OUTDOORS Niagara region offers timeless getaway
When someone mentions Niagara the first thought that probably comes to mind is the majestic thundering water. That is natural since it is one of the wonders of the world and New York State and Niagara County have done a great job of making it attractive and accessible. But there is more to the Niagara region and all those attractions and resources are reasons that you should put this area on your list.
The falls remain spectacular no matter how many times you have seen them. My wife Carol and I never tire of going to Niagara Falls. New York State Parks Commission is doing a nice job of making improvements to the area and making it easy to enjoy the various beautiful and awe-inspiring views. Niagara County Tourism also makes it convenient to enjoy the area and all the other attractions.
Last year when we were there it was a beautiful warm autumn day so we also enjoyed the experience of the Cave of the Winds at the base of the American Falls and later took a ride on the Maid of the Mist. We stayed at nearby Lewiston at the charming Barton Hill Hotel and Spa (bartonhillhotel.com) overlooking the Niagara River.
For a complete list of attractions and other information contact Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303. Call 877-325-5787 and ask for their great booklet as well as Western NYHot Spots Fishing Map
With all of the attractions it is easy to overlook the great fishing that the Niagara area has to offer. Muskie fishing on the Upper Niagara River, and salmon, steelhead and lake trout, walleye, as well as bass fishing on the lower river and Lake Ontario provide world class entertainment. I have fished the lower Niagara River near Lewiston for lake trout, steelhead and smallmouth bass in recent years and it is great action.
Last year Bill Hilts Jr. and I went fishing for smallmouth bass on the lower Niagara River near Youngstown where the river empties into Lake On-
tario. We fished with local guide Bruce Blakelock (Riverside Sportfishing 716-754-4101) who specializes in bass and steelhead. We had barely left the launch ramp at Fort Niagara State Park when Bill and I had a double of two smallmouth bass on at the same time. These are the broad-shouldered chunky smallmouth bass that develop extra strength from fighting the river current and typically put up a lengthy and exciting battle. We enjoyed the action along with the scenery and a pleasant conversation with Bruce.
Lake Ontario fishing in Niagara County has a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Every year some of the biggest salmon, steelhead and lake trout are caught in these waters. Skilled charter captains keep track of the daily movements of the trout and salmon and put their customers into some great action. Recently they have been taking some nice salmon between 2030 pounds in the Olcott or Wilson area.
The lower Niagara River from the Devils Hole down to the Niagara Bar is a hot spot for fishing for salmon when they start to run. Autumn and even in winter it provides great action for steelhead, brown and lake trout. The area around the Artpark down to Lewiston is a popular drift with charter captains and skilled anglers who know the river and have the proper equipment and boat.
Drifting this area and fishing with Kwikfish, egg sacks or minnows is a proven method of getting into action with the trout mentioned above. Most of them will probably average 8-12 pounds and when you combine a fighting fish this size with the strength of the current you are in for excitement. Of course many larger fish between 15-20 pounds are also taken in each of the three species.
The big lake trout that inhabit the lower Niagara River are not like some laker winched up from over 200 feet on heavy salmon rigs. By contrast when caught on lighter tackle in shallow water, especially the current of the Niagara River, they put up a spectacular fight.
Steelhead are always exciting and the large size of these acrobatic fish only adds to the thrill and fun. It is possible to fish from shore in this area but anglers should use extreme caution because of slippery conditions.
For more information on fishing the lower Niagara or the Niagara Bar contact Ernie Calandrelli (firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-523-0013), Dan Evans (CaptainDan@LoneWolfSportfishing.com or 716863-0018), or Frank Campbell (email@example.com or 716-284-8546). All of these are great guides with lots of experience to make your outing a special one.
In addition to the falls and the fishing, there are other attractions to make a complete outing in any season or weather condition. The Niagara Falls Culinary Institute offers a state of the art demonstration kitchen, a fine dining restaurant, a New York style deli, a Barnes & Noble culinary-themed store and more. An aquarium, several art museums, NY Power Authority Discovery Center and other attractions beckon in all kinds of weather. For complete information on attractions, accommodations and more contact the Visitors Center at www. niagara-usa.com or call 1-877-FALLS US.
But above all you can enjoy a very different and exciting fishing experience for steelhead, brown and lake trout. Even in the heart of winter Niagara fishing is hot! If you are looking for variety, excellent fishing and pleasant surroundings, give serious consideration to fishing the “western frontier” of New York State.
King George Fishing Derby: Lake George’s third annual King George Fishing Derby kicks off on Sept. 16 with new dates and new features designed to attract more anglers to the “Queen of America’s lakes.” The annual derby was previously held during the lake’s busy summer season and the new dates are meant to alleviate problems with recreational boaters and offer better fishing, especially for bass.
This year’s Derby includes a new prize category for landlocked salmon, along with large and smallmouth bass and lake trout in the Senior Division. There will be no salmon category in the Junior Division that is under 16 years of age. Registration for the 2017 Derby will be at the American Legion Post on Route 9L and includes free refreshments. Entry fee is $50 for adults and $30 for juniors. All entrants receive a free t-shirt and admission to the awards ceremony.
Fishing goes from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Registration is 4-8 p.m. on Friday. Boats may launch at any site with weigh stations available at the Hague boat dock, Roger’s Memorial in Bolton Landing and the village’s public docks in Lake George.
Over $15,000 in prize money goes to the winners with juniors receiving a variety of merchandise prizes. Entries are available online at www.kinggeorgefishingderby.com and a local fish and bait shops.
Fall LOC Derby: The 2017 Fall Lake Ontario Counties Derby is underway and already some impressive fish have been taken. The Derby runs from Aug. 18 until Sept. 4 with weigh-in closing at 1 p.m. on Sept. 4. The Derby offers $68,900 in cash prizes for fish in three divisions: salmon, steelhead trout and brown trout.
See the website www. loc.org for complete rules and regulations, registration sites and weigh-in stations. You can also register on line. A handy location for both registration and weigh-in station is All Seasons Sports, Rt. 13 Pulaski, 315-298-6433.
Oneida County Sportsmen’s Youth Goose Hunt: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and the Madison County NWTF plan to introduce youngsters and women the opportunity to learn goose hunting with a skilled mentor. The dates are Sept. 23 and 24.
Saturday, Sept. 23 will be the meeting with parents, ECOs and hunter mentors, target practice and other preparation for the next day’s hunt start- ing at 9 a.m. The actual hunt will take place on Sunday, Sept. 24 with the guidance of an ECO or hunter mentor in the field.
The program is open to youths ages 12-17. A small game license and a HIP number is necessary for all youngsters. Youths and women ages 16 and up will need a federal migratory bird hunting stamp along with license and HIP number.
Interested participants should contact Scott Faulkner 315-225-0192, or firstname.lastname@example.org, ECO Steve Lakeman 315-734-0648 or ECO Ric Grisolini 315-2406966 for an application or any questions on the program. Space in the program is limited so be sure to register early.