Fishing times and places vary, but the catch count remains on the rise for area anglers working the big lakes and many inland waterways.
Recalling that repetition of “Location, location, location…”, finding the current hot spot makes most if not all of the difference. Lake Erie’s hefty walleye schools are out there but far. Lake Ontario’s trout and salmon move closer to shore each week but still remain well off shore.
The Solar-Lunar Table shows early-morning and sunset hours as peak fishing times. With continually warm waters — not super hot surfaces and excess weed growth — fish activity should be good for both forage bait and the big fish anglers seek for sport and the frying pan.
Whole truth be told — as firsthand viewers can best report — algae bloom and weed masses have shown on many inland lakes. But the menace is far less than what developed during the 2012 summer, and anglers have enjoyed good outings on inland waters this summer of warm days and cool nights.
Typically, bass prevail as the inland-lake major take, and this season is a textbook reading of bass dominance. Largemouth bass are everywhere on inland lakes, but the best reports have come from Canandaigua and Chautauqua.
Whacky worms and big crankbaits worthy of a northern pike’s attention will work along any weed bed that is clear enough for bass and pike to see and strike. Spinner baits remain a mainstay for bass-angler purists unwilling to kill live bait.
As for live baits, bigger minnows and chubs always draw bass and pike, but in rocky areas with good water clarity, a crayfish might be an even better live-bait option for bass. Sadly, the bigger gobies strip crayfish as well as minnows when working close to the bottom in the Great Lakes. But the catch count has increased in recent weeks with the addition of crayfish to the menu.
Watch the depths and keep trying a variety of terminal items to tackle whatever is running out there.
Walleye have made some major moves. It would seem best if I more closely read — and heeded — advice shared in the Fishing Line column. Proof came during a walleye run out of Cattaraugus Creek last Friday to test out a new Lowrance Elite-7 Combo sonar unit and try to get Dr. Al Addesa a few fillets.
Ricky Miller and others touted heading to the International Line west of the Catt in search of wandering walleye schools. We headed more than nine miles, saw fish on the screen and trolled for four hours, catching the odd white perch and white bass.
As we trolled depths of up to 78 feet, we saw scattered fish but could not put together a good box of fish. Once into creek waters, we met up with Ed Belbas, out with Jim Plinzke of FishHunter, who were cleaning seven nice ’eyes at the Hanover town cleaning station. Seems Plinzke motored out a bit closer to that International line and found tighter, biting schools of walleye.
Gerri Beiger at Bill’s Hooks in Dunkirk reports trollers between Dunkirk and Barcelona Harbor are working close to bottom in 85- to 110-foot depths. Both worm harnesses and stick baits work well, but the sticks (Relocks, Rapalas, etc.) have shown a slight edge.
As for perch, the new sonar (one screen shows bladder mass that indicate relative fish sizes) showed perch schools near bottom at depths of 38 to 90 feet. As for successes, the two hottest depth spots off Cattaraugus Creek this past week have been at 48 and 78 feet. No wonder each perch trip out is a reconnaissance run.
For boaters able to get on the water at first light, the king bite off Olcott Harbor can be good as shallow as 60 feet, says Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle. Most trollers run body baits that work well at higher trolling speeds; J-Plugs get the major mention.
Brown trout and steelies also move in and make early-morning runs, but shortly after direct sunlight hits the water, the kings move out to depths of 80 to 120 feet, hitting at depths of 80 to 100 feet.
Shore anglers see a variety of panfish and pike, but the bass bite remains best and live bait works better.
NIAGARA RIVER CONTEST
Lower river walleye schools have shown well in advance of the Niagara River Anglers Association Annual Walleye Contest set for this Saturday. Entrants need not be association members to enter the contest on lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario and its tributaries.
Fish goes from sunrise to 2 p.m. for a two-fish-entry weigh-in. For last-minute registration details, call Creek Road Bait & Tackle at 807-6248.