Bill Hilts Weekly Weekend Fish Locator 

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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;
FRIDAY AUGUST 26 2016   

Weekly Weekend Fishing Report and Weather Forecast [at top]       

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!



1. Lake Ontario and tributaries – The Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey and Lake Ontario Counties derbies are dominating the catching scene as things settle back into more favorable conditions after some nasty winds blew through and messed the lake up. On Monday, it was cold water everywhere but by Tuesday places like the Niagara Bar had fish stacked up like cord wood as Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctor put it. That was confirmed by Walt Zebker and Mike Mongan of Grand Island as they reported excellent fishing at the drop off in 65 to 80 feet of water. That drop sees the bottom plummet from 60 to 220 feet in a very short amount of time and running your baits along that ledge was the ticket for both salmon and lake trout. Best bait set-up for them was a cutbait rig and a double-crush glow spin doctor with a no-see-em fly on or near the bottom. To the east, off Wilson and Olcott, trollers are still working the 50 to 100 foot stretch for mature kings getting ready to stage. Flasher-fly, cutbait, J-plugs and even magnum spoons will all take fish according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. The deep water program was returning to normal … if you can stay out of the weeds. Trout and salmon are available from the 24 to the 27 line south of the Niagara river current or north of the 31 line or north of the Niagara River current. Primarily spoons for a mix of fish. Some nice browns have been taken inside 55 feet of water. Just ask Dennis Stabler of Lockport who hit a 17 pounder to lead both the Fish Odyssey and LOC Derby – taking a spin doctor and fly in 55 feet of water. The inaugural Reelin’ for a Cure last Friday was a resounding success according to Stephanie Pierleoni of Newfane. They had 12 ladies teams signed up and the winning team was "Hooked on a Cure" fishing with Dave Peterson aboard the Hotline boat. They scored a six fish limit that totaled 117.11 points - based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound. Second place went to Smelting Hearts fishing with Capt. Kurt Driscoll and his Stalker boat with a score of 115.07 points. Big fish in the contest went to Chrissy's Crew, fishing with 716 Sportfishing and Capt. Matt Bedient with a 20.94 pound king salmon. Congrats to all of the winners in the Orleans County Rotary Derby that ended last Sunday. Grand Prize was a 30 pound, 14 ounce king salmon reeled in by Julie Schaeffer of Sligo, Pennsylvania. Top steelhead was a 14 pound, 1 ounce fish caught Robert Griffith of Akron, Ohio. Scott Bengsch of Webster had the top lake trout with 21 pounds, 1 ounce and Patrick Pullinzi of Hamlin was the leading brown trout catcher at 15 pounds, 7 ounces. The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby is underway and some impressive catches have been coming to the scales. Grand Prize leader for the $25,000 check is a 33 pound, 13 ounce king caught by Richard Clark of Tyler Hill, Pennsylvania while fishing out east. Go to www.loc.org  for details. The 40th Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby honoring the late, great Capt. Jeremiah Heffernan, is also underway through Sunday. Some nice fish have come to the weigh in sites in Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties including Mike Pinkham’s 28 pound, 7 ounce king; Jim Janese with a 24 and a half pound carp; Dave Muir’s 6 pound, 6 ounce smallmouth bass; Richard Barber with a 15 pound, 2 ounce lake trout; and Chris Pitek with an 11 pound, 15 ounce walleye caught on the Niagara Bar. Nice fish in the Junior Division, too. Check out www.fishodyssey.net for a leaderboard. It’s still not too late to register and kids are free!

2. Lower Niagara River - Speaking of walleye, the Niagara River Anglers Assn. will give it another go this Saturday for its Lower River Walleye Contest after the event was postponed last weekend. Sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. All the action will be held at the Lewiston Landing area, including the weigh in. Best two fish. For more info call Mike Heylek at 510-9750. A few walleye are being caught but most anglers are being tight-lipped on the action as they prepare for the contest. Worm harnesses or yellow sally flies with a spinner and a worm are the tried and true methods. Bass continue to be spotty, but there have been some nice smallmouth caught from shore along Artpark with in-line spinners in blue and silver. The first salmon of the year have shown up in small numbers in the lower Niagara River.

3. Upper Niagara River – Bass action continues to be decent, but some of the better fishing has been in Canadian Waters. If you are fishing in Canadian waters, make sure you call in to Customs and report your entry. Passports are now at the top of the list when you call in, but you can get by with an enhanced driver’s license. A third option is a driver’s license and a birth certificate. Capt. Terry Jones of 1st Class Bass reports that tube jigs have been working in some of the deeper holes in the river. In fact, he noted that a 7 pound, 3 ounce smallmouth was caught from Thompson’s Hole last weekend during a local bass club contest – a tournament that was won by Ted Barth of Bolivar with 18-plus pounds. Many of his winning catch were reeled in at the head of the river. Lyndon Hilts of Gasport is in third place in the Odyssey with a 5 pound, 4 ounce upper river smallie caught on a tube. Look for some deeper holes this time of year. Some big sheepshead are also being reported.

4. Lake Erie and tributaries – Walleye fishing has been a bit tougher than what anglers would like. Those finding fish don’t want their areas revealed because the locations are limited. Others are not willing to share too many details just yet because of the Walleye Challenge being run by Innovative Outdoors www.innovative-outdoors.com. out of Dunkirk on Saturday. Worm harnesses fishing off three-way rigs is one approach, from Sturgeon Point to Barcelona in 60 to 90 feet of water. Fish can be found on either side of that depth contour, too. Trollers are also working stickbaits and worm harnesses via riggers, divers, leadcore off boards, etc. Bass action has been inconsistent, as well, but some nice fish are still available if you have some patience and you are quick with a stick. Dave Muir of North Tonawanda is leading the way with a six pound, six ounce smallmouth that he caught in the lake on a shiner. Exact details will be revealed Sunday if the fish holds up.



Fonzi, Mazur [Left] Place Second in Bass Tourney –

A week after Joe Fonzi of Gasport placed third in the Canadian Bass Open out of Kingston, Ontario, he headed to Ed Huck Marina in Rockport, Ontario for the 1000 Islands Open sponsored by Renegade. After three days of intense fishing action, fishing with Larry Mazur of Lancaster, the dynamic bass duo scored a second place ranking out of 74 competing teams from the U.S. and Canada. They earned a check for $12,000 for their efforts with a total of 71.1 pounds. The winners, FLW Tour pro Curtis Richardson and Brad Arnett of Ontario, Canada, weighed in an impressive 75.72 pounds of bass for three days.

After the first day, Fonzi and Mazur were sitting in fourth place with a total weight of 23.76 pounds. They moved into second place on day two with another 23 pound bag. The field was cut in half for the final day as they slugged it out with the first place team. On the final day, the Fonzi-Mazur team stepped it up with a 24.34 pound total, but so did Richardson and Arnett 25.75 pounds of bass and the title. Any other year, Fonzi and Mazur would probably have won. But the first place catch was most impressive.

“We made a 155 mile round trip run every day from the marina,” said Fonzi. “We had reefs 23 miles out into Lake Ontario, blasting off by 7 am to be fishing by 9 am after navigating four and five foot waves. We ran drop shot rigs in 26 to 45 feet of water. Set the Hook Crush Worms and hand poured goby plastics were the top baits for us.”

Interesting note was that for Fonzi’s last six limits of fish for the last two tournaments he averaged 4.56 pounds per fish, a testament to the bass fishery on the lake.

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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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The above column is as it appears here is seen in the Niagara Gazette weekly.
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Go to the Official DEC Press release regarding the VHS Disease in fish


Niagara River Cabela's Masters Walleye Tournament story in photos HERE 

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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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