The state’s regular bass season opens on Saturday, as does the Great Lakes musky season. Also, there are three kids fishing events this weekend, and the Southtowns Walleye contest ends on Sunday.
Lake Erie and tributaries
The Southtowns Walleye Association’s 35th annual Walleye Derby continues through Sunday. A father-daughter team is leading the way in the adult and youth divisions, hitting the same bait (a long shallow Bay Rat) as they fished a favorite Lake Erie area. Leading the charge for the adults is Randy Jaroszewski of Hamburg with a 12.39-pound walleye and Sierra Jaroszewski with a 9.04-pound walleye. TJ Yetzer of Warsaw has focused his efforts out of his home port of Dunkirk. Last week, he started in 50 to 67 feet of water. His approach involved 3, 5 and 7 colors of lead core line behind in-line boards. He had divers 85 and 100 feet back and his riggers ranged from 35 to 50 feet down, eventually settling in on 40 and 48 feet. Best baits were worm harnesses that he ties himself, as well as some EyeFish harnesses in watermelon. We had a great day on the water as part of a media event put together by Dave Barus for Chautauqua County. Closer to Buffalo, Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls reports typical fishing for this time of year. Focus on 30 to 35 feet of water off the windmills. It produces the occasional limit, but it is not a hot spot yet according to DeLorenzo. Along that same depth contour, there are fish from Hamburg to Meyers reef. Bottom bouncing has been best, although a few fish have been coming off boards with 20 Jets or 2-ounce in-line weights 40 to 50 feet behind board. The best speed has been 1.2 mph. Silver with green or orange and chartreuse harnesses have been best. Some night action is being reported. Bobby Joe Frost of Alden, his son Robert, and Jason Hoover of Marilla did well around Buffalo Harbor working the gaps in 20-foot depths with perch-colored No. 7 and 9 stickbaits to take a dozen fish on Monday night starting at 11 p.m. According to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Thumbs Up the bass have, for the most part, spawned. They are heading toward traditional structure in 22 to 34 feet of water. Tubes and Gajo swim baits have been working well in muted goby colors.
Lower river action has been good from boats, but finding a place to fish from shore has been difficult at best. The NYPA platform is under water and the gorge shoreline offers little relief from the water. Boaters are doing well on a wide variety of fish species. Steelhead and lake trout are available, according to Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters. Walleye and bass are hitting with regularity, too. MagLips, Kwikfish and live bait like shiners will catch you fish. For bass, tubes and swim baits work well. Remember that musky season opens Saturday in the Great Lakes, too. Upper river and Buffalo Harbor is the best place to be for musky action. Bass fishing has been very good there as well. The foot of Ferry Street is a good place to target.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
It was another successful Orleans County Open Tournament at Point Breeze. The Dublin Up team led by Capt. Carl Martin of Pendleton won. Boats were allowed up to 10 salmon and trout at the weigh in, but no more than five salmon and five trout each day. The Dublin Up team motored 10 miles west of the Oak, starting in 60 to 80 feet of water. By the time they hit the 100-foot mark, they had five salmon in the box and started to fish for lake trout. After dropping the speed to 1.5 mph, they had a good rip on the rod and it turned out to be the biggest fish of the tournament – a 22.30-pound king salmon. They caught some lake trout and steelhead for a 124-pound box, good for second place behind Capt. Rob Wescott and the Legacy Team from Hilton. On Day 2, they scored with a 121-pound box to win the event. They targeted salmon and lake trout first thing in the morning by going 2.0 to 2.2 mph. However, they put four kings and one laker in the box. When they slowed to 1.5 mph, they hit an 18-pound laker right away. Throw in some steelhead to round out the box after the team’s third laker, and the result was their first victory. Meanwhile, Wilson and Olcott action continues to be good to very good. Capt. Joe Gallo of Two Bulls Sportfishing reports he did well last weekend working the 110-foot water depth line from Wilson to Olcott. He had good salmon bites on a combo of high spoons and deep meat dragging the bottom. The meat produced the year’s best biggest king so far, a 27-pounder. Green flashers out 150 feet took many fish all weekend. Saturday’s northeast blow dropped the water temperature 9 degrees, so Sunday morning they headed north and found a warm pocket of water in 350 feet of water. They worked 21 bites off the same spoon, flasher, and meat program from the first two days with mostly mid-teen kings and two right around the 20-pound mark.
Walleye fishing is still good according to Capt. Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Slow trolling worm harnesses on the weed edges in both the north and south basins is producing. Trolling with a single blade harness around 1 mph is best. Bring plenty of worms as the perch and white perch will hit the harnesses all day, according to Sperry. Good reports of walleye from fishermen jigging in the weeds and on the edges as well. Vibes and 1/4 ounce jigs with a Mister Twister tail are working. The musky fishing has been slow but some fish are being caught by casting on the south basin. Use 8-inch Leo jerk baits and medium-sized musky spinnerbaits.