The Spring Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby kicks off May 10 and runs through May 19, offering more than $45,000 in prizes. Some big salmon have been caught already this spring, including a 28 1/2 pound fish over the weekend. It should be a good contest.
Lake Erie and tributaries
It turned out to be a great walleye opener for the weekend, and yellow perch action is continuing at a rapid pace. According to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport, perch were as shallow as 27 feet and as deep as 62 feet earlier this week. All of the walleyes came from 36 feet and deeper. Jigging gold blade baits caught a lot of fish for Fonzi and company, as did emerald shiners. On Saturday, he had 22 walleyes and 200 perch for opening-day action. Most of his fishing took place between Sturgeon Point and Buffalo. It’s important to note that there are fish all over the place. You don’t have to drop anchor and sit on top of another boat. Show a little respect. Randy Tyrrell of North Tonawanda reports great catches of big perch between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 50 to 53 feet of water. He did have to move around to find fish from time to time, but they still caught a limit. Trust your electronics. Denis Kreze of Fort Erie hit some small rock piles off Smokes Creek, pulling up Venom blade baits in 40 to 45 feet of water to take a limit of walleyes. Some chunky smallmouth bass are being caught in the lake. There’s a good chance you will catch a mixed bag of species no matter what you are doing. In the tributaries, Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters says that there are smallmouth bass starting to move in but action has been delayed due to colder water temperatures as a result of the delayed ice removal. It should pick up as waters start to warm. Access to the lake has been limited. Only one dock was operating at the main Dunkirk launch according to Capt. Lance Ehrhardt of Sassafras Charters. They both should be functional by this weekend. Sturgeon Point was still being worked on. The Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association meeting will be held May 17 at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club, foot of Mullet Street, Dunkirk, starting at 7 p.m.
Good steelhead fishing was reported last weekend among the outdoor media folks who were drifting shiners, egg sacs, Kwikfish and MagLips in the lower river section. In addition to steelhead, some browns and walleye were being taken in the lower stretches of the river near the Fort. Walleye are also being caught off the sand docks next to the launch ramp at night with minnows, according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Jigs tipped with a Fin-S Fish lure can catch walleye, too. It’s important to note that walleye regulations are different in the lower river and Lake Ontario. Daily limit is three per person and the minimum size is 18 inches from the season opener through Dec. 31. No smelt as of this writing. Shore fishing in the gorge continues to be hampered by high water levels. Once the water comes up first thing in the morning, there is very little shoreline to stand on. If you find a spot, No. 4 spinners recently worked for Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls. Jigs could take a fish or two. Egg sacs or a jig under a float is still an option.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
The Spring LOC Derby starts Friday. Visit www.loc.org for details. Look for many more boats to hit the waterways through May 19 when the derby ends. The Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament is May 18. Access is still a problem in some launch areas. Wilson-Tuscarora State Park is partially under water. Fort Niagara docks were being worked on this week. Capt. Mike Johannes of Wilson was working the waters from his home port to 4 Mile Creek, starting in 80 to 90 feet of water and moving to water as deep as 225 feet. Best spoons were Moonshine Carbon 14 and Michigan Stinger Frostbyte. He also caught salmon and lake trout on dark colored e-chip flashers and green flies. King salmon action was hot for a while but slowed a bit on Tuesday. Browns can be found in tight to the shoreline. Jim DeGirolamo of Derby preferred to use small 6-inch dodgers in orange or pink with meat to take trout and kings. Dreamweaver spoons in purple and white produced some fish, trolling the same area. Some fish are being caught off the piers at Wilson and Olcott. The tributaries have a mix of fish, trout and smallmouth bass primarily, but Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports some panfish and pike, too.
The crappie fishing has picked up in the lake according to Capt. Mike Sperry of Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. They’re staging to set up on beds. Sperry said he and company landed a bunch of 12- to 14-inch fish Sunday with 3 to 8 feet of water working best. The water temperature was 58 degrees and the best baits were minnows and 1/32 ounce jigs, Mini Mites, and tubes.
The walleye fishing started out good last weekend with plenty of fish landed while slow trolling worm harnesses and Rapalas. Walleyes are being caught after dark casting Rapalas or other stickbaits from shore. Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut echoed the same. Daytime action was worm harnesses and flicker shads. The night casting revolved around Rebel, Smithwicks, Rapalas and Thundersticks with a slow troll or casting from shore. Calico fishing was good one day and down the next. For yellow perch, action has been good in 5 to 10 feet of water with shiners. Bluegill fishing is starting to pick up.
Inland trout action has been good in the Randolph area. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports he had some good fishing in the WNY area. Highly stained spring water conditions have big fish on the feed, according to Feltrinelli. Larger fly fishing patterns like streams work well. Jeff Pippard at Niagara Outdoors reports that fishing was good for trout at Oppenheim Park Pond last weekend. Wax worms were the hot bait.