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FISHING LINE

Lake Erie

Trout: Fish almost any feeder, but try to time it for the least fishing pressure.

Rain last week lifted every feeder stream entering Lake Erie from Buffalo to Barcelona Harbor and westward into Pennsylvania, drawing good numbers of rainbow/steelhead trout, a fair number of brown trout and increased numbers of stream waders.

Big or small, you can fish them all. Cattaraugus Creek produces well from the mouth upstream to the Springville Dam. Smaller feeders hold good numbers of rainbows and brown in most pools near their mouths, scattering with waves of waders passing through.

On Eighteen Mile, Silver, Canadaway, Chautauqua and most other smaller feeders, a walk upstream can be relaxing and rewarding.

Bass: If warm weather continues, and the boat has yet to be winterized and stored, Lake Erie is well worth a cast or two. Warm weather has kept water temperatures in the high 50s, well above late-October averages.

During the New York State Outdoor Writers Association's fall conference in Dunkirk, boaters found big bass holding along 20- to 30-foot depths west of the harbor between Gratoit Point and Van Buren Point.

George Fiorille, bass competitor and promotions manager with Bass Pro Shop in Auburn, found the right jig pattern for bottom-hugging, listless smallmouths: salted watermelon pepper vinyl jig in either a tube or minnow body.

Dragging this jig along the bottom on a drift in winds from any direction -- with no popping or lifting action -- draws strikes from some big bass. Writers association President Melody Tennity of Byron and Janice Raber, a writer from Bellport on Long Island, took cues from Fiorille and began catching and releasing 2- to 4-pound smallies in fair numbers during a northeast wind and a minor cold front -- two ugly conditions for fish catching -- last weekend.

Perch: A few boaters still ply waters off Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek. Schools of bigger perch show mainly at 50-foot depths. Monday, Sturgeon Point showed well, but by Tuesday most boaters headed east of Cattaraugus Creek to sites off Evangola State Park.

Lower Niagara River/Lake Ontario
Trout/salmon: Action in the lower river has picked up, with steelies more abundant than almost-spent mature salmon. Drifters along Devil's Hole have to pick through out-of-season lake trout to get to trout and salmon. Skein works best on the drifts. Shore casters can send out egg sacks, skein, spoons or Vibrax spinners to reach salmonids swimming upstream.

Olcott Harbor offers the best options for shore anglers working feeder streams. Shore casters working below Burt Dam have been having fun with salmon and steelies, with a few browns entering the mix.

Chautauqua Lake
Add walleye to the musky and perch prospects around the lake.

Vertical jiggers have been pulling a few hefty walleye from the deep holes on either side of Long Point, said Lonnie Stebbins at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle in Ashville.

Stebbins gets good reports from drifters moving over deep drops off the bathhouse or the state park launch site at change-of-light times -- an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset.

Musky hunters have done better casting than trolling in relatively warm waters around weeds. South Basin waters have been most productive around Lakewood Bar and Ashville Bay, but drifting or electric motoring along weeds at Maple Springs and Mayville in the North Basin can be rewarding.

Perch schools have moved into shallows around Long Point, where heavy schools of baitfish have collected. Boaters and shore casters have to cull small fish and move around to get into bigger ringbacks, but they're there.

Meeting reminder
A New York Sea Grant informational program, "State of Dunkirk Harbor and Lake Erie," sponsored by New York State Assemblymen William Parment and Richard Smith, begins at 7 tonight at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club on Mullet Street in Dunkirk. For more details, call 645-3610.
e-mail: wille@pce.net