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Fishing Line by Will Elliott for June 26

Summer did not take long to transition from spring-like conditions for anglers this season.

Inland shorelines often retain minimal weed growth. Great Lakes waters such as the Niagara River currents show an early presence of green algae in waters that have yet to reach 70 degrees.

Fish movement may be erratic and anglers might have to check usually unproductive shallows as well as deeper hot spots to find good bait and predator schooling during the first full week of summer.

Wherever and however lines are set this weekend, all anglers in New York State have an opportunity to check out fishing prospects during the Department of Environmental Conservation’s annual License-Free Weekend held each year on the last weekend in June.

Adults have a chance to take kids on outings and assist in setting up their rods, reels and terminal baits without the need for a current fishing license. Supervising mentors must be aware of fishing regulations: creel limits, baits, lines in use, etc. while helping kids and rookie anglers enjoy their time on the water.

Lake Erie

Derby and tournament results reveal a much improved walleye presence in Lake Erie’s eastern basin. High winds kept boaters in average-sized crafts off the water, but some respectable walleye schooling – mainly in U.S. waters – showed later last week and on Saturday.

Experts differ in lure selection. The standard worm harness has been good at several depths. Minnow-type baits scored high with rigs run high over shallow or deeper waters. Many colors and pattern combinations have connected, but purple finishes have gotten the most mention when boaters could get lines in the water this past week.

Same goes for perch prospects. Deeper waters produced slightly west of Sturgeon Point and east of Cattaraugus Creek. Anchored boats are scattered between Grandview Point and Evangola State Park, with most of the better numbers and sizes coming from depths of 55 to 72 feet. Often, boaters separated from the clusters do as well as the flotilla folk.

Bass have cooperated well along shoal edges from Buffalo to well past Sturgeon Point. Daytime temperatures and warming nights have pushed surface temperatures to above 70 degrees in spots, but water clarity holds and some of the bigger smallies can still be found cruising rocky shoals such as Seneca, Pinehurst, Evans-Angola and Eagle Bay. Don’t write off rock piles west of the Catt for the next week or two at least.

If anything, the Greater Niagara BassEye Celebrity Challenge will once again depend much upon a good reading of both bass and walleye movement for wins in this Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser set for Friday out of the Buffalo Small Boat Harbor.

After a Thursday evening bash at Coca-Cola Field, the competition will begin early Friday. Awards will be presented that afternoon at about 3:30 p.m. Guides and charter captains will be on hand to share catch commentary after the competition. For details on this event, go to

Kids caught a bunch of nice panfish and a few bass during a clinic at Chestnut Ridge Park on Saturday. Southtowns Walleye Tournament winners received awards during a Saturday afternoon gathering. Look for a detailed account of both events on the Sunday Outdoors Page.

Lake Ontario

Those nasty “thermal layers” have begun to cooperate and both bait schools and major predators have started moving into 80- to 100-foot depths along the state-side shore.

Lake trout have been the better biter, but some boaters have also hit into bigger king salmon that have slid in with the lakers. Lines set at or near bottom could connect on both species with variations of speeds and turns that change the speed and depth level of down rigs and side-planer presentations.

Pick any bay or feeder-stream outflow from the Niagara River to Point Breeze and the locals will tell you about bass and pike. Some nice panfish (mainly bluegills and crappie) continue at Lake Alice in northern Orleans County, but the shoreline bite is mainly either a smallmouth or a northern. The perch bite has been so-so at most of the popular access sites open to shore casters.

Chautauqua Lake

The walleye bite is less than slight, but both smallmouth and largemouth bass keep kids of all ages happy to be on the water. For casters, a Senko worm (nose-hooked, not the whackie-styled middle hooking) is deadly for largemouths moving between weeds and around docks. Smallies hold along weed edges and go for live bait or any large-lipped lure body that shows great movement and simulates a distressed minnow or crayfish.

Western Finger Lakes

Waters warmed considerable, but weed masses have yet to form heavily on Silver, Conesus and Honeoye. For perch, a close competition exists between Canandaigua and Seneca. Canandaigua also has a fair run of bluegills on the side. Seneca boaters also hook into sizeable sunfish while perch fishing.