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Fishing Line for July 31

Passing heat waves and cold fronts send fishermen in all directions to find fish and the better bite.

A cooling period has perked many inland-lake fisheries, but bass seem to offer the most consistent action. Experts tool their way through weed beds with successes where even the panfish bite might be slight.

Watching solar-lunar tables can be tricky with all the overcast days of late. What should be a hot morning bite and a mid-morning turn-off often turns into an active feed through late morning and some really active mid-day forays.

Last week’s waning full moon had fish moving later in the day and provided an afternoon bite that usually starts closer to sunset.

A fly-in fishing trip to Northern Ontario last week proved to be productive through much of the day. Walleye that usually high bottom and sidle up to structure edges.

But when walleyes feed off bottom and anglers connect with hand-held rod and reel, hits often come more like a bass or northern pike than a typically sluggish ‘eye strike.

Suspended fish are conversation topics for both big lakes. Lake Erie’s walleye whirl keeps spinning; Lake Ontario’s salmon fishery is regal for kings. Bottom bouncers on Erie can pick off yellow pike; bottom hugging Ontario waters can be good for lake trout.

But suspended lures – hard baits, spinners, harnesses and even live bait on a plain hook – up the numbers and often the sizes of fish caught at this time of the summer season.

Fly anglers are faced with warm waters and ebbing flowage. Trout can be caught in pools and along undercut oxbows and tree-root clumps, but catch-and-release fishing that results in low hooking mortality can be tricky right now.

Look for nice openings around solid weed beds before heading to deeper waters on most inland lakes.

Also, look for a near-shore bite before headed to those deep-water hot spots on the big lakes.

Lake Erie

Walleye are easier to find and catch than smallmouth bass as the calendar flips to August.

Most years, Buffalo anglers are running to deep waters west of Cattaraugus Creek for ‘eye popping. This year, the Eastern Basin still stirs up a fine kettle of walleye at depths of less than 70 feet in and near Buffalo.

A few good sizes and some fair numbers of walleye have shown off the Center Road section west of Cattaraugus Creek.

Ricky Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving has good reports from walleye staging west of the Catt. But for Miller’s regulars, perch schooling at 40 feet just east of the creek has been a boon all summer. Numbers rarely reach a limit count, but many of the bigger fish would pass for legal-sized bass.

Dave Watts at Dave’s Bait & Tackle in Derby sells mainly worm harnesses and nightcrawlers for a walleye run that has no finish line. Purple and black or the watermelon pattern attracts well on worm harness blades.

Savvy trollers now head deeper and often have to keep an eye on the International Line when moving out to 60-foot depths off Sturgeon Point.

Drifters working off Myers Reef and Seneca Shoals still see a nice walleye presence and more than an occasional yellow perch that passes the one-foot mark.

Lake Ontario

King salmon have begun their nearer-to-shore clustering. Trollers have rarely gone beyond 200-foot depths to find salmon schools working depths in the top 80 feet from Fort Niagara to east of Olcott Harbor. Most charter outings end earlier than usual for trout and salmon trips.

Capt. Clarence “C.J.” Crisp of Rally Killer Charters out of Point Breeze moves out to 500-foot depths and runs black and gold magnum spoons to take kings at 80 to 100 feet. Crisp lifts to depths of 50-75 feet for steelhead trout off Oak Orchard Creek.

August Fishing Contests

• Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Walleye Derby, Dunkirk Harbor, Friday-Sunday. For registration details, call 640-2776.

• Erie, Pa. Sport Fishing Association tournaments: Saturday and Sunday, “2013 Summer Slam,” entries must be postmarked by Friday; and “Dreamweaver Big Catch Friday.” Both contests are for Pennsylvania waters of Lake Erie. For entry details, call Ralph Eades at (814) 882-3502 or go to

• Independent Living of Niagara County Eighth Annual Bass Fishing Derby, Old Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown, 6 a.m.-mid afternoon, Sunday. Boat owners register for entry; open to disabled persons of all ages; contest ends with awards and a barbecue at the 3-F Club in Lewiston. Call Le’Kisha Swain at 836-0822 (ext. 181).

• 37th Annual Greater Niagara 2013 A Fish Odyssey, waters of Lake Erie, Niagara River and Lake Ontario in Erie, Niagara and Orleans Counties, Aug. 17-25. For entry details, call (877) Falls-US or go to