Mid-September fishing is doing its calendar conforming.
Lake Ontario's Trout and salmon are moving closer to shore. Lake Erie's trout have already begun an upstream run. Bass have moved shoreward along Great Lakes ports, but walleye schools have begun to wander.
Inland waters show perch as moving in tighter schooling patterns typical of their early-fall foraging forays.
Salmon have come calling where the lower Niagara River runs through it. Mild weather, with plentiful sunshine and warm northerly breezes, makes fish forecasting fun. Your favored fish might not be at the center of a favored hot spot, but the bite is on and some nice catch reports have come in this past week.
Perch keep staying deep. Boaters had a brief respite from deep water runs for ringbacks at both sides of Sturgeon Point and off Cattaraugus Creek in weeks past. But better big-bucket catches -- most far from filled -- come from 60-foot instead of 70-foot depths off Cattaraugus Creek right now.
A few nice pods showed off Evangola and Point Breeze late last week, but the northerly breezes and following currents cooled the count east of the Catt. Most boaters now head straight off the creek and possibly do a slight right no farther than Foxes Point for perch prospects.
Walleye went wild the past week, showing in deeper waters slightly west of Dunkirk and on the north side of Waverly Shoals off Buffalo Harbor.
Capt. Paul Dreher has been doing well on walleye with the larger Renosky Chatter-Stick bait trolled down 60 feet over 100-foot depths just west of Dunkirk's Harbor walls.
For a nice variety of bass sizes, try the shoreline rock shoals anywhere from Buffalo Harbor to Brocton Shoals east of Barcelona. Evening forays with live bait (minnows, crayfish, or leeches) can be fun in depths just beyond 15-foot drop-offs.
At times, the bass bite can be better in numbers than perch and other panfish -- even round gobies. But -- when bumping bottom -- count on a high goby count.
Rainbow/steelhead trout have made their way into Cattaraugus Creek and up to Gowanda. Some fair-sized steelies have been seen, but the main run has not begun.
The salmon run has just begun. Capt. Frank Campbell has been dividing his time between Erie and the lower river and has seen good bass off the head of the river and a few mature kings in the lower Niagara.
"I'm running all Kwikies," Campbell said of his salmon runs, which have produced a couple mature kings over the 20-pound mark. The bass bite is tailing off but still fair along lower river drifts and out onto the Niagara Bar.
Turnovers and up-wellings send trout and salmon in all directions. Sunday morning at Olcott Harbor, shore casters could catch king salmon off the breakwaters. After daybreak, a few good fish hit in the 30- to 60-foot depths off the harbor.
But the best bite was well off shore for steelies and browns in the top 50 feet over 300-450 feet. Tomorrow the kings could hold near shore and head up stream or show more disappearing action.
Spoons remain the main menu, with black and purple the preferred color pattern and white glow tape for trim. Trolling speeds vary. Above 3 mph for a variety of hitters, below 3 mph to tease lakers.
At Oak Orchard, a few good fish find their way up to Waterport Dam in spurts. Oak Orchard Creek offers even better biting odds for bass. Shore casters near the creek mouth alternately get smallmouth and largemouth bass bites with the same bait cast into the same shoreline site.
The walleye bass bite has become slight, but the ringback run is pure fun. Perch schools have not moved off weed edges they skirted all summer. If anything, the schools have tightened and hit frequency -- along with larger than average sizes -- have increased this past week. Fathead minnows account for most perch in the pail.
Musky-minded men and women are welcome to a free Mike Sperry seminar at 7 p.m. Friday at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle in Ashville. Sperry will give tips and tricks for catching Chautauqua's toothy tyrants prior to a weekend musky tournament. For tournament details, call 763-5815 or 432-0198.