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Will Elliott’s Fishing line (July 27)

Lake Erie

Perch rigs are rusting, bass baits are great and walleye trollers travel near and far to poke a few ’eyes.

Even deep-water trollers do not hook into yellow perch while working for walleye. Dealers with live bait hold aquarium-keeper rather than sales status right now.

Bass anglers can find smallmouths along deeper sides of shoal edges, with sheepshead and round goby bites a bit worse in shallow areas.

Sunset Bay Walleye Shootout results from last weekend give area anglers some good yardsticks for ‘eye finding and catching. “It was too bumpy Friday for the Big Fish Friday event, but it was great for the Saturday competition,” said coordinator Capt. Don Ruppert.

Catch outcomes varied. Of the 85 teams entered, only 55 weighed in fish on Saturday afternoon. Randy Jarozewski of Hamburg led the winning Team Ice Breaker with a six-fish total of 46.03 pounds.

Team members Jon Jones, Bryan Davis, and John Dirosa accompanied Jarozewski 64 miles to fish Pennsylvania waters for their catch of big fish and prize winnings of $21,000 cash, which included Calcutta winnings.

Craig Sleeman of Rochester took Big Fish honors with a 10.18-pound entry. Sleeman fished directly off the Cattaraugus Creek and caught his prize ‘eye about five miles from the creek mouth.

Biggest switchover in lure presentations has been the dominance of worm-harness harvests this past week. Minnow schools are scattered, trollers from Buffalo Harbor to Sturgeon Point mark walleye at varying depths and separated rather than schooled.

West of Sturgeon Point the scattering effect continues, but a few more feeding groups and bottom activity has shown on the sonar screen. The annual arrival of Ohio schools seems to be holding west of Barcelona Harbor, but the depths between the Catt and Brockton Shoals holds some nice numbers of resident walleye. Boat and these residents are heading deeper, with some good catches coming from 60-foot depths out to 100-foot depths.

Ask five regular/experts and one often receives five different, best-color selections for harness blades. Black and purple, green and silver, straight copper, pink, and red on white glow are just a few of the color recommendations.

Rather than color, successful walleye pullers are finding the right depths and directions for presenting baits/lures. Bottom bouncers using nightcrawlers have to deal with by catches of bass, white perch, white bass and even oversized round gobies. But these scattered walleye are feeding at suspended and bottom-structure areas wherever they can forage in warming waters. Go deeper for those ’eyes and try to stay away from by-catch biters.

Niagara River

Lower river moss presence is at a loss. Lines and lures run smoothly, but the better bass bite is just past the mouth of the river off Fort Niagara, according to Capt. Steve Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait & Tackle in Lewiston.

“They’re getting them, sometimes it hit-or-miss, at around 25 feet with crayfish, golden shiners and leeches directly off the fort.

Bass, including smallmouths and silver (white) bass, top the hit list for anglers either side of Niagara Falls. Shore casters at the foot of Ferry or Ontario Street hook into more silver bass and sheepshead than bass or walleye right now.

Boater numbers are slow above the falls, but contestants in the Bassmaster Elite Classic Bracket event last week found good sizes and numbers of smallies. A summation of the Bracket outing will appear in a column on the Sunday Outdoors Page.

Lake Ontario

A survey of bait dealers well away from the shores of Lake Ontario cites the lake as the hottest fishing spot in Western New York right now. As with Lake Erie fishery, Ontario depends on where you go.

A check of the Lake Ontario Counties Summer Derby Leaderboard has salmon-catch weigh-ins from the Niagara Bar to Pulaski, with the bottom (20th place) fish weighing more than 27 pounds.

“But there’s a lot of 2-year-olds out here,” said Capt. Bob Cinelli as he began trolling off Olcott Harbor. Cinelli reports productive summer trout and salmon fishing near shore, with some consistency in school depths and feeding patterns.

“It all depends on the weather,” he said of wind intensity and direction. This latest heat wave has pushed salmonid schools down from 60- to 80-foot depths off Olcott. And Cinelli sees similar patterns off the Niagara Bar and Oak Orchard Point where salmon and steelhead trout have been abundant.

Lure selection varies. The top 20 leaders in the Salmon Division have used spoons, flasher-and-fly rigs, and cut bait to weigh in big fish. Cinelli holds with a spoon program and tries the magnum as well as standard body sizes to attract bigger fish. Green has been successful for him, with side and mixed white, glow and silver finishes.


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