Warming waters and spawning-cycle completions have more fish on feeding moves and territorial treks.
Part of the post-spawn puzzle each midspring is finding just where these fish set up and hold down what expert fish analysts call “structures.”
For locating suspended schools of fish in the Great Lakes, finding the right height in the water column is a must. Trout targeters try to match the hatch. Trollers strive to simulate the bait on which most suspended fish forage. Bottom bouncers have an assortment of options that would fill this page and not cover all possibilities.
Water temperatures are hovering at and slightly above the 55-degree mark, which put bass on spawning beds, but most other pike, perch and sunfish family members are well past egg and fry tending and well into a metabolism spurt brought on by increased daylight and warmer waters.
As inviting as all this fish flourishing sounds, the trick is still trying to get over fish that are feeding or at least willing to strike at an annoying piece of terminal tackle.
Stream levels remain low on Great Lakes feeders and inland creeks and rivers. Bass, spawners and feeders are showing up where trout had been seen and hooked recently.
Get those trolling rigs ready and the bottom-bouncing baits in gear. The dayside walleye bite is here. Night trollers are still connecting with good-sized ’eyes along the Lackawanna/Hamburg shore and west of Dunkirk Harbor, but boaters no longer need running lights to find the bites.
Day trollers and drifters set up off the windmills west of Buffalo Small Boat Harbor on Saturday for a good run of what seems to be all resident walleye headed out to find suspended and bottom-hugging schools of bait.
Trollers are running side planers, Dipsy Divers and in-lines. Drifters and slow-trollers are bumping bottom with spinners and worm harnesses for a variety of sizes, noted Capt. Jim Rores of Big Greek Niagara River Charters.
Winds kicked up through the rest of the holiday weekend, but the daytime bite has been confirmed late last week and should be good for the coming weekend.
Perch hunters out of Sturgeon Point had been doing fairly well from Eighteen Mile Creek to Point Breeze, with few good numbers from the outside of Myers Reef this year. Now, the regulars say the perch schools have moved deeper and westward, with Cattaraugus Creek getting the major mention.
That does not mean a run out of the Catt is an absolute. Bait schools and schools of feeding perch move constantly. The shelves at Evangola that were on fire 2-3 weeks ago are tricky to open right now. The spine sides of Foxes Point directly off the Catt can be good one day and dead the next.
Best approach to perch right now is to watch the sonar screen at depths just under 40 feet and check out every slight depth change out to at least 65 feet directly off and west of Cattaraugus Creek. Bait dealers are low on emerald shiners. You may have to settle for salted minnows or commercial live bait this weekend.
Anglers in the Southtowns Perch Derby did well on Saturday, with catches logged all along the U.S. and Canadian shore. Look for detailed results of this contest on the Sunday Outdoors page.
Bass hold along rocky edges from Buffalo Harbor to Brocton Shoals and westward.
Any body bait or spoon resembling a minnow or a jig (tube, bucktail or plastic bodies) will draw bass strikes at depths of 10 to 30 feet around most shoals.
Bass and steelies are the mix in 56-degree lower-river water. Boaters drift Kwikfish for the steelie run. Shore casters can roll tube jigs for bass and either spinners or minnow baits for trout.
Feeder streams are low, but charter boaters and recreational anglers are having fun with a king salmon run that can been found from Fort Niagara to well east of Point Breeze and Oak Orchard Creek, says Capt. Bob Cinelli.
The action sits in depths of 80 to 100 feet at first light. Activity continues throughout the day at depths of less than 200 feet for the kings at mid depths and odd schools of steelies often down less than 20 feet.
Most baits work. A flasher-and-fly rig connects. Dead/cut bait does well. But a good spoon program can get to fish quickly. Cinelli recommends the newer line of Finger Lakes Spoons that can be found at Narby’s Superette Bait & Tackle in Kent. Cinelli has done well on silver and black with “glo” touches, but green or gold finishes also do well.
The Randolph Hatchery has stocked these sites this past week in time for weekend outings (this will be the final stocking sequence of the spring):
Rushford Lake (Caneadea) 1,540 yearling brown trout; Rushford Camp Pond (New Hudson) 180 brook trout; and Genesee River (Wellsville) 1,110 yearling browns.