It’s Free Fishing Weekend and there are family and kids’ events on Saturday and Sunday at Broderick Park in Buffalo and on Saturday at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park, Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls and Olcott Beach. If you want to chase muskies, there is a catch and release tournament Saturday on Chautauqua Lake as well. Get out there and enjoy New York’s outstanding natural resources.
The Southtowns Walleye Association’s walleye tournament came to a close, but the awards winners won’t be revealed until the picnic June 30. In the meantime, walleye and bass action has been fair to good overall. Winds can play a role as far as direction and severity. John Van Hoff and Randy Tyrrell of North Tonawanda hit Barcelona to catch a pile of walleye over the weekend, but the biggest they could muster was “only” an 8 1/2 pounder. Everything was taken using dipsy divers and lead core line with stickbaits as an enticement.
Closer to Buffalo, boaters are working the area off the windmills and just outside the break walls to pick up walleye and bass. It has started to slow down a bit. For Ron Kryszak of Alden, Scott Ballou of Caledonia and Pat Betz of Pembroke, they worked the waters outside of the Buffalo Harbor in 30 to 40 feet. They caught nine fish, including a 31 1/2-inch walleye that tipped their scales at better than 11 1/2 pounds. No, they were not in the Southtowns tournament. The big fish hit a stickbait, bottom bouncing along the way. In the Brauer’s Restaurant opening day bass tournament, the team of Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston and Ron Hawes caught two bass that totaled 11 pounds, 3 ounces to win the contest. Hawes won big fish for the day with his 6-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth caught on a golden shiner. Drabczyk was using a Venom tube jig. They were fishing in 37 feet of water off Hamburg. Second place was Jason and Rob Piskowrz with 9 pounds, 1 ounce. Third place was Dave and Kathy Muir of North Tonawanda with 7 pounds, 8 ounces.
Bass and walleye are the two most sought-after species in the river right now, both above and below Niagara Falls. They are being caught from boat and shore, perfect timing for the Family Fun Days at Broderick Park. Casting jigs, spinners and live bait will all take fish. Boaters can target around Strawberry Island for the best chance at both. Remember that muskellunge season is now open in New York waters of the Great Lakes. Lower river action has been fair for bass on shiners or tube jigs. Live bait is now an option if you want to target bass in the river.
There were some much better reports coming from Wilson, Olcott and Point Breeze of late as some nice kings moved back into area waters. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown reported a mixed bag of salmon and trout on Tuesday off Wilson in 250 to 350 feet of water, working spoons in the top 80 feet of water. Divers and lead core caught fish, as did a couple of the riggers. Outdoor writer Ron Hustvedt Jr. of Minnesota was on board with his two kids, his father-in-law and his nephew from Minnesota. They all managed to reel in a couple of fish each, including king and coho salmon, lake trout and steelhead – completing a bucket list of sorts. The group had just finished fishing in all five Great Lakes, and caught fish in each, since the kids were released from school. The Summer LOC Derby starts June 30 and runs through July 29. Go to www.loc.org for more information. The NYS Summer Classic starts July 1 and continues through August 31. Check out www.nyssummerclassic.com.
Walleye action was good but slowed down the last couple of days, according to Capt. Mike Sperry of Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Worm harnesses trolled around 1 mph on the weed lines is the most popular tactic. Take plenty of worms, though, as the yellow perch and white perch love the harnesses, too. Sperry has been catching some muskies casting, but he does have to work hard for them. He predicts that fishing for muskies should improve with the changing weather patterns. Speaking of muskies, NY Chapter 69 for Muskies Inc. will be holding the Chautauqua Showdown Muskie Tournament from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Register at the Mayville launch ramp between 6 and 7 a.m. This is a catch and release tournament. Entry fee is $25 for Muskies Inc. members and $35 for nonmembers. The event is sponsored by Chautauqua Reel Outdoors where the picnic and awards will take place following the fishing.