The area is on the backside of high and blown flows thru the past weekend. There are a few guys back out on the waterways now who are more or less nibbling on the edges. By steelhead standards the smallest tribs like Marsh are probably in good, slightly high and stained flows right now. The other area smaller waterways east and west of the Oak are likely just a day or so away from being in similar reasonable fishable condition. For now Johnson and Sandy are high and dirty, but on the retreat. All the previous icing should be blown out. Look for Sandy to mend next behind Marsh and then next will be Johnson – all coming into that nice slightly high and slightly stained flow.
Weather forecast ahead thru something like the weekend is back to seasonably warm with this mid week period highs near 40°F. No significant precipitation seen in the near term. All the dropping and clearing is tempered some thanks to no real drop back to exceptional cold.
On the Oak, flows are high and dirty with less then a foot of visibility. Overflow levels are just about diminished today so look for full bore turbine water to be the run of the river. Expect high flows to continue in the near term since there is exceptional upstream swamp headwater supplies with water being over the roads there just a couple days ago. Water color should continue to be on the mend slowly but like mentioned there’s a fair amount of upstream dirty water that’s not going to be helped to clear by real cold temps. There are a few guys parked at each access spot and a couple fish have been hooked up. Whatever presentation you make via fly, float or spin it’ll have to be big and/or bright and/or stinky for best hook up potential. Every other previous spate of high water the steelhead action had perked up so this shot of water may well be what leads us into good action now vs what we typically see more toward Feb or Mar. We’ll have to wait and see if we return to any prolonged winter cold weather ahead.
Thanks to lake effect snow over the past weekend, the area received 4 – 6 inches of wind blown snow. Temps have turned cold with highs below freezing. The lake effect snow machine continues to churn with advisories still in place for south and west of the area. That forecast for continued cold and the chance for the WNY south shore of Lake Ontario to be brushed by some of the Lake Erie lake effect snow continues pretty much thru all this week. Look for windy conditions about mid week and chance of an area wide snow around Thursday. Long range forecast says chance for warming temps next week. Longer long range forecast calls for cold and winter like for end of January and into February.
Fishing pressure has fallen off thanks to the weather, but for any angler willing to hack the conditions there are pretty good opportunities for steelhead hookups, especially in the Oak. It's exciting to see the steelhead action responding well to each spate of higher water lately. Flow conditions so far still looking good at about med levels, about 2 ft of slightly stained visibility. No significant icing and even the downstream frog water remains mostly open for now. Other area smaller waterways still have about medium flows and are slightly stained. There’s greater icing conditions there but you might still find some fast water drift spots still fishable.
All around though, I’d look for dropping and clearing flows as the cold catches up with the waterways. Any downstream flat water, even on the Oak, will be heading to frozen conditions sooner then later. Smaller area tribs, especially, will be dealing with greater icing conditions. And snow can make any part of open water flows somewhat chunky without the benefit of significant daytime warm-up.
Happy New Year! Let's make 2024 a good one and resolve to catch some big steelhead! The opportunity is there with a mild start to the winter and what seems to be good numbers of steelhead in the Oak. So far, they are following the script and showing up on high water events. Check out the pic below of Simon’s good looking steelhead on the Oak. The previous mild December has set up conditions more like March so we’ll have to see what the weather ahead brings for January. Long range forecasts are hinting toward more winter-like weather settling in. Some steelhead are showing signs of spawning. Anglers report some pretty good action thru the end of last week and past weekend. Flows are dropping and clearing to something like medium flows with 1 – 2 ft of visibility so, as the fish get worked over some, look for a little tougher action. Bead or jig float drifts and dead drift fly drifts with egg patterns have been effective.
The smaller area tribs should have some brown trout re-distributed and a few fresh steelhead too. Those flows area about moderate and going toward clear with no major icing so far. You’d have to expect that if and when some consistent cold temps settle in that the smaller and dropping waterways will have some icing conditions. Weather forecast for this week is highs in the 30’s° and dropping back to 20’s°F at night. Chance of an area wide minor snow event this weekend.