Anglers and some weather watchers recall this handy rhyme to plan/gauge their outings:
Wind from the west, fish bite the best. Wind from the east, fish bite the least. Wind from the north, do not go forth. Wind from the south blows bait in their mouth.
All true. But just one word in that last line, "blow" can be read two ways -- easy catches and boat-jarring wave action.
The latter has been a bane for Great Lakes boaters in recent weeks. Lake Ontario waters can be rugged, but offshore winds often give shoreline trollers and drifters some protection.
Lake Erie's east end, the Buffalo to Barcelona shoreline, has seen more than its share of heavy chop and high rollers. As a result, many a boater has either canned trip plans altogether or made runs to inland lakes along the Southern Tier and western Finger Lakes.
Curiously, the spring bite has been good even on those days when kinder, gentler winds came from the north or east. Anglers hope the wind speeds don't go south and the bite is best around Western New York waters.
> Lake Erie
The night walleye run has begun. Shoreline trollers set up just at dark for the annual post-spawn feeding foray in the shallows from Buffalo to Hamburg. Action also picks up either side of Sturgeon Point and west of Dunkirk Harbor as waters warm to 50-degree readings.
Dayside trollers have started seeing some activity off Center Road, between Cattaraugus Creek and Dunkirk Harbor. Catch counts and lure preferences have yet to come in, but walleye schooling has set up at 40- to 60-foot depths.
Stream waders struggle to find trout, but casters near creek mouths enjoy struggles with smallmouths feeding in feeder streams. The fishing is all catch-and-release, and Lake Erie anglers can use live bait while bass fishing before the statewide opener June 16.
Perch prospectors can dig into grounds off Sturgeon Point more simply now. The marina's launch ramp clean-out is completed and boaters were able to set out from Sturgeon on Monday. Pat Conrad, marina assistant manager, set the opening date at May 15 and had the ramp open a day earlier.
Bait schools move perch packs constantly, but the most mentioned depths for successes have been 46-56 on recent runs.
> Niagara River
Chances are still good for steelies in the lower river, but lake trout dominate drifts in Devil's Hole. Bass bite along most drifts from the Hole to Fort Niagara.
The smelt run is done, the perch bite is slight, but shore casters have a nice mix of bass and trout at every public-access site in the lower river.
Upper river shore fishing is mainly panfish, with a serious run of white bass showing at Ferry Street and a variety of species at the foot of Ontario Street.
> Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario Counties Derby ended with the winning king salmon weighing in at just over 30 pounds. Brodie Ingalls of Manchester, N.H., topped his fishing partner's 29-pound, 10-ounce salmon leader with a 31-pound, 6-ounce entry that finished as grand prize winner. Ingalls' winning fish hit a Rapala trolled off Wilson Harbor.
Nine of the top 10 Salmon Division winners were taken in waters off Fort Niagara to Oak Orchard Point. Nine of the top 10 Lake Trout Division winners also came in from Western New York waters. And the first place winner was weighed in at Wilson Harbor. Robert Briggs of Dansville, Vt., used a spoon to scoop up a 29.1-pound laker.
All eight Rainbow/Steelhead Trout Division entries came from Ontario's western waters. Wyatt Goehring of Spraggs, Pa., trolled an NK Spoon to hook up with the 12.01-pound winning steelie. For a listing of Derby winners in all divisions, go to loc.org and click on Leaderboard for the 2012 Spring Derby.
Shoreline action -- for shore casters and small-boat runners -- can be fun with or without a competition. Right now, boaters can drift off the Niagara Bar and cast shallow-running artificials (jerk baits, casting spoons, jigs, etc.) for a steady run of top-water coho salmon out to 80-foot depths. Coho hit at 5- to 10-foot depths and lures either cast or trolled can be a coho go.
> Trout stocking
The Randolph Hatchery has stocked these sites with yearling trout in time for weekend anglers:
Allegany County: Little Genesee Creek (Bolivar), 1,330 brown trout; and California Brook (Bolivar), 270 brown trout.
Cattaraugus County: Great Valley Creek (Great Valley), 1,240 brown trout; Forks Creek (Great Valley), 800 brown trout; Elton Creek (Freedom), 890 brown trout; Ischua Creek (Franklinville), 1,069 brown trout; Red House Lake (Red House), 670 brown trout; and Quaker Lake (Elko), 3,720 9-inch yearling brown trout.
Wyoming County: East Koy Creek (Gainesville), 6,920 brown trout.