Rain, rain and more rain does not make for a good fishing report. To make matters worse, the area is in the media spotlight all week as we feature the outstanding spring fisheries for smallmouth bass on Lake Erie, the trout and other warm water fish in the lower Niagara River, and spring salmon and trout on Lake Ontario. All three can be outstanding in their own right, but with the weather in turmoil, it doesn’t make for good fishing … or promotional efforts. It looks like rain every single day this week.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Mark Davis of South Carolina blocks out 10 days every year to travel to Western New York for some bass, salmon and trout fishing. The host of “Big Water Adventures” TV Show fell in love with the area two decades ago and every year he helps with putting together a huge outdoor media event. Davis actually started fishing last Thursday in the area and, despite the poor weather conditions, had pulled some nice fish from Lake Erie. He found a hump near Myers Reef that topped out at 32 feet. They found an area just on the outside of the zebra mussels where the female bass were lying in wait for spawning urges to kick in. Their bellies were right in the mud. His preferred bait was a Strike King 3-1/2 inch coffee tube with a ½-ounce head and 8-pound test Seaguar fluorocarbon line. Colors didn’t seem to matter but Davis went with lighter colors like Pumpkin and Watermelon. Over the course of the past week they boated over 200 smallmouth, the biggest being 6 pounds, 12 ounces. Billy McDonald of Indiana gave the same report but his hot bait was a 3/8-ounce Strike King Goby Magic tube. Both boats were long-lining tubes dragged along the bottom. Except for one or two fish, he had one day where all were over 5 pounds. That could all change with the full moon in a couple weeks, a trigger for the spawning phase. Speaking of spawning, Capt. Joe Fonzi of Thumbs Up Charters feels the perch spawn is about three-quarters over and he had to put about 45 miles on his boat to seek out his fish earlier this week. The major run might be over. He kept his focus between 46 to 56 feet of water from Cattaraugus Creek to Sturgeon Point. Bruce Cavage of Marilla confirmed the earlier spawning comment. His best depth was 55 feet. He also reported the docks were in at Sunset Bay and Sturgeon Point. Walleye season opens on Saturday and as is normally the case, night fishing will take place with shoreline trolling. It may be difficult with the increased mud line due to heavy rain and excessive water flow coming out of streams. Capt. Ryan Shea of Tonawanda reports that when the water settles down in the tributaries, look for smallmouth bass migrating up into the streams to provide some good action – which is already starting to happen. With over an inch of rain in the forecast for Friday and more rain on the way, it won’t be pretty for a while.
The high water levels on Lake Ontario have not had a huge impact on the area fishing … so far. However, a recent note from the New York Power Authority states that the fishing platform built at the Niagara Power Project was closed down on Monday due to high water levels. It will remain closed until water levels recede. Before you head down platform fishing, call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to see if it’s open. Some steelhead, lake trout, smallmouth bass and silver bass have been caught off the platform last week. Those fish can still be caught off the shoreline in Devil’s Hole and along Artpark. Some nice bass were hitting before the water muddied up on Tuesday. There was a great jerk bait bite going on according to Capt. Bruce Blakelock of Lewiston. Mitch Grant with Rapid Fishing Solutions was tossing a Lucky Craft Double D in ghost minnow or gun metal blue. Swim baits were also working on smallies, both on jigs and drop shot rigs. Another fishing option is the NYPA Reservoir. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught numerous smallmouth bass last week tossing white and yellow jigs. There is access at Reservoir Park and off Upper Mountain Road at the Fire Company.
Fishing contests are here. In the King of the Lake Tournament in St. Catharines, Ont., last weekend, Yankee Troller out of Point Breeze/Oak Orchard won the 52-team contest with 87.33 pounds for five salmon. It was cut a day short with the hard east blow on Sunday. According to Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Thrillseeker Charters out of Olcott, there are lots of kings around, poised to invade the Niagara Bar and east – just in time for the LOC Derby that is underway (yes, it’s on) from Friday through May 14. Go to www.loc.org for details. Most of the salmon seem to be in 30 to 60 feet of water. Water color is a factor. Pierleoni caught 10 kings for the day on a mix of Dreamweaver spoons and Live Target Smelt Series plugs. The Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament is May 13 – check out www.wilsonharborinvitational.com. The Don Johannes and Pete DeAngelo big fish-three fish contest is May 18 – sign up at any of the 4 LOC Derby weigh stations in Wilson and Olcott. And the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Tourney is May 19-21 – sign up at www.lakeontarioproam.net. The north ramp at Fort Niagara is open and the south ramp should be cleared by Friday for operation. At Wilson-Tuscarora State Park, bring your boots to launch. A new floating dock system should be in place by the weekend. Look out for floating debris in the lake with the high water levels. All the creeks are a mess.
Crappie fishing was good Monday with several reports of good-sized fish landed up to 14 inches long, according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Boaters were targeting 4 to 8 feet of water. Things have slowed again with the cold front. Perch fishing has been good all spring.
Walleye season opens this Saturday. New statewide regulations are in place with 15-inch minimum size and five fish per person per day.