By Craig Robbins
Rainstorms over the past week have kept Lake Erie tributaries at levels where steelhead can move in and spread throughout their reaches. Anglers are seeing action in all streams and catching steelhead. All Lake Erie tributaries are in good shape, with good flows and clearing conditions. Cattaraugus Creek is running at about 570 cubic feet per second and is still quite murky, but with clearing skies in the forecast the Catt will be in good shape by later in the week.
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 stickbaits.
However, when weather permits, anglers still have a good opportunity to catch yellow perch. Previously, anglers were seeing good perch catches off Cattaraugus Creek to east of Sturgeon Point in 45-65 feet of water.
Trolling for muskies along the weed edges in Ashville, Dewittville and Bemus Bay with large jointed stickbaits is a good bet.
Fall is one of the best times of the year to catch smallmouth bass. Outside of the weed lines and along rocky points have been providing good results. Throwing 3-inch tubes and grubs are good baits for the mid-day bite on Chautauqua Lake, with top water baits like buzz baits working great in the morning and at sunset.
The pan fish bite has been consistent in Bemus Bay on the outside edge of the weeds. Working a night crawler under a bobber in 6-8 feet of water is a good place to start.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
Upper river waters have been clearing since gusty weather riled waters on Tuesday. While water conditions are decent at present, Saturday's forecasted winds will likely muddy the river again. Anglers have seen good smallmouth bass action around Strawberry and Grand Islands, and below the Huntley Plant. Live golden shiners have been best, but artificial swimbaits have also produced. As river water temps drop in the fall, the muskellunge fishing heats up. Anglers can target musky in the river by drifting along weed edges or over bottom structure with 8-10 inch tube jigs, large stickbaits or large shiners. Musky are generally caught in the greater Buffalo Harbor by trolling large stickbaits. Shore anglers have seen an uptick in yellow perch catches from sites along the City of Buffalo. Live bait produces a mix of perch, bass and other panfish. Often in the fall, shore anglers also catch some rainbow trout from Bird Island Pier, Broderick Park and the northern tip of Squaw Island on drifted egg sacs or casted spoons and spinners.