Sudden rises in water temperatures and restored water levels have inland lakes and the Great Lakes shallows cooking up a fishing foray.
Bait sources draw all kinds of fish species to shoreline shallows and structures normally not active until later in the spring season.
Last winter’s long, deep freeze does not seem to be slowing the spring calendar for area anglers.
Breezes kept the perch pack off Erie on Tuesday, but the bite had been good this past week at various deep-water sites from Pinehurst to well past Cattaraugus Creek.
As an absurd yardstick, the farther from Buffalo Harbor, the deeper the perch presence. Off Buffalo to the steel plant it has been 42-46 feet; around Sturgeon Point the boat bunches have been gathering at 48-52 feet; from Evangola to well west of Eagle Bay a 52- to 58-foot reading has been productive.
Tight schools often push bait and bigger ringbacks well off bottom. During a foray directly off the Catt last Thursday, many of the bigger males and females pulled a slight hang bite as high as 10-12 feet off the bottom.
Walleye trollers are not saying much, but the night bite (when boaters can safely get on the waters) has been good-to-excellent along the Hamburg shoreline at depths of 8-12 feet.
The feed often does not pick up until well after 10 p.m., but a few trollers moving at speeds well below 2 mph often come in with a limit of ’eyes in mixed sizes. A basic silver Rapala with its black back has been good. Sometimes an all-black, minnow-type crankbait can be highly effective.
Bass addicts chased off Erie’s wave chop can find some nice smallmouth activity in the upper river, but the perch bite in the usual and unusual places has been noteworthy.
Rapidly warming Lake Erie waters, now nudging 60 degrees, have moved bait schools around and pushed perch into deeper waters. Last good read was 15- to 18-foot depths around Grand Island and many eddies along the New York shoreline.
Lower river steelies still hold along Devils Hole drifts, and Capt. Frank Campbell has been running the newer MagLip lures from Yakima. These banana-type baits have a wider lip and more injured-minnow appeal than most other curved crankbaits.
Lake Ontario Derby results
The Niagara USA version of the 30th Annual Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament saw shifts in bite and catch numbers each weekend out of Wilson and Olcott.
The first weekend had most teams posting a 12-fish limit. The second weekend (May 31-June 1) only one team, the winning team, came in with a limit total. Capt. Bob Songin of Reel Excitement out of Rochester took top team honors with 360.2 points, based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound.
Songin and many other teams traveled the entire Lake Ontario shoreline but keyed on the Niagara Bar for both sizes and numbers.
For complete details on team and individual finishes in the Pro-Am, visit lakeontarioproam.net.
Western Finger Lakes
Silver Lake — head north, panfish prospectors. The bite has been better around the north channels and shoreline shallows, but a few nice ’gills and some crappie have turned up at the south end before the Tuesday breezes. To the south, the west side has been more productive.
Conesus Lake — water levels have settled and the panfish push has been more toward midlake drop-offs, with depths of 8 to 12 feet showing best. The pike bite, mostly few but bigger, continues along the west shore, possibly because few have fished the east side so far this season.
Honeoye Lake — Dave Washburn at Dave’s Towing Service and Bait Shop on East Lake Road in Honeoye is selling a variety and numbers of baits, but catch reports have been limited.
Water levels remain slightly higher at Honeoye, but boat traffic is back to normal and both trollers and anchored anglers have been working the east shoreline heavily during the week as well as weekends.
Youth derby and clinic
Two kids fishing events are set for Saturday as part of National Fishing and Boating Week.
• The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge will hold its 23rd Annual Youth Fishing Derby at the Ringneck Overlook on Oak Orchard Ridge Road from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday. On-site registration will begin at 7:30 a.m.
This free event is open to youths 17 and younger, with certificates being presented to the top three entries in three age divisions. For more information, call (585) 948-5445; for derby rules, visit fws.gov/refuge/Iroquois.
• East Aurora Fish and Game Club offers its “Teach-Me-To-Fish” program on club grounds at 1016 Luther Road from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Learning stations precede fishing at the pond, and lunch with free prizes begins at 1 p.m. For directions and registration information, call Dave Barus at 652-2256 or 597-4081.