Say goodbye to summer - but only on the calendar.
Fall, officially arriving Friday, has begun showing its colors, but warm shoreline waters give anglers the best of both summer and fall fishing.
Bass have moved onto weed edges of inland waters and along rocky near-shore structures of Great Lakes waters. Walleye make the evening run to near-shore haunts and perch schools tighten on the largest and smallest of inland lakes.
Salmonids, despite warm feeder stream waters, go with their fall program. Chinook salmon enter 68-degree waters of Great Lakes streams and rivers to begin their fall spawning cycle; inland stream trout rise to early-fall fly patterns. Panfish move closer to shore as daylight shortens and minnow forage becomes scarce.
Fall brings nippy air, but to have fish nip at baits and lures, take along some summer tackle as well as the fall array of egg sacks, skein and wet flies.
Every accessible feeder stream now holds trout, with live or fresh bait the best bets for bites right now. Egg sacks and night crawler segments do well but fresh skein draws the most strikes, especially when waters settle out and baits become move visible.
Lake Erie walleye fishing this weekend has all the excitement of visiting a gaming casino. Are they still out there or moved off toward Ohio? The few boaters who got out between high winds and waves found few fish, with the presumption the main school may have moved north along the Ontario/New York State border before heading west to Ohio.
Bass need no speculation. Once Sunday's high waves settled, boaters found bass back on rock structures from Buffalo Harbor to Brocton Shoals. Smaller bronzebacks dominate the tops of rock piles (10-foot depths and shallower), but heavier jigs ( 3/8 - to 3/4 -ounce) dropped along rock ledges and rubble piles connect in less than 30-foot depths in most areas.
Perch have the status of walleye when it comes to location and harvesting right now. The few boaters trying for perch appear east of Cattaraugus Creek toward Evangola State Park, with no takers yet in the 55-foot perch flats west of Sturgeon Point. Unlike inland lakes, Erie ringbacks typically join in tightened schools later in the fall.
It's a beautiful thing, the lower Niagara River gorge, that is, not the gathering of boats each morning in the Devil's Hole waters above the Ontario and New York power plants. The king salmon run, which began heavily two weeks ago, continues to draw new mature and two-year-old "juveniles" into lower river waters.
Kings could stage anywhere in the river along the five miles between the mouth at Fort Niagara and Devil's Hole, but the bulk of fish race upstream and find good holding waters to stage before their run to Whirlpool and the base of the falls -- if they get there. Some fish have been taken at the Queenston back drift, but the hole has control.
Cut-bait rigs continue to cut into king salmon moving close to shore in preparation for their run upstream. Catch numbers decline and successes depend on wave action and thermal currents just off ledges (50- to 80-foot depths) off Fort Niagara, Wilson Harbor, Olcott Harbor and Point Breeze.
When kings fail to cooperate, boaters run out to depths greater than 200 feet in search of steelhead trout schools. Both cut bait and spoons have taken good numbers of steelies at 20-foot depths in normal (south or west) winds and at 40- to 60-foot depths when the northeast or northwest breezes move through.
Both bass and walleye hug weeds in the south basin. Walleye also move close to weed edges in the north basin. One West Virginia angler has been taking limit catches of 'eyes from the south basin weed edges with a Hopkins Spoon touched with a dab of scent and cast toward weeds and brought in with hopping movement normally used for leadhead jigs.
Trout and fly classes
George Besch, experienced fly fisherman, offers a five-session course for anglers, including planning, equipment choices, casting development and many other aspects of the sport. Classes ($29) go from 7:30-9 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Clarence Middle School starting Sept. 26. Call between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at either 759-8331 or 759-0249.
Paul Mundy conducts an eight-week fly tying course for those of beginner- and intermediate-level fly fishing experience. Classes ($65) at the BOCES Building in the Maryvale High School Campus go from 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays starting Oct. 3. To learn more about the class or register, call 635-4666.
Steelhead: Fly Fishing Schools -- Rick Kustich and Nick Pionessa offer a comprehensive Steelhead Fly Fishing School from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The fee is $125. Kustich then joins with Topher Brown of Winston Rod Co. on Oct. 8 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for a Basics of Spey Fly Casting presentation. Both classes will be held at Oak Orchard Fly Shop, 5110 Main St. in Williamsville. For more specifics, call 626-1323.