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FULL MOON BRINGS UNCROWDED WATERS TO LIGHT

Anglers can look forward to a full moon and almost empty waters.

Hunting season openings, the close of inland trout stream season and the first onset of daytime chills reduce the ranks of waders and boaters, leaving waters open to the serious salmon, trout, walleye, musky and panfish seekers.

Fall weather patterns, like those last spring, seem to be moving in slowly, but all species except inland-lake walleye are right on schedule.

The fall salmon run is winding down, but steelhead have started to show well in many Great Lakes feeders. Perch and other big panfish make up for the slow fall walleye show in Southern Tier and Finger Lakes waters.

Lake Erie

Bass have yet to crowd the near-shore structures, but big smallmouths can be reached in less than 30-foot depths off Sturgeon and Van Buren points. Trollers still hold at steady depths to pinpoint the bigger fish, but with the latest round of cool temperatures, casters should be able to draw big fish off bottom or close to the surface during their fall shallow-water feeding forays.

Niagara River

The big muskies still hold near the head of the river, says Capt. Tom Slomka, who guided a client to a 53-inch fish this week.

Lower river salmon action is slowing, but steelies have moved into Devils' Hole in fair numbers. Water clarity is a main factor in catching salmon or trout in these waters. Long, thin leaders help.

Lake Ontario

Feeders have yet to draw brown trout, but Olcott Pier casters hook into incoming mature Chinook salmon well after dark. This year is the down cycle for mature kings, but the fish being caught usually exceed 25 pounds. Go with egg sacks or skein after dark; late afternoon and evening casters sometimes do well with a silver/blue Little Cleo.

Inland Lakes

Chautauqua -- Mayville is the place to perch fish. Some fair sizes and numbers have come in from around Ashville Bay at the south end, but more anchoring options exist at the far north end.

Boaters have graphed walleye schooling tightly at suspended levels over 40-foot depths from Long Point north to above the Bell Tower, but the 'eyes have yet to go on the fall feed. Activity around Mission Meadows was far from the usual fall run. Most boaters take out larger minnows and settle for a few good perch.

Silver/Conesus -- The better perch hold deeper along weed edges and some surprising bluegill and sunfish also appear in deeper (10-20 feet), weeded waters. Small minnows and grubs (spikes, mousies or waxworms) tease these big panfish.

The few who catch walleye, slowly troll deep edges past the weeds with harnesses having blades that can spin at speeds below 1 mph.

Honeoye -- Archery season's opening will just slighty slow the progress out from the state launch at the southeast corner of the lake. Boaters make a steady run up to California Ranch and Log Cabin Points to drift over the 20-foot depths for big bluegill and the occasional perch and crappie. As the fall progresses, bigger crappie show among the deep-running 'gills and sunnies.

A light perch rig (sinker jig and one or two leadered hooks above it) allows for a variety of baits to check on feeding patterns. More often than others, the waxworm turns the most panfish during these deep-water drifts.

Keuka -- The big bass run has not begun, but perch have moved up and onto the 15-foot flats at the southeast side of the lake. Move slowly and side cast when waters settle out. Perch anglers here look like trout or bass casters on most other lakes.

Seneca -- North end rock piles off the canal mouth and south to Highbanks provide a good mix of bass and perch. Fathead minnows moved slowly along 15- to 20-foot depths work best.

Oneida -- Perch are everywhere. East shore bays and open-water areas have been active for weeks. Now, west end islands draw feeding perch and the odd walleye. Few 50-fish limits have been taken, but some '70s-type (12- to 14-inch) perch have shown off Constantia and farther west.

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