We finally saw some warmer temperatures this week as the thermometer hit the 50 degree mark for the first time in March. We also received some rain which should draw in some more trout into the tributaries. More rain is expected tonight. In the lower Niagara River, conditions have been clear and you have to work for trout. Minnows and egg sacs were working for local guides drifting the river this week.
Late March seems to be a time for big brown trout in Niagara. Last year it was Bob Klemm’s 31 pounder that shook things up from the lower Niagara River. This year, Jack Mings hit a 27 pounder while fishing with Capt. Matt Gantress out in the lake. We had no other details other than a photo of the impressive fish. Mings has had a pretty good week. Earlier he caught a 17-plus pound, 35 inch lower Niagara River steelhead on a peach-colored egg sac – again with Capt. Matt. He should buy a lottery ticket! Shoreline trolling for browns with stickbaits like Bay Rats, Live Targets, Rapalas and Challenger lures can all be effective. Use planer boards or inland boards to get your baits close to the shoreline and away from your boat. A good place to start is 100 to 125 feet back in 10 to 15 feet of water around creek mouths. Look for stained water and a distinct mud line.
One creek mouth that isn’t seeing much flow is Fourmile. The north winds the past 2 weeks have silted the mouth in and flow (and fish movement) has been restricted. The piers at Olcott and Wilson are starting to turn on for hardware casters of spoons and spinners. Stickbaits, too, as well as live bait and egg sacs. A bunch of perch have been hanging around, too.
The inland trout and salmon opener kicks off on April 1, no foolin’. This is not to be confused with the year-round fishery that is available for salmonids in the Great Lakes and its tributaries. Every year, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation stocks thousands of trout across the region for this special day. However, they do some extensive stocking after the fact, too. Most of Niagara County’s stockings are in the Great Lakes. They do receive a couple inland stockings, earmarked for Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls and Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield. April 3 is the designated day this year. First up at 10 a.m. is Oppenheim Park Pond, receiving 100 brown trout and 170 rainbows. Immediately following that planting, Hyde Park Lake will receive 1,740 yearling browns and 200 two-year-old browns. In addition, 570 browns will be stocked in Gill Creek, the outlet of Hyde Park Lake. The stocking hotline number for the Randolph hatchery is 358-2050 for updates.
April 1 is also the designated opener for the NY Power Authority Fishing Platform in the Niagara Gorge and the reservoir will be open for business on April 1, too. If you like fishing for bullhead, the Wilson Conservation Club will be holding its 5th Annual Niagara County Bullhead Tournament from 5 p.m. on April 6th to 1 p.m. on April 8. Call Eric at 628-6078 for details. The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association is looking for some volunteers to help put their pens together and get them ready for the salmon and trout stockings in April. On April 7, volunteers will be meeting at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott at 9:30 a.m. to work on the pens. For more information contact Alan Sauerland at 504-7789. Don’t forget that the Niagara County Federation of CC will be holding its annual awards banquet on April 14 at Terry’s Corners Fire Hall starting at 5 p.m. Call Dave Whitt at 754-2133 for advance sale tickets.