>Early fireworks on Great Lakes waters
Fish species explosions on Great Lakes waters could not wait for Fourth of July celebrations.
Lake Ontario's trout and salmon put on a June to remember, with promise for a continued near-shore salmonid salvo well into July.
Lake Erie's walleye, and perch in places, show they have enrolled in summer schooling.
Reports from anglers returning from northern Ontario and Quebec fly-in trips indicate early-season outings proved productive as soon as they got to camp.
With area water temperatures five or more degrees above average for end-of-June readings, fishing could be sparkling and rocket through the holiday weekend.
The universal walleye bite seen during the Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament has slowed, but when boaters can get over modest waves walleye are still in sight. Look for a detailed report on tourney results on the Sunday Outdoors Page.
After a long run of shallow bite height, schools have moved out and deeper with each wind storm and rise in water temperatures. Trollers have set rigs deeper to fish over depths closer to 100 feet west of the Catt.
Trollers have dropped to 30-foot depths for Jet-Diver rigs and lead-core runners have put out seven to eight colors and lengthened the fluorocarbon leaders to reach spooky 'eyes.
Perch anglers have done a 180, heading for ringbacks east of Cattaraugus Creek and Foxes Point. The last time boaters could get out to 50-foot depths, perch had shown best at 52-foot depths closer to Evangola State Park than to Sturgeon Point or to Cattaraugus Creek. After this latest round of wind gusts, perch could show anywhere, but the last good contact was off the state park.
Lower river boaters have to fight their way through floating and suspended moss, but the bass bite makes it worth the work. Live minnows, spinner baits, and all kinds of vertical jigs have been big on smallmouths.
Check out the Niagara Bar structures just off the fort. Many a fun bass day begins or ends with a drift over those rock humps.
Cold water holds close to shore and so do cold-water species.
Trout and salmon cruise closer to shore than usual for end-of-June feeding sites, but best waters for consistent catching is still between Olcott Harbor and Oak Orchard Point.
"They're still catching kings as shallow as 50 feet," said Wes Walker at Slippery Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott. Walker noted the steelhead trout run continues close, over waters anywhere from 50 to 400 feet.
A fair number of Atlantic salmon have been caught in with the kings and steelies. Often taken for brown trout, Atlantics have to measure 25 inches to be kept legally.
Add coho salmon to the slamming. Cohos move at varied depths and hit spoons and flasher rigs set high and deeper in the top 50-60 feet.
Spoon finishes vary, with some silver somewhere. Orange and pink have been good general colors. Chartreuse has helped up the steelie count. Darker color patterns on a silver-backed spoon does good things with the kings.
Perch remain the mainstay for catching each day. A minnow or minnow-like bait (Twister, shad jig, white fly, etc.) all round up ringbacks just about everywhere on the lake. Bigger fish have shown at the narrows between Long Point and Tom's Point and the weed edges around Mayville.
Walleye numbers picked up this past week, with the night bite still better than daylight hours. Bass and musky showed well during opening-day weekend. Anglers saw fair numbers of both smallmouth and largemouth bass.
But it was a musky tournament turnout that turned out stout. Capt. Larry Jones, coordinator of the Opening Day Chautauqua Musky Tourney, reported 142 fishermen signed on for the one-day contest.
Entrants caught and released 73 muskies. Mark Errico of Elwood City, Pa., took the $1,200 first prize with a 52.5-inch entry. Jamestown angler Brooke Butler took second ($600) with a 49-inch fish. Joe Hertzendorfer of Rochester measured and released a 48-incher to take the $300 third prize.