This past weekend had perfect for conditions on the Niagara River to drift for steelhead and brown trout. I met friends Christine and Ben on the way to Queenston, and were launched as the sun was rising. I was very happy to see the river clearing with several feet of visibility. I knew this meant the fishing would be great. The weather was excellent with no wind and slightly below freezing. We traveled down river to where there were no other boats and began to drift full of anticipation.
It wasn’t long into our first drift when Christine hooks a big fish. It pulled drag and put quite a bend into her 9′ RSC rod as it dogged down deep. After an intense battle of tug-of-war with rod and reel, Christine put her first brown trout ever into the boat. It was a beast at almost 11 and a half pounds. What a first brown trout to catch! Well done Christine! On our very next drift, Christine boated a beautiful Niagara steelhead. Ben and I hooked up a few times, but Christine dominated the boat in the morning hooking fish after fish while Ben and I played net attendant for her.
While drifting, Christine hooked a really big fish that we knew was a steelhead instantly. A very intense battle ensued. It violently erupted on the surface of the water thrashing its head and tail-walking across the surface of the water. This had all of us gasp and giggle with excitement as Christine perfectly fought and landed the most beautiful fish of the day. Christine was in her glory and had a smile and excitement that was contagious. I was happy to see her first experience on the Niagara so amazing. The girl got two personal best trout within an hour as she absolutely rocked the boat out-fishing the two experienced guys. Christine was hot!
We eventually moved up river after the drift we were fishing became busy and found another drift all to ourselves. It wasn’t long before we hooked up and I got a Niagara Grand Slam! A brown trout, steelhead and lake trout. Ben hooked a couple feisty steelhead that took him to task and got the better of him. Some Niagara chromers can leave many anglers with a broken line and heart with their powerful ability to take line faster than a NASCAR race car speeding down the track. We ended our day with many hook-ups, laughs, big trout and great boat camaraderie. We couldn’t have had a better day on the majestic Niagara River.
Boat control with a Minn Kota electric motor is critical to the success while drifting the Niagara River or any river for that matter. Slowing down the drift to keep the natural speed of the bottom current with your presentation is the key to boating numbers of fish and big fish!
I used a Rapala North Coast 9’6″ medium action rod teamed with an RType reel spooled with Sufix Seige in 10lb test to a small black three-way swivel. A 10″ dropper line to a 1/2 ounce slinky weight, 8-foot 6lb Sufix fluorocarbon leader and a Gamakatsu size 8 octopus hook rounded out our set-up. Brown trout eggs tied in Spawn Net in pink and peach worked best, and salmon eggs also worked well. I am very impressed with the Rapala insulated jacket and bib pants. It is really warm, waterproof, windproof and breathable. I also really like all the quality pockets on the bib and jacket. It is made for ice fishing, but also makes a perfect late fall or early spring outfit for the cold elements.
The Niagara River will have great fishing for trout all winter long and it is currently at a peak. Make a trip to the Niagara River in your boat or book a guided trip with one of the many guides that will ensure you have a great day on the water.