Late Fall Fishing in Buffalo Niagara
The arrival of the late fall fishing pattern this year really took me by surprise. This past summer was great, characterized by long days, mild temperatures, and awesome fishing. Even when I had some other endeavor that kept me off the water during “normal working hours,” the long days of summer still allowed for at least 4 hours of daylight to wet a line. As the summer transitioned to fall, the fast and furious days of salmon fishing kept me delightfully distracted from the fact that the days were getting shorter. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, daylight savings time struck.
Daylight savings time strips one hour of day time fishing from the back end of our day at a time when the days are already too short. This year was particularly striking for a couple reasons:
– The salmon run was strong and there were very few un-fishable days
– It stayed warm well into October. I was fishing in shorts a couple times not all that long before Halloween
– Then, with a flip of a switch, mother nature turned things cold, windy, and wet, as if to say, “I don’t give a sh*& about your need to fish.”
Wind, Rain, and Cold – What a Downer
Wind, rain, and cold together usually create some nasty conditions around Buffalo Niagara. All the wind causes huge waves in Lake Erie (double digits in wave height aren’t uncommon). Waves that size churn up this shallow lake and all that mud and sediment flow downstream into the Niagara River.
The rain makes this “churn” even worse. All the tributaries that feed Lake Erie and the Niagara River swell with water and mud and dump all of it, plus the occasional tree, into the Niagara River. Good times!
Finally, colder air temperatures drop the water temperatures (obviously!). Colder water, because of its density, takes longer to clear – if it does at all (around here, the clearest water in the dead of winter still has a green hue). Over the past month, Lake Erie and the Niagara River dropped by over 10 degrees – a quick transition symptomatic of this crazy weather we’ve been having lately.
Although a Bit Frantic, I’m adjusting
Over the past few weeks, there has been no shortage of wind, rain, and cold – making the river nearly unfishable on more than a few occasions. Notice I used the phrase, “nearly unfishable,” to describe the shape of things. Even when the river is flowing at only a couple feet of visibility, anglers can still catch fish. Drag something deep that is loud and fish eye-catching and eventually, you’ll have a bent rod. You just have to put in some work – a bit of a pain in the ass considering how relatively easy the fishing was in the months prior, and how it can be when the water is clear.
Putting the challenges of late fall fishing aside, this is a frantic time of year for me. Ideal days or even semi-optimal days, have been fleeting lately. Sure, everyone should make the best of every day above ground, but limited fishing time really puts the pressure on to do so. Think about it this way, if you live in Buffalo Niagara and you’re reading this within a couple days of the publishing date, you’re facing about 4 months of really short days, cold temperatures, and highly erratic weather patterns.
Weather and dicey fishing conditions aren’t the only things to consider. Taking advantage of fleeting opportunities to fish will undoubtedly stress your relationship with work and family. If you’re anything like me, this time of year puts the great balance you had going over the past few months is now completely upended. Time to start planning accordingly lest you stay in stress mode.
Get your Head Right
When facing four plus months of potential adversity, you have to get your head right – now!
– If you weren’t already, start watching the forecast like a hawk and plan quick outings on the water accordingly.
– If you work during the week, time to fish on weekends should be nearly sacrosanct. At a minimum, the first half of the day should be open for fishing.
– If you’re a family person you should start making it a point to schedule family time/events during the week to keep things in balance.
– Make it a point to get outside for a small slice of every day. Shack nasties are a killer around Buffalo Niagara. Don’t allow yourself to get cooped up inside all day. Dress accordingly and take a quick stroll at a minimum. Build up a little tolerance to the chill to keep you in shape for the weekend.
– Book a fishing trip (shameless promo). Always have something to look forward to in the late fall and throughout the winter. Something that will force you to get outside and experience the region.
Put some of this into practice as we advance rapidly toward winter. It’ll help you keep your sanity and allow you to experience some awesome fishing that one can only experience in Buffalo Niagara. See you out there!