One way to make for memorable fishing this weekend would be to focus on an often-neglected aspect of lure fishing -- plug tuning.
Most species of game fish now are feeding heavily on slow-moving bait fish that school in shallow waters. Anglers attempt to simulate these bait fish while trolling or casting in shallow waters.
Several adjustments (lure tuning) can add to the effective presentation of these minnow-type baits:
Know the trolling depth of the lure before sending it out.
Run the lure through the water to see that it goes straight and does not spin or track off to one side or the other. Often, the eye of the lure must be gently bent to the side to attain effective tracking.
Adjust speed to give the lure an injured minnow effect. Do not remove belly hooks from larger stickbaits; they are incorporated to maintain balance in that lure. If need be, clamp a split shot on the eye of the belly hook in order to get the desired balance and slow wobble.
Trout and salmon schools in the Oak Orchard area have been active just 2-35 feet down over 100-to-200-foot depths. Several trollers still are running either spoons or stickbaits on planer boards over the deeper waters.
Olcott Harbor trollers have been marking their fish somewhat deeper: 35-45 down over 70-125 depths. The green-striped black NK spoon has been most effective for all salmonids.
The Wilson Harbor area has picked up for panfishing (yellow and white perch, the bigger rock bass and smaller channel catfish). Wilson's salmonid trollers have been running toward the Niagara River mouth over 80-180 feet of water and working the top 40 feet. The Dipsy Diver has picked off many of the shallow-running trout and salmon not enticed by lures set shallow on the down rigs.
While shore casting from piers and points has slowed generally, the well-placed spoons (Little Cleos, Wobblerites, KO Wobblers, etc.) have paid off for persistent casters mainly during the early morning and near-sunset hours.
The lake trout in the lower river have been spotty of late for boaters. The more consistent fishery has been trout fishing from shore with either the buck-tailed or Twister jigs (mainly white).
Another booming shore fishery has been the white (silver) bass. These fish have schooled along most castable shore areas and have been hitting the smaller white jigs and minnows in both the upper and lower river.
Most attention is focused upon the Wanakah/Hamburg shoreline, as the walleye move into the shallows for their annual post-spawn feeding spree. The heavy influx of night trollers sometimes results in less-than-great numbers of the abundant '84-class walleye, which now average 3-5 pounds.
One alternative is to seek out less-fished shoals and drop-offs in the vicinity of the popular Wanakah Bar and Foits area. The Inland Sportsman's "Lake Erie Hot Spots" map (No. 105) illustrates all the likely shallow-water feeding sites for the Erie shoreline from Sturgeon Point to the City of Buffalo. For more information, call 652-3310.
Tom Shantler, at the Outdoors Cabin in Depew, regularly has taken limit- and near-limit catches of walleye while trolling the Hamburg shoreline. Shantler suggests rigging with just a fine-wire snap (no heavy swivels) and working the deeper (10-20 foot) water during early evening with Storm's new (13 cm.) ThunderStick.
Bill Frey, at Pro Angler, reports excellent flat-line trolling after dark with the blue or chartreuse Rapalas (sizes 11 and 13) in the shallows west of Dunkirk Harbor (Shorewood Shoal to Van Buren Point).
The nighttime walleye fishing remains strong during late-night hours -- 1-5 a.m.
Day fishing is more active in the southern basin with either the casted jig or the troller worm harness.
Brown trout and some rainbows have been hitting spinners well in the upper Cattaraugus Creek.
Larry Wisher of West Seneca recently took a 17-inch brown, among other browns and rainbows, while spinner fishing the Arcade/Yorkshire Corners area. Wisher recommends either the 1/1 6-ounce yellow Rooster Tale or or the No. 0 Mepps Aglia spinner for this ongoing fishery.