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The Fishing Beat

Timing is everything and showing off our Western New York sport fishery to the CIPS 39th Annual Fishing Congress held in Niagara Falls last week was an easy task for local charter captains and tourism professionals. Things seem to be moving right along. Get out there and take advantage of some excellent fishing opportunities – from boat and shore.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Some big catches have been coming to the scales in the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby going on right now. Even if you are going fishing for one day, take the chance and sign up. There are plenty of ways you can win some cash prizes. The leader for the $15,000 Grand Prize is Daniel Manti of Cortland with a 28-pound, 10-ounce king salmon caught off Oswego. While anglers have been catching salmon at a variety of locations around the lake, the best place to be is still the waters off Niagara County. According to Joe Yaeger of E. Amherst, kings can be found from the Canadian line off Fort Niagara to Wilson. Most are fishing water depths of 60 to 150 feet anywhere from 30 feet down to 90 feet down. Magnum spoons, flasher-flies and cut-bait rigs have all been working off riggers, divers and copper set-ups. Most of the kings are running between 8 and 12 pounds. There are some 3-year-olds around also running up to 20 pounds. The fish are very aggressive with most boats catching their limits quickly. Look for the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament to be a good one this Saturday. Top lake trout so far is 22 pounds, 5 ounces from the Niagara Bar and weighed in by Steve Klejdys of North Tonawanda. Big brown trout is 15 pounds, 9 ounces caught by Gerald Darling of Maine fishing out of Oswego, and the walleye leader is an 11-pound Eastern Basin fish caught by Dan Peschler of Pulaski. Check out for details. It ends Sunday.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Lake Erie fishing action is really starting to take off for perch, walleye and bass – and not necessarily in that order. Night walleye trolling and casting has been good for the most part but paying attention to details can make a difference. Capt. Mark Lorenc of North Tonawanda did well off Dunkirk trolling Bay Rats at night in 8 to 10 feet of water over the weekend. He switched gears and started picking up some walleyes during the day off the windmills in 30 feet of water trolling 1.4 mph with worm harnesses on the bottom with three-ways. He was picking up four to six ‘eyes a trip and then switching over to bass with green tubes to keep the action going. Gerry Begier of Bill’s Hooks in Dunkirk says that the walleye action has been good at night between the Sherwood Country Club and Van Buren in 8 to 15 feet of water. They are catching some during the day, too. Saturday is the perch contest for Southtowns Walleye and information isn’t coming easy. Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport reports that the perch are mostly spawned out. You must search for them. He found 100 fish on Sunday. Look in 58 to 65 feet of water off Evangola. Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla found 57 foot to be a magic number for a limit catch using goldens. Good news that the Sturgeon Point dredging project is now completed according to Capt. Jim Skoczylas of Southtowns Walleye. Don’t forget that May 20th is the 14th Annual Jimmy Griffin’s Teach Me to Fish Program from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Bison City Rod and Gun Club, 511 Ohio St., Buffalo.

Niagara River

Niagara River fishing was really spotlighted during the International Fishing Congress the past week. There was a potpourri of fish species, with the focus being on bass or trout depending on where you were fishing. Above Niagara Falls in the upper river, the Strawberry Island area was a hot one for smallies, fished with tubes or swim baits. There were several spots around Grand Island that were also good. See the nice pike John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda caught this past week in the catch of the week gallery online at Beaver Island. Up toward Buffalo, there has been a good walleye bite off Unity Island at night. Below Niagara Falls in the lower river, a similar night walleye bite is occurring at the sand docks in Lewiston with plastics like Fin-S Fish. If you are looking for a trout, try Devil’s Hole from boat or shore. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was starting to haul in some big silver bass as the water hit 45 degrees, along Artpark and off the NYPA platform. Some big smallmouth bass are also available from Lewiston down to Lake Ontario on Strike King swim baits and tubes. Andries Maree of South Africa hit a personal best just under 5 pounds on Monday.

Chautauqua Lake

The Crappie bite is hit or miss right now according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. He reported getting some nice fish over the weekend. Minnows and small jigs are working. The perch fishing is good with some fish in the 11-inch range. Minnows and small jigs are working on the perch, same as the crappie set up. Bass fishing has been good, both smallmouth and largemouth. They’re not on beds yet but are cruising in shallow water 2 to 7 feet deep. Walleye has been good so far with most of the fish coming after dark casting Rapalas from shore or by boat.

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