"Niagara's Premier Outdoors
This page features a variety of Fishing and Hunting Tips written in a way that can be understood. Many of you may find these tips handy when out on your fishing or hunting adventure. If you have something you would like to contribute, please feel free to email us [at bottom of page] and we will be happy to include it on this page so all sportsmen can benefit from your knowledge. You don't have to be an expert, we just want information to share with youngsters, novice outdoorsmen and experienced alike.
NEW! Fishing Walleye on Lake Erie ~ Find out how the pros do it!
This is a compilation of
stories accumulated from our Outdoors Writers
∑ There are many shore fishing opportunities, and number one would be at the New York Power Authority fishing dock/pier. A long walk down to the dock but you can drive down and have someone drop you off or pick you up. DO NOT park your car there. There is parking provided at the top. You could be in for a heap of stink by parking below. There is very limited handicap parking below for those that need it. Always be courteous to the boat fishermen drifting by, even though some of them donít seem to reciprocate, they are busy too.
∑ Devilís Hole State Park allows for a great fishing experience but is for the hardy and young at heart. There is a long climb down a set of stairs cut into the rock shale. Hauling a 25-pound salmon up is no fun either. But the fishing can be the greatest of all. By all means, do not go there without a camera. The scenery is just beautiful and trying to explain what you saw is not as good as the picture. Even a picture of your catch and release fish with the background of the river is worth framing. Fall is really exciting.
∑ In Lewiston, go to the Artpark parking lot [free for fishermen] and walk towards the river. [Follow signs] There is access that will take you to some really nifty shore fishing. A long trail and well worth the price you pay for the walk. You will see the favorite spots to fish on the trail by the way the area looks along the shore. Some will be really beaten down from others using those spots. Again, donít forget the camera.
OK. Shore fishermen. What baits do you use? Tough question. Everybody has their own favorite but some true, long-standing favorites are heavy spoons, spinners and egg sacks or skein.
Spoons could be Little Cleos, mostly silver with a blue stripe 2/5 ounce or K.O. Wobblers. Spinners, could be Super Vibrax in sizes 4 or 5. Blade colors used are mostly silver, the body colors vary, but silver, florescent green, or chartreuse are good choices. Florescent red has been known to be a potent color on some days. Egg Sacks and/or Skeins are tough to beat some days and at certain times in the Fall. They can be bought at your local independent tackle dealer and those dealers are listed on this website on the Bill Hilts Fish Finder page .
Spoons and spinners are best if used without snap swivels but we suppose you could if you are into changing your lure sizes and colors frequently. Tie directly on the end of your line and cast up river, about at the 10 oíclock direction and allow the bait to drift down to about the 2 oíclock angle and reel Ďer in, hopefully with that big fish! Do the same with egg sacks/skein or single eggs sometimes. But now you need weight. Three-way swivels rigged like the boat fishermen will work or better yet, use a split shot of suitable weight pinched up the line. The split shot should be up the line far enough to allow the eggs to drift naturally.
∑ Always remember: Practice Good Catch and Release!
Removing Ticks Joe Ognibene ~ My daughter, Roxanne, sent me e-mail with a tip on removing ticks from hard to reach spots. Simply soak a cotton ball with liquid soap or detergent, apply to the tick and in few moments the tick will come off the skin on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball. Sounds like the ideal solution for ticks on youngsters.
Understanding clear waters vs. stained waters or discolored waters and what type of lures and baits to use is an asset to anyone fishing the Niagara River.
Here are some good tips to work with to make your chances better
1.] Use smaller diameter line. Steelhead in clear water tend to be shy. 2]. Use longer leaders. Sometimes up to 8-10 ft. in length. 3.] Use smaller baits. Weather it is eggs skeins or minnows. 4.] Best to use the new fluorocarbon as leader material. 5.] Use softer colors. Pink and yellow are both good. Weather used with egg sacks or yarn. 6.] It is important to fish deeper waters. 20 to 35 feet will generally do the trick 7.] Using an electric trolling motor vs. the main engine. With an electric you can control your drift better.
1.] Use Kwikfish lures in place of eggs or skein. The lures give a more visible target. 2.] If using egg sacks, run bright colors such as chartreuse or orange. 3.] Fish shallower water. Usually 4 to 15 ft. is good. 4.] Always run your electric trolling motor because you can spook your fish at shallow depths.
Boat Safety -
Some of the boaters and fishermen will be new to running a boat and how to navigate from one spot to another. There are gong to be days in the spring when fog suddenly appears and unless our boater is sure of where he or she is on the water getting back to the dock can be a challenge. Thatís when a reliable compass is well worth what you pay for it. The compass isnít going to do you much good unless you pay attention to it. Check your heading going out into the lake so you know which way to go coming back in if you canít see land. The time of year when it seems haze or fog is worse is in late summer when many of us fish closer to Toronto than Fort Niagara. You canít see the fort from far out in the lake and if youíre off a few degrees on your compass heading coming back you could wind up miles from the launch ramp.
The absolute best way to get back to exactly where you started
from is by using a sonar unit that utilizes Global Positioning Satellites to
pinpoint your exact location anywhere on earth. A GPS unit has memory
capabilities that can show you the path you took to get to where you are and how
to get back. When GPS first hit the market for private boaters they were quite
expensive but are now very affordable. Handheld units can be bought for about
$150 and are very reliable. If you plan to do much fishing far from sight of
shore a GPS unit might be a wise investment.
Getting the boat
ready for the season
SPINNER BAITS AND WHAT YOU
Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never
to himself has said, ďI wonder how you fish a spinner bait?Ē
Knots and 3-way swivels
Getting Equipment Ready for Fishing
Itís a good bet that
many of us were in such a rush to get out hunting last fall that we put the
fishing rods and tackle boxes away without a thought of how they will be in the
spring. Well, itís now almost spring and if you check the tackle boxes and
rods and reels you will see you have some work to do. Letís start with fishing
rods. If you did a lot of fishing last summer you could have guides that could
be grooved and that means line will snap while youíre cranking in a lunker. On
inexpensive rods the material used in making the guides is usually not of the
most wear resistant material and it doesnít take much to groove them. To
assure yourself of the best guides youíre advised to buy a rod equipped with
wear resistant aluminum oxide guides. To determine if you have a guide that
might be nicked, take a small piece of cotton batting and pass it through the
guide. If there is a nick a few strands of cotton will catch in the guide.
Replacing it is the only solution.
Catching Big Fish on a Fly rod
Catching large fish with a fly rod is vastly different from catching one with a spinning or casting rod. A major difference is the lack of an efficient drag system on the reel. A fly rod reel is simply a place to store the line when itís not in use. There are some fly rod reels that have a drag system built into them, but by and large, you will have more control putting drag on the line yourself. The two accepted methods are cupping the bottom of the reel with your hand or pinching the line between two fingers. When the fish first strikes and line is being stripped from the reel in a hurry, trying to place your free hand under it could result in a harked knuckle. Youíre better off using your thumb and fore-finger to try and put some tension on the line in the hopes of slowing the fish. This doesnít always work and it isnít unusual to have all the fly line stripped from the reel, so you will have to depend on the backing line on the reel. Backing is usually an artificial cloth line such as Dacron and most fly rod reels will hold about 200 yards of 20-pound test backing. If the fish strips the reel to the end of the backing, forget it. That fish is gone. Like fishing with any other rod, remember what you were taught as a youngster, ďkeep his head up.Ē
Fishing with a fly rod for salmon or the large rainbow trout
that live in the lower Niagara River all winter begins by choosing the
The two accepted methods are cupping the bottom of
the reel with your hand or pinching the line between two fingers. When
the fish first strikes and line is being stripped from the reel in a
hurry, trying to place your free hand under it could result in a harked
knuckle. Youíre better off using your thumb and fore-finger to try and
put some tension on the line in the hopes of slowing the fish. This
doesnít always work and it isnít unusual to have all the fly line
stripped from the reel, so you will have to depend on the backing line
on the reel. Backing is usually an artificial cloth line such as Dacron
and most fly rod reels will hold about 200 yards of 20-pound test
backing. If the fish strips the reel to the end of the backing, forget
it. That fish is gone. Like fishing with any other rod, remember what
you were taught as a youngster, ďkeep his head up.Ē
~ What do you know about it?
Each March, DEC workers strap on
battery packs and wade into the currents of the Lakes tributaries to look for
spawning rainbow trout.
The direct-current wands that they use
to probe deep pools stun hiding fish and bring them to the surface, where
they're quickly netted and transferred to holding tanks.
Each fish is weighed
examined by biologists and fisheries technicians. Many are held aloft for
snapshots before they're released, no worse for the wear.
The fact that many
of the trout
captured during the shocking trips weigh in excess of 5 pounds explains why so
many anglers tag along. It's not unusual to find several hundred kids and adults
waiting on the stream banks when the state workers arrive.
The electrofishing events give anglers
a preview of the trout season that opens on April 1.
WHAT LURE TO USE FOR FISHING? LIVE
Whatever you use that works for
you is what you should stick with. Having spent some time in the tackle-selling
end of the game I can tell you that lures and related equipment are made to
attract fishermen first and if they catch fish so much the better. Itís okay
to take some advice and recommendations from other fishermen, but youíre wise
if you stick with what you find works for you. It may not be the latest
whiz-bang lure or bait out there, but if it catches fish for you, stay with it.
Many of us use artificial lures and baits simply because they are so much easier
to use than live bait. Letís face it, itís difficult to keep minnows alive
in a bucket and putting a leech on a hook is not an easy job. Most of the time
artificial lures and baits will do the job, but it sure is tough to beat a
wiggly night-crawler worm, squirming minnow or soft-shelled crab.
TIPS FOR BAITFISHING FOR YELLOW PERCH
Yellow perch can be finicky and anglers often find that picky
perch will only nibble on hooks baited with emerald shiner minnows.
Emerald shiners are in short supply during the summer months
and as a result, many bait shops offer fathead minnows, which are often
pond-raised and more readily available, and northern creek chubs. Both are
darker in color while the shiner minnows are slender and have sparkling scales
that are a perch magnet. Some shops have only small "pinhead" emerald
shiner minnows. Although small, the sliver-sized minnows can save the day. Many
perch fishermen stay away from extra-large shiner minnows, which are best if an
angler is trying to hook up with smallmouth bass.
Perch spreaders and crappie rigs, which are weighted and hold snelled long-shanked No. 6 gold wire hooks, are the most popular rigs for catching perch. Anglers usually lower the rig to the lake bottom, reel in a foot or two of line and wait for perch to bite. If the bottom-feeding perch aren't around an angler simply reels in a foot of line every minute, or so, to see whether the perch are suspended off the bottom. A method that seems to catch bigger perch, but not two at a time like the other rigs, is to remove the treble hook from a metal jigging spoon and attach a short 2- or 3-inch piece of fishing line and a No. 6 hook.
DROP SHOTTING for perch can be an extremely successful way to latch on to these critters. Drop Shotting gives a better feel of those light bites that so often happens when the fish has a lazy day. GO HERE FOR DROP SHOT INFO AND RIGGING This works very well on a variety of fish
WHERE TO FIND SUMMERTIME NIAGARA RIVER LARGEMOUTH
Large-mouth bass like to stay in warm and shallow water where they have lots of hiding places. On the upper Niagara River fishing for them near the southbound, north bridge is usually very productive. Boaters usually get within casting distance of shore and let the boat drift and cast towards shore. For the fellow who wants to cast from shore the end of the wharf at Big Six Creek on Grand Island is a top spot. Inside the marina on the side opposite the docks is an excellent area for large-mouth bass. Big Six Creek is loaded with weeds, not very deep, and is home to many large-mouth bass.
Locally, Wilson Harbor is another hot spot for largemouth
using the same methods as mentioned above.
A TIP FOR GOOSE HUNTERS
The best field to put a pit blind in is one where the corn has been picked
and stalks are laying on the ground. The stalks make excellent cover for the top
of the blind. Just because youíre under cover doesnít mean you can do a lot
of moving around in the blind. Be as quiet as possible with very little
un-necessary moving. Geese have sharp eyesight and can spot unusual movements
and spook off. If youíre calling stop when geese begin circling overhead and
freeze when you see wings set and feet extended. Many goose hunters claim once
geese have wings set and feet thrust forward they must land before being able to
fly away. Donít believe it, they can unlock those wings and pull their feet in
and be gone before you can get your gun to your shoulder.
CURE YOUR OWN SALMON EGGS FOR FISHING
QUESTION: How do you cure your salmon eggs for fishing?
ANSWER: There are many different ways to do this and if you would like to share your way, email us and tell us. Here are two ways suggested that I used when I was in the Tackle Store business. This worked for thousands of cures! When all is done, you want your eggs rubbery.
METHOD #1) BORAX/BRINE : First, start with nice fresh salmon eggs skein cut into pieces. [a.k.a. roe] Keep them as clean and cool as possible. Never freeze fresh salmon eggs before applying any type of preservative. They will turn out gooey and mushy and stink. Make sure you rinse with non-chlorinated water. Use river or lake or rain water to rinse.
Now days there are products you can walk into your local tackle shop and purchase egg cures like Pautzkes Bait Cure and they do a wonderful job. Just follow package directions.
If you would like a really nice cured egg skein with colors to match conditions, try the old Borax brine method. You can buy a box of Borax at you local supermarket in the detergent soap department. [20 Mule team] While you are there pick up some fabric dye. Orange, red or pink, whatever color you choose. Oh, get some zip lock bags too while you are there.
Start with 1 cup Borax, 1 cup of white sugar and 1 cup of pickling salt. Make sure you use pickling salt as it is non-iodized.
Bring all ingredients together and boil in a stainless pot. [preferred] and then let cool completely. Then add your skein or roe and stir everything up gently and let soak for Ĺ hour. [Stir occasionally.]
Remove eggs and lay flat on paper towels and store overnight in a cool place. [refrigerator?] This will dry them somewhat. Next put your eggs in a zip lock bag and coat with Borax right out of the box and do like you would with Shake-n-Bake to make sure they are coated.
This same method works perfectly with single eggs too, but dip the eggs in the mixture for about ten minutes or so with a strainer and let them dry on paper towels and dry lightly. Put them in small jars or plastic zip-locks. This is the time you can add scents like oil of anise if you want scented eggs. Your eggs will become rubbery and stay that way for a long time. Store them in the refrigerator.
The brine mixture can be used over and over if properly stored in Ďfridge.
Rainbow and Brown Trout eggs are the preferred egg to use over Salmon eggs BUT to purchase any kind of Rainbow or Brown Trout egg is ILLEGAL.......... It is NOT illegal to cure and use your own eggs.
and mesh to tie eggs into bags is available at and at A-1 Bait, and most other
independent tackle stores. Go to the "SPONSORS"
page on this website for directions and more information. Be sure to check out
"Feather & Fur" [also on sponsor's page] already cured eggs. You can get a FREE
sample of his eggs there. GO
HERE FOR INFO ON PAUTZKES CURE
FALL FISHING IN THE NIAGARA RIVER
PREPARING THE BOAT FOR NEXT SEASON
The end of September seems to be the signal for boaters to haul the boat out of water and store it for the winter. To assure an easy starting boat next spring proper winterizing is a must. If itís a job you donít feel qualified to do take the boat to a marine dealer to have it done. Many boaters opt to have the boat shrink-wrapped as well as winterized and thatís something you canít go wrong with. Shrink-wrapping protects the interior of the boat from winterís onslaught. If you decide to make your own winter cover with readily available plastic sheet be sure to outfit the boat with slat sockets to hold fiberglass cover bows. The bows hold the plastic covers in an arc over the boat to protect it from rain and snow. Usually four bows along the length of the boat will do the job. Bungee cords or nylon rope can be used to secure the covering to the boat trailer. Bows and sockets are usually available at most marine supply stores.
If youíre planning to winterize the boat yourself there are few things you
must do. The inside of the engine must be fogged to prevent possible rust or a
sticky valve. Directions for fogging are on the can or in the specifications
booklet that came with the engine. Remove the battery and top it off with
distilled water and store in a cool place for winter. Remember to trickle charge
it a few times over winter and you will have a battery ready to go in the
spring. Check the level of the oil in the lower unit of the engine and if when
checking water dribbles out, you had better have the seal on the lower unit
checked. Grease the fittings on the engine and trailer wheels and tip the front
of the boat upwards and remove the drain plug so that any snow or rain that
enters and melts can run out and not rot the floor. Fill the gasoline tank and
add stabilizer to it to prevent a build-up of moisture over winter. A little
time spent now means the boat will be ready to go come next spring.
TREE STAND SAFETY
With the gun season for deer not too far in the future many hunters are
taking advantage of some nice weather to check on their favorite stands and make
whatever repairs or changes are needed. Itís during deer season that most
hunting accidents happen. Aside from an occasional gunshot accident, falls from
tree stands are high on the list. One of the many reasons given for falls is a
ladder giving way when the hunter climbs. There are still those who simply nail
pieces of board onto the trunk of a tree and climb it for years. Another cause
is not securing yourself to the tree in the event you slip from the platform.
Boards that were nailed onto a tree trunk last year are not to be trusted this
year. Over time and normal tree growth nails loosen and boards can pop out very
easily when weight is placed on them.
TIP FOR FISHING THE LOWER NIAGARA RIVER
Fishing the lower Niagara with the current working for you
means your lure should be one that sinks below the surface, but not one that
dives to the bottom. The lure you choose should have lots of wiggle to it also.
A favorite of many lower river fishermen is the Kwikfish. It has a wiggle that
trout find irresistible. Color choice tends towards pink or red with some black.
[Of course the silver plated ones with colors.] I think the secret is a color choice that has flash to it. At this time of year
fish aren't moving around much and they have to be teased into hitting. Other
lures that will work would include the jointed Rapala, Rat-L-Trap in chrome
blue, or you could choose to go with spinner or solid lure such as KO Wobbler.
Some boaters are reporting good results with tube jigs gently bounced on bottom
out in the lake at the can. Tube jig colors that seem to be most popular and work best are
motor oil and dark green.
HOW TO QUICKLY TELL LARGEMOUTH BASS FROM SMALLMOUTH BASS
First off, for those who arenít sure of the difference between
the two basses the coloration will be the first clue. Big mouth bass are usually
lighter and have almost white stripes on their sides. Small-mouth bass are
usually a darker green color, but the sure way to tell is to look at the jaw of
both fish. With large-mouth bass imagine a line from the end of the eye down to
the jaw. On a large-mouth the end of the jaw will extend beyond the imaginary
line. A small-mouth jaw will not project beyond the imaginary line from the edge
of the eyed downward. The fighting characteristics between the two are slight,
but the small-mouth has the edge. Itís seldom you will catch large-mouth bass
in the same spot as you would small-mouth.
TOP WATER FISHING TIPS FOR BASS
Regardless of the lure you use donít hurry the retrieve. Toss
the lure out and let it sit for a moment or two. The splash the lure makes when
it hits the water will attract the attention of fish in the neighborhood and
when you start to crank the lure back donít rush it. Use the tip of your rod
to make the lure twitch in the water. If it has a lip on it use the rod tip to
dive the lure below the surface and then relax and let the lure bob to the
surface. You want to make the lure look like a critter that is trying to swim
away. If you do everything right the fish will come from below and slam the lure
scaring the bejabbers out of you. This is the time when most fish are lost
because the fisherman yanks the lure away from the fish. The rule to follow is
to not yank back until you feel something yanking on you. What happens many
times when bass, either variety, strikes top water baits is the fish loses sight
of the lure at the last second before striking. A lot of times you will see the
lure fly out of water because the fish hit it with his head and didnít get to
chomp down on it. If this happens simply let the lure sit and many times the
fish will spin around and slam it again. This is one of the times when a bass
can foul hook itself and if that happens you must release the fish immediately.
DROP SHOT FISHING
For one of the newest techniques for fishing all of the Niagara River from, and including all of Lakes Erie & Ontario, & thousands of inland lakes, "Drop - Shotting" has caught on tremendously in 2007. It has been a favorite of many pro-anglers for years. The winner of the Lake Erie's Summer Bass Pro contest held in 2007 was won using the drop shot methods. $$$$$ To learn more and to see how the method works GO HERE on this website for all you need.