Water levels remain low on streams, ponds and the larger of inland lakes, but as warm as water columns have become, popular fish species are showing in relative shallows.
Great Lakes gurus find trout and salmon closer to shore than expected for mid to late August in Lake Ontario. Bass and walleye have shown in Lake Erie shallows that are usually abandoned by mid July.
Moving bait schools could prompt the column shifting, and better than average oxygen levels in warm waters might draw fishes into forays along lake shallows. Reports from Lake Erie’s Western Basin have algae levels down, which could account for the low number of Ohio fish doing an eastward migration.
Whatever the cause, anglers have to make depth checks each morning to see who/what might be cruising the shallows when they are supposed to be belly to the bottom or suspended in deeper, more temperate waters.
Many inland ponds with depths of less than six feet are void of fish life due to lack of oxygen and/or bird predation. Serious catch-and-release stream anglers are urged to handle catches carefully, release fish quickly and avoid targeting fish, especially trout, in narrow, shallow streams areas.
Anglers who rely on solar-lunar charts for peak fishing times will notice this week’s peaks are close to the change-of-light hours of the day. Many a first-light flight will see the better bite.
Walleye remain the greater deep-water target for anglers from Buffalo to Barcelona.
Trollers, especially those running worm harnesses with live nightcrawlers, have to contend with the silver (white) bass that pick away worms in 40-foot shallows and down to 130 while trolling for lake trout. Silver bass far outnumber sheepshead as the “trash” fish right now.
On the plus side, bottom bouncers and suspended-rig trollers are seeing good numbers of mixed sizes at 60- to 90-foot depth, with the deeper side more active on sunny days.
Best advice for deep-water trollers, get out at sunrise and try green finishes on spoons, body baits or harness blades.
Innovative Outdoors will hold its Walleye Challenge, a team event, out of Dunkirk Harbor. Two-to-five member teams using up to a nine-rod limit can fish all waters of Lake Erie. Competitions begin with a Big Fish Friday event at Rookie’s on the Lake and the Challenge on Saturday.
For last-minute registration details, call 481-5348 or visit innovative-outdoors.com/tournament.html.
As a result of severe weather conditions last Sunday, Niagara River Anglers Association’s Walleye Contest was postponed and will be held Saturday, according to event coordinator Mike Heylek.
All events will be the same as Sunday: Scales open at 7 a.m. at the Lewiston Landing Pavilion with a guaranteed prize structure and all other contest features. For more details, check with Heylek at 510-9750.
Orleans County Fishing Derby winners set the pace for upcoming trips on Lake Ontario. Julie Schaeffer of Sligo, Pa., took the $4,000 grand prize with a 30-pound, 14-ounce king salmon caught out on the “30” line, which puts the salmon right on line with their early, incoming moves.
Schaeffer, fishing with her husband Mike, is a veteran Ontario contest entrant. The couple has competed here since the early ‘80s. She also took three other division prizes this year.
Her winning fish came on a Dreamweaver spoon. Other veteran winners on the derby’s leaderboard cited a spoon program for their successes on salmon and trout.
Since this derby, cold-water turnover have brought brown trout and some kings salmon into 60-foot depths to start staging for their early-fall spawning runs. But the steelhead run is still out deeper and close to the surface. The most mentioned finished have been black, silver in white glow in varying combinations, with green touches.
Feeder streams have seen good rainfall flushing and bass have shown well upstream to dams and barriers. Perch anglers are doing well with golden shiners in harbor bays.
Smallmouths slowed but most other fish species are on a hit parade.
The better panfish bite has been along the deeper side of weeds at the Mayville end, but slow-trolling a small worm harness in the South Basin shallows has been effective for walleye, white bass and crappie catches.
Musky trollers have connected at 15-foot depths between Long Point and Tom’s Point. A rumor, no details confirmed, of an angler catching and measuring a 61-inch musky sometime last week. Perhaps more info, if true, will be available next week.
Best walleye bite has been between Victoria Point and Prendergast Point during evening hours with an assortment of vertical jigs such as blade baits.