East Aurora Advertiser

Column: Rod, Gun and Game: When Bunny Rabbits and Fish go Brrr

When April gets here each year, we know the weather might be inconsistent. Nature is that way, but in the big picture, all is headed in the right direction. Forget about that snow earlier in the week. The high wind days drive Lake Erie yellow perch anglers to stay ashore, at Chautauqua Lake too, where the crappie search for these tasty fish is underway. Action in the Chautauqua canals can be non-stop fun, even for shore anglers, and especially in the Ashville Bay Marina canals where the parking fee is still just $3. In the boats, the weed edge holds the majority of bigger fish in the many embayments along the Chautauqua shoreline. Live minnows and tiny 1/32 plastic tail jigs and a quill bobber are working.

When the wind allowed Lake Erie access last week, the parking lot at the Sunset Bay boat launch on Cattaraugus Creek in Irving was very busy. Ken Bittner says, “I was there at 6:45 in the morning and there were five boats ahead of me. In a very short time, there were 15 boats behind me! Fishing was good, we caught our limit of yellow perch using emerald shiner minnows I dipped at Ferry Street on the Upper Niagara River. We found the fish in 58 feet of water off the Catt.” Bittner was fishing with the usual standard 2-hook bottom fishing rigs with the sinker on the bottom end.   

These homemade spinners and jigs are the key to catching fish in the lower Niagara River for Mike Rzucidlo.

To catch a few really big fish when the winds are unkind, there is one place to fish from shore that can bring a smile to every angler’s face. It’s a hike down there, about 450 steps, but the escarpment in the Lower Niagara River holds steelhead, rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout and huge smallmouth bass at this time of year. Even occasional musky. According to my old friend, Charter Captain Frank Campbell of Lewiston, the best bite has been with lake trout, both in the river from shore and from boats on the Niagara Bar when the wind allows. Campbell says, “A large chunk of the ice bridge broke free last weekend and once the ice is gone, the water temperatures should start to warm up.” 

Lower Niagara River shore anglers have been picking up trout in the gorge. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports he caught lake trout in Devil’s Hole, where the trout were cooperating with the smallmouth bass. His 5/16th white jigs worked best for him. With the ice bridge break off and Lake Erie windstorms, the water color is stained. This, after months of clear water above the power plant. Visibility is finally down to about 3-feet. Ziehm also reported that the Niagara Falls ice bridge is finally gone, too. Another shore angler that did well is Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls. He was casting his homemade jigs and spinners to hook up with steelhead for each day that he fished in the gorge from shore. One hotspot is the New York Power Authority fishing platform, in the corner, where Rzucidlo reported he saw 10-15 dark ‘bows jump. 

The spring bite has started for Lake Erie yellow perch, as Ken Bittner landed a limit fishing from a boat near Sunset Bay last week.

In the Lake Erie tribs, action has been hot and not. On some days, the fish are heading upstream, on other days, you can watch them heading downstream. Local steelhead fishing expert, Matt Nardolillo, has been using a precision bobber (5 gram Raven float) with 6mm Creek Candy hard beads as bait to catch the powerful steelhead. White suckers, redhorse suckers and smallmouth bass are also starting to move into the Lake Erie tributary streams. Nardolillo fishes from chest-high waders and uses a Riverside rod (11ft-3in) and a Colville Dream-Catcher 535 reel loaded with 100 yards of 20-pound backer braid backer line tied to 100 yards of 10-pound test floating monofilament line. Then comes a two-four feet piece of 4-5 lb. fluorocarbon leader to provide adequate line strength with durability while often drift-dragging the presentation (and line) across the creek bottoms around WNY. The leader to floating monofilament line connection is made with a micro-swivel. This prevents line twists and missed strikes. His casts are only 20-30 feet. So he stays very quiet when presenting his lure. Now you know how, go get ‘em! 

Enjoy the outdoors.

Outdoors Calendar:

Apr. 23-24: NYS Spring youth turkey hunt weekend, for licensed 12-15-year-old hunters with a licensed mentor. Visit www.dec.ny.gov for info. 

Apr. 25: Adult Learn-To-Shoot Archery, West Falls Conservation, 55 Bridge St., $5 fee, open to the public, call Bryan Zeller at 716-826-4621 for info.

Apr. 26: Youth Archery Program (JOAD), West Falls Conservation Society, 55 Bridge St., register on-site, 6 p.m., $5 fee, Contact Pat Nash at 716-481-0539 for info.

Apr. 30: Southtowns Walleye Harry A. Smith Annual Installation and Awards Dinner, 5895 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg, 5:30 p.m., live music, $35 ticket, call 716-639-9180 for info. 

May 1: NYS spring turkey season opening day, ends May 31. 

NOTE: Submit Calendar items to nugdor@yahoo.com at least 2-weeks in advance. 


Share life with others, make new friends in the outdoors, lead by example. Send comments to nugdor@yahoo.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.