I had a chance today to fish the Niagara River Whirlpool with my friend Otto for trophy chinooks. We started fishing around 7:30am while it was still low light and on my first cast I hooked a small male chinook using a Rapala J13 in chartreuse/silver. Three casts later I hooked a second male salmon that was a little larger on the same J13.
My drift outfit consisted of the Rapala Shift 13′, 3-piece drift rod, Rapala Classic Drifter reel, a Carlisle float and staggered shot. I fished the Sufix Seige 8lb. “tangerine orange” main line with a Sufix 100% Fluorocarbon leader.
I was also testing today using the Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap hook in a size #2. This hook is build out of very thin, yet strong steel. It has a short shank, wide bend and very sharp hook with a tiny barb. To me these are all excellent characteristics when drifting a larger chunk of skeened salmon eggs.
Using a Perfect Snell Know and securing to the shaft of the hook enables the angler to form a loop and to gently insert a chunk of skeened salmon eggs. As you can see from the image above, not only does this skeened chunk look great, the short-shanked hook is exposed to guarantee excellent hook-ups!
I had my float-rig set for a 7-depth and drifted the first current-seam only 20-30′ out from shore. Due to the low water clarity, the chinooks were definitely holding shallower and closer to shore which was evident by rolling fish on the surface.
I also had the pleasure of talking to several anglers that had watched the latest salmon fishing show we shot at the Whirlpool on our Italo Labignan YouTube channel. One was a young man that had never landed a salmon at the Whirlpool and who scrambled to find a Rapala J13 with no luck. I let him have a fluorescent red/gold J13 and within 1/2 hr. I helped him land his first Niagara River, Whirlpool Chinook!
My friend Otto who is 75 yrs. old had no problem going up and down the gorge to get to the Whirlpool. For those of you that have not gone down to the Whirlpool, the main access had a good walking trail and many steps that have a very steep descent. No problem going down, but walking up is a challenge!
You’ll notice from the various images above that the water level really fluctuates at the Whirlpool. In the early morning the water can be up to 30′ below it’s high-level. By late morning it is almost to the tree line. The fish adjust to the changes, but anglers must make sure that anything they put down like a cell phone, back-pack, rods, tackle box, etc., is above the maximum water level, otherwise if they don’t attend to their gear it can be swept away.