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Fishing Line by Will Elliott (May 24)

Three strikes last weekend and you’re still in with catch possibilities.

Starting Sunday, anglers faced (1) northeast winds, (2) a cold front, and (3) a full moon. However, the bite is better than could be expected with these three hancicaps.

Winds vary but now arrive often from the southwest. Warming trends have fired up deep- and shallow-water bites. The waning full moon does not put fish on the feed all night. Anglers headed out early mornings at sunrise could view the moon on the eastern horizon with the red-planet Mars to the right.

A quick skim of the solar-lunar tables shows peak activity periods now and through the weekend for morning and evening hours.

Lake Erie

Bass and walleye numbers are good. Perch prospects are improving.

Just under 170 entrants in the Annual Southtowns Walleye Association In-Club Perch Tournament saw smooth waters and many caught sizeable ringbacks under overcast skies Saturday, with 56-foot depths close to Myers Reef the most productive site. Association officials posted these winners and their five-fish weight totals: Ben Slawatucki, 6.98 (overall and Junior Division winner); Jim Dolly Sr., 6.81; David Bieganski, 6.80; Robert Hollingsworth, 5.78; Dennis V. Stachowski, 5.64; James Senick, 5.62; Gary Marcinkowski, 5.56; George A. Szczublewski, 5.40; Jim Plinzke, 5.18; Keith Wind, 5.02; and Mike Jackson, 5.01 pounds.

The walleye bite is now day and night. Night trollers can find fish along most of the Erie shore, with bibs off feeder streams getting considerable boat attention. The standard minnow-shaped stickbaits such as Rapalas work best. The better bite comes later in the night as the spring progresses.

Day runs see the odd walleye showing on a bass or perch run, but the 50- to 60-foot setup for post-spawning ’eyes should be good this coming week for both bottom bouncing and trolling suspended lures.

Mid 50s surface temperatures put smallmouth bass on either side of their spawning cycle. Boaters are running out to depths in the high 30s and bumping minnow baits on the bottom while other are pulling big smallies in and around Buffalo Harbor. Look for a detailed column of this smallmouth fishery on the Sunday Outdoors page.

Niagara River

The upper river is seeing shoreline walleye movement akin to the open waters of Lake Erie. At many popular access sites, shore casters are seeing good days and nice nights with nightcrawlers the best of live baits. Conditions change with cloud cover and direct sunlight, but post-spawn walleyes are holding close to shore.

The 54-degree readings in Lake Erie carry over to lower-river waters, and bass dominate the lower-river fishery. Capt. Frank Campbell has seen charter days with 40 bass pulled mainly on the new Smithwick Perfect 10 lure, a minnow-type bait that holds at 10-foot depths on a cast or drift.

Lake Ontario

Boaters still have to dig deeper for the kings, but a brown trout bite can be enjoyed evenings from a boat and nighttime from shore and piers.

So far, the best salmon shot has been around the Niagara Bar, with some movement eastward toward Wilson Harbor. Early morning runs start with some action at 60-foot depths, but direct sunlight pushes kings deeper to 90 and 100 feet most sunny days. Cohos and steelies drop at mid-depths as well, showing at 40 to 60 feet once bottom readings reach 100 feet.

Shore casters see a good perch bite at Olcott Harbor and a continued brown trout run from piers and some beaches after dark.

Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott suffered an appendix setback, but Paul has the shop open with good updates on Ontario’s fishery.

Inland lakes

Chautauqua Lake perch continue as the main draw for panfish numbers and sizes, with both minnows and nightcrawler/worm working best close to bottom.

Western Finger Lakes were hit hard with cold fronts. Silver Lakes still has yet to see a good panfish run. Conesus panfish have gone deeper. Honeoye bass and big bluegill have improved, but the crappie bite is matching its name.

Trout stockings

The Randolph and Caledonia DEC hatcheries this week stocked trout at sites around Western New York in time for fishing this weekend. All stockings are yearling unless noted as 2-year-olds.

Allegany County: Rushford Lake (Caneadea) 1,550 brown trout; and Rushford Camp Pond (New Hudson) 160 brook trout.

Cattaraugus County: Quaker Run (Cold Spring) 860 brown trout; Red House Brook (Red House) 690 brown trout; and Cattaraugus County Ponds A and B, 80 brook trout each.

Wyoming County: Cattaraugus Creek (Java) 1,470 brown trout; Oatka Creek (Warsaw) 950 brown trout; and Letchworth Park Pond (Genesee Falls) 240 brook trout.

All stocking deliveries are subject to change due to water conditions.