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The Fishing Beat (July 3)

The Steve Harrington Memorial Erie Canal Fishing Derby is underway through July 14, Lake Erie is on fire for walleye fishing and Lake Ontario is ramping up for the Summer LOC Derby. Meanwhile, Capt. Jim Hanley and his crew from Rich Products swept nearly every category on the way to a Greater Niagara BassEye Challenge win last Friday on Lake Erie.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Walleye action has taken off in the past week. Rich Pisa of Kenmore reports great action off Sturgeon Point as three generations of the Pisa family limited out on ‘eyes to help conclude the end of June. They were fishing worm harnesses in 38 feet of water for quick, consistent action. Off Buffalo, Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla hit the waters just north of Seneca Shoal. Tom Baskerville of Marilla and Steve caught 10 on Thursday in their budgeted two hours, put them on ice and went back Friday morning. They were finished by 10:30 a.m. and headed home to clean fish. They were working the bottom with worms and firetiger spinners. Fish were in 44 to 50 feet of water as they worked north-south across the lake on those calm days. Most others were also hauling in fish. Best speed was 1.2 mph and went to neutral to get fight out of those 'eyes. All were 17 to 22 inches in length, perfect eater size. Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston sends word that he did well using a 4-ounce bottom bouncer in 45 feet of water off Buffalo using a worm harness with red beads and hammered copper No. 5 Colorado blades.

Niagara River

Bass can be caught with regularity from Lewiston to Youngstown in the lower river, but the dreaded moss is becoming more of an issue as water temperatures increase. Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston had his son Peter out recently and they caught 25 smallmouths by using a drop shot rig that offered Strike King Zero plastics cut in half. No reports of steelhead in the river with the warmer water. The New York Power Authority fishing platform in the lower river is still closed due to the high water. Call 796-0135 Ext. 45 to find out if it’s open. Also, the fishing pier at Joe Davis State Park is closed. For the upper river, focus your attention in the Emerald channel, at the head of Strawberry Island and around Beaver Island State Park for a mix of bass and walleye. Worm harnesses for the walleye, live bait like crayfish and shiners for the bass. If you prefer artificials, use tubes or swim baits. Moss is becoming more of an issue in the upper river, too. Remember that the Erie Canal Fishing Derby runs through July 14. Eligible species include bass, pike, walleye, carp, bullhead, sheepshead and catfish. For details, go to

Lake Ontario and tributaries

The Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Summer Derby continues through July 28. The Niagara Bar action was good the past week, according to John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda. He was reporting a nice mix of fish, including two Atlantic salmon, while working his riggers, dipsy divers and seven colors of lead core. Spoons worked best for him as he focused around 45-degree water 80 feet down. Bob Magra of Lorain, Ohio, had a successful trip to Wilson last week. He fished for four days and they finished with 14 kings, one big laker and one lunker steelhead. He caught five fish of more than 15 pounds, including two of more than 20. He concentrated in 80 to 280 feet of water, putting baits in the top 75 feet of water. He caught all the big fish except one on a 2-face spin doctor rigged with an A-Tom-Mik Pro-Am fly 180 to 250 feet behind a magnum dipsy. Capt. Tim Sylvester of Tough Duty fished out of Olcott, fishing from 125 to 275 feet of water. There was also a bite in 350 to 400 feet of water. Mostly king salmon, but he also caught a 10-pound steelhead and some lake trout. Most of the fish came 70 to 90 feet down.

Chautauqua Lake

Capt. Frank Schoenacker reports the north basin is holding some quality walleyes. David Hens and Mark Ehrenburg of East Aurora caught personal-best walleyes for the lake last weekend with nearly identical 26-inch-plus fish using Northland Butterfly blade harness rigs.  They were in 13 feet of water just off the weedline. Capt. Mike Sperry of Chautauqua Reel Outdoors reports walleye around the lake continue to be good both jigging in the weed pockets and trolling worm harnesses tight to the weedlines. Brass-colored Colorado blades are best but fluorescent orange works well at times as well. Where you find weeds, you will find fish, including walleye, bass and crappie. Sperry reports that the musky bite is pretty good with trollers doing well using Shad-style baits such as the Llungen Lures 22 Long and Tuff Shads trolled at 4 to 5 mph. Casting has been decent for muskies with most fish landed while casting jerkbaits like 8-inch Leo’s. Black- and perch-colored lures are the best choices. Perch are abundant and easy to catch, but you will have to weed through the smaller ones to find keepers.

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