There are so many different fishing opportunities going on right now, it’s really tough to make a decision if you are a multi-species angler. Read on.
Lake Erie and tributaries
In the Bass Border War, the Canadians came out on top once again. Some great fish were caught last weekend and that action is continuing into this week. See Scattershot this week for the results. Bass can be found just about any place but the best place producing this week has been around the breakwalls in Buffalo Harbor (inside and out), out near Seneca Shoal and pretty much any flats around structure. Best depths in the lake have been 28 to 38 foot the past week. Shiners, tubes, swim baits and drop shot rigs with plastics will all catch fish under the right conditions. Take a look at some of the dandy bass caught this week in the online photo gallery. In the meantime, walleye action is really picking up. The night bite for trollers was just starting after last week’s Fishing Beat and Capt. Don Ruppert of Wave Tamer Charters reports that when the waters hit 52 degrees, that’s normally the ticket. As the shoreline waters start to clear, troll 100 feet back of your boat at night with F11 and F13 Rapalas in black-silver, gold-black-silver and blue silver. If the water is stained, use a chartreuse-colored stickbait. The exciting time for many is that there are walleye hitting during the day already. That usually means that the Southtowns Walleye Association's (SWA) Tournament isn’t very far away. That contest is set for June 10-18 this year. Call 462-9576 for more information. It might be a little bit of a struggle this weekend for the SWA Perch Contest. There have been quite a few lake trout swimming around, as well.
Water in the river has been decent below Niagara Falls, and Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston has had some good days in Devil’s Hole from his boat. Minnows fished off three-way rigs worked best on the trout, and silver bass were plentiful, too. Some fish are still being caught on egg sacs as well. Downriver, smallmouth bass have been hitting for anglers bouncing bottom with tube jigs and swim baits. The Lewiston Landing area has been producing a few perch. The north ramp at Fort Niagara is still open but water continues to be an issue at the south launch. Bring your boots. The NYPA fishing platform is still affected by high water. Call 796-0135 ext. 45 to see if it’s open.
Above Niagara Falls in the upper river, there are quite a few different fisheries available. Catch-and-release bass fishing is open with artificial baits; some decent walleye are being taken with regularity and some trout can also be caught in places like Thompson’s Hole. Lake trout have been hanging there. Some rainbows can also be caught along the shoreline off the Buffalo area. A sometimes overlooked option for fly anglers to target smallmouth bass from shore exists on the upper Niagara River at Buckhorn and Beaver Island State Parks according to Drew Nisbet with Orvis Buffalo in Williamsville. Each park offers expansive shallow water flats where anglers can spot and stalk or blind cast for cruising bass. “A 12-foot 8-weight double-hand rod with Skagit head and t14 sink tip has been an efficient rig to target these aggressive feeders. However a single-hand 9-foot 8 or 9 weight rod will get the job done with a full sink depth-charge line. Effective flies have been chartreuse over white 2/0 Clouser Minnows, white over red Swingin’ D’s and brown over olive goby patterns.”
Despite the high water levels in the lake that is posing some problems for some launch ramps and marinas, fishing was pretty good on the lake when the winds weren’t blowing too hard. The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby ended last Sunday. Read this week’s outdoor column for the real stories behind the scenes for the winning catches last week. You can also check out the leaderboard at www.loc.org. Since then, the salmon action has started to really turn on according to Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters. He was 17 for 23 on king salmon, but with the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament taking place Friday through Sunday and the Don Johannes/Pete DeAngelo Memorial Three Fish/One Fish contest set for Thursday, there are no details on baits or locations. Team A-Tom-Mik, led by Tom Allen of Oswego, set the pace in the Wilson Harbor Invitational last Saturday to win the $25,000 Grand Prize. Getting on the water appears to be the biggest challenge with problems at many of the launch ramps. Lewiston is the best spot on the lower Niagara River; Olcott is the best spot on the lake in Niagara County. Golden Hill and Wilson-Tuscarora state parks are currently closed and half of Fort Niagara is shut down with water issues still a problem (you need to wear boots) at the north ramp.
Walleye fishing has been pretty good casting or trolling F7, F9, F11 Rapalas after dark, according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Slow-trolling worm harnesses in the morning is working, too. There are lots of fish in the 15-inch to 18-inch range. Weeds are just starting to come up so there is no defined weed line yet. Crappie action is still slow but it should pick up now with the warmer weather. Water temperature was in the mid 50's and it should hit the 60-degree mark this week. Inland musky season opens up next Saturday, May 27.
Drew Nisbet with Orvis Buffalo reports that the inland trout streams are all returning to a nice fishable state. “The high water on all the streams has kept angling pressure light and allowed may of the stocked, holdover and wild fish to survive the heavy April harvest,” says Nisbet. “Dry fly anglers should look at Oatka Creek in Leroy and the Upper Genesee south of Wellsville for the best mayfly action. As water temps rise and flows diminish, hatches of March Brown and Sulphurs should become more consistent over the next 10 days. When trout aren’t rising to mayflies, excellent nymph choices include pheasant tails and stoneflys.” Streamers are always a great choice during the margins of the day and on dropping or rising water levels.