The Lake Ontario fishery is transitioning into summer mode, so trout and salmon are on the move. Lake Erie action has slowed a bit due to cooler water temperatures, probably keeping the Ohio migration at bay. To quote a great angling philosopher, the fish are where you find them. And don’t forget that this is a free fishing weekend. Don’t forget about the Family Fishing Days in Broderick Park at the foot of Ferry Street from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Water around Buffalo is only 60 degrees, which is about three weeks behind schedule according to Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls. The large schools of walleye that migrate here from the western end of the lake have not yet shown up and are probably a few weeks away, surmises DeLorenzo. There are plenty of small local walleyes in the 15- to 20-inch range, spread out from Buffalo to Barcelona in 30 feet out to 65 feet of water. The Windmills, Seneca Shoal and along the international boundary in 50 to 55 feet of water are producing fish by slow trolling worm harnesses at 1.2 mph.
Capt. Jim Rores of Grand Island hit the international line around the 55-foot mark, using planer board to pick off unsuspecting fish suspended over 35 feet. Copper blades were the ticket, bead color didn’t matter.
Rob Oram of Franklinville hit Sturgeon Point on Sunday and his first fish was a 10.52-pounder that was reeled in by Dr. Andrea Herold of Angola. It was her first caught fish ever. Oram used 3 colors of lead core line with a Northern Lights Bomber over 60 feet of water.
In the Rayzor Big Dawg Walleye Tournament out of Dunkirk, the Reel Mania team led by Mark Lewadowski, Jr. of Lancaster took top honors. Check out Scattershots for more details. As long as we are on the subject of big fish, make sure you check out this week’s outdoor column on the Forever Fishing Team, which became the first U.S. team to win the Budweiser Can-Am Challenge last Saturday out of Port Colborne, Ontario. Bass fishing continues to be decent. Around Buffalo Harbor, Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston was using drop shot rigs baited with Strike King zero plastics to take up to 20 bass on Tuesday. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that smallmouth bass are dropping out of the tributaries and returning to the lake. Fish the beach fronts with flies, jigs or spinnerbaits.
Moss is an issue in many stretches of the river, especially in the lower section. Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports that the best area for bass has been along the clay banks, as well as in Youngstown. Catfish and sheepshead are showing up, but the moss is limiting your time in the water.
The Erie Canal Fishing Derby will kick off July 3 and run through July 14 from the Upper Niagara River to Albion in the canal proper (no tributaries like Tonawanda Creek in Pendleton). Upper river action has been best in the emerald channel for walleye according to Capt. Connor Cinelli of Grand Island (a new member of the local charter fleet).
The Beaver Island area has been good for bass using tubes and swimbaits. However, the moss is impacting these areas, too.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Saturday is the start of the Lake Ontario Counties Summer Trout and Salmon Derby (www.loc.org), so specific information was a bit more difficult to come by. We are entering a transition time when fish become more scattered. There are plenty of fish available, but you may have to work for them.
We have two different reports off Wilson. Capt. Taz Morrison of Appleton reports that he was targeting 200 to 350 foot of water, placing his baits in the top 100 feet. Also, Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown was marking bait in 80 to 120 feet of water. Fish around the bait. Magnum and super slim trolling spoons were the best lures. Yellows, greens, combos were the best colors. Some meat and flasher-fly but it was mostly a spoon bite.
Off Olcott, Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane noted that with the rapidly changing water temperatures, fish locations change not just by the day but by the hour. Good catches continue, but not without effort. He couldn’t give specifics with those changes. He caught fish from 15 feet of 100 feet below the surface over 60 to 200 feet of water off Olcott with DW and Super Slim spoons, spin doctors and A-Tom-Mik flies, and cut bait to take salmon, steelhead and lake trout.
Bear in mind that next week is usually the busiest week on the lake when you hit the water. The walleye jigging bite has been pretty good, according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Use a 1/4-ounce jig head and Twister Tail, targeting 8 to 10 feet of water. Fishermen should switch tail colors until a pattern is developed. Sperry notes that there are plenty of walleyes in the 16- to 22-inch range with some bigger fish mixed in. There are some nice perch this year as well. The musky bite has been slow this week. That should pick up with the water temperatures near normal for this time of year now. It was about 72 degrees on the south basin on Tuesday morning.