Mid-October fishing for most species is much more akin to mid-September right now.
Boaters had to pull their vessels from Sturgeon Point Marina’s berths and parking sites, but the Lake Erie perch run will have many returning for more ringback runs this fall.
Lake Ontario’s boaters still have a near-shore fishery and the bigger feeders show some activity, but regulars still await a hefty salmonid autumn run.
The fall panfish bite continues at a pleasant pace. Last week’s mention of some good crappie numbers at Chautauqua Lake and some western Finger Lakes drew responses from anglers in both areas. The bite is even better.
Take along basically the same gear you might use on an early spring panfish run in search of bluegills, sunfish and crappie. Outcomes are similar; live bait under a bobber, ultra light bugs and minnow tails on a small jig can be fun and highly productive. Best crappie action has been Honeoye, Silver and Conesus in that order, but all can be great when a tight school pushes into weed-edge shallows.
Smaller feeders need water. Cattaraugus Creek has settled to a clarity level that has most anglers working longer casts and farther walks to connect.
Trout have been caught from the breakwater pier at the mouth to well above Gowanda this past week. Coming rains might turn too clear waters back to staining that calls for live and odor-offering baits for the coming weekend.
Perch fishing remains a grand gamble. After last week’s column on a quick limit off Sturgeon Point, a run Tuesday morning with Ken Maciejewski of Hamburg proved the chancy and changeable nature of things out there. That 48-foot hotspot next to the Evans-Angola Bar showed no fish or suspended bait schools just after first light. A cluster of six boats straight off the point at 52-foot depths was an area showing some scattered bottom-huggers, but nothing exciting appeared on the sonar screen.
A run to the 68-foot flats between Sturgeon and Cattaraugus Creek abruptly ended when the screen went crazy with bottom schools and suspended bait schools at 62 feet just off Grandview Point.
One stop there and the morning ended with more than 100 fish caught before 10:30 a.m. That’s the good news. The so-so news is that more than half the catch was white (silver bass), 17 were white perch, and about 30 were nice, filleting-sized yellow perch.
No anchored boaters could be seen within a long mile of where we were anchored. But if you go there Thursday, do some trolling and check. These fish schools are on a continual move, either following bait schools or perhaps foraging bottom for bug life and abundant schools of round gobies.
Bass in the upper Niagara River and salmon in the lower river seems to be the program right now. Some nice bass catches continue in the lower river, but the salmon run has slightly increased for both boat drifters and shore casters working Devil’s Hole.
The upper river’s bass bite has been spectacular and waters holding temperatures in the mid-60s make things enjoyable — nice weather and steady bite action. Live minnows have been the best offering for smallies.
The lower river’s salmon count has improved this past week. Boats averaged three kings this past week. Last week’s count often came to a single fish per morning or afternoon run.
Skein and egg sacks work well on the drifts. Heavy casting spoons and spinners pick off kings, steelies and lake trout when casting from shore. But a well-set float suspending an egg rig can also make some nice connections for shoreline anglers.
Chuck Booker of East Amherst makes the Ontario shoreline a steady run mainly checking on Niagara County feeders. “Fish are few and far between. It’s a bit better at Burt Dam than the Oak,” Booker said this week of catch counts.
Booker attributes much to extremely low water conditions and a continued span of warm weather into mid October. “Things should pick up when things cool down later this week and we get some solid rain,” he said of prospects for this week.
This past week, Will Schwartz of Grand Island did some successful prospecting below Burt Dam on Eighteen Mile Creek. Fishing with dad, Andy Schwartz, in a crowd of trout and salmon seekers on Friday, Will hooked and landed a 15-pound steelhead trout that measured 30 inches. The duo had been fishing since 7 a.m. and Will hooked his fish at about 11 a.m.
Dad thanked a group of Pittsburgh anglers fishing down stream for netting Will’s fish; the Schwartz family then did the same favor, netting a fish for an angler up stream that morning.
To make the catch even more memorable, Dad stopped at Trophy Room Taxidermy in Sanborn on the way home and will have Will’s steelie done in a full mount.