Results of the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey and the Innovative Outdoors Walleye Challenge can be found in Scattershots this week. In the meantime, it looks like some species are taking on a fall pattern. Read on.
Capt. Jim Steel, who ran the Innovative Outdoors tournament last weekend, reports that walleye numbers are still crazy from Buffalo to Barcelona, as well as in Canadian waters. Loads of 20-inch class fish. This is a good time to put some fish in the freezer as they are starting to get more aggressive.
Nick Nekoui of Niagara Falls, Ontario, with Team Vision Clinic, shared his winning tactics in the Innovative Outdoors Walleye Challenge last Saturday, fishing a large area called the Tecumseh Reef near the Grand River in Canadian waters. The reef stretches from the Grand River to Nanticoke, but knowing how to fish it is key due to the many fluctuating water depths and channels. To competitive walleye anglers, it’s called the “do or die” reef because of its location. Traveling that far, if the fish aren’t there, you could end up with nothing. From Dunkirk, it was about a 37-mile run. Last Saturday, the conditions were rough, making travel more difficult. He ran his baits high on one side and lower on the other to deal with the fluctuating depths of 9 to 30 feet.
“It’s a good area to fish this time of year because they move onto the structure to munch on gobies,” said Nekoui. “We were using the Bandit Deep Dive stickbaits by Yaleye-Fish Lures, flatlining behind inline boards. Green worked first thing in the morning, purple as soon as the sun came up.”
Using four boards on each side of the boat, the distance behind the board ranged from 60 to 150 feet. One side might be 90-110-130-150 feet back with the longest being the furthest out.
The biggest walleye of the tournament came from Chris Green of Lowbanks, Ont., a 10.17-pound walleye, also coming from Tecumseh Reef. He used a Luhr Jensen Power Dive stickbait in silver and black, trolling 2.1 mph 25 feet down. Meanwhile, second-place finisher Rob Oram of Franklinville with the Eye-Con team used a simple program off Cattaraugus Creek in 64 feet of water to take his fish trolling divers with stickbaits, eight colors of lead core line and 250 feet of copper.
On Big Fish Friday, Darin Baron of Freedom was fishing in 80 feet of water in front of Dunkirk. He was using a downrigger to get his perch-colored Renosky stickbait to take his winning 8.11-pound fish. Mark Plennert of Niagara Falls hit another school of fish Sunday morning off Sturgeon Point in 65 to 70 feet of water. His boat of three fishermen limited out by 8:15 a.m. by bottom-bouncing three-way rigs with silver and purple worm harnesses. For bass fishing, the winning Odyssey smallmouth came from 1 mile out from the middle gap in 32 feet of water. Brendan Walsh of Niagara Falls was bouncing a tube off the bottom when the 6-pound, 7-ounce fish hit. Capt. Steel reports that he was pulling some big smallies off structure by trolling stickbaits. He caught bass from 4 to 6 pounds while seeking walleyes in 40 to 60 feet. Lake trout also are moving in, probably because of available baitfish.
The first-place Odyssey laker came out of Barcelona, where Mark Polovick of Lockport was dragging bottom with cowbells to boat a 20-pound, 10-ounce fish.
The first king salmon was caught in the lower Niagara River last week. No, the run hasn’t started. Every year, there are a few caught in the gorge the last week of August. September is when the run will start to take off, usually around the second or third week.
Walleye and bass are still the most sought-after species right now. The winning walleye in the Fish Odyssey Derby was a 12-pound lower river fish reeled in by Richard Barber of Niagara Falls on a worm harness. Marabou jigs tipped with a worm also have been working for walleyes. Both the river and the Niagara Bar have been good for walleye action. Bass fishing has been consistent, especially by Fort Niagara. According to Capt. Chris Cinelli, most of the drifts in the lower river are holding bass. Crabs are still the best bait. Dropshotting is working with most Strike King plastic baits.
In the upper river, Cinelli reports that there has been good bass fishing with crabs on the flat between Donnelly’s wall and the roundhouse.
Northerly and easterly winds have things messed up in the lake. Your best bet is to head out deep according to Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctors. Target 400- to 500-foot depths for a mix of kings and steelhead on spoons, flasher-fly and even cut bait rigs. When you find them, you can do well.
Capt. Jim Gordon of Appleton went out Tuesday and found a pocket of kings between 400 and 450 feet of water straight out of Wilson. He found good temperature at 80 feet down and staggered his riggers in 60, 70 and 80 feet with green and black Moonshine spoons to limit out. Brown trout can be found near-shore in shallower depths. Target 100 feet of less. That’s where Eric Bickel caught a 12-pound, 4-ounce brown. He used a Stinger spoon to win the Brown Division in the Odyssey. Kim Hubert-Bickel, his wife, caught a 15-7 brown from the same area to place second in the LOC Derby so far. The derby continues through Labor Day. Check www.loc.org for details. Lake trout are starting to stack up on the Niagara Bar.
Fishing action has not changed much in the last week or two according to Capt. Mike Sperry of Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. The best walleye bite has been trolling Hot-n-Tot plugs, Flicker Shads or small Rapalas off lead core line presentations. Musky fishing is still a chore. They landed one short fish earlier this week by trolling. The water temperature is down to 74 degrees.