Summer is still here.
Anglers look to early changes of leaf color, feel the slight chill each morning and see autumn's official arrival just two weeks off. But surface water temperatures hold well above 70 degrees on most sunny days and shoreline weed growth holds solid and green.
Trout and salmon fishing calls for movement with the early-fall spawning or foraging cycles, but warm-water species -- bass, muskies, walleye, perch and other panfish -- all have summer-like temperatures and food sources in their environment.
Brisk trolling and retrieval speeds can draw hits from bass, muskies and walleye that might pass up slow-moving baits.
Haul out more hardware. Walleye trollers have had increasing successes with body baits and spoons as the season winds down. Dunkirk Harbor-area trollers have downright dog days at times, signaling the end of the walleye harvest. Then, the fish visible on the sonar screen perk up and the run is on again.
A box of healthy nightcrawlers still accounts for good numbers of 'eyes seeing their way to worm harnesses, but artificial items get more mentions each week. Charter captains Ron Alguire and Dan Dietzen have been running spoons and Renosky plugs more and more.
"My last good walleye trip was done without a worm harness in the water," Dietzen said.
The heavier schools have moved off the 85-foot depths between St. Columbans and the Purina Tower, but some of the best catches come around the edge of that massive school of smelt some 9 to 11 miles north of Dunkirk Harbor. Depths of 93 to 105 feet have produced bigger fish in better numbers.
Salmon, and some good steelhead trout, are moving up and in. Last week, most trollers had to get out to more than 200-foot depths to find mixed schools of trout and salmon. In the past week, trollers started looking at 100-foot depths and running a line or two in at 40-foot depths, above the 60-80 feet suggested in past weeks.
Mixed terminal tackle adds to the salmonid mix. Good trout and salmon strikes are the result of many offerings: Silver-sided spoons (with or without colored backs), dodger-and-squids, J-Plugs and cut-bait rigs. Along with Northern King and Pirate spoons, many trollers report success with Michigan Stinger spoons.
With all but the fast-running J-plugs, tackle items need slight variations in throttle to find their speed sweet spot. Generally, something over 2 mph does better with salmon and steelies; below 2 mph draws more lake trout.
The 22nd Annual Greater Niagara Fall Classic Fishing Derby begins Saturday and goes until Sept. 19. Six species are eligible: Smallmouth bass, salmon, brown trout, rainbow/steelhead trout, lake trout and walleye. The Grand Prize ($2,000) goes to the winner of a drawing of the top entries in the six categories. Senior entries are $15 and juniors (15 and younger) are free. Juniors can pay and enter as senior entrants.
Rob Ray, this year's Classic Chairperson, plans to be at the Awards Ceremony Sept. 19 at the Olcott Fire Hall, Route 78 in Olcott.
Chautauqua -- "Hot 'N Tot trolling in the south basin is still good," said Lonnie Stebbins at the Happy Hooker Bait Shop in Ashville. Deep jigging the holes in the north basin has been fair with either ice-jigs or blade baits. Warm surface waters make both deep walleye jigging and weedline perch schooling just fair to good.
Seneca -- Bass put Seneca Lake at the head of the list for DEC Region 8 hot spots last week. Hellgrammites or larger minnows take smallies along rock structures anywhere from Watkins Glen to Geneva. Boaters are cautioned that private and public launch sites have extremely low water levels. Access is possible at most ramps, with care.
Conesus -- Weed growth is ideal for largemouth bass feeding forays. Weeds on either side show good bass numbers at depths less than 15 feet.
Silver -- If you want perch, sit somewhere on Silver Lake. Reports say perch can be found "all over" and the major attraction is live worms, red worms or small nightcrawlers.
Gobies get around
Round gobies, those bulgy-eyed invaders that can decimate bait schools, have become more than a nuisance in Ohio waters. Ohio Wildlife, the Ohio version of the DEC, cautions anglers not to keep these critters for bass bait.
"It is now illegal to possess, import or sell live gobies (in Ohio)," said Kevin Ramsey law enforcement supervisor for Lake Erie.
Ohio Wildlife officials encourage anglers to check bait to ensure these invaders do not find their way into inland water bodies.