The big BASS Elite tourney showed local bass anglers -- if they didn't know already -- that open-water bass fishing calls for deeper drops, with or without "shot" or bottom weights.
From Barcelona to Buffalo and from Buffalo to Long Point on the Canadian shoreline, boaters head out to at least 30-foot depths and look for humps, bumps, sunken islands or any sharp change in bottom configuration that might hold smallmouth bass. Most do.
Those deeper drops that don't have bass often hold walleye and/or lake trout. The Buffalo Harbor walleye whirl continues, with many schools headed slightly deeper off Seneca Shoals (on the west side of the new wind mills), Myers Reef, and off points along the Ontario shoreline.
Drifters and trollers alike run worm harnesses during the day. A plain black-backed silver minnow bait (stickbait) will do the trick many evenings out. Some trollers stay after dark and pull good numbers of 'eyes.
In open water west of Sturgeon Point, few regulars are sharing walleye secrets prior to the Third Annual Northern Chautauqua Walleye Derby out of Dunkirk Harbor set for Aug. 3-5.
Barcelona and Dunkirk trollers weren't taking good numbers or sizes this past week, but a flotilla set up just west of Cattaraugus Creek has done fairly well on 2003-year class "eaters" over depths of 60-80 feet.
Niagara River moss, above and below the falls, remains a bottom threat only. Trollers and casters controlling lure levels have had good bass bites in the upper and lower river.
The musky bite remains slight. Some of the regulars are thinking about starting night trips early this season.
Lower river bass showed best, with most walleye numbers and sizes now coming from structures around the Niagara Bar.
Open waters of Lake Ontario continue to provide a steady near-shore trout and salmon fishery that surpasses last summer's good run.
Spoons still scoop up the most salmonid soup on trolling trips east and west of Olcott Harbor. Boaters usually set up over less than 100 feet off Olcott early each morning for a mix of kings, browns and some steelies.
Oak Orchard Point trollers rarely get to 400-foot depths to reach suspended king salmon and bigger brown trout. Glow-finishes continue to top the list of deadly, desired spoon surfaces.
Many of the same rubber worms that worked on Lake Erie smallmouth connect with largemouth bass along the Lake Ontario shoreline.
The walleye bite has turned on along weed edges, says Brian Green at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle in Ashville. Bass have shown well along those same edges. Walleye prefer a half crawler on a floating jig head; bass bite best on leeches, Green said.
Usually, walleye numbers show better in the North Basin by midsummer, but some fair catches have come from either side of Cheney Point this season. Green noted the coming of a full moon, which might shift feeding patterns for 'eye catchers.
Musky numbers have picked up for trollers working open waters.