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Fishing Line / By Will Elliott (June 21)

To give dad a belated Father’s Day present, kids, moms and significant others might consider taking dad on a license-free fishing trip this weekend.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has designated June 25 and 26 as free days for resident and non-resident anglers statewide.

One good outing worth taking dad would be a free Teach-Me-To-Fish Clinic at Chestnut Ridge Park on Saturday morning. DEC officials and Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs volunteers jointly provide a series of learning stations and pond-side assistance while fishing the park pond that morning.

All young anglers and accompanying adults are welcome to the program that begins at 9:30 a.m. in shelters near the pond. For more details, check with Michael Todd in the DEC office at 851-7010.

Dad, along with mom, kids and elders, have a full slate of fishing spots that are getting hotter this first week of summer. The Lake Erie bass season opens lake wide on Saturday with the start of bass season in Ontario Province; Lake Ontario salmonids are becoming a bit more traceable; inland lakes are setting up clear weed lines and targetable depths for panfish and game fish.

Big bass winners

The Annual Kelly’s Corner Opening Day Bass Contest was won in Lake Erie off the shores of Wanakah on Saturday.

Dan Hudson of the Town of Tonawanda weighed in two bass for a first-place weight of 10.25 pounds. Bob Hubler of Niagara Falls finished second with a 10.07-pound total. Hubler also took Heaviest Bass honors with a 5.75-pound entry. He noted that his big fish came from 30-foot depths and Hudson’s winners hit at 40-foot sites.

Lake Erie

Bass seem the most available bite, and BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) on Tuesday released its rankings, placing Buffalo and the New York State section of Lake Erie’s Eastern Basin in high standing.

For the Top 10 in the nation, Buffalo and a 30-mile radius in Lake Erie ranked fourth. For the Northeastern Division, Lake Erie in New York finished first, topping Lake St. Clair in Michigan and the Western Basin of Lake Erie.

BASS Survey results are re-proven virtually every day boaters can get on the lake. Currently, deep-water drop-offs remain solid for smallies, with an added bonus of a walleye or two at depths of 30 to 40 feet closer to Buffalo. For drifters and trollers east of Eighteen Mile Creek, bottom-bouncer rigs with nightcrawlers can be a bass and walleye combination punch.

Walleye prospects look better westward for now. When boaters can get on the water, a worm harness at mid-depths connects at depths from 60 to 120 feet. Temperatures, bait presence, wave action and sunlight presence all factor into the read, but ’eye schools are showing west of Cattaraugus Creek.

Basseye celebrants

To celebrate 15 years of BassEye Celebrity Challenge fundraising gatherings and fishing competitions, Jim Kelly, Dan Bylsma, Linda Pellegrino and emcee Rob Lederman are all confirmed for the Thursday evening Dinner & Auction at Rich’s Atrium.

The fishing challenge is staged out of Safe Harbor Marina (formerly Small Boat Harbor) early Friday morning. For more details, visit basseye.com.

Niagara River/Lake Ontario

Lower river bass can be good, but moss masses mess up lines. The better bass bite for size has been along the shore for boaters and shore casters. Pier casters at Wilson, Olcott and Oak Orchard have done best with crayfish or leeches.

Trollers move closer to shore at Olcott and deeper off Wilson for a nice mix of salmon and trout. Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott gets reads out to 350 feet off Wilson and as close as 150-foot depths off Olcott, with a spoon program working better.

Steelies cruise at 50-foot depths, Chinook salmon layer about 20 to 30 feet deeper, with some kind of green spoon feeding the kings.

Spey casting gathering

If Saturday isn’t busy enough for license-free angler gatherings, the ninth annual Spey Nation welcomes all fly fishermen with an instructive program that begins with presentations at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Pineville Boat Launch at Sheepshead Road on the Salmon River.

The free gathering includes a BBQ lunch, courtesy of Tailwater Lodge, and instruction in two-handed fly rod casting and fishing techniques. Nick Pionessa will serve as instructor for the Cattaraugus Creek region. Proceeds from drawings benefit an Atlantic salmon stocking program.

For more details on this gathering, visit speynation.com.

email: odrswill@gmail.com.