This first weekend of the summer could be the busiest two days on the fishermen's calendar.
All fishing seasons are open and set to go come Saturday. Bass season opens in Ontario Province waters at midnight Friday, allowing all anglers creel limits on all game fish caught in all area waters.
Everyone interested in angling can fish for free this weekend during the annual Free Fishing Days Saturday and Sunday in all waters of New York State.
Fishing clinics and derbies offer kids a change to learn more about and enjoy being out fishing.
> Lake Erie
Boaters must carefully check international waters designations, but bass season will be open this weekend in all eastern-basin waters of Lake Erie.
Charter captains and entrants in the 11th Annual Cystic Fibrosis Foundation BassEye Challenge are out scouting for the good bass bite. Drop-offs at 10- to 20-foot depths have been hot from Buffalo Harbor (along the breakwater ripraps) to Sturgeon Point and westward.
The walleye bite has been spotty, with better numbers of smaller fish showing close to Buffalo and the "hog class" stuff coming from around Barcelona Harbor.
Perch seekers need a break from the winds and sometimes have to make a few moves to get over schools of biters. Nonetheless, some nice numbers of bigger ringbacks have come in from 52-foot depths west of Sturgeon and 48-62 feet west of Cattaraugus Creek. Shallower waters do well at sunrise and the deeper drops produce at midday.
> Niagara River
Crayfish and nightcrawler sales are up at Big Catch Bait & Tackle and the upper Niagara River fishery-aboard boats and along shore-keys on yellow perch and smallmouth bass.
Bait still holds fairly well in the upper river, but a minnow drifted or dropped close to bottom still draws strikes.
Lower river action has slowed; perch schooling has been slight along shore.
> Lake Ontario
Trollers have to dig deeper, but the trout and salmon bite has been good at and to either side of Olcott Harbor, said Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle.
King salmon schools have moved down to depths of 85-100 feet over waters 150 deep and deeper. Warm hefty breezes from the south and west pushed warmer waters out and moved bait, trout and salmon deeper daily. Either a flasher-and-fly rig or cut bait cuts into the kings.
Steelies and coho salmon hold higher, hitting at 50- to 60-foot depths and seem to seek out spoons with either a brightly colored orange or red spoon. Green/chartreuse often will work as well.
Shore anglers have a nice mix of game and panfish. Smallmouths have moved to deeper waters with shoreline and feeder creek temperatures at and above 70 degrees. But largemouth bass lurk in warming waters and hit well around weed edges and dock pilings.
Along with perch, many shore casters have found good-sized rock bass schooling in close at Wilson Harbor, Olcott Harbor and near the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek. Bait preferences vary daily between minnows, crayfish, nightcrawler/worms and grubs.
Two kids-oriented gatherings are slated for Saturday.
* Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs and Department of Environmental Conservation personnel will be set up at Chestnut Ridge Park Saturday morning for a Kids Fishing Clinic in the park's pond.
Learning stations will be in place to help provide kids and caregivers assistance in setting up to catch the big and fun ones. A hot dogs-and-pop lunch with awards and drawings follow the fishing.
For registration details, call 652-4180 or 851-7010.
* The Niagara River Anglers Association is holding a Youth Fishing Derby and Open House Saturday starting at 8 a.m. at the NRAA Wilderness Preserve, 1137 Balmer Rd. in Youngstown.
Creek Road Bait & Tackle supply the bait, but entrants (ages 5-15) must bring tackle to fish with a responsible adult during this derby.
For complete details on this event, go to niagarariveranglers.com.
> Lake Monster
Rich Davenport has a cottage on Chautauqua Lake, fishes for perch and walleye through the ice and trolls — mainly for walleye during the warm-water fishing season.
Trolling at mid-lake, running a Paul Stoos worm harness some 30 feet down in 60-foot water, Davenport hooked into a "screamer" that kept his fishing rod arched for about 25 minutes. He caught his personal best musky while trolling for walleye and called it one of the largest fish to come out of Chautauqua Lake in about two decades. His trophy wall-hanger measured 50 inches and weighed in at 33 pounds. He dubbed it a "true Chautauqua Lake Monster."