The Erie Canal fishing derby ends this weekend, the Lake Ontario Counties and Summer Classic events continue and we’re just a week away from one of the biggest walleye contests on Lake Erie. There are a couple of kids events on Saturday. One is at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park starting at 7 a.m. and running all morning by the Southtowns Walleye group. The other is at Point Breeze in Orleans County at 9 a.m. at Captain’s Cove, followed by a picnic at the Orleans County Marine Park. Cost is $5 per person.
Lake Erie and tributaries
After a northeast blow on Lake Erie last weekend, the walleye fishing that had been excellent slowed to more difficult conditions, according to Capt. Jim Hanley of Angola. An upwelling off Dunkirk pushed walleyes to within 20 feet of the surface. Action off Cattaraugus Creek and Buffalo was difficult for most. Hanley notes that with an established southwest wind, it should turn back on again for “yellows.” Best baits for Hanley have been gold and orange Ram and Colorado blades on a worm harness, behind two to three colors of lead core line off boards over 50 to 80 feet of water. That will all change. Randy Jaroszewski of Hamburg insists you can fill your coolers quick by targeting walleye over 40 to 50 feet of water between Dunkirk and the Catt. Keep lures 20 to 30 feet below the surface to get a bite. Stickbaits or worm harnesses. As far as the bass fishing, action has been unusually slow, according to Hanley. No one knows why. Tubes and crayfish are the best baits right now in 30 to 50 feet of water.
Moss is an issue, but fish are available if you can solve the moss problem. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports some decent bass action, but you have to work for them. Shoreline access is minimal in the lower river due to the high-water levels. Launch ramps are open at Lewiston and Fort Niagara for boaters. In the upper river, some nice muskies are being reported, including a 49.75-inch fish reeled in by Denis Kreze of Fort Erie, Ontario. He was using a Venom Musky Spinnerbait. There are mixed reports on bass and walleye due to the moss. Check out the Catches of the Week to see the big musky.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
The hard northeast winds changed things over the weekend. Just before the blow, the action off Wilson was in shallower waters for mature kings, according to Capt. Mike Johannes of On the Rocks. Fishing in 120 feet of water, he had his baits as deep as 100 feet and as shallow as 45 feet on a slider. Best baits included magnum spoons like the UV Carbon 14 and the 2-Face. Largest fish was just under 20 pounds. Out of Olcott, Capt. Tim Sylvester of Tough Duty and his first mate Blake Kowalski of Tonawanda headed to 400 feet of water to find more stable conditions on Tuesday. It was a long line bite as he used meat rigs on 300- and 400-foot copper lines. He had to be patient. They caught kings up to 20 pounds and steelhead up to 10 pounds. The downrigger bites were up high in 35 to 50 feet of water. In the Summer LOC Derby, a 27-pound, 13-ounce king salmon hauled in by Dave Davenport from New Jersey is the early leader. The first-place brown trout is a 16-9 fish weighed in by Jim Sanford of Clifton Springs. Ed Klejdys of North Tonawanda is the top laker taker so far with a 24-4 Niagara Bar fish. In the steelhead division, Steve Biernacki of Medina is setting the pace with a 14-1/2-pound fish he reeled in off Point Breeze. Check out loc.org for a current leaderboard. The derby ends July 28.
Walleye is still good vertical jigging in the weed pockets, according to Capt. Mike Sperry of Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. The only issue is that the weeds in the south basin have died back considerably in the last two weeks. If you find green weeds, there’s fish in them. Using a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce jig head tipped with a mister twister or night crawler will work. Trolling worm harnesses on both the north and south basin also will work. Harnesses off bottom bouncers tight to the weed lines are working, especially on the north basin. Musky action has been average, with most fish caught trolling. Use jointed Stalkers, 5-inch Tuff Shads and Leo Mojoes at a speed of 4-5 mph. There seem to be bigger yellow perch this year than the previous few years according to Sperry. However, there are still plenty of smaller fish. Perch can be found at all depths. Frank Schoenacker of Infinity Charters reports that he ran to the north basin on Tuesday and made quick work of a five-fish limit. He was using a Northland butterfly blade harness with 10-pound Maxima braid. The fish size went from 19 inches to 24 inches using a spinning rod. The key now is to work weeds close to deep water. He focused on 13 feet to 15 feet of water.
Erie Canal Derby update
The 29th Steve Harrington Memorial Erie Canal Fishing Derby runs through July 14 in Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties. All the fish species categories are up for grabs, but it will take a little work. In the bass division, Tyler Hillman of Lockport is in first place with a 4.92-pound fish. Sam Hillman from Lockport is the top walleye catcher at 7.04 pounds, and James Nix, Jr. of Tonawanda is setting pace in the pike division with an 11.81-pound fish. The biggest bullhead so far is a 1.54-pound fish reeled in by Buffy Frank of Lockport. The biggest catfish is an 8.53-pound fish reeled in by Wayne Hale of Lockport and Anthony Henley of Buffalo has the leading carp at 22.59 pounds. Rachel Izzo of Sanborn is leading the sheepshead category with a 10.91-pound fish. Check www.eriecanalderby.com for details.