Hot spots just keep getting hotter for popular Great Lakes targets. Lake Ontario's salmon run is showing spectacular for sizable kings and Lake Erie's waters continue to produce prize 'eyes.
Inland steams remain iffy for good trout treks. Initial DEC summer trout-stream shocking has shown good fish presence. But low waters and above-average temperatures push stressed salmonids out of the shallows, into shaded bank edges, and (if they can make it) down stream to deeper waters.
Inland lakes see very little stress for bigger predators and smaller panfish anglers seek. The perch run at Chautauqua Lake improves yearly; many other inland lakes offer good perch prospects at points deeper than usual for midsummer fishing.
For both size and numbers in the catch stats, Great Lakes outings are great. Schools of targeted species chase suspended bait schools close to shore on both Erie and Ontario. Either lake can present a thrill for big fish catches and for something on the grill.
Walleye hot spots lie east and west along the New York shoreline. Boaters out of Cattaraugus Creek have been heading east for their best trolling treks. Dunkirk Harbor 'eye poppers head west for better hit numbers.
Barcelona waters continue to thrive for walleye trollers. Most of the action remains over less than 100-foot depths directly off the harbor and well west to the Pennsylvania state line.
Some Buffalo-area walleye runs end with limit catches. Depending on winds and bait movement, trollers (running suspended rigs or bottom-bumping with a dropper weight) have a shot at wandering 'eyes from the Departure Buoy to the west side of Myers Reef and out to the International Line.
Boaters with Ontario Province licenses have consistently found 'eye schools between Windmill Point and Point Abino at depths of 50-60 feet earlier this season. Trollers run slightly deeper in Ontario waters, but rarely have to get over 80-foot depths.
Storms Friday and Saturday stirred things, scattering fish and baitfish in all directions. But a steady program of depth control connects. Baits (mainly worm harnesses) set at 30-40 feet had been the format throughout July, but rigs run a bit deeper (40 to 60 or 70 feet) will now open 'eyes more regularly.
Perch addicts, those few diehards who key on ringbacks throughout the summer, have had to go deeper also. Catches rarely top 25 and resetting the anchor is a must, but sizeable fish have come from 62- to 70-foot depths off Cattaraugus Creek. Typically, perch schools tighten out in the "shipping lanes" sometime in early August. Those few fish taken out deep have been bigger biters. The late-summer perch run could emerge soon for distance runners willing to run to deeper waters and do some scouting for bait and perch-school presence.
Moss reports vary along Lower Niagara River drifting lanes. Check out any weed-free areas along shore Devil's Hole to Fort Niagara and out on the Niagara Bar. The bigger the minnow or chub the larger the smallmouth has been the mantra for bass successes in these areas.
For casters focused on artificial offerings, a spinner-bait with a large, silver blade or a larger tube jig with the popular pumpkinseed or crawfish finish, with or without black dots, works well when seeking the bass bite.
Add the outer Niagara Bar to the hot salmon and trout spots along the Lake Ontario shoreline in U.S. waters. Trollers with Canadian licenses also head west for nice runs off Port Dalhousie and St. Catharines. But a steady run of lake trout near bottom and a nice mix of king salmon, brown trout, and the occasional steelie moves into waters less than 200 feet off the bar, Wilson, Olcott, and Point Breeze.
Flasher rigs, Spin Doctors, and all kinds of attractant combinations work well, but the basic silver spoon is the big feeder with salmonids right now. Trollers off the Niagara Bar, between the red and green cans (buoy markers), have connected on good numbers of trout and salmon. Many of the browns weigh in over 10 pounds; some of the kings push the scale close to 30 pounds.
Experts from the Niagara Bar to Sodus Bay and eastward look for a few days of consistent west and southwest winds to allow bait and feeding fish to set up on the water column closer to shore.
For the better steelie action, a long-distance run still might be the better option.
Praises continue to swell for the perch fishery at Chautauqua. This past week, boaters headed out of Bemus Point to find good perch numbers east and west of the point. Both directions produced nicer sizes.
Regulars set the bar an inch higher for perch lengths this season. One group of Ohio anglers commented that last year's perch average size was 8 inches and this year a 9-inch ringback is the norm.
Schools of smaller perch move in the same areas as the bigger boys, but the finer filleting sizes abound. Most mentioned areas this past week were Tom's Point, Dewittville Bay, Prendergast Point, and Chautauqua Point at depths of 10-25 feet.