March 1 to March 8, 2024
Lake Erie, Harbors and Tributaries
The tributaries saw a nice bump in flows on Wednesday. Levels have quickly dropped back and the majority of streams are in prime shape at report time. The exception is Cattaraugus Creek which is high and stained. The creeks have been fishing well when conditions have been favorable. There is a mix of fresh and drop-back steelhead in the streams. For those new to steelhead fishing see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.
Important Notice: Due to site and trail improvement projects, the Valentine Flats parking lot and access trail at the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area are closed until further notice. The nearby access point at Forty Road on S. Branch Cattaraugus Creek remains open. See Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area for details.
Shore anglers along Broderick Park are reporting modest catches of steelhead and walleye. Walleye are hitting swimbaits and blade baits during the first couple of hours after sunrise. Emerald shiners are showing at some traditional shore dipping sites. Emeralds work great for yellow perch fishing in harbors around the upper river and out on Lake Erie.
Water conditions on the lower river have been marginal over the last week or so due to semi-frequent bouts of high winds. Fishing effort has been light and the bite has been slower as a result. When conditions permit there is still great opportunity to catch a mix of steelhead, brown trout, lake trout and walleye in the upper drifts and gorge. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information, see Fishing the Lower Niagara River.
Attention anglers: The Artpark State Park Fourth Street entrance and Parking Lot D (lower lot) are closed until mid-May 2024 for a site improvement project. The lower park and shoreline are still accessible to pedestrians who park in the upper lots and walk down.
Lake Ontario, Tributaries, Harbors and Piers
Prospects are best at Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks, where anglers are catching a fair mix of steelhead and brown trout in lower and clear flows. Sandy Creek has good flow and color, but fishing has been slower this week. Flows are low and fishing is slow at Johnson Creek. The smallest streams are running at a trickle and are void of fish. For those new to tributary steelhead fishing, see Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries page.
Without ice in the harbors, trollers can get an early jump on Lake Ontario nearshore brown trout fishing. The spring bite is typically solid inside 20 feet of water. Trolling small to medium-sized spoons and stickbaits along mud lines or in murky (not muddy) areas is the typical tactic. Casting spoons and spinners at pier sites can also be productive for brown trout.
Chautauqua Lake is now ice free. With such an early ice-out this year, boaters have a couple of weeks to chase walleye before the season closes after March 15. Vertical jigging in around 20 feet of water off creek mouths is a tactic for staging walleye. As waters begin to warm, look for crappie, sunfish and yellow perch to start moving into the canals. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more information.
Inland Trout Streams
With a seemingly early spring and an extended warm-up in the forecast, trout activity should be picking up on the inland trout streams. Trout streams categorized as wild or stocked extended are the best bets. Put-and-take stocked streams will not be options until stocking commences in late March.
Spring Trout Stocking
With the unusual lack of ice on the trout-stocked lakes in the southern tier, the Randolph Hatchery will be making a few early stockings. During the week of March 4th, Quaker Lake, Science Lake and Case Lake will be stocked with yearling rainbow trout.
If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; [email protected]). Good Luck Fishing!