Anglers will not have to work hard this Labor Day weekend.
Walleyes school tightly on Lake Erie; trout and salmon move closer to shore along Lake Ontario; inland panfish school at either fixed depths in open water or along the deep side of weed edges.
Charter captain Doug Stein still makes the run out 9-11 miles north of Dunkirk Harbor where a huge school of walleye break up bait schools at 50- to 70-foot depths in 90- to 100-foot waters. Another attractive school has shown up at 70-foot depths north-northeast of Sturgeon Point.
"I'm doing well with worm harnesses, but some guys are doing well with Renosky lures," Stein said. The shallow-running Renosky, a minnow-type lure which looks like an overweight Rapala or Thunderstick, comes with a Crystalina finish in various colors. The green, perch-like finish did well last week during periods of east winds and cold fronts.
Worm harnesses are the workhorses of walleye trolling. Basic black trolled near bottom or watermelon single- or double-bladed harnesses run at 50- to 70-foot depths do damage. Success varies with each trip. The most innovative trolling item this season has been Berkley Whiplash line used on a Dipsy rig not set up for wire line. The narrow diameter of 30-pound test (it looks like 6-pound line) makes Whiplash a fitting alternative to wire.
The grand prize leader in the Lake Ontario Counties Derby has changed three times in the past week. Current leader is Travis Kolasienski of Belchertown, Mass., who caught a 42-pound, 11-ounce king with a cut bait. He trolled off Lighthouse Point in eastern Lake Ontario waters. Andy Brunell of Rochester continues his lead in the brown trout division with a 17-pound, 15-ounce fish taken on a Northern King spoon. Gerald Bancroft, Jr. of South Windsor, Conn., holds first in the lake trout division with an 18-pound, 9-ounce laker that hit a Peanut lure.
Western New York waters show best in the rainbow/steelhead trout division. Capt. Bob Cinelli's 22-pound, 12-ounce steelie, weighed in at Olcott Harbor, leads James Dennis' second-place fish by two pounds. Area waters have produced 16 of the 20 top entries in the rainbow/steelhead division for adults. Nina Sharp of New Salem, Pa., leads the youth division with an 18-pound, 4-ounce steelie she took with a Northern King spoon off Olcott Harbor.
The LOC Derby continues until Sunday. Entrants can sign up before 7 a.m. to enter fish that day. For registration information, call 1-888-REEL2IN or view the Web site: www.loc.org.
Niagara Falls anglers took top honors in the Niagara River Anglers Association Bass Classic held Saturday. Rich Carr took the big fish with a 5.03-pound bronzeback that went for a golden shiner. Carr also won the single entry division with two bass weighing in at 9.15 pounds. He fished with his brother, Charlie Carr, to bring in the team trophy: four fish weighing 14.71 pounds. Entrants fished everywhere along the river and lake, but the best chances for both size and numbers came from either side of the Niagara Bar. A steady drifter -- with a good supply of shiners and aeration of the bait bucket or live well -- can catch and release more than 50 fish on a fair day.
Anglers concerned about double-crested cormorant bait and fish predation have been watching closely as the Department of Environmental Conservation conducts its "Disturbance Efforts" on Oneida Lake.
The experimental program nicknamed "hazing," first done in September last year, uses non-lethal visual and noise deterrents to scatter the birds as they approach roosting sites on various islands in Oneida Lake. The hazing includes noisemakers, streamers, lasers and strobe lights. These deterrents will be used on weekdays throughout September.
Last year, cormorants were hazed for a total of 21 weekdays and their numbers were reduced between 61 and 98 percent compared to lakewide population estimates made during the three previous years. The birds scattered at Oneida appear to continue their migration south rather than settle on nearby waters.
The estimated reduction of cormorant predation at Oneida Lake as a result of the hazing program was about 30,000 walleye age two and older and 90,000 yellow perch age two and older.