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The Fishing Beat (May 24)

Memorial Day weekend is coming up and there are plenty of activities going on, from the National Lake Trout Derby (see Scattershot) on Seneca Lake to a youth outreach “Teach me to Fish” event  at Bison City Rod and Gun (511 Ohio St., Buffalo from 1:30 to 4 p.m.) to the opening day of the inland musky season on Saturday (see this week’s online Outdoors column). Walleye and bass fishing on Lake Erie has been pretty darn good and the salmon and trout on Lake Ontario have been snapping. While the shore fishing bite along the Niagara River is slowly starting to dissipate, you can still do well by being in the right place with the right bait. Enjoy these great resources!

Lake Erie and tributaries

Nighttime walleye action and bass fishing during the day has been good to very good. For the night walleye trolling, Glenn Bird of Barker sends word that he’s been doing great out of Dunkirk using shallow-diving stickbaits in 7 to 10 feet of water. Color doesn’t seem to make much difference, but Bird likes the black and silver or black and gold colors. The same type of action was being reported off Hamburg. A few walleye have been hitting during the day, but those have been reports from bass fishermen picking up ‘eyes on minnows and shiners. Look for more daytime walleye focus this weekend, getting ready for the Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament June 10-18. The online registration deadline is May 26. After that it’s in-person only up to the start of the contest. Check out for more information. Smallmouth bass fishing has been producing some real lunkers the past week and the best depth we were was 22 to 28 feet of water with tubes (watermelon produced a 7-pound, 4-ounce chunk on Tuesday for Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport), minnows/shiners and green pumpkin finesse worms off a drop shot rig. Over two days, four captains (Fonzi, Barry Schultz, Jeff Draper and Matt Gober) reported 20 bass that tipped the scales at better than 6 pounds. Those are some impressive smallmouth.

Niagara River

Shoreline action has been good to very good for silver bass and trout. However, with water temperatures getting into the 50s, it won’t be long before the trout will be chased out into the lake. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been pounding the water the past week and white jigs have been working for the silver bass; spinners for the lake trout. The NYPA fishing platform has still been affected by high water. Call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to see if it’s open. Boaters are catching a mix of lake trout, steelhead, silver bass and smallmouth bass. Chris Shaffer with Pautske did some filming in the lower river and captured some nice trout on film while fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters. The trick was using minnows that have been soaked in chartreuse fire dye. It will make a good segment. The big news this week was with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. Believe it or not, he caught another tagged bass from the lot that was tagged during the Canadian Tire Lake Erie in 2015.

Above Niagara Falls in the upper river, catch-and-release bass fishing has been good with artificial baits around Grand Island. Connor Cinelli and Jake Spencer were doing very well in front of Beaver Island State Park recently using jerkbaits. There have been some walleye and trout around, but the trout will be leaving soon with water temps in the 50s.

Catches of the Week (May 24)

Lake Ontario

Fishing has been good on the lake when Mother Nature cooperates … and even when she doesn’t. The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Tournament was held last weekend and several teams made it look easy as they came in with tournament-limit catches of 12 fish to the scales in Olcott. Read Scattershot for an update on the winners for the Pro-Am. Capt. Mark Vilardo of Kingfisher Charters came through with one of the bigger catches of the spring when Jon Eckert of Lockport reeled in a 30-pound king while fishing off Olcott. According to Vilardo, flasher-fly combos have been taking kings deep (80-120 feet), spoons have been taking coho up high (20-40 feet).  The 30-pound big fish came on a chrome flasher and green fly down 90 feet. The next contest on the docket is the Orleans County Open, set for June 10-11. This year they will be running it out of two harbors – Point Breeze and Bald Eagle Marina. Brown trout can still be found inside of 50 feet along the shoreline. However, high water is still an issue. Watch for floating debris. High water has not affected the fishing, just the access to the water. Best boat launch continues to be Olcott at the Town of Newfane Marina. Check out the Catches of the Week to see some of the salmon coming to the scales.

In pursuit of the mighty musky, the fish of 10,000 casts

Chautauqua Lake

This lake will see a lot of activity with the inland musky opener this weekend. We'll be doing some casting and trolling in 9-15 feet of water. It should be a good weekend. The pond weed is coming in thick, which means great cover for perch and the muskies will be close to the weeds most of the day. Six-to-9-inch  jerkbaits and crankbaits in perch color will produce.South basin water temp is 62 degrees.There were several crappie caught during the weekend in the crappie tournament. Several 10 fish limits were checked in. Minnows and small jigs in 4-10 feet of water and in weed pockets were working. Walleye is still good but a bunch of undersized fish reported lately (under 15 inches). Mostly slow trolling worm harnesses and jigging. Night bite is still on casting floating Rapalas and other stick baits 3 to 6 inches.

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