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The Fishing Beat

The opening of New York’s regular bass season kicks off Saturday, and the Great Lakes muskellunge season opens Saturday, too.

Perfect timing for the inaugural Brauer’s Opening Day Bass Contest with fishing in the New York waters of Lake Erie, Niagara River or Lake Ontario. Register at Brauer’s in Pendleton or Creek Road Bait and Tackle, Lewiston. Two-person teams, best 2 fish determine the winners. Call 695-5552 for info.

In addition, there are two huge kids contests Saturday – the Wilson Conservation Club’s youth contest based on length for all Niagara County waters from 8 a.m. to noon and the City of Tonawanda’s Youth Fishing Derby at Niawanda Park along the Upper Niagara River from 9 a.m. to noon. Registration starts at 8 a.m.

Lake Erie

The Southtowns Walleye Association’s annual walleye tournament is underway and will continue through Sunday. The current leader is 11.44 pounds, but who knows if that will last until Sunday. In the meantime, walleye action has really picked up during the day. Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport sends word that fish are available from Buffalo Harbor all the way to the Pennsylvania border, from relatively shallow depths out to 44 feet using bottom-bouncing rigs or trolling rigs within 6 feet of the bottom. Worm harnesses or stickbaits are the most popular fish attractions right now. While colors change from day to day, Fonzi was using silvers with metallic purples and blues to take 60 fish by 1 p.m. over the weekend. Bass fishing had been good, but the spawn is nearing completion. A post-spawn funk is going on for many fish. Tubes and swimbaits are working on smallies out to 38 feet of water. The drop shot bite is just starting, according to Fonzi. Try using 4-inch Gajo Spirit Shad plastics. Some chunky bass were hitting last week in Dunkirk Harbor for a media day put on by Chautauqua County. The biggest was reeled in by Dave Barus of East Aurora, who was part of hosting the event while fishing with Ken Christie of West Seneca. It was more than 20 inches long by the end of the day.

Niagara River

There is still a bit of a transition going on, and no one was more surprised when Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island dropped in some worm harnesses off three-way rigs to see if the walleye had showed up yet around Strawberry Island. Instead, his boys Parker and Connor, as well as their buddy (Mike Colburn of Grand Island) caught four chunky steelhead last weekend. Cinelli has been catching tagged bass at an unbelievable clip from an upper river bass tournament. Some walleye are being caught under low light conditions around the break walls near Unity Island, Bird Island Pier and inside near the Coast Guard station. In the lower river, Gianni Etopio of Youngstown has had a hot stick off the NYPA Fishing Platform in Devil’s Hole. Fishing an Emerald shiner under a float, he’s hit smallmouth bass, walleye and silver bass on a consistent basis. There are still a few straggler trout around. Bass are taking over.

Lake Ontario

Not too many people have been out fishing unless there’s a fishing contest going on. Last weekend it was the Orleans County Open Salmon and Trout Tournament. Yankee Troller, led by Capt. Richard Hajecki of Rochester, came from behind on Day 2 to overtake the leaders and win the contest with a score of 371.46 points based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound. Second place was Runnin’ Rebel/Legacy with a score of 351.87 points, led by Jerry Felluca of Hilton. Northeast winds can move things around. Brown trout are still in 20 to 30 feet of water if you want to target them. Off Olcott, 200-300 foot depths was producing a mix of salmon and steelhead in the top 40 feet of water on spoons due to cold water upwellings. Angler numbers will pick up considerably once the Summer LOC Derby kicks off June 30.

Chautauqua Lake

Capt. Frank Schoenacker of Infinity Charters sends word that the walleye bite continues to be good, at least when the weather cooperates. Last Friday he boated 19 fish with 9 keepers for Brandon White and his father, both of Spencerport. He has been using a spinner-worm rig along the weed edges.

Finger Lakes

Cayuga Lake action has been very good for Capt. Jim Morgan of Lodi. The last two weeks have produced a good mix of trout and salmon, including northern pike to 20 pounds. The pike hit an AC Shiner and at one point they lost the fish at the back of the boat. Five seconds later, the pike hit another spoon and Patrick from Toronto was able to reel it in a second time. They were also able to get the spoon back. Trips have been averaging 12 to 20 fish.

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