Bill Hilts Weekly Weekend Fish Report 

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Bill Hilts Jr. is a past president of the 
New York State Outdoor Writers Association.
In addition to the above, Hilts is an avid outdoorsman, 
an outdoor writer who has contributed articles to numerous 
national and local magazines, newspapers, and other publications. 
Hilts is also responsible for Niagara County Tourism Sportfishing Programs.
He freelances from his home in Sanborn N.Y.  
Hilts was inducted in the New York State 
Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame in the Spring of 2007! 

Email Bill at; Bill Hilts Jr.     
  This column as it appears here is seen in the Niagara Gazette on Fridays.
The Niagara Gazette is the area's leading outdoors sports information newspaper

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Bill Hilts Fish Locator
Bill Hilts Jr.



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On this page is the complete, uncut, unabridged, unedited version of the weekend fishing forecast

 Note: Hilts SUNDAY Outdoor Column appears on this website HERE  

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Up to date fishing report for your weekend fishing;

Weekly Weekend Fishing Report and Weather Forecast [at top]
Niagara Fishing Forecast

Go past the Niagara Fishing Forecast for Hilts Jr. "FISHING BEAT" [Below]

Parker Cinelli w/ Upper River Musky .........John Reid of Virginia w/ nice Lake Erie Bass

Niagara Fishing Forecast for Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016

Lake Ontario and tributaries – It’s raining out as this report is being written. Could this be the rain that triggers a more substantial run in 18 Mile Creek and some of the other tributaries? We certainly hope so! Salmon and trout are being reported in 18 Mile Creek despite the lack of flow and warmer water temps. Best action has been in the harbor and in some of the deeper holes in the lower sections of the creek drifting treated egg skein under a float or casting Rat-L-Traps, Rapalas or other body baits. The same program will work off the piers where some salmon and browns are being reported. At Burt Dam, some fish are available include kings and browns with an occasional steelie or Atlantic salmon. Egg sacks or egg imitations have been working best at the dam. Perch action has picked up in Wilson and Olcott harbors and pike fishing continues to be decent if you want to target those toothy critters. In the King of the Creek contest being run by All in the Same Boat, a new Boat Division leader was carried to the scales by Bob Rustowicz – a 29.85 pound king using a “secret” bait.

Lower Niagara River – While the run of salmon is definitely slower than what it was, there are still some fresh fish available to those wanting to fish the Devil’s Hole area from boat or shore. Treated egg skein from boats fished off three-way rigs, bouncing bottom. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters was one for two today with one list at the boat and 4 or 5 other "misses" so there are some fish out there. From shore, you can fish eggs under a float or cast hardware like jigs, spoons or spinners. Best colors have been blue, green, pink, firetiger and orange. The fishing platform has been producing some nice catches, but they are talking about doing some maintenance in the near future on the corner generator so that will slow things down a bit when that happens.

Upper Niagara River – A few muskellunge are starting to show up but it will only get better as the water cools. Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island ran a recon trip with his wife and two sons and they boated a nice ‘sky yesterday and lost another. Some night fishing is also going on for walleye and musky. For walleye, try the head of the river and into Buffalo Harbor. Cinelli also reported some good fall bass action around Donnolly’s Wall. The Niagara Musky Assn. will be holding its next meeting on Nov. 1 at the Eldredge Club in Tonawanda. Guest speaker will be Chris Legard, DEC fisheries biologist talking about recent Niagara River studies on muskies and other species.

The Canadian Tire Lake Erie Open was held last weekend and Joe Fonzi of Gasport and Larry Mazur of Lancaster had a good feeling. They were on some decent fish. In fact, Fonzi guided some clients to three 6-pound smallmouth a few days before the Oct. 8 tournament was run out of Chippewa, Ont.  This was a two-person, best-five fish contest and the Fonzi-Mazur duo worked 40 feet of water just off Buffalo along a specific rock ledge. In the first hour and a half, they boated 25 fish using drop shot rigs outfitted with Jackall Crosstails; and swim baits. They definitely attracted the attention of some of the competitors. It wasn’t long before they were surrounded by boats. The rest of the day they only caught 15 more fish and they never hauled in that 6-pound kicker fish that they needed. They finished a respectable fifth in the 75-boat field with a five-fish weight of 22.80 pounds. Winners were Rob McIntosh and Scott Huffman of St. Catharines with 25.07 pounds.


Bass are starting to go on their fall feed. According to Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island, he’s been doing extremely well from the round house to Donnelly’s Wall using large golden shiners. Water depth is 12 to 20 feet, bouncing bottom humps with the lightest weight possible. It could be as light as a quarter to three-eighths ounce. Everything is 8-pound test line as the water can be super clear. Off Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek, Capt. Jim Hanley sends word that the bigger goldens are working for him, too. Best bass action has been in 15- to 40-foot depths, but the most consistent has been at the 25-foot mark. Tubes and drop shots with gulp minnows have also been working. That big walleye school is still hanging off Point Breeze, but getting them to bite has not been easy. Trying force-feeding them with stickbaits, worm harnesses or blade baits. No solid perch reports yet. Fonzi did some checking on Tuesday this week and managed to catch a handful. However, he did encounter one angler who had a limit of yellow perch that he caught in 68-70 feet of water. Salted minnows did the trick. In closer to shore, some anglers are casting the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek with Cleos and stickbaits and picking up some nice steelhead. We also had reports of a few more trout showing up in the lower stretches of the Catt, but a good rain is needed to really trigger the run. Don’t be surprised if you catch a pink salmon. All the other tribs are low and clear.

email: billhiltsjr@gmail.com



Bill Hilts Jr.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

The Oak is fishing very well, but is also receiving a lot of pressure according to Bryant Abbuhl of Rochester. The dam is shoulder to shoulder, but the fish are being caught consistently. There are good numbers of kings from top to bottom. More and more browns and steelhead are showing up daily. Some very big 15-plus-pound browns are in the system; there are not many cohos to report. Fish are being taken by bottom bouncing and floating egg-sacks and marabou jigs tipped with wax worms in the deeper and slower pools. In the fast water, fly fisherman are doing well swinging wooly buggers and soft hackles for a mixed bag of trout and salmon. Centerpin fisherman with egg flies and beads are also proving them to be effective. Remember a life vest is required if you are fishing the river down from the dam.

Over in 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam, the salmon and trout are making it to the dam but more water flow is needed to really give it a more concentrated push. There are some kings and browns at the dam and anglers that know what they are doing are reeling in fish. The better action has been in the harbor and off the piers. In the harbor and in the lower sections of the creek, boats have been using treated egg skein fished under a float to take good numbers of salmon. The pier fishing at Olcott is often predicated on winds. With high winds, getting out on the pier can be difficult. When it’s calm, there is some float fishing going on. Anglers will often use an egg sinker with some type of a float (birdy drifter or corkie for example) near the hook to get the eggs slightly off the bottom. Casting spoons, spinners or Rat-L-Traps will also catch fish – salmon and browns with an occasional steelhead. Some brown trout action is being reported off the beaches at Olcott, as well. Perch have been hitting in Wilson and Olcott harbors as well as the lower stretches of the Oak. Pike are hitting in those waters, too.

Niagara River

The Lower Niagara River salmon run is starting to slow down as it normally does this time of year. Even though many of the guides have already put away their salmon rods for this fall, there are some fish still available if you want to give it a go in the Devil’s Hole area. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters hit the “hole” earlier this week and managed to box three kings and lost a couple more on one trip. Treated egg skein is still the ticket for boat drifters. Many of the salmon caught were still fresh. From shore, Glenn Strzelczyk of Niagara Falls has been using some hair jigs dressed up with some flashaboo to imitate the baitfish in the river. Natural color is best. He’ll also toss inline spinners and spoons in green, pink, blue and silver colors. Yellow can be a good color, too. Some anglers will try and drift eggs under a float. Use a bigger float and seek out some of the back eddy areas where the current isn’t as strong. In the upper Niagara River, the walleye bite has turned on at night at the head of the river and in Buffalo Harbor on floating No. 11 and 13 Rapalas and Husky Jerks. Casting the shoreline can also work for shore bound anglers at dusk and into the night off Broderick Park and Bird Island Pier. Bass action has also been good as fish are starting to go into their fall feed. Capt. Larry Jones reports that with the full moon being bright, the best time for trolling for muskies has been early morning when it is still dark but with the moon dropping low to trees. With the clear water conditions and bright nights, the muskies have been a tough bite. He did manage a nice 47-inch muskie trolling near Black Creek Tuesday morning at 4:35 a.m. Weeds are still a problem and water temps are still very warm for mid-October at 63 degrees. Look for the muskie action to start to pick up around the new moon or dark side coming soon.

Lake Erie and tributaries

While there are a few trout in places like Cattaraugus Creek and Canadaway Creek, water levels are still low in many of the streams. We need some rain! A stealthy approach is recommended for the low, clear conditions but fish are being caught. In the meantime, perch action is starting to turn on off Sturgeon Point, Cattaraugus Creek and Dunkirk. Off Dunkirk, head northwest to 70 feet of water where they are catching big jumbo perch according to Capt. Larry Jones. They are about a foot off bottom so the top hook on a pan fish rig is catching most of the fish. Red hooks were producing more fish as well. Those using salted minnows are getting their fair share, but live emerald shiners can mean an easy limit of 50 – if you can find both the bait … and the perch. Perch schools have been showing up off Sturgeon Point in 46-50 feet of water according to Dave Muir of North Tonawanda. Drifting with crappie rigs baited with golden shiners work best as the schools are moving around quite a bit. Perch up to 1 pound, 10 ounces were caught by Muir. Not too much has changed for bass. Capt. Jim Hanley is still catching bronzebacks in 25 to 40 feet of water when he can get out on the lake. Live bait and drop shot rigs. Hanley noted that 65 feet was also a good depth off Sturgeon Point for perch.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye fishing has been very good this fall according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Many keeper-sized fish are being reported with several undersized mixed in. Trolling lead core in the south basin and vertical jigging the north basin are both working. In the north basin, focus on 30 to 50 feet of water. Gotchas, ice jigging Rapalas and Shiver minnows are working. Walleye can be found at night along the shoreline in the southern basin. Try casting with small stickbaits. Musky fishing has picked up in the last 10 days. Both trolling and casting are working. Sperry has boated eight fish in the last couple of days. Water temp was 62 degrees on Tuesday in the north basin. Perch are literally everywhere. They can be caught near the weedlines or out in deep water. Minnows under a slip bobber or jigging vibes will work according to Sperry.



Long and Winding Road – Bill Hilts Jr.

One of my favorite Beatles tunes is “Long and Winding Road” and that’s what the last 36 years has felt like writing for the Niagara Gazette and the Greater Niagara Newspaper Group. It’s been an honor to serve you for nearly four decades – a similar path that my father, Bill Hilts, Sr. took as my mentor. I think I took it down the outdoors road a little longer with the Gazette than “Big Bill,” but the path was the virtually the same. With the resignation of Will Elliott from the Buffalo News, I was asked to fill those Size 12 shoes as best I can. With a focus of promoting the great outdoor natural resources that we have in Western New York, I could not pass on the opportunity. Please don’t think of this as abandoning the local sportsmen and women; think of this as a new beginning to perform outreach to more people. You’ve had me at your service for a long time. The Gazette staff has been great to work with over the years, going back to the days of Joe Ognibene (another outdoor writer I had the pleasure to work with), Bill McGrath, Bill Wolcott and Dick Kraatz to name but a few. However, the staff has changed over quite a bit, too. Nothing is forever. I want to thank everyone who has been a loyal reader of my fishing and hunting experiences; my outdoor adventures and rantings about things that just don’t seem right. The road had been a long one … but I still have a few miles left in these fingers moving forward. You know where to reach me and I will continue to do my best to report the outdoors moving forward…just not in these pages. Tight lines.

We are losing Bill Hilts Jr. to the Buffalo News. He will be having a kind of 'promotion' at the News, taking over for Will Elliott, a long time outdoor writer, and friend, at the News. Will is retiring after a long career in the business, and I'm sure his readers will miss him there. Bill told me he doesn't know the feeling of the Buffalo News yet, on whether he can forward his weekly columns to Outdoors Niagara at this time, so our distant readers will have to bear with us until and if, it comes to fruition…. Mark Daul

An outdoor show on LCTV (Time Warner Cable Channel 22; Phone number is 716-434-1733; www.lctv.net  is on Wednesdays at 4 pm called “The Outdoor Beat”, bringing aboard local experts on area outdoor activities. It will be live for call-in and also air several other times on Thursday and the weekend. Check it out!

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Dropshotting for bass: [Lake Erie] Capt. Jim Hanley sends word that just prior to the Labor Day weekend and the nasty weather he had experienced some of his best fishing of the year around Sturgeon Point, Myers Reef and Seneca Shoal. You could catch all the 14-15-inch smallmouth bass you wanted in 25 feet of water or you could slide out a bit deeper – out to 45 feet – to catch some bigger fish up to 5 pounds, six ounce for him. He had back to back days of 120 bass coming to the boat. Top bait was crayfish and Gulp green worms fished on a drop shot rig. « Go to Link

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Go to Hilts Weekend Fish Locator
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Fishing Tips Page ~                         

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 13 2009 - We must preface this report with some sad news. One of the local giants in the sportfishing industry passed away this week. Capt. Doug Stein of Grand Island, a charter captain and guide for many years, died after a valiant bout with cancer. Doug was the president of the Niagara River Anglers Assn. for nearly a decade, with one of his big initiatives being the first pen rearing project for salmon in the county. He was one of those guys willing to go out on a limb to support what he believed in and always willing to help when work needed to be accomplished to help the sportfishery along. He was a big man with an even bigger heart and I’m proud to say that he was a friend of mine. We fished, hunted and shot together and he will be sorely missed by many. Bill Hilts Jr.

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