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Observations from the Water – 04/10/2022

by | Apr 10, 2022

Days on the Water: 7

Who we fished with: friends/clients

Where we fished:  Lower Niagara, Lake Ontario

What we caught: steelhead, lake trout

Tactics: 3-way rigs with beads, jigs, or live bait; trolling spoons

Commentary for the Week of 04/04/2022 – 04/10/2022

Excellent week!  The forecast turned out better than expected (except for Tuesday).  We managed to fish every day – it felt great.  Ice is no longer a problem throughout the system and water temperatures are starting to climb.  Things are about to get really interesting.

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Daily Conditions Analysis

Weather Breakdown
  • Monday – Goregeous day.  Little to no wind with mild temperatures.  Had a last minute cancellation.  Trolled Ontario for browns.  Had a downrigger “incident” that caused us to bail early.
  • Tuesday – Fished Lake Ontario.  It was a grind.  NE winds kicked in much earlier than expected – it got big FAST.  We bailed early.
  • Wednesday – Fished the Lower Niagara.  Excellent water clarity and winds were from the East so we were sheltered.  Temps got into the 60s.  Gorgeous day.  Caught steelhead and lake trout.
  • Thursday – Morning rain turned into partly cloudy skies, temperatures got into the mid 50s, nice day.  Fished the Lower Niagara.  Caught steelhead and lake trout.
  • Friday – Fished Lake Ontario for lakers.  Had good color.  A little breezy – got a little choppy out there.  Fishing was slow but we boated some nice ones.
  • Saturday – fished the Lower Niagara.  Decent action – felt like the bite picked up a bit.  Steel and lakers were eating minnows best.
  • Sunday – had a last minute cancellation so Jordan and I fished Devils hole.  We caught fish.

Seasonal Assessment/General Observations

It’s beginning to feel a lot more like spring.  Numbers of steelhead and lake trout were higher than previous weeks – not by much – but a slight tick upwards for sure.  Emerald shiners are getting thick on the Upper Niagara and although I haven’t seen many on the Lower Niagara, fish have been throwing them up so they gotta be loading up down there too.  Ice is no longer an issue, so water temperatures are beginning to climb.  Trees are budding.  Robins then cardinals are sounding off earlier and earlier.  I’m getting giddy and find myself wanting to spend more and more time outside.

Back to the fishing – I haven’t had that “consistent action” kind of day on Lake Ontario yet.  The main reason is that we’ve had some big east wind days lately with a couple of north variant winds in the mix too.  When winds like that hit Lake O – she gets big, quick.  Plus, ice flows from the Niagara and stained water haven’t helped.  Still, I’ve managed to get out there a couple of times when conditions were close to great and didn’t do spectacularly well.  I’m looking forward to getting out there more often to get a better sample.

Lower Niagara action has remained slow but as I mentioned earlier, it seemed to pick up the past couple of days.  Minnows continue to be the ticket.  I’ve tried running beads and bags lately, but the minnows are getting bit the most.  Chrome steelhead have been there, but more and more fish are colored up indicating that they are in full spawn more or getting close to it.  I’ve seen a little bit of porpoise activity – an indicator that things are getting hot and heavy down below.  Lake trout have been the savior on slow days – there an entertaining number of them around.

I have nothing to report about the Upper Niagara or Lake Erie.  Both were ice choked during the first few days of the week and although it was clear enough to fish by the weekend, my clients wanted to catch trout so we stayed on Lake O and the Lower Niagara.  That’s about to change…

Looking Forward to the Week of 04/11/2022 – 04/17/2022

Weather Breakdown

    Fishing Conditions Looking Forward

    This upcoming week is looking good!  Mild to warm temperatures, showers spread throughout, and a handful of windy days.  For the front half – the entire fishery will be in play.  Beyond that, wind will be the limiting factor – as per usual.  Quick side note – when clients watch the forecast leading up to the day, they seem to only pay attention to the temperature and whether or not it’s going to rain.  That would make sense if you planned to venture into the outdoors naked. 

    What I explain to them is that clothing can protect you from those elements – but nothing can protect you from the wind.  Stated a little differently – there is very little one can do to reduce the impact of wind on a day of fishing.  The Great Lakes are huge, open spaces, with nothing to stop the wind once it gets going.  Wind moves water around/influences current, creates waves (which can stir up or dirty the water), and pushes boats, making navigation difficult.  In other words, we’re at the mercy of the wind every time we go fishing – it’s the PRIMARY factor all anglers should concern themselves with.

    Here are a few LOCAL rubrics to consider with respect to wind:

    • North winds (or any variant such as NE or NW) – if gusts are in the teens or more:
      • Lake Ontario is going to get messy. Where we live (on the southern shore of Lake Ontario), winds blowing from the north have the entire expanse of the lake to push water and create waves.  If you fish Lake O in those winds, you’ll be exposed and in for quite a ride.   
      • The lower Niagara will be tough to fish. Winds from the North will push your boat upstream/against the current making drifts very difficult.  Ironically, Devils Hole is the only place you’ll be able to make it work.
      • The Upper Niagara can be tough in N direction winds too, however, there’s over 30 miles of water to fish in that stretch with numerous wind breaks so you will be able to make something work
      • Lake Erie is AWESOME in a N wind. All of the land between Lake O and Lake Erie helps break up the gusts leaving the water relatively calm.  I love N winds on Erie.      
    • South or SE winds – the entire fishery from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario is in play. Lake Erie could get a little messy if gusts get into the upper 20s but if you stay near the city you’ll be fine. 
    • West or SW winds – if gusts are in the teens or more.
      • Lake Erie is going to get messy. Where we live (on the southeastern shore of Lake Erie), winds blowing from the west or SW have the entire expanse of the lake to push water and create waves.  If you fish Lake Erie in those winds, you’ll be exposed and in for quite a ride.   
      • The lower Niagara will be tough to fish in some parts downstream of Devils Hole. Current will rage.
      • The Upper Niagara can be tough in W or SW direction winds too, however, there’s over 30 miles of water to fish in that stretch with numerous wind breaks so you will be able to make something work.
      • Lake Ontario is AWESOME in a W or SW wind. All of the land between Lake Erie and Lake O helps break up the gusts leaving the water relatively calm.
    • East winds – people say winds from the east, fish bite the least. That’s kind of the case around here but not really.  Lake Erie will fish very well in an East wind.  Lake Ontario will have huge waves.  The upper and lower Niagara will fish well.       

    We’re booked daily this upcoming week and will likely wet a line in every body of water from Erie to Ontario.  Looking forward to it!

    Stay healthy my friends – mentally and physically,

    Ryan

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