If you want to find out what's happening in the fishing world, follow the contests.
The big talk the past week on the lake was the Sunset Bay Walleye Shootout held July 21 for Big Fish Friday and July 22 for the main event – the shootout. Midnight Express finally captured a first place in the main event and also won Big Fish Friday with a 10.04-pound walleye. The team is led by Craig Sleeman of Victor with his twin brother Ethan from Stanley, Mark Outhouse from Canandaigua and Matt Reber of Iowa. They tried to eliminate areas with smaller fish but they found them from Pennsylvania to Buffalo. Sleeman and company worked closely with two other teams – Envious (led by Corey Evans of Canada) and Twin Can/Connor Logging (led by Bob Henton of Spartansburg, Pa.) – as they sought out the best areas to fish for the Shootout. They settled on some Canadian waters out deep to try and pull some bigger fish, targeting bottom depths as deep as 170 feet. The fish zone, though, was 50 to 60 feet below the surface. One hot worm harness was a Wackm Tackle Cherry Bomb. A Wonderbread pattern also worked. Other harness companies they used included Yaleye and Hybrid. They all had No. 6 blades doing the spinning. To get their baits down to the fish, Sleeman used 2- and 3-ounce in-line weights. They worked off a dive chart that helped determine how far down based on speed, length of line and weight. For example, with 100 feet of line out, using a 3-ounce weight at about 1.5 mph, they knew they could get their harness down 50 feet. While they caught fewer fish, the quality was better. They boated 12 fish for the day Saturday, but their best six for the tournament weighed in at 42.90-pounds. Big fish on Saturday during the Shootout was a 9.40 pound walleye reeled in by Kim Skoczylas of Sheldon, part of the Ultimate Outdoors of WNY team. The fish hit a gold Three-D Worm Harness called a Thumper. It came off a Dipsy Diver on a No. 2 setting, 160 feet back between Dunkirk and Van Buren in 72-feet of water. They also put some Kishel’s Scent on the harness. They caught over 70 walleyes in two days, but half of them were short or just over the minimum size limit of 15 inches. All of their fish came between 70 and 80 feet of water, 40 to 60 feet down. They also took fish on 7 and 10 colors of lead core, Torpedo Divers and downriggers.
Moving toward Buffalo, the near shore walleye bite has been inconsistent according to Capt. Tom Marks of Derby. One day is hot, the next day is slow. Water clarity has a lot to do with that. When it gets clear in 20 feet or less the walleye get "finicky." He had Carol Sawyer of Lewiston on board his Gr8 Lakes Fishing Adventures boat and they fished shallow first, picking up a bunch of small walleye. Then they moved deeper where she connected with her lifetime personal best, a 9-pound walleye. As for the clear inshore waters, a little rain and wind will fix that. Marks also suggested casting weight-forward spinners like Erie Dearies for something different. Cast and retrieve near the bottom on lighter rods and it’s a ton of fun.
The Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) trout and salmon derby is entering into its final week. Last weekend was also the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s (LOTSA) club tournaments that ran concurrent with the LOC contest. Some big fish showed up that were entered in both, starting with a new grand prize leader. Sandra Brown of Clearfield, Pa., reeled in a Niagara Bar king that tipped the scales at 32 pounds, 4 ounces – caught on a white Dreamweaver spin doctor and a purple mirage A-Tom-Mik fly. She was fishing on Team Salmonella with her husband, Ed, and Joe Yaeger of East Amherst, about a mile east of the red can 60 feet down over 160 feet of water. The lure was also juiced up with Kishel’s Scent. The king hit around 1 p.m. on Friday when they were getting ready to pull rods. In fact, they had already pulled all of their rods except the one that the big salmon hit. For the LOTSA Curt Meddaugh Memorial Tournament, it was the best three fish for Friday. The Streaker team, consisting of Matt Dunn of Newfane with his dad Marc (also of Newfane), Doug Parker of Lockport and Doug Parker II of Wilson (another father-son duo). They fished the Niagara Bar in 125 to 220 feet of water. Riggers were 80 to 120 feet down and their hot baits were N&D cut bait rigs and green flasher-fly on the riggers. Their three fish total for the day was 66.48-pounds, narrowly defeating 4 Poles led by Marty Polovick of Lockport. Yaeger’s Salmonella team finished in fourth despite having the 32-pound kicker. However, there was another aspect to the two day LOTSA contests. A 3-2-3 contest (best three fish over two days with three winners), Yaeger’s Salmonella crew won the top prize with a total of 72.46 pounds. Second place was Matt Dunn’s Streaker team with 70.99 pounds. Third place went to 4 Poles and Marty Polovick with 65.11 pounds. The Saturday club contest was for big fish and Capt. Adam Gearich and the Diversion II team led the way when Tim Bromund of Colden reeled in a 26-pound, 4-ounce king in 100 feet of water between Wilson and Olcott. They were using a wire diver and flasher-fly combination. Second place was old salty Tom Danaher of Waterport with the Team Reel Nauti, weighing in a 24.49-pound king. The fish hit one of his secret spoons he hand-painted black, orange and red, 90 feet down over 350 feet of water off Olcott. Marlowe Beis of Grand Island was third place with a 24.43-pound king salmon caught on a flasher and Big Weenie fly. LOTSA details can be found at www.lotsa1.org. Check out the LOC Derby leaderboard at www.loc.org. The Summer Derby ends on Sunday at 1 p.m.