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Will Elliott’s Fishing Line for July 1

Fireworks continue for anglers enjoying catches or fishing tournament competitors.

Great Lakes fishing can be great in the right places. Hefty northeast winds stir and scatter fish schools on both lakes. Lake Ontario’s trout and salmon movements are annoying but a bit more predictable than perch and walleye wanderings on Lake Erie. Both lower lakes can be productive in early July, but anglers need to find where winds have moved ringbacks, ’eyes and even bass after ‘Noreaster. 

 Flooding has been fiendish for fishermen — on western Finger Lakes in particular. On the plus side, weed formations have slowed, bass movement is a bit more predictable and panfish schools can be solid along weed-edge drop-offs that are not usually productive by early July.

 Spinners (single and spinner-bait), spoons (thin wobblers and heavy casters), jigs (tube and plastic-bodied), and live baits all connect at this time of year.

 Take along a good supply of artificials and live bait and be sure to switch off when the bite is not right. Warm waters, prolonged daylight, and abundant forage sources have warm- and cold-water fish species active but frustrating finds in early July.

 Lake Erie

 Bass offer the best bite and easier find right now. Rocky drop-offs, shoals and shoreline structures at depths of 20 to over 40 feet hold smallmouth in both sizes and numbers from Buffalo to Barcelona Harbor.

 Both bass chubs and crayfish connected well for most entrants in the Cystic Fibrosis BassEye Challenge last Friday. Boaters pulled smallies from the upper Niagara River, harbor breakwaters, Seneca Shoals, each side of Myers Reef and points westward.

Walleye finding is another matter. Trollers at Barcelona Harbor and west of Dunkirk Harbor have been doing well at less than 60 feet and suspension levels often less than 20 feet. All that could change with this latest blow but, for now, ’eye schools are scattered from Cattaraugus Creek to Buffalo Harbor.

Same can be said for perch, but boaters who can get over feeding schools have picked plucky ringbacks from small pocket schools either side of Sturgeon Point and from deeper depths off Cattaraugus Creek. It may take some reconnaissance runs until fish show on the screen, but sizeable fish in tight schools can still be caught.

 Lake Ontario

Go deep and fish shallow has been the word for both trout and salmon taken from Fort Niagara to well east of Oak Orchard Point. The early-summer doldrums are here, but the right combination of spoon or flasher rigs run at the right speed and depth can connect with both major salmonids right now.

 Check with a local bait and tackle shop before heading to Ontario’s deeps. Catch reports change daily.

July Tourney Trail

• The Lake Ontario Counties Summer Derby began June 13 and continues to July 26 with prizes in salmon and trout divisions and daily entries accepted at many sites or on line. For all derby details, visit

• The 25th Annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby starts today, offering prizes in seven divisions for canal catches taken until July 12.

Anglers can enter daily for adults and youth participation. For complete details on this derby, visit

 • Rob Ray’s “Big Dawg” Walleye Invitational, Chadwick Bay Marina, Dunkirk Harbor, Saturday and July 12, a five-fish/two-day event similar to the Amara-Can Team Tourney that was canceled for this year. For details, call Mark Mohr at 998-9871 or email:

 • Sunset Bay Walleye Shootout, Lake Erie at Cattaraugus Creek, July 25. For details, call Don Ruppert at 598-7770 or Bob Rustowicz at 830-6394.

 • Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Walleye Open for Lake Erie and the upper Niagara River starts July 31 and goes to August 2, with a three-fish entry for each of the three days of competition. For entry details, check with Zen Olow at 640-2776.

 Tourney Awards

 The Fifth Annual Hooked On The Tonawanda’s Fishing Tournament held June 27 and 28, despite damp and dank weekend weather, drew nearly 100 adult entrants, 23 youth participants and presented more than $20,000 in cash prizes to winners.

 Awards were given at Gateway Harbor on the Erie Canal to winners in bass, northern pike, carp, channel cat/bullhead and perch divisions.

 Bobby Knapp of Williamsville topped the bass division with a 3.2-pound largemouth. Charles Young of North Tonawanda took the carp division with a 17-pound entry. Michael Bancore of North Tonawanda won in the northern pike division with a 15-pounder. A half-pound perch gave Glenn Krupp, another North Tonawandan, first-place in that division. Matthew Clarke, yet another North Tonawandan, took the channel cat division with a 5.8-pound catch.

 Along with prize money to the top three finishers in each division, trophies went to first-place finishers. A number of door prizes were presented and rods and reels, tackle boxes and fishing lures were given to each child participating.

The tournament receives volunteer support from the Gastown Sportsmen’s Club and Gateway Harbor, Inc. Proceeds will be donated to TNT Boys & Girls Club.