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Fishing report: Big tournaments set to begin on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario

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francine alberson tonawanda, capt rich brant brown trout wilson

Francine Alberson of Tonawanda caught a fish of a lifetime, this 27-pound brown trout west of Wilson while fishing with her stepson, Capt. Rich Brant of North Tonawanda.

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There are fishing contests galore on lakes Ontario and Erie heading into the weekend. The Fall LOC Derby and Reelin’ for a Cure are set for Ontario; the Innovative Outdoors Walleye Challenge on Erie. Taking place in both Great Lakes will be the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby. The big one on Erie will be the National Walleye Tour Championship next week. Be sure to check out the Sunday outdoor page on the NWT.

Lake Erie and tributaries

The Innovative Outdoors Walleye Challenge begins on Friday with a Big Fish Friday event, followed by the main event on Saturday out of Dunkirk. We will report on the winners next week. Everyone is hyped up over the National Walleye Tour Championships that will take place Aug. 24-26 in Dunkirk, starting with a meet-and-greet with the pros on Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. in the grassy area between Tim Horton’s and the Clarion.

Wind has had an affect on the fish and the fishing, but while walleyes are scattered, there are plenty to be caught. The walleye bite is hot right now, according to Shub Stevens with Catt. Creek Bait and Tackle in Irving. Out of Cattaraugus Creek, target 65 to 80 feet of water. Many anglers are catching their limit in the first two hours of daylight. Bottom bouncer rigs are catching a ton of fish. Firetiger has been the top selling color this week. Three-D bottom bouncers with willow blades have been very productive.

Chuck Booker of Amherst and Capt. Tom Sieczkarek of Pendleton did well over the weekend. Fishing out of Cattaraugus Creek slightly west in 75 to 80 feet of water using Booker’s signature BigChinook1Fishing P5's in black/gold, red/gold, blue/gold, and rainbow colors all on 5, 6, and 8 colors of lead core lines off planer boards, they scored a two-man limit of 12 walleyes in short order. Capt. Tom experimented with drop weights to move lines up and down the water column. Most of the fish were suspended in the 40- to 50-foot depth range. They also connected on a personal best catfish that tipped the scales at 19.9 pounds. It hit a P5 rainbow colored stick.

Marty Polovick of Lockport took his granddaughter, Emma Flaherty, 10, and her dad, Kevin, out of the Catt on Saturday and they caught 18 walleyes, a 20-pound lake trout, a 20-pound catfish and a big yellow perch. Everything was caught in 82 to 86 feet of water using firetiger Bombers.

Capt. Ryan O’Neill of Buffalo Wingz Waterfowl and Sportfishing continued to do well between the Catt and Dunkirk in 53 to 71 feet of water. He reported hitting a double header before he got the third rod in the water. One pull was all it took to catch his limit of walleyes. It was all about finding active fish.

Capt. Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters has enjoyed success on walleyes off Cattaraugus Creek from 60 to 90 feet of water, catching limits with ease using stickbaits and worm harnesses. For a change of pace, he targeted lake trout in 110 feet of water off Dunkirk using magnum Moonshine spoons.

Rob Doty of Orchard Park managed to catch fish up to 27 pounds, impressive to say the least.

Capt. Brent Snyder of Day Five Sportfishing snuck out and targeted perch between the Catt and Sturgeon Point, catching 42 fish in a recent trip in 52 to 68 feet of water.

Niagara River

Action in the lower Niagara River continues to be good for bass and walleye. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reports that walleyes have been hitting harnesses or purple bucktail jigs.

Matt Wilson of Wheatfield had another great weekend both days, catching limits of walleyes on copper or gold-stamped blades. Most of his fish came off the mouth of the river. He employed a 3-way rig with a 1-ounce pencil weight to maintain contact with the bottom, using the current for movement, but when north winds began, he used his trolling motor to provide enough speed to keep the blades moving. He caught fish in 15 to 45 feet of water. Bass fishing has remained steady, too, according to Wilson. He says not to underestimate using blade baits, which took a few of the bigger fish over the weekend.

Upper river action continues to be good for smallmouth bass and occasional walleyes, according to Thure Larson of East Amherst and Jim Williams of Lockport. Crayfish is the bait of choice, working the east river waters to bounce bottom with 3-way rigs. Some fish are being caught around Strawberry Island.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Just when things were getting good again, hard winds out of the north mixed up the water and scattered the fish. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott didn’t know quite how to give a report based on local knowledge. After a tough day of fishing on Sunday, Monday saw a smorgasbord of information – from struggling action to some very good days. You will find the most stable water out deep.

With the Lake Ontario Counties Fall Derby ( and the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby ( starting Friday, it will be a battle for who catches the big fish in the contests. Good luck to the women's teams competing in the Reelin’ for a Cure contest.

Just prior to the winds, there were some decent reports. Capt. Rich Brant of North Tonawanda reported some good brown trout action west of Wilson while practicing with his all-women’s team set to compete in the Reelin’ for a Cure cancer fund raiser. While targeting 50 feet of water west of Wilson using spoons, they had one fish hit 35 feet down on a Michigan Stinger Pickle Seed Spoon 50 feet behind the downrigger ball. The lucky lady grabbing the rod was Brant’s stepmom, Francine Alberson, of Tonawanda. She ended up reeling in the fish of a lifetime, a 27-pound brown trout. They caught eight other browns, but nothing of that magnitude.

John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda was fishing much deeper off Wilson, hitting the 34 North line. Taking his cousin Denise Young of Tonawanda, she caught her first salmon, a 24-pounder. They caught a mix of kings and steelhead 30 to 60 feet down, all on spoons.

Out of Olcott, Capt. Jim Gordon of Appleton reports the best bite has been out deep from the 26 line to the 34 North line all down the lake, again in the top 60 feet of water. It has been a mixed bag of big cohos, steelies and kings. Best colors have been orange, and silver NK spoons on sliders; Carbon 14, and Waddlers on the bottom. Run your riggers 30, 50, and 60 feet down, just as Van Hoff did.

Out of the Oak at Point Breeze, Capt. Bob Stevens of Medina reports that fishing has been spotty. Fishing inshore has produced a ton of smaller salmon with a few mature kings mixed in. Fishing offshore has been the same, with pods of fish that are moving. The current average is four to eight fish a day. His approach has been to fish in close, targeting 80 to 150 feet of water with spoons and flasher-flies first thing in the morning and then slide into deeper waters later in the day. Best depth for Stevens has been in the top 70 to 100 feet of water. His divers have been working 180 to 250 feet back.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye fishing is still slow but picked up from a few weeks ago according to Capt. Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Trolling crankbaits on both basins and covering water is a good tactic. Getting cranks near the bottom on the south basin is a must. Trolling around schools of bait on the north basin will pick up fish. Trolling 15 to 20 feet down over 25- to 30-foot depths is a good baseline up north.

Slow trolling worm harnesses along weed edges on the north basin is picking up some fish. Bring plenty of nightcrawlers says Sperry. The musky bite is tough, but fish are being landed both casting and trolling. Pick your tactic. Casting deep diving crankbaits like Depth Raiders, Triple D’s, and the like along the weed lines on the north basin is good from now through the fall. Trolling the south basin is the best approach on that end. The south basin is still green so it’s tough to see follows when casting. There is much clearer water from Long Point north.

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