It was a crazy weekend for fishing contests as the Sunset Bay Walleye Shoot Out took off into Lake Erie; the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association held its 16th annual Club Tournament; and the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby entered into its final week of action with some new leaders.
The walleye fishing continues to be on fire all around the lake. According to Capt. Ted Kessler of Grand Island, it’s walleye-mania right now off Buffalo. Target 40 to 60 feet of water. He’s been running worm harnesses in either watermelon or black-purple and copper, all on bottom bouncers. He’s also been picking off fish on in-line planer boards with either five colors of lead core or 3 ounces of in-line weights. Bill Igo, a regular customer of his from Harrisburg, Pa., caught a beautiful, 11.25-pound walleye this week fishing this area of the lake. The same type of walleye action is being reported from Buffalo to Barcelona and beyond.
The moss is starting to subside even more, according to reports from Lisa Drabczyk from Creek Road Bait and Tackle. As a result, the walleye fishing is starting to pick up, especially on the Niagara Bar at the mouth of the lower river. Worm harnesses have been the bait of choice using hammered copper blades with red beads. Bass action is also starting to pick up. Tube jigs are the lure that seems to be working best with what moss is left in the river, both above and below Niagara Falls. In the upper river, bass, walleye and musky have been cooperating for some anglers. Add Ned rigs, worm harnesses and crayfish to the list of preferred baits and lures.
One of the hot spots on the lake this week has been the Niagara Bar off the mouth of the river. Fishing 50 to 80 feet down over 90 to 200 feet of water was producing plenty of mature king salmon, during the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association events and beyond. John Van Hoff hit a 29-pound king Sunday with flasher-fly on the Bar, one of many mature kings he caught the day after the LOTSA contests. On Monday, Doug Parker of Lockport reeled in a 29-pound, 9-ounce Bar king to take over the lead for the grand prize in the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby, also with a flasher and fly.
Capt. Joe Gallo of Two Bulls Charters reports that he teamed up with Capt. Alan Sauerland for the LOTSA contests and they produced more than 50 bites over two days of fishing. They fished in more than 300 feet of water, a few miles west of their home port using flasher-fly and meat programs. On Sunday, they moved into shallower water in front of their home port and it paid off with a 17-for-24 king salmon day with a dozen salmon up to 25 pounds. Capt. Mike Johannes of On the Rocks had the catch of the week with a 31-1/2-pound salmon caught out of Wilson, but the customers didn’t get into the derby. The LOC event ends Sunday. Out of Olcott, Capt. Tim Sylvester of Tough Duty ran out to 300-plus feet of water to hit an early spoon bite Tuesday. Magnum spoons off the riggers were the way to go, 50 to 80 feet beneath the surface. His best depth was 75 feet.
Capt. Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors reports that walleye and musky action is still going strong. For walleyes, worm harnesses trolling at 1 mph along the weed edges in the north basin is a good starting point. Experiment with different blade colors to figure out a pattern on any given day. Jigging also will produce some ‘eyes. In the South Basin, try using Hot ’N Tots off lead core line or a three-way rig with a drop lead. Muskies have been hitting jointed or smaller Shad-style crankbaits in the North Basin casting or trolling. Use a Tuff Shad, Leo Mojoe and jointed Stalkers to take fish. Casting 6- to 9-inch jerk baits can work well for you according to Sperry.