The big lakes are an enjoyable, challenging gamble right now.
Anglers headed out on either Lake Erie or Lake Ontario are entering into a gambling aura much larger than any row of tables or slots that can be found at the largest of area casinos.
Catching odds are incalculable, weather conditions and fish movement change daily and often throughout the day, fish-school locations vary each day Great Lakes anglers get on the water, catch counts – on days that avoid shutouts – change on each trip and even the most expert of anglers – charter captains and steady regulars – make predictions with stipulations about upcoming trips this unusual summer season.
True, fishing on any water body with the most focused and patient approaches results in varying outcomes every time on the water. But this season has been exceptional in the odd ways in which fish appear, disappear, bite and pass on passing lures and baits.
Perhaps recalling Albert Einstein’s approach to the sciences might help anglers upgrade their fish finding and catching successes. When asked how he went about solving problems and making discoveries, he said that he did not think he was smarter than others but just spent more time focusing on the problem/challenge. One of Einstein’s most famous pieces of “troubleshooting” advice was his definition of stupid as doing the same dysfunctional thing repeatedly and expecting a successful outcome.
For anglers, that means practicing patience – sticking to it when the fish are not biting – and focusing/refocusing on varying ways to find fish and to lure them to a lure.
This season, shutouts and short counts have been the bane for anglers at all levels of skill with all kinds of lure and presentation options. Hang in there, keep trying different lures, lure directions and speeds and presentation sites.
Many have come off the water with respectable catches – kept or released – this season and this season could be good with the right kinds of stuff and presentations.
Lake Erie/Niagara River
“You just got to hit ‘em right. There are lots of fish between Silver Creek and Dunkirk,” was the summation of walleye presence Sam Schrecengost of Sam I Am Charters.
Schrecengost guided partners Randy Scott of Hamburg and Paul Batorski of South Buffalo to a banner day of ‘eye catching on July 13 off the windmills and near the departure buoy. Scott’s best was a 30-incher that weighed 11.5 pounds; Batorski took a 9-pound prize among the duo’s eight nice walleye boated while bottom bouncing worm harnesses from 6 a.m. till noon that day.
Schrecengost and other boaters who enjoyed that near-Buffalo bonanza believe the fish that hugged the New York shoreline close to Buffalo (around Myers Reef back to the Departure Buoy) earlier this summer have moved across the International Line and are either scattered or set up well into Ontario Province waters.
Boaters working New York waters farther west and slightly deeper (65- to 75-foot depths) are doing better on both suspended and bottom-hugging schools of walleye.
Same can be said about the pursuit for perch. Walleye trollers have seen increased bait movement near the bottom on either side of Cattaraugus Creek this past week and many of the most promising sites have been at depths of more than 60 feet.
Patience, determination and a good deal of traveling around might be required before finding schools of bait and feeding perch, but a few boaters have succeeded in getting over biting ringbacks and have come back with fair numbers of sizeable yellow perch.
The derbies are over for now, but a good number of charter and recreational boaters can be seen at varying depths off shore from Fort Niagara eastward to the Rochester area. Not all fish have been caught off the Niagara Bar.
Trollers have set up at 100-foot depths and moved around and out to 400-foot depths in search of mature king salmon that move up and down a water column that includes 30- to 40-foot depths at peak periods and down to 100-foot depths when chasing bait and comfort zones.
Spoons have dominated catch reports, but flasher-fly rigs also were cited as lure choice when many LOC (Lake Ontario Counties) Derby entrants weighed in fish.
Three military veterans and veteran anglers teemed up to win the LOTSA (Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Association) Curt Meddaugh Memorial Fishing Contest on July 17 and the trio went on to boat the biggest salmon for the Grand Prize in the LOC (Lake Ontario Counties) Derby that ended Sunday.
John Monroe of Rochester fished with Mark Eisenbach of Victor and Al Fernaays of Fairport to take the $500 prize in the LOTSA Contest. Monroe’s 28.5-pound salmon led all entrants in the LOC Derby.
“We fished as a team and we should be recognized as a team. We will split the $11,500 in three ways,” Monroe said while accepting his LOC Grand Prize win.
To view winners in all LOC Derby divisions, visit loc.org.
The next round of Lake Ontario contests will be the Fall LOC Derby starting Aug. 21 and the Greater Niagara 2015 A Fish Odyssey Aug. 22 to 30 (fishodyssey.net).