The big lakes are big, the smaller lakes are big and the streams are steaming. This is the time of year when an angle would like to be in about four, five or six places at once.
Erie's perch and early-season walleye run is on. Lake Ontario derby contestants and recreational anglers are seeing schooling rarely viewed. Inland lakes have warmed to temperatures that make things hot. Stream waders and shoreline casters can hook into bass virtually everywhere in Western New York.
> Lake Erie
Night trollers do little talking, but the walleye bite has been good every chance boaters can get out and work the Buffalo-to-Hamburg shoreline after dark.
Since the May 1 opener, high winds and waves have washed out the after-dark walleye run at popular post-spawn sites in and close to Buffalo waters. What few trollers who have made the run have seen action well after dark. Most mentioned hours have been about 9 p.m. until well after midnight.
Stickbaits such as Rapalas, Thundersticks, and other long, thin minnow-type baits work best. First mention for successful color/finish so far has been the chartreuse and silver Rapala.
Perch seem to have finished their spawning cycle, but a few fish still show signs of eggs and milt presence. Depths have changed slightly in recent weeks, with depths of 45 feet getting more mention than the 55- to 65-foot depth calls of earlier. Rick Miller gets word of a few perch caught in Cattaraugus Creek waters, but the major schooling presence remains out in deeper waters.
Cattaraugus Creek remains the main access to perch populations. Pat Conrad, assistant manager at the Sturgeon Point Marina, is planning a May 15 opener for that facility. Barring gear failure, the access could be open for runs onto the Evans-Angola Bar and a closer shot at the Derby cliffs and Pinehurst perch grounds.
> Niagara River
"There are so many minnows in the river that they might be biting on worms just for a change," said Bill Van Camp at Big Catch Bait & Tackle about the bite on the upper Niagara shoreline.
The white perch run continues, mainly at the foot of Ferry Street and around island edges. Fish hit throughout the day, but the morning bite has been better for panfish presence.
Lower river bass action is everywhere. Drifters have to use artificial baits for bass, and they work just about everywhere anglers can float a boat.
> Lake Ontario
The top 10 salmon on the LOC (Lake Ontario Counties) Derby Leaderboard all weighed in at and above 25 pounds through the first week of competition.
Some fish can be found at 50 to 150-foot depths along the entire Lake Ontario shoreline, but the heaviest concentration of boaters and bites has been around the Niagara Bar.
Trollers move in to 50-foot depths all day when skies are overcast. Successful lures range from spoons to flasher flies to Rapalas and other body baits.
The Derby continues to Sunday and anglers can sign on daily to enter. For complete details, go to loc.org.
Shore casters have a choice of perch, northern pike and bass at Wilson Harbor, Olcott Harbor and Oak Orchard Creek.
> Inland Lakes
Silver/Honeoye: Honeoye leads for catch-and-release bass numbers and the bluegill bite. Silver Lake perch offer the best panfish prospects and night trollers are starting to see a few walleye with the light-weight worm harness worked at and after dark.
Chautauqua Lake: The crappie bite turned on late last week for shore and boaters afloat, said Brian Green at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle in Ashville. Canals, bays and channels have been good and boaters can find "papermouths" from Mayville to Jamestown. A few have done well with plastics (Powerworms, Gulp, Mr. Twisters, etc.) but the live bait bite has been better. Green suggests either fathead or rosy red minnow.
A few walleye have been taken fasting minnow-type baits from shore at dusk and after dark, but the dayside bass bite bends far more rods each day out.
> Trout Stocking
The Randolph Hatchery has stocked these sites in time for weekend anglers:
Allegany County: Dyke Creek (Andover) 1,060 brown trout; Cryder Creek (Independence) 980 brown trout; Dodge Creek (Clarksville) 1,330 brown trout; and Allen Lake (Allen) 2,690 brook trout.
Cattaraugus County: Case Lake (Franklinville) 1,600 brown trout.