All waterways could use a few more inches of rain. Levels of ponds and feeder streams are showing shorelines that usually provide habitat and feeding areas for warm- and cold-water fish.
Remarkably, recent Department of Environmental Conservation shocking studies have shown some decent brown trout presence. Rainbow trout numbers into smaller feeder streams remain low, but the survival rate for trout species in general is impressive despite the ongoing drought.
The Great Lakes are fertile, but cropping of fish comes in specific patches on both Erie and Ontario. The old saw “95 percent of the fish are in five percent of the lake/pond/stream” might drop the percentage for Erie walleye and Ontario salmon to three or two percent.
Shore casters have to work weed openings, overhanging structures such as piers or sharp drop-offs and current eddies to reach feeding fish close enough to reach by line.
Live bait is an almost must, but vertical jigging might work for shore casters as well as boaters working deeper waters. Competition anglers have made an industry of drop-shotting, which is nothing more than a weight at the end of the line and a lure on a short leader or tied directly to the main line.
Ice anglers used this type of terminal tackle about the time DuPont came out with “catgut” line (monofilament) to catch fish after World War II. Crappie experts also hung a light jig or fly above the main, heavier jig as both an attractant and another hooking option differing from the “leer” or T rig used to add hooks above a terminal lure or sinker/weight.
However you present it, the drop-shot approach gets major mention on the tournament circuit and on recreational runs.
Another terminal tip that brings some sanity for bass anglers is the so-called “whacky” worm. Lure-making companies have designed rubber/vinyl/plastic worm lures that are better suited for hooking at its center rather than through the nose.
Whacky worms have not been around as long as drop-shot rigs, but they have proven their merit on tourney circuits and on fun runs. The beauty of a whacky rig is that it works as well from shore as cast from a boat.
The trick to getting whackies whacked is to figure out the right drop speed and depths for the strike zone. While most lures cast depend on retrieval speed, success with a whacky worm calls for good hook placement in the middle of the worm and a patient watch for the right flutter, depth drop and bite.
Some bites come on a slight lift. Most hits are just after a drop and before it hits bottom a weed mass.
Mid-summer heat, drought and excess water temperatures might push metabolism rates over the top and have fish feeding heavily and then go belly down.
Final tip of the week: Some lures come with an attached spinner blade. Some lures might draw more strikes with a bit more flash. Even a small, bright-colored plastic grub ahead of a jig or spinner rig could up the odds for a hits and catches.
Add Honeoye to Conesus Lake as another western Finger Lake supporting blue/green algae growths in its shallows. Major presence is at the north end near the Richmond launch, but shallow bays along the west shoreline, especially south of California Ranch Point, might be feeling blue/green by the weekend.
Anglers can still catch fish around these bloom patches and in deeper waters along edges of native aquatic weed growth and drop-offs. The greater fear about this ugly mass of beautiful blues and greens is a potential for illness when pets and possibly human beings ingest water from nearby algae.
You just have to be there – wherever that is – when the fish are present and biting.
The walleye bite in U.S. waters keeps moving deeper and farther west. Schools of eastward-bound Ohio ‘eyes are still not in sight west of Barcelona. In between, catch counts depend on the day and way.
In general, walleyes are digging deeper and holding closer to bottom at depths of 72 to 90 feet. Those open-water wanderers just don’t seem to be locatable at suspended depths in 100-foot waters and deeper.
Worm harnesses have shown better than body baits in the last week, but even a spoon (silver and green finish) has poked a few ‘eyes.
Bass dominate the upper and lower river. Anglers not in competitions can go with live bait. Better bait is a tossup between crayfish and clubs, with crayfish a slight edge in the current.
Walleye become a lower-river target for competitors during the Niagara River Anglers Association Walleye Derby set for Sunday, August 21. Details and registrations can be gotten at Creek Road Bait & Tackle in Lewiston.
Lakers move closer to bottom around the outside of Niagara Bar. Turnovers and current shifts push kings and steelies farther out off the bar but closer to shore at Wilson to Oak Orchard.
Look for more details on Ontario fish movement next week after results from Orleans County Rotary Derby that began Tuesday. For derby details, call (585) 589-9881.