As the summer starts to wind down, fishing contests dominate both Great Lakes this week. It won't be long before the salmon and trout start to migrate into the rivers and streams. In fact, the first salmon of the season was caught Aug. 15 at Douglaston Run on the Salmon River off Lake O.
Walleye fishing is extremely good for eating-size fish from Dunkirk East to Buffalo, according to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Thumbs Up Charters. Large schools of 15- to 19-inch fish are swimming back and forth along the Canadian border from 58 to 70 feet of water, feeding on gobies, young perch and small emeralds. About a third of them are suspended 35 to 40 down; the rest are easy pickings within 3 feet of the bottom. "The key is watch the graph and put a spinner and worm in the ZONE," says Fonzi. Bottom bouncers, dipsy divers and in-line boards with lead core line are all producing. Fonzi hit four consecutive limits by noon in the past week, landing 30-plus walleyes each morning.
Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla celebrated his birthday by going fishing out of Cattaraugus Creek Monday. His best depth was 55 feet of water, using a spinner and a worm off a three-way rig set 5and 10 feet off the bottom. Bass fishing is a little off on the New York side of the lake. A lot of bass are staying north of the border on structure where a cooler river current is keeping them and the bait more comfortable. Best bet is to use a drop shot or tube fish in the mid-30-foot depth range. A lot of walleyes are being caught by bass guys on tubes. Gabriella Geiger of Lackawanna caught her Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey-leading Junior Division bass in 45 feet of water off Sturgeon Point with a tube, a 4-pound, 8-ounce smallmouth.
Can you say derby and tournament? Angling action is occupied by fishing contests right now and it's a good way to see what's going on with the fishing. For example, the Legacy Ladies team bested 20 other women's teams in the Third Annual Reelin' for a Cure last Friday out of Wilson and Olcott with a six fish score of 166.30 points (based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound). Second place went to Dutchie's Angels led by Capt. Mark Battone with a score of 157.67 points. Off Shore Therapy with Capt. Frank Godina came in third place with a total of 155.66 points. Big fish for the day was a 23.82-pound king salmon brought in by the Hooked on a Cure ladies led by Dave Peterson's Hotline crew.
Capt. Rob Wescott of Hamlin, who captained the 29-foot Penn Yan Prowler for the Legacy Ladies team, said they focused their efforts east of Olcott in 200 to 400 feet of water in front of the power plant. Using a north-south troll, they used a variety of methods to catch their winning fish. Most productive was 350 and 400-foot copper rods. Cut bait and flasher-fly worked the best at catching salmon and trout, but they did hit one nice fish on a Salmon Viagra 2.0 spoon. White-on-white flashers with Familiar Bite meat worked well. They focused their baits 70 to 100 feet down. The hot downrigger was at 90 foot. Best diver was 155 feet back on a No. 2 setting.
Kyle Hovak of North Tonawanda ran his "Mean Machine" out of Wilson over the weekend and the result was a 13-pound, 7-ounce steelhead reeled in by his daughter Gabby. Not only is she in the lead for the Fish Odyssey Junior Division trout category, she also is leading all anglers in the Fall LOC Derby in the Rainbow/Steelhead Division. The fish hit a Finn Tackle spoon behind a dipsy diver 140 feet back on a No. 3.5 setting over 400 feet of water east of Olcott.
Walleye action has been good for bigger fish. You might not see the numbers you see on Lake Erie, but the quality is there. Charles Hoy of Niagara Falls and Ethan Brolinski of Lewiston each caught 10-pound, 6-ounce walleyes from the mouth of the Niagara River to take of the lead in the Fish Odyssey walleye division for adult and junior, respectively. Bass action was good between Lewiston and Youngstown recently, according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle. In the upper river, hats off to the old river rat Bill Henwood of Niagara Falls. He caught a personal best 21-inch smallmouth along a favorite Grand Island drift using a softshell crab he dipped himself using an old net from old-timer Cecil Staub.
The walleye fishing has picked up in the last week. Worm harnesses on the weed edges in 11 to 14 feet of water, early in the morning and later in the evening, according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Try the north basin. Willow leaf blades work great when pulling through weed stalks. Try 1.0 mph for speed. The color blade doesn't matter. The key is to stay tight to the weed edge.
Vertical jigging Vibes, jigging Rapalas and a quarter- or three-eighth ounce jig heads tipped with a crawler also work. A stinger hook helps with hook-ups. Lots of white perch, yellow perch and a few white bass are in the mix as well. Musky action has been decent with most of the fish caught trolling the north basin from 15-feet out to 30 feet. Same program as last week with small crankbaits like 5-inch Tuff Shads. Perch and walleye colors are working best.