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The Fishing Beat by Bill Hilts Jr. (Sept. 21)

Since last week’s report, the outdoor media in Chautauqua County completed their quest to catch fish in Western New York waters. Be sure to check out the catch of the week photo montage to see a sample of the writer catches while they were in town. We will be hearing, reading and seeing these catches for many months to come.

Lake Ontario

Weekend storms chased the salmon off the Niagara Bar according to Capt. Mike Johannes with On the Rocks Charters out of Wilson. His safety valve was an off-shore program in about 420 feet of water a couple of miles west of Wilson. There is a good class of steelhead and small kings out there according to Johannes and everything they caught was on a spoon. The best spoons were “pink panties, two face, green alewife and three-dot predator.” They ended up with an 18-fish mixed bag on 23 bites by noon. Meanwhile, Monday reports showed that the salmon had moved back onto the Bar again as water stabilized. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters did well and he predicts that those fish will stay there until the next hard blow out of the northeast. It was a mix of flasher-flies and spoons for salmon this time around. If the fishing slows down at the drop off, he just slides out to 200 to 250 feet of water to take a different class of trout and salmon. Good news and bad news on 18 Mile

Mike Boncore caught this brown trout, just shy of 14 pounds, on a jointed firetiger husky jerk at Olcott Pier.

Mike Boncore caught this brown trout, just shy of 14 pounds, on a jointed firetiger husky jerk at Olcott Pier.

Creek in Newfane. The good news is that the three trees that were posing a problem for fishermen have finally been removed. The bad news is that the salmon and trout really haven’t started their fall migration up the creek yet in big numbers. The water is still warm (74 degrees) and your best bet is bass, panfish, pike and perch. Big perch, too. Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker said a wave of some salmon made it into the harbor a few nights ago and some browns made it up to Burt Dam. A few salmon and trout are being caught off the piers in Wilson and Olcott both. Don’t forget that the 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 was a good turnout at the special DEC meeting held in Lockport last Monday. The state agency is looking to implement a “modest” reduction in salmon and lake trout stockings starting in 2017. Rather than calling it a reduction, management agencies prefer to call it a correction as far as salmon plants are concerned. With the fact that pen-reared fish are surviving two to one compared with direct stockings, and natural reproduction of salmon are on the upswing, lake managers want to bring fish populations back in line due to concerns over two poor year classes of alewives. For a position paper on this, check out Make your comments by Sept. 30 at

Niagara River

Action hasn’t improved all that much for salmon in the river. The NYPA fishing platform in Devil’s Hole affords your best opportunity for hooking into a king, casting spoons. We did hear of one salmon “hitting” a green plastic worm. One boat captain noted that they finally hit a salmon on a large Kwikfish lure, but that fish didn’t even put up a fight. The water temperature in the river is in the mid-70s. Bass and walleye can also be caught from shore in the gorge area. In-line spinners have been popular. Better bass fishing can be found down river from Joseph Davis State Park to the Niagara Bar. Shiners will catch fish on three-way rigs like they did for writer Leo Maloney, editor of Adirondack Outdoors magazine. He was fishing with Capt. Bruce Blakelock of Riverside Charters on Monday. Bass fishing had slowed a bit from a better bite last week. Tubes and swim baits will also take smallmouth. One tip that Blakelock shared was to watch where the different currents come together for fish congregation points on the different drifts. Don’t be afraid to move out slightly deeper if you don’t catch fish on a drift. One drift at 22 feet didn’t produce but that same drift at 25 feet did. If you want to get the kids out fishing this weekend, the NYPA Wildlife Festival in Lewiston has a kids fishing derby going on both days. Bring your fish to the Niagara River Anglers fishing pond at the Festival. Call 286-6661 for more info.


Catches of the Week gallery

Outdoors column: Celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day

Scattershot: News & notes from the great outdoors

The Outdoors calendar

Lake Erie and tributaries

Weekend storms dampened the fishing action over the weekend again. As we mentioned last week, the large migrating school of walleye started to head back west. Or are they? Fisheries biologist Jason Robinson with the Lake Erie Unit of NYS DEC is working on an acoustic telemetry study to follow walleye movement in the lake. Early information shows that many of the fish that have migrated down from the Western Basin are actually here through October and even into November. Capt. Lance Ehrhardt with Sassafras Fishing Charters out of Dunkirk was one of the 20-something team of “guides” that took writers out from the both the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers and the New York State Outdoor Writers Association out of Chautauqua County. He did well on trips with both groups by simply heading out of his home port to 70 to 80 feet of water, working stickbaits and copper spoons both up high and down low. One stick that was working very well was a Northern Lights Bomber. Smithwick lures were also producing some fish, using a multi-faceted approach of downriggers, slide divers, three and five colors of lead core off the boards and 10 colors of lead core off the back. Ehrhardt is a firm believer in moon phase and if you head out this week for walleye, the afternoon bite should be better for you. Good numbers of fish were also being reported between Dunkirk and Cattaraugus Creek in the same general depth contour. Bass fishing was good for the writers, too, catching fish up to 5-1/2 pounds. Work the deeper edges of structure. The Richard Brauer Memorial Perch Contest is on Oct. 1. Contact Eric at 698-4505 for further details.


Chautauqua Lake

The writers came, they fished and they conquered. The best story we heard involved Walleye Pro Johnnie Candle of Devil’s Lake, N.D., in town attending the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Conference at Peek-N-Peak Resort. Thursday morning was the local outdoor activities day and he decided to hit the south end of Chautauqua Lake. Some of the locals were insisting that the walleye action had slowed. Candle hit the water with a few writers and the end result was two dozen fish to the boat, many being caught and released. His secret was targeting 16 feet of water, just off the bottom, using 70 feet of lead core with a 12-foot Fireline leader. His bait was a Berkley flicker shad … black/chrome and flashy perch were his two best colors. Target speed was 2.1 mph. Some musky were also caught – both trolling and casting. The fish came from the southern basin of the lake. Water temperature there was around the 70 degree mark. Fishing should improve and water temps decrease.


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