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Fishing The Niagara River With Kwikfish

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Mark Daul

Many years back the pioneer fishermen on the Niagara River, the Helin Flatfish was the main, tried and true artificial bait for catching limits of smallmouth bass. Classed in the "banana bait" family, Helin Flatfish it was truly the bait of choice.

The original Flatfish was developed by Charles Helin in the 1930's. Today it is owned by the Yakima Bait Co., Yakima Washington, makers of the famous Worden's Rooster tail and other well known hard baits.

In the late 70's, early 80's, when trout and salmon were introduced to Lake Ontario, the Lower Niagara River soon became a hotspot for salmonoid activity due to its flow and exceptionally oxygenated water. In the 1980's smallmouth bass started showing up in great numbers too, and the yellow perch population was exploding both in the lake and the river. Then, along came the newly introduced Coho's and Kings. Shore fishermen cast the Acme Little Cleo's and the Acme K. O. Wobblers for these "new" denizens' of the not too deep.   Acme was founded in 1952 and making 'Cleo's since 1980 and found instant success with the 2/5 ounce silver/blue in the Niagara. Following them was the newly introduced at the time, Blue Fox Super Vibrax, # 4 and $5 Sizes. Vibrax is still hot for shore fishermen. They also have proved their value on Northern Pike in some areas too.

Boat fishermen started using Helin Flatfish to a high degree of success because they worked on the smallmouth, why not the salmon in the river? They worked. Flatfish are historically a fine bait indeed. Colors offered were numerous.

Then along came a couple of young guys that were at the Toronto Sportsman Show one March and they got interested in a demo of the Kwikfish that resembled the Helin Flatfish except the hook arrangement  was a little bit different. They bought the "show special" and found they caught as many fish as the original flatfish did and they were easier on the pocketbook. At the show they were like "5 for 6". Flatfish at the same time sold for $2.95 each.

The Kwikfish was developed and manufactured by Val Breitenstein in Winsor Ontario. You won't find that information anywhere on the 'net, only on Outdoors Niagara!  Oh, yes, his son's name is "Brett" and the lures were shipped out of Detroit MI. [Ren Cen Station] Val and I eventually were on first name basis and I ended up importing more Kwikfish than anyone in the United Sates because it caught fish in the lure eating Niagara River not to mention its success. 

Lets get on with the story.

Tips on using the Kwikfish and other baits on the River
By Bill Hilts Jr.

When fishing the Lower Niagara River one of the things to make the most important difference is boat control. Pay attention to the speed of your drift as you move with the current and what role the wind plays in your drift. If you're moving too fast you might have to slow your speed with a trolling motor [pref. electric] or switch your bait. 

Kwikfish lures seem to work better when you have a southwest wind, pushing your boat along a bit more quickly than normal. If you're running eggs, you may have to slow your drift down. A north wind will do that, but you don't want to be too slow. Try using that trolling motor to enhance your speed and keep you in position to take a fish. 

Charter guys that fish that river almost every day are doing best by concentrating on boat control, leader length and what bait might work best for the conditions at hand. Trout fishing in the lower river will generally continue November through May. Steelhead, lake trout and brown trout are all available. Kwikfish, eggs, egg imitations like yarn balls or Jensen eggs, as well as live bait like minnows will all work for you. For a weekly update in fishing the lower river, check out Bill Hilts Weekly Fish Locator page.

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