Mother Nature has been throwing anglers a bit of a curve ball of late, primarily from high winds. Rain can also be a factor. Learning to adapt to changing conditions is part of the challenge. It can also lead to greater rewards.
Walleye action continues to be good on the lake according to Capt. Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. “The majority of the fish are coming on crank baits run off lead core line and trolling worm harnesses behind bottom bouncers,” says Sperry. “Trolling speeds are 2 to 2-1/2 mph with Hot-n-Tots, flicker shads, Rapalas and similar body baits. For worm harnesses, keep your speed around 1 mph. Ice jigging Rapalas and Vibes are also working vertical jigging, especially in the deeper north basin. Musky has been tough for the last two weeks. Water temps are around 72 degrees. Sperry’s charter did manage a nice fish while trolling last Sunday. The algae bloom is in full swing on the south basin, however, not as bad as previous years. The cooler weather has kept the bloom down some. yellow and white perch are abundant.
There were quite a few guys out fishing last weekend despite the tough conditions Friday and Saturday thanks to the 13th Annual Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club (NCCC) Walleye Derby. Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga did well on Friday with his Fishing Forever crew consisting of Larry Leone and Tom Brunn II as they caught nearly 40 walleye fishing near the U.S.-Canada boundary straight out from Sturgeon Point. Most of the fish came on 10 colors of lead core line and dipsy divers with Three-D Worm Harnesses doing the luring. The fish zone was 50 to 60 feet down. Their catch was good enough to take the top total prize on Friday with 22.14 pounds of fish, with a big fish of 8.60 pounds. Saturday was a terrible day on the water and not too many made it out or to the scales. In fact, only 10 teams made it in that day. One was Robert Oram, who set the pace for the day with three fish weighing in at 14.09 pounds. He led the two-day total with 34.50 pounds, as well as the three-day total with 46.26 pounds. Lots of smaller walleyes are swimming around out there, from Buffalo’s inner harbor to the Pa. line and beyond. The future looks bright. In the big fish category, Bob Graeber weighed in a 9.26-pound walleye, the only 9-pounder registered in the three-day contest.
The strong southwest winds over the weekend changed fishing for the better locally as far as the salmon was concerned. John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda hit the Niagara Bar drop off on Sunday and found the salmon stacked up on the ledge. He was fishing spin doctors and flies in 100 feet of water, 90 feet down on his riggers. He was also running dipsy divers back 270 on a 1-1/2 setting. Fish were definitely out of temp but the kings were still hungry. Out in Olcott, the deep water was still productive for silver fish, but steelhead was the top lure taker. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown did well on Sunday mining steel using spoons 40 to 60 feet down over 400 to 500 feet of water. The Orleans County Rotary Derby is going on right now through Aug. 20. After the weekend, there was not a fish on the board. Monday brought in three salmon, led by Mike Schaeffer of Sligo, Pa. with a 28-pound, 6-ounce king. It’s still not too late to register. The derby runs through Aug. 20. In the 2017 Scotty King of Kings Tournament Series held out of Bluffers near Toronto last weekend, it was a roll over from the previous year due to bad weather. It almost happened again when Saturday was cancelled. However, Sunday came through with some decent fishing if you could find the salmon. Winner of the $70,000 grand prize with a six-fish weight of 168.12-pounds was the diabolical team from Michigan led by Capt. Mark McClutchey. They had a big fish weighing 25.53 pounds. Second place was Capt. Dan Evans and the Lone Wolf Sportfishing team out of Wilson, narrowly missing the top prize with a six-fish total weight of 166.50 pounds. Lone Wolf used hammertime and green dot attractors in front of A-Tom-Mik hammer flies and A-Tom-Mik x-glo frog meat rigs with A-Tom-Mik meat, working a break over 350 to 400 feet of water.
Capt. Ted Kessler of Grand Island reports that bass fishing in the upper river and at the head of the river continues to be very good. “I think it’s going to be a great fall,” he said. Crabs and shiners are the top live baits to use, fished off three-way rigs. Strawberry Island area and the round house are producing some good catches. They keep plugging away here and there with a walleye, too. Spinner and a worm is a good approach to target walleye. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls is still doing well on smallmouth bass in the upper river using jigs. For largemouth, try using shad raps in the back eddies and you may pick up a pike or musky. The Erie Canal is still producing some nice bass and pike in the Tonawanda-North Tonawanda section of the waterway. Lower Niagara River bass fishing continues to be good there, too. Stella Drift has been a good one for drifters using crayfish off three-way rigs. Johnson drift is yielding a few bass, too. For walleye, Stella and the Niagara Bar have been good spots to drift a worm harness.