Some fisheries are lagging, but most popular species are coming off spawning cycles, moving into and around feeding areas along shoreline shallows or schooling up for forage runs.
Longer daylight hours and rising water temperatures have fish active at all kinds of depths. The task is to figure out their route. Last year the eastward migration of Western Basin walleyes in Lake Erie took a turn north and had schools – mostly big females – skirting the Ontario shoreline rather than the U.S. side of the lake.
Boaters at and near Buffalo Small Boat Harbor hit into solid schools of ’eyes from both the excellent year classes of local fish and Ohio arrivals that usually cruise in from Barcelona, Dunkirk and Cattaraugus Creek.
Chartings and catch reports have yet to determine the direction this year’s schools will take, but the night bite of Buffalo-area post-spawn walleyes has picked up and prospects look good for the June 27 BassEye competition out of Buffalo Small Boat Harbor.
Bass have made a great showing during the special early season on Erie. Boaters doing catch-and-release runs all along rocky shoals from Sturgeon Point to Buffalo Harbor have done well at depths of 15 to 25 feet.
The statewide bass season does not open in New York until June 21 and will not be open in Ontario until June 28, the day after BassEye competition.
For state bass anglers anxious for a limit of bass, the season opens on Lake Champlain a week early. Fishermen can keep a limit of bass from that lake starting at midnight Friday.
For BassEye competitors, the 13th Annual Celebrity Challenge offers varied, not-totally-predictable fish movement and feeding forays, one of the many reasons why this competition and fishing in general is pure fun. For complete details on June 26 and 27 BassEye events, visit basseye.org.
The Southtowns Walleye Tourney has many boaters on the water, but more hulls hit waters in search of perch than tries for ’eyes.
Heaviest troller traffic has been out of Barcelona Harbor where the catch has been so-so, according to Zen Olow at Bill’s Hooks. Some trollers are doing fairly well up high with minnow-type baits run off just three colors of lead core lines.
More perch anglers than walleye trollers have been heading out of Cattaraugus Creek, according to Ricky Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving.
Boaters set up at 40-foot depths and others at 56- to 60-foot depths out of the Catt have seen 50-fish limits often, with bigger numbers shown east of the river and bigger sizes well west.
Closer to Buffalo, the bass bite has been good along Donnelly’s Wall at 12-foot depths, and the walleye are stacking up for drifters working an electric trolling motor off the windmills, according to Capt. Chris Cinelli.
The night walleye bite has finally slowed along shoreline shallows, but good schooling of post-spawn fish has shown out deeper. Worm harnesses work the best, and blade colors do not matter when the fish are on the feed. Catch counts depend more on getting over feeding fish.
A few tourney-sized ’eyes have been caught in this Buffalo herd, but most schools are made up of eater-sized ’eyes.
Northeast winds have moved cold water around in the shoreline shallows, but the kings, browns and steelies have offered a better bite later in the day at less than 100-foot depths, says Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle on Olcott. Trollers have mainly gone with spoons in close.
Out deeper, either side of Olcott Harbor, running over 150- to 250-foot depths trollers are setting up at 60-foot depths for kings with fair success at less than three miles from shore.
Walker notes that steelies and coho salmon often show in the top 40 feet over schools of kings, but anglers’ lures are competing with heavy schools of live bait.
Youth fishing clinic event
The Annual Youth and Family Fishing Derby and Clinic that the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs Inc. and Department of Environmental Conservation Region 9 office usually holds at Tifft Nature Preserve in mid-June has been rescheduled while improvements and upgrades are being made at the preserve.
This year, kids can sign up in advance or on-site at Ellicott Creek Park on Creek Road in the Town of Tonawanda for the event that goes from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Kids have free use of rods and reels, bait and a free Sahlen’s hot dog lunch during which prizes will be presented to participating youths. Attending adults do not need a fishing license to assist in this program. To register, call Dave Barus at 597-4081 or Mike Todd at 851-7010.
email odrswill @gmail.com