the hook. In fact, the smallies were so aggressive we had to switch spots to look for more steelhead. The bass hit the emerald shiners and golden shiners so fast the baits didn’t have time to reach the areas steelies were in.
With water temperatures hovering at 50 degrees mid May continues to offer steelhead on the Niagara. There’s still plenty of fish in the river and if the water temperature doesn’t rise too quickly there’s a few more weeks of action on tap. There will be steelhead in the river on Memorial Day, which is fairly normal. However, the number of steelhead that are still in the river this year is impressive. We caught them up to 13 pounds.
Editor’s Note: For more information on Lower Niagara River steelhead and lake trout trips with Campbell please visit http://www.niagaracharter.com. Pautzke Fire Dye is available at most Bass Pro Shops, many tackle shops and the following NY Walmart locations: Newark, Watertown, Oswego, Massena, Fredonia, Brockport, Plattsburgh, Ogdensburg, Lockport, Amsterdam, Ticonderoga, Mohegan Lake, Glenville, Potsdam, Fulton, Malone, Glenmont, North Tonawanda, Ithaca, Cicero, Greece and Johnson City.