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The Fishing Beat by Bill Hilts Jr. (Sept. 14)

Those of us that live and fish here in Western New York know how outstanding our local fisheries are − from Chautauqua Lake and Lake Erie to the Niagara River and Lake Ontario … and all points in between. Getting the word out to other prospective anglers is never an easy proposition. One of the best ways is through sharing with outdoor media. All this week, Chautauqua County was home base to the Association of Great Lakes Outdoors Writers (AGLOW), followed by the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Many of the writers experienced (or will experience) these resources first-hand and will go back to tell their own “fish stories” through the written word, TV shows, radio programs and other electronic avenues online. Hats off to the Chautauqua County team that made it happen.

Lake Ontario
Mark Vilardo of Kingfisher Charters sends word that the Niagara Bar is still loaded with mature salmon staging for their run up the Niagara River. Fish can be found in 90-150 feet of water off the red can at the drop off. Fish are taking Spin Doctors and E-Chip flashers with green or mirage flies, 70-90 feet down. He doesn’t see the good fishing changing in the next week or two. Some feared that the storm last weekend would have dispersed the fish, but the only thing that has changed is a few more fish

Capt. Frank Campbell and with Illinois Outdoors TV Show Host Don Dziedzina while filming a show on the lower Niagara River Monday morning

Capt. Frank Campbell and with Illinois Outdoors TV Show Host Don Dziedzina while filming a show on the lower Niagara River Monday morning

ran up into the river system. Off Olcott, there are still fish staging but they are a little bit harder to come by. Target inside 80 feet of water – and as close as the piers – with J-plugs, spin doctors and flies or cut bait. Out deeper than that, spoons come into play. Pier casters are picking up a few salmon and some brown trout. Brown trout off the piers in Wilson, too. Bass, pike and perch are all hitting in the harbors and creeks but the duck weed is bad. A King of the Creek salmon contest is being run by All in the Same Boat Tackle from Sept. 23 to Nov. 6. There is a boat and a shore category. Call 638-4158 for more info. There is a special meeting by DEC to discuss stocking options in Lake Ontario for 2017 on Monday Sept. 19 at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, 4487 Lake Avenue, Lockport starting at 6:30 pm.

Niagara River

The lower river was one of the few places that writers could get a line wet as the storm passed through last weekend. Bass dominated the catch, although a few sheepshead and walleye were caught, too. Writers from Ohio, Michigan and Indiana were guided by captains Joe Marra of Lewiston and Jeff Draper of Grand Island. Soft-shelled crabs, shiners and tubes were the best baits, not necessarily in that order. On Monday, Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls was able to take out Don Dziedzina and Roger Wright of Illinois while filming a show for Illinois Outdoors TV. They caught about 20 smallmouth bass and put a nice show together, again using live bait off three-way rigs in Devil’s Hole, the Stella Niagara Drift and the Niagara Bar area. Bass can also be caught from shore in the gorge area, but most anglers are trying to target salmon. The big numbers are still out in the lake.

Lake Erie and tributaries

The storms put a hurt on the big lake last weekend. Tributary action is around the corner. The big numbers of writers will be hitting the water this week. At one of the AGLOW functions, a table of area captains assisting with the fishing were asked about the walleye action. Several said “75 feet of water off Walnut Creek” in Chautauqua County. While walleye are still available, many of the captains are already making arrangements to put their big boats away for the season. The large migrating school of

Connor Lupkin and Sabres coach Dan Bylsma with a walleye caught fishing Lake Erie with Capt. Jim Hanley.

Connor Lupkin and Sabres coach Dan Bylsma with a walleye caught fishing Lake Erie with Capt. Jim Hanley.

’eye are starting to head west. Bass fishing continues to be good according to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport. He’s been using a drop shot rig in the more traditional areas like Myers Reef, Seneca Shoal, Evans Bar – working the deeper edges of the dropoffs. A few of those structure areas were holding walleye and he did take enough fish for dinner. He notes we are about two weeks away from fall fishing patterns. And with the cool nights occurring a bit more regularly, we should start to see better perch fishing soon – just in time for the Richard Brauer Memorial Perch Contest on Oct. 1. Contact Eric at 698-4505.

Chautauqua Lake

An invasion of writers will be attacking the lake starting Thursday and Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors is one of the guides who will assist. According to Sperry, the walleye bite has been really good in the southern basin of the lake, but that changed this week. The water is discolored and he managed only two fish on Tuesday. Jigs or worm harnesses work best for him, but some trollers like Hot-n-Tots or stickbaits. He did manage to catch a 40-inch musky over the weekend but water temps are still in the 70s. As water temps drop, fishing should improve. Perch are everywhere. Bass have been hit or miss, but lake water levels are starting to come up and that should help casters who like to work the docks.

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