Temperatures continue to put a damper on open water anglers in the Niagara River and in area tributaries. However, that’s going to change for the better this weekend as temperatures will shoot up into the 30s and it may even hit the 40 degree mark next Tuesday. Whether you are fishing in the river or the streams, there’s no rush to get on the water. Let things warm up a little bit. Greg Schloerb of Amherst reported that fishing improved once the slush off the top of the water was gone at 18 Mile Creek at Burt Dam. He caught some dandy steelhead using his homemade olive-colored jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float. He caught steelhead to 12 pounds. In the lower Niagara River, action has been a bit more difficult with ice floes coming down through the system. If you can find areas that offer a better drift, take them. Gary Hall of Niagara Falls and Gary Fiori of Lewiston both hit the water last Wednesday and caught some nice steelhead … before they got too cold. Dress accordingly. That water is 32 degrees coming down the river.
The Niagara River Anglers Association held its annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead contest last Saturday out of Lewiston Landing along the Niagara River, a celebration that’s been going on for a quarter of a century. Despite frigid temperatures that saw wind chills dip to below zero, some 32 brave fishermen fought high winds and heavy ice floats to compete for the biggest trout – with a focus on steelhead and browns. When the scales closed at 2 p.m., Dan Spangler of Ohio was the top dog with a 10.26 pound steelhead. He caught the fish on a MagLip lure, fishing with Capt. Mark McGranahan of Sparky’s Charters. Second place was 9.74 pounds, reeled in by Justin Graham of Washington State and fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. Third place was Jack Taylor of Batavia with an 8.34 pound steelie. He was fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters. Taylor also reeled in the big brown trout, a 3.74 pound fish – one of only two browns caught in the contest. Conditions were tough and hats off to the victors, as well as all of the hardy folks who competed.