> Opportunities heating up
Summer heat has warmed most streams and inland waters, but the big lakes may need a few more warm days and nights to catch up with actual early-summer temp readings.
Lake Erie remains a bit cool and Lake Ontario shows patches of warming thermal shifts, but both lakes show nice results for numbers and sizes of perch, walleye, trout, and salmon.
Feeder streams have heated and dropped to untenable levels for good trout numbers. Cagy browns and some rainbows might hold tight in oxbows and under-cuttings, but most streams draw better numbers of warm-water species. Nice, light fly-fishing gear can be a hoot right now for smallmouth bass and assorted panfish moving up popular trout streams.
Inland lakes, in general, have an unusual "belated spring" sequence going right now. From Honeoye to Chautauqua, shore and pier/dock casters can still cast and connect with perch, crappie, bluegill and other panfish species that usually are headed to deeper waters once shoreline temps rise above 70 degrees.
Good casting gear and a variety of bait and bobber options might be needed, but the near-shore panfish run is yet another bonus for early-summer anglers this season.
Bass season opened statewide Saturday and will open in Ontario at midnight Friday.
> Baitfish news
Anglers anxious to know when the changed baitfish regulations will become official are looking as a possible opening of transportation corridors just before the 4th of July weekend.
Shaun Keeler, DEC sportfishing regulations coordinator in charge of this change in the law, said at a Conservation Council gathering that the DEC has already approved the new regulations as written and submitted that change to the Department of State for official filing. The filing process usually requires about 10 days.
So anglers are looking at a possible June 29 or 30 start of legal bait collecting and transporting along designated corridors. This law passage may be too late for area bait dealers to begin netting and holding live emerald shiners. Heavy schools of emeralds in upper Niagara River waters are beginning to move up stream toward open waters of Lake Erie. Currently, the only options for bait are certified small golden shiners, fatheads, and salted emerald shiners.
> Lake Erie
Salted emerald shiners have shown well on perch. Some fair numbers have emerged at Sturgeon Point, but the better numbers have come from 45-foot depths directly off Cattaraugus Creek.
When perch are hitting, all kinds of bait (grubs, worms, night crawlers and plastic baits) all gets hits. When perch are picky, the problem often means depth as well as mood swings.
Too often, round gobies crowd out the bottom and yellow perch start picking around off bottom. If the sonar screen shows good near-bottom movement, try lifting off bottom with a slow up and down sweep of the perch rigs. Also, try varying sizes of leaders on hooks. Sometimes, a hook tied directly to the main line (without a leader) gets more attention.
Bass give baits attention at all kinds of levels right now. Post-spawn hog-size smallmouths hang at 15-25-foot depths off rock piles. Look for steeper drop-offs where bass seem to move and bite more quickly.
Final totals for Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament entries will not be public until the awards picnic Saturday afternoon at Armor Fire Hall in Hamburg. But the bigger fish, again this year, have come in from areas around Barcelona Harbor. Trollers head west, but some good prospects also show in eastern waters.
Boaters rigged with side planers and down rigs have moved out slightly in waters from Myers Reef to west of Dunkirk, but the relative shallow program (trolling over depths of 50-80 feet) is going well.
The worm harness remains the mainstay for chuggers, but quite a few guys have gone back to the old, reliable Flatfish and the newer models of Kwikfish for night trolling earlier and now the open-water runs.
One caution with these banana-type lures, they do roll-overs and helicopter spins at higher trolling speeds. Check out each lure-even if it's the same size as another banana run earlier-before setting it down to trolling depths.
> Free fishing outings
Three sites offer gatherings for kids fishing clinics this weekend:
Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs partners with the DEC for a Youth Fishing Clinic, Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday. call 851-7010, 597-4081.
Gateway Harbor "Hooked on the Tonawanda's Tagged Fishing Tournament," Erie Canal waters of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda, is set for Saturday and Sunday. Call 692-5120 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martin's Fantasy Island Family Fishing Derby, Grand Island, noon-4 p.m. on Sunday. Call 773-7591 or martinsfantasyisland.com.