Fishing action has been great all the way around - Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, the tributaries and even some of the inland lakes. Add in the fact that the inland muskellunge opener occurs this Saturday and places like Chautauqua Lake will have a new option to include in a long list of choices going into a holiday weekend.
After a crazy couple of weeks of salmon fishing on the lake, things slowed down a little bit as the waters need to set back up again following a northeast blow. Most consistent action has been to the northeast of Wilson and Olcott in 250-plus feet of water. Capt. Mike Johannes of On The Rocks Charters, coming off a second-place finish in the Wilson Harbor Invitational tournament last weekend, reported he had to go a bit deeper on Tuesday morning. His best rigger was set at 80 feet down, divers were back 150 and he was hitting fish with 200 feet of copper wire out, too. Best baits were a sea-sick waddler and a 2-face. Everything was magnum size.
Lower river trout and bass action continues to be good for boaters. Using three-way rigs, bounce bottom with minnows to take steelhead or lake trout. Lakers up to 17 pounds were reported this past week. Bass are hitting swimbaits and tubes. White and silver jigs will work off the NYPA fishing platform for trout and bass. Silver bass were hitting along Artpark from shore. The Lewiston Landing area is still producing walleye at night on plastics.
In the upper river, some big rudds have been hitting jigs, bass are all over the place and some walleye were hitting around Unity Island. For smallmouth bass, use tubes or swimbaits around Strawberry or Motor islands.
Perch action has been hit or miss for anglers. The key is to stay on them once you find them. For the Southtowns Walleye Association perch contest competitors, there were mixed reviews. Joe Jemiolo and Anthony Quick, both of Boston, hit the waters off Hamburg near the 40-foot depth mark to take a quick limit of 100 fish using emerald shiners. Jemiolo won the contest with five perch weighing 7.585 pounds and Quick placed eighth with 5.49 pounds of perch.
Bill Hilts Jr. is a past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Hilts is an avid outdoorsman, an outdoor writer who has contributed articles to numerous national and local magazines, newspapers, and other publications. Hilts is also responsible for Niagara County Tourism Sportfishing Programs. He freelances from his home in Sanborn N.Y. Hilts was inducted in the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame in the Spring of 2007!
Free Teach-Me-To-Fish Event: Saturday, June 9th from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Tifft Nature Preserve's Lake Kirsty, 1200 Fuhrman Blvd., Buffalo. At this free fishing event, no fishing license is required to fish. Participants can learn about fish species, fishing techniques and tackle at the education stations. Kids age 15 and under can register to win great fishing prizes in the random drawing. Fishing rods are available to borrow or bring your own. Worms provided for bait. Adult accompaniment is required for all youth participants. Contact the DEC at 716-851-7010.
Shore anglers can catch a variety of warmwater species at sites throughout the upper Niagara River. Catches of bass, yellow perch, white bass, sheepshead and sunfish are common at shore sites in late spring. Keep in mind that black bass fishing in the upper river is by catch and release only, artificial lures only until the regular season opens on third Saturday in June. Some walleye have been showing along Unity Island.
The hot smallmouth bass bite has cooled a bit in the lower river, but anglers are still catching plenty of them on swimbaits and tubes. Steelhead are still available in the upper drifts.
Lake Ontario waters off Niagara County is the place to be, as king salmon action has truly been incredible this past week. From Olcott to the Niagara Bar anglers report steady salmon and trout action. Some boats have picked up double digit catches of king salmon in the 8-20 pound range. Depths of 60-150 feet have been productive with kings coming anywhere from 30 to 90 feet down. Lake trout are seemingly everywhere and there have been plenty of coho salmon mixed in, especially west of Wilson. Kings have been crushing large spoons, but flasher-fly and meat rigs also work well. Brown trout are still available inside 30 feet of water by trolling with medium-sized spoons and stickbaits.
A stiff northeast blow had mixed up nearshore waters and pushed the better salmon bite out to depths of 220-350 feet of water for the past week. Trollers working those depths between Wilson and Olcott report good catches of king salmon with some coho and steelhead mixed in. Major spoon bite going on. For past couple days, boats working depths of 60-100 feet of water have been catching some kings too.
Best walleye action remains at night, where trollers focus on spawning shoals in 8-15 feet of water. In areas where walleye are more heavily congregated, there will likely be a pack of boats to deal with. Anglers also have good chances to catch walleye away from the pack by trolling medium to large stickbaits at around 2 mph. During the day, anglers are picking up walleye in deeper areas of 20-35 feet of water off of spawning shoals. Bottom bouncing with worm harnesses works well. Yellow perch catches have been good for anglers who find and stay on a school. Some full buckets of perch have come from waters off Cattaraugus Creek in 50-57 feet of water, off Evangola in 56-60 feet of water and some have shown off Hamburg in around 40 feet of water. Live emerald shiners can't be beat. Emeralds are showing a little better in the typical dipping spots along the upper Niagara River, harbors and Lake Erie tributaries, but be prepared to work for them.
The steelhead run is about done on all Lake Erie tributaries except Cattaraugus Creek. Anglers continue to catch steelhead on Seneca Lands and below Route 5&20 bridge. Smallmouth bass are now available on all tributaries. Wooly buggers and minnow imitations are good bets for fly anglers, and spinning anglers generally do well with stickbaits, minnows and jigs with grubs or plastics fished under a float.
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