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The Fishing Beat (Sept. 18)

It’s turning to fall and leaves are starting to color. That’s a sure sign for salmon and trout to begin their autumn migration, but it’s been a slow start. Let’s hope for a cool rain soon to help trigger that action.

Lake Erie and tributaries

There's a good walleye bite continuing off Cattaraugus Creek in 73 to 80 feet of water, according to Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla. Try bottom bouncing with a worm harness. Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport says he has been having good success for three species of late. Fishing out of Sturgeon Point, he caught limits of walleye and a good mix of perch in 60 feet of water. There were lots of perch around. Follow your graph and stay on top of the schools. He also did some bass fishing and did well in 22 to 34 feet of water around structure. Find a rock, and there’s a good chance there was a bass on it. Some bigger fish in the 4- to 5-pound class were brought to the boat and released to fight another day. Drop shot rigs and tubes were working best.

Niagara River

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls christened the NYPA Fishing Platform in the Niagara Gorge this week when he was one for two on salmon. He also caught a walleye and three bass using No. 4 spinners from the structure that reopened over the weekend. It had been closed for most of the summer due to the high water levels in the river and Lake Ontario. Mike Marisa of Johnstown, Pa., caught a king salmon on treated egg skein, one of the first we’ve heard about using that approach. Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle says that glow spoons and spinners have been working well from shore under low light conditions. The was good bass action the past week, especially for the fishermen that participated in the Lower Niagara River Sportfishing Challenge last Thursday and Friday. Crabs and golden shiners were the best live baits. A few walleyes also were caught. The best catch was a 10-pound brown trout reeled in by Gary Hall of Niagara Falls while drifting a minnow.

Gary Hall of Niagara Falls caught this 10-pound brown trout in the lower Niagara River last Thursday in the CF Sport Fishing Challenge. (Photo courtesy of Niagara Region Charters)

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Fish are still in transition in the lake as salmon and trout slowly make their way closer to streams and the river. Chris Trzaska of Buffalo connected with three brown trout this week casting Booker spoons off the Wilson pier. Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctors in Olcott reports that brown fishing has been good at Wilson. Greens and glows are best colors for spoons and spinners. Use No. 4 spinners with lots of dots. Salmon have been caught off the piers in Olcott, Point Breeze, Rochester and so on down the lake, but not in big numbers. A few browns were caught, too. Salmon are jumping in front of the piers at Olcott and the night bite is on in 20 to 40 feet of water with orange and firetiger Cleos, Moonshines, Bookers or J13 stickbaits. In the harbor, J13 stickbaits are producing some nice northern pike for casters. Some perch and bass are being caught in the creek, too. In 450 to 500 feet of water, some salmon and trout action was reported but it’s been slower. Blacks, whites and red-colored spoons; flasher-fly or meat rigs will take fish, too.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye action has been steady with fish hitting jigs on the north basin from 25 to 30 feet of water according to Capt. Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. No. 9 jigging raps and flat raps have been working. There have been a lot of short fish mixed in, which is good for the future, according to Sperry. Trolling Hot-n-Tots, Flicker Shads and Reno Baits off of lead core or downriggers is another good approach. The musky bite has been on and off. Trolling and casting is producing fish, just not consistent. Sperry likes 8-inch and 9-inch Leo Jerkbaits. The bite should pick up as the water cools. Water temperatures are hovering around 70 degrees in both the north and south basins.

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Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport placed 4th in the FLW's BFL Super Tournament last weekend by catching smallmouth like these. (Photo courtesy of Capt. Joe Fonzi)

Fonzi places fourth in BFL contest

Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport finished fourth in the Fishing League Worldwide BFL Northeast Division Super Tournament out of Clayton in the Thousand Islands last weekend. Fishing was tough on the first day when high winds limited all fishing to the St. Lawrence River. Fonzi managed a 17.6-pound bag and placed 17th overall out of 110 boats. The cut for the day was 22nd place, allowing those remaining teams to fish on the second and final day.

With no restrictions for Day 2, Fonzi's five-fish limit was 22.8 pounds, moving him up to fourth with a total of 39.14 pounds, just 1 ounce behind third-place finisher Ron Penders Jr. of Rochester. The winning weight was 44.4 pounds, reeled in by Zachery Seal of Findley Lake. He was in second place after the first day. Seal used a green pumpkin Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm on a drop shot rig in 20 to 40 feet of water in the river both days. The best approach for Fonzi was a drop shot technique using a Gajo spirit shad in watermelon color.


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