Records were made to be broken … or so the saying goes. But if a record is not known, was it in fact broken? What if there is no established record for a certain species of fish? Or if a fish record is known, does it have to be certified to be appreciated and recognized as a true trophy? This past week saw a couple of fish species marks possibly equaled if not broken. We’ll never know for sure but either way, some great fish were reeled in this past week as Lake Erie fishing took off, Niagara River fishing continued on its merry way and Lake Ontario salmon action helped to close out the month of May in fine fishing fashion.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Smallmouth bass fishing still produced some real trophies the past week and the best depths ranged from 22 to 40 feet of water with tubes and other plastics, minnows/shiners and a variety of other baits. Capt. Jim Hanley of Angola and a boatload of Quinzi’s from Rochester have the catch (and catches) of the week when they had a phenomenal day last Sunday on the lake. At the top of the list was an 8.26 pound smallmouth (a potential-record fish but weighed on a handheld scale and released) reeled in by Dr. Tom Quinzi from 38 foot of water on a golden shiner. The fish stretched 22-1/4 inches and had a girth of 20 inches. That day they also reeled in another 7-pound fish, five fish over 6 pounds and 11 over 5 pounds. The perch bite is improving off Sturgeon Point according to Capt. Tom Marks of Derby. He reports there are scattered schools in 55 to 60 feet of water slightly west of the point. Emerald Shiners is the bait of choice but some anglers were even catching perch using golden shiners. There was a better school of perch found off Evangola State Park in about 55 feet of water; some guys off the Catt were getting perch as well. “If you have a good GPS and map like Lake Master or Navionics, look for similar structure as the community 'holes' and there is a good chance you will have a 'honey hole' all to yourself,” says Marks. The daytime walleye bite was shifting into high gear for some anglers willing to hit the waters with a variety of baits and areas. However Marks notes that the bite slowed a bit. Target 20-30 feet of water around the reefs and shoals. The nighttime bite was still good, but it was starting to slow down a bit and limit catches were not the norm for many stickbait pullers. Either way, anglers are getting ready for the Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament June 10-18. Its in-person registration only now and the next meeting of the SWA will be at its clubhouse in Hamburg on June 8. Check out www.southtownswalleye.org for more information.
Trout are still available in the lower river, along with a mixed bag of other fish like bass, walleyes and suckers. You never know when a potential record fish is going to crop up. Capt. Arnie Jonathan of Lockport was fishing with John Farrell of New Jersey and Bob Charlton of Newfane when they hooked into a big sucker. The record for a shorthead redhorse is 11 pounds, 11 ounces. This one appears to be a Greater Redhorse. There is no listing for that one. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls reports a good week for bass casting, using stickbaits and jerkbaits along the shoreline on smallies. Steelhead and lake trout are still hanging around, but it probably won’t be for much longer. The NYPA fishing platform has still been affected by high water. Call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to see if it’s open. Just a reminder to stay away from Strawberry Island because of the nesting bald eagle.
Good catches of salmon and trout are still being reported by trollers in the lake. John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda sends word he did well over the holiday weekend on Saturday straight of out Wilson in 300 to 350 feet of water, running spoons 60 to 100 feet down. They caught seven kings and lost seven others. Monday’s bite slowed down a bit. They picked up a mix of salmon and trout off the red barn between Wilson and Olcott over 200 feet of water, 60 feet down with spoons and flasher-fly. Copper dipsy divers also worked. Fishing has been good on the lake but caution is advised. The new boating rule is to stay at least 600 feet from shore when pushing a wake. Watch out for floating debris, too. The next contest is the Orleans County Open, set for June 10-11. Upper river action for bass continues to be decent and some walleye are also being caught.
Ryan Shea with Brookdog Fishing Company reports that bugs are hatching and fish are looking up. Sulphers, March Browns, Caddis, the random large stonefly and more are popping up regularly. During the day, large stonefly patterns are the way to go if you want to fish the surface. Use an aggressive approach by skittering them across the surface - violent strikes will follow. The standard sub surface approaches still apply - nymphs and streamers are the ticket according to Shea. All these insects hatch depending on temperature - the warmer the day - the later the hatch. The same goes for their spinner falls - the warmer the day - the later in the evening the spinners will fall. Catch it right and you'll have an epic evening. The upper Cattaraugus is one good creek to start, but the Wiscoy and others have potential.