It’s starting to feel like spring a bit. The time changes on Saturday as we “spring” ahead, the days are growing longer, and the sun is a little higher in the sky. The WNY Sport and Travel Expo is also here, the final big trade show of the season – slated for the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg March 8 to 11. Kids day is Saturday and the first 100 kids to the door on Saturday morning (March 10) will receive a fully-rigged cane pole. We are slowly starting to turn the corner on a variety of fronts. On Lake Ontario, the first trollers have started pounding the surf with in-line planers and stickbaits like Bay Rats and Live Target plugs. At least, that’s what was working for Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane recently when he ran a shakedown cruise out of Olcott. While most of the fish were brown trout, he did catch his first salmon of the year – a shaker, but still a salmon. It should be a good year for kings after a record-breaking performance last year in the lake. In 2017, the catch rate for salmon was the best ever in the 32-year history of the open lake creel census. You can find out more about how the fishery fared in 2017 and what the plans are for 2018 when the State of Lake Ontario meeting comes off on March 14 at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, 4487 Lake Ave., Lockport starting at 6:30 p.m.
The tributaries off Lake Ontario have been low and clear for the most part. The snow storm last week dumped some significant snow around, but there was no real warm off to melt it off quickly. It’s been more of a slow drain, adding some flow to the systems. There are trout available, but you may have to use a stealthy approach with the clear conditions. Egg sacs, jigs tipped with wax worms and some different fly patterns will catch you fish. Mostly steelhead are being caught but there are a few browns around, too. Remember that pike season closes on March 15 if you are fishing in the harbors of Wilson or Olcott. If you want to help out with the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s pen rearing project for salmon and trout, they will be organizing the pens and getting them in the water on April 7 at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott starting at 9:30 a.m.
In the Niagara River, action has been fair to good. Yes, the water has been clear and the storm last week really didn’t muddy the water up too much. With less than 20 percent ice cover remaining on Lake Erie, anglers are excited that spring fishing is not too far away. Shore action can be a bit more difficult with the clear conditions, but fishermen like Anthony Henley of Buffalo are still willing to drift a jig under a float and tip it with a worm and take their chances. Yesterday he stopped after work for an hour or two and managed to catch a few steelhead in the Devil’s Hole area of the river. Boaters are playing the winds when they head out. If the winds are out of the south, they throw on a Kwikfish or a MagLip plug. Any other time, it’s a minnow or an egg sac. Steelhead dominate the daily catch, but brown trout, lake trout and even an occasional walleye will also show up on the end of a fishing line. Remember that walleye season closes on March 15, too. Speaking of the Niagara River, remember that the Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding its John Long, Sr. Memorial Raffle and Feast to support the club’s many youth programs on Sunday, March 18. It will be held at Niagara Active Hose on Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. This is the big fund raiser for the year for the NRAA. Call Paul Jackson at 731-4780 for more information.