By Craig Robbins
Rain this past week and forecast through the middle of this week, has caused runoff and increased levels on all creeks. Lake Erie steelhead tributaries are currently high and muddy. The smaller streams should drop back to fishable levels by mid-weekend. Without additional rainfall, medium-sized streams like Chautauqua Creek should be fishable by the weekend and first of next week. Cattaraugus Creek flow peaked at 870 cubic feet per second the first of the week and should take at least a few days to settle down.
Before the recent rains, anglers were seeing steelhead catches in all of the popular tributaries, especially in Cattaraugus Creek. Look for more steelhead to move in and spread out with every high-water event. Traditionally, an especially great time to fish streams is as levels are dropping and the water starts to exhibit a green hue.
Lake Erie steelhead commonly hit natural baits like egg sacs and worms, flies such as egg imitations, streamers and bugger patterns, and lures like minnow-type stickbaits and in-line spinners. Anglers can also target steelhead from the Cattaraugus Creek breakwall or off creek mouths by casting spoons, spinners and stick baits
The good yellow perch bite continued this past week, but finding active schools was a little tougher. Searching around usually pays off. Perch catches are coming off of Cattaraugus Creek to east of Sturgeon Point in 45-65 feet of water. Emerald shiners are the best bait and are available for dipping at the foot of Ferry Street (Broderick Park) and other upper Niagara River sites. Keep in mind that transport of collected emerald shiners (from Lake Erie/Niagara River) for use on inland waters is prohibited.
While recent rains have seen water temperatures drop on Chautauqua Lake, smallmouth bass are still staging in and around rock bars, like Warners, Rock Island and off feeder creeks like Ball Creek. The early morning and later-day bite has been good with top water baits and 3-inch curly tail grubs.
Musky are still feeding heavily before water temperatures dip any more, which will drive them into deeper, warmer water. Trolling large jointed stickbaits or casting bucktails are good bets. Trollers are finding perch-colored baits doing well, and casters are finding black/yellow for bucktail working best,
Crappie, yellow perch and blue gills are still biting in 6-12 feet of water on live bait. Key areas for the past couple of weeks are Bemus Bay, Stow and Ashville Bay just outside the weed edges
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
The smallmouth bass on the upper river has been excellent lately. Boaters are doing very well along the humps in front of Strawberry Island as well as along the sides of the island. Another good option is along the shoreline below the Huntley Plant. Live golden shiners have been the go-to bait, but artificial swimbaits have also worked well. Cooling river waters in fall usually turns on the muskellunge fishing in the river. Drifting in the river along weed edges with large 8-10 inch tube jigs or trolling large stickbaits in the river or outer Buffalo Harbor are good bets. Live bait produces a mix of panfish and bass at shore sites along the City of Buffalo
DEC Randolph Fish Hatchery has been conducting its annual fall stocking of broodstock trout in Allegany and Cattaraugus counties. All breeder trout stocked are over 2 years old and are stocked in waters where trout fishing is permitted year-round. The following waters have been stocked as of Oct. 18; Birch Run Pond 50 14-inch brook trout; Allen Lake 100 14-inch brook trout and 100 20-inch brook trout; Case Lake 100 14-inch brook trout, 100 20-inch brook trout and 50 20-inch brown trout; New Albion Lake 150 14-inch brook trout; Genesee River-Wellsville to Pennsylvania border- 300 14-inch brown trout, 50 20-inch brown trout and 200 14-inch rainbow trout; Red House Lake 140 20-inch brown trout; and Quaker Lake 150 30-inch rainbow trout, 250 20-inch rainbow trout and 75 24-inch brown trout.