Niagara Falls has a world-class reputation as a destination for sightseers, honeymooners, and thrill seekers. A well-kept secret of the area, though, is its world-class fishing.
Last week I joined fellow members of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers in Lewiston on the banks of the Lower Niagara River to sample the fishing in the Niagara area. The angling consisted of four half-day trips during a two-day period, and my outings were Lake Ontario for salmon, Lower Niagara River for smallmouth bass, Lake Erie for smallmouth bass, and the Lower Niagara River for trout.
LAKE ONTARIO SALMON
The first morning Dave Mull (editor of Great Lakes Angler Magazine), Mike Schoonveld (writer from Indiana), Pat Kalmerton (Frabill representative), and I fished with Captain Danny Evans of Lone Wolf Sportfishing out of Wilson. Captain Danny has fished the Wilson waters his entire life, and he has an intimate knowledge of the fishing there.
Our fishing efforts took place directly in front of Wilson.
For the most part, we trolled the top portion of the water column over depths of 120-160 feet. Because Dave was preparing a magazine article on trolling with cut bait, Captain Danny set several cut-bait rigs on dipsy divers and planer boards.
Standard trolling spoons were set on downriggers and copper lines. This set-up resulted in the boating of four Chinook salmon and three Coho salmon as well as a few missed fish.
For more information on Lone Wolf Sportfishing, visit www.LoneWolfSportfishing.com.
KAYAKING THE LOWER NIAGARA
That afternoon our group went kayaking for smallmouth bass during the catch-and-release, artificial-lure-only season in the Lower Niagara River. We launched Hobie Kayaks at the Lewistown Boat Ramp, and although the kayaks could be powered by paddle, we used the Hobie Kayaks because they could also be powered by foot pedal, which allowed for hands-free angling.
After brief instruction from Hobie representatives, Ingrid Niehaus and Morgan Promnitz, the group fished the American shoreline downstream from Lewistown and towards Old Fort Niagara. We found pockets of bass along that stretch, but the fish were not holding near shore. Instead, they were located on the first break into deep water where we managed to get hookups by erratically retrieving Rapala X-Raps and by working jigs tipped with green-pumpkin, five-inch Trigger X plastic minnows.
While fishing our way down the river, I was amazed at the vast schools of emerald shiners in the water. On the several-mile return trip, I was even more amazed at how easily the Hobie Kayaks pedaled upstream despite the strong currents of the Niagara River and a significant headwind. For more information on Hobie and their line of fishing kayaks, visit www.hobiecat.com.
LAKE ERIE SMALLMOUTHS
The second morning, Jon Marshall of MarCum Technologies and I joined Captain Mike Mogensen at the Lake Erie Basin Marina in downtown Buffalo where we fished Buffalo Harbor, Upper Niagara River, and Lake Erie. The lake and its tributaries have a special bass season that runs from the first Saturday in May until the opening of the regular season on the third Saturday in June. This is a trophy season that allows an angler to keep one bass per day over 20 inches in length. Drifting emerald shiners on a drop-shot rig along the harbors break-walls produced a steady catch of bronzebacks in the one-to two-pound range. When heading to get gas at a marina in the Upper Niagara River, we worked some shoreline areas briefly where we caught a few small bass on jigs tipped with pumpkin-green, five-inch plastic minnows.
We finished the morning by fishing the slag piles in front of the Bethlehem Steel Mill where our schedule allowed time for only two drifts. On each drift, we hooked a 3.5-pound smallmouth that took an emerald shiner as we approached the 20-foot, front edge of a shoal. Captain Mike can be reached at (716) 837-0621.
LOWER NIAGARA TROUT
After Niagara Falls itself, the waters of Devils Hole are the most turbulent along the river, and that was the site where Ken Kieser, outdoor writer from Kansas, and I hooked up with Captain Ernie Calandrelli of Ernies Guide Service for an afternoon outing. Captain Ernie has a reputation as Niagaras Kwikfish King because he produces so many big fish on that lure.
Indeed, our fishing technique was drifting Kwikfish (silver and green or silver and chartreuse) through Devils Hole. Captain Ernie worked the electric motor to maintain a boat speed that gave good lure action in the heavy currents. His efforts resulted in our catching and releasing of six lake trout, two smallmouth bass, and a freshwater drum.
The outing was a special one because Ken caught his first-ever lake trout as well as his second and third.
For more information on Ernies Guide Service, call (716) 609-3064 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, on the Niagara Region, visit www.niagara-usa.com.
Monday: Lisbon Sportsmens Club hosts Trap and Skeet Shooting at Pray Rd. property at 5:30 p.m.
Thursday: Spring Turkey Season closes.
Friday-Saturday: Redwood Fire Hall hosts Bowhunter Education Course (Pre-register at 785-2533).
Saturday: St. Lawrence Waterfowlers hosts Youth Trap Shoot at Lisbon Sportsmens Club (323-4597).
Saturday-Sunday: Hendrickson Hatch Fly Fishing Tournament on Salmon River in Malone (www.HendricksonHatch.org).
Sunday: Waddington F&G Club hosts Childrens Fishing Derby (388-4251).
June 15: Frog season opens in NYS.
June 16: SLRWA Hosts annual smackdown (Mike at 384-3450).
June 16: SLVSC hosts annual opening day bass derby.
June 23-24: Free Fishing Days in New York State.
June 26: DEC conducts annual Wilson Hill Goose Drive.