The full moon peak on Tuesday marked another round of spawning for the bass/sunfish species and anglers have many good options along and close to shore.
A late start to weed growth, especially on inland lakes, has panfish populations holding in shallows that usually are thinning by late May. Walleye that typically move deeper are lingering in shallower inland waters and showing in relative shallows of Great Lakes waters.
Even trout and salmon that usually move deeper by early June are cruising near the surface and close to bottom at depths of less than 80 feet on Lake Ontario and in the upper Great Lakes.
The walleye bite has turned on for anglers during the day as well as after dark, just in time for the Southtowns Walleye Tournament that starts Saturday and goes to June 14 for all waters of Lake Erie and the upper Niagara River.
Night trollers had connected with various cartoon/carnival colors earlier this spring, and the trend seems to be going that way for dayside trollers and drifters.
Clown spots, tiger stripes and glo-finished surfaces on body baits and worm-harness spinner blades have gotten attention. For decades, either orange or chartreuse spinner blades on harnesses and worm rigs have been a mainstay, but try the newer color combinations in Erie’s clear waters this coming walleye season.
Open-water trollers found a few good fish off Barcelona Harbor at 60-foot depths and from Dunkirk to Brockton Shoals at 30 to 60 feet. But stiff northeast winds and a mud line now stretches to 60-foot depths along most of the New York shoreline. The stain should settle out by the weekend, and the walleye bite could be solid for Southtowns Walleye tourney entrants and recreational anglers from Buffalo to Barcelona Harbor.
Perch schools have scattered. Sizes remain super, but the fish are moving in smaller pods and patches along slight drop-off structures at depths of 50 to 60 feet. Winds have kept most boaters off the water earlier this week. Once waters settle and clear, a focused reconnaissance run might be needed to get over and onto ringbacks in fair to good numbers. Added to the challenge is a scarcity of emerald shiners for bait.
Bass targeting is much easier. A round goby-like tube or plastic tail can connect with smallmouths along shoreline shoals and rocky humps and breakwaters. The statewide season opens June 20, but some impressive catch-and-release fishing can be found around and close to Buffalo Harbor.
Most fishing forays are upper-river activity. Shore casters are having fun with a run of silver (white) bass that go for worms and chucks of nightcrawlers. Boat drifters are connecting with bass mainly in the river. Tube jigs cast sideways and worked to the bottom and slowing to the surface lure post-spawn smallies. The head of the river has yet to produce walleye. Drifters in the Emerald Channel have hooked into bass and sheepshead while searching for ’eye schools.
Capt. Vince Pierlioni of Team Thrillseeker won the Classic Division of the 31st Annual Niagara USA Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament this past weekend. Competition went only on Saturday due to bad weather conditions on Sunday. Pierlioni’s 237.91 points topped seven teams in the money.
“This is not a groove-type spring,” Pierlioni said.
Lures and approaches that usually score during this time of year get attention one day and shut out on another outing. He did best with spoons for this victory and is impressed with salmon remaining close to shore where recreational anglers can get to them this spring.
Capt. Dan Dietzen has had limit catches out of Wilson Harbor trolling spoons this spring season. His most successful pattern has been a black and gold one.
Look for a detailed column about Ontario salmon fishing on the Sunday Outdoors Page.
A musky tourney this past weekend saw good numbers. “The winning fish was 46 inches and each team got two or three fish during the competition,” said Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut Bait & Tackle in Stow.
Bianco noted that walleye have been moving into the shallows. For panfish, the bluegill bite has been better than crappie along weed edges. Cold fronts have cooled the bass bite, but gar pike have moved into shore close enough to be caught from docks and piers.