By Bill Hilts Jr.
Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
The fishing action in the lake continues to be a bit inconsistent because of the weather patterns that we have been experiencing, especially relating to the east-northeast winds. However, those northeast winds usually spell good news for the Niagara Bar when things settle down.
Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown has reported good action on the bar, but he has been moving around a bit to find his fish. Last weekend he found his fish just off the bar drop off in 175 to 200 feet of water, fishing flasher-fly 100 feet down on the riggers and 300 back on the divers.
Steelhead have been in 280-300 feet of water in the top 50 feet on spoons. Brown trout have been cooperating on the ledge in 85 feet of water on the bottom. Lake trout are also available. Look for decent action around the drop off or just off of it this weekend. Off Wilson and Olcott, the more stable water has been out deep in the 450- to 550-foot range.
A mix of steelhead, cohos and kings can be found in the top 60 feet of water on spoons according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Kings are down a bit deeper, below 80 feet with flasher and fly. Some mature kings were found inside of 80 feet and beyond 200 feet, but water is mixed up from the recent storms and wind.
No major changes with the LOC Derby for salmon and trout other than a new brown leader at 20 pounds, 1 ounce caught by Eric Burger of Baldwinsville while fishing out of Sodus. The summer derby ends at 1 p.m. Sunday, followed by the awards ceremony in Sodus Bay starting at 4 p.m. We’ll have a full report next week.
2. Lower Niagara River
The big news is the Niagara River Anglers bass contest set for this Saturday, July 27 out of Lewiston Landing and Fort Niagara State Park. The weigh in will take place out of Lewiston Landing from 1 to 2 p.m.
Check out www.niagarariveranglers.com or stop in to Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. As a result, not too many people are talking about the bass fishing this week. Traditional areas like Devil’s Hole, the Clay Banks, Stella and the Coast Guard are all good drifts to try. A few walleye are being reported on three-way rigs dragging worm harnesses from deeper waters — out to 50-foot depths.
3. Upper Niagara River
Upper river bass action has been good the past week and moss was not a problem at all. Mike George of Niagara Falls and Bill Hilts, Sr. of Sanborn used green floating jig heads with a full nightcrawler to take smallmouth bass in the west river along the Grand Island shoreline. Consistent action held throughout the morning until a southwest breeze kicked off the speed of the drift.
Other good bass areas include the waters between Strawberry Island and Beaver Island State Park, as well as at the head of the river. Live bait or tube jigs will both work well. Musky are available to those willing to put in the time, especially on weed bed fringe areas with large 8-10 inch tubes. Large jerk baits will also catch fish. The 23rd Annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby went off without a hitch this year.
In the end, it was Jason Whitmer of Niagara Falls winning the grand prize of a boat, motor and trailer from Bryce Marine. The Grand Prize winner is selected at the awards ceremony when all the first-place division winners are placed into a hat and the lucky winner is drawn. Whitmer earned his chance by weighing in the top bullhead: a 1.88 pound fish.
This year, the other category leaders vying for the big prize were Shawn Krull of North Tonawanda with a 4.44 pound bass, Tyler Caltagirone of Lockport with a 6.65 pound walleye, Duane Brosius of North Tonawanda with a 5.46 pound pike, Codie Thomas of Grand Island with a 17.97 pound catfish, Joe Henneberger of Tonawanda with a 25.71 pound carp and Jacob Velesko of Middleport with a 12.86 pound sheepshead.
There were also three tagged fish caught in the popular canal contest. In the Kids Division, it was Kaevon Rollins of Buffalo with the top bass at 3.52 pounds, Haylee Brosius from North Tonawanda with a 2.73 pound northern pike, Adam Dinardo of North Tonawanda with a 1.5 pound bullhead, Sara Caltagirone of Lockport with a 7.75 pound catfish, Colby Lawrence of Sanborn with a 20.51 pound carp and Timothy Drake with a 6.41 pound sheepshead.
Winner of the new Grand Prize bike was Colby Lawrence in a special youth Grand Prize drawing.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
Walleye fishing continues to be outstanding off of Buffalo, especially near the international line in 50 feet of water. Roy Larson of North Tonawanda and Mike George of Niagara Falls have been doing very well trolling slowly outside of the departure buoy and beyond to the west toward Sturgeon Point, locating the larger schools of fish. Limit catches have been the norm.
Fish can also be found in shallower and deeper waters, with stickbaits a secondary option for fish. You will catch other species of fish like white bass and sheepshead. The Larson/George duo caught a dozen sheepshead their last trip out before they caught a walleye. Once they moved into the yellows, though, they had their limit in a couple of hours.
Bass fishing has also been good in the lake and the best action has come from deeper water like 25 to 45 foot depths with tube jigs, drop shot rigs and live bait like soft shelled crabs.
5. Chautauqua Lake
Decent walleye action is still being reported along the weed edges around 15 feet of water. This past week, some good reports came in around the Bell Tower and Prendergast Point. To the south, the stretch of lake from Cheney Point to Ashville Bay has also been good. Worm harnesses, stickbaits or jigs tipped with a crawler are all working.
Bass fishing has improved for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Those same fringe areas along the weeds are good places to target with top water baits, power worms and wacky-rigged Senkos. Live bait like minnows, shiners or crayfish are good bets, too. Musky fishing has been slow.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters
Oneida Lake – The best action has been for walleye according to recent reports. Fish continue to be taken in depths from 10 to 30 feet, but the best fishing has been in 20- to 30-foot depths just west of Shackleton Shoals. Blade baits, black and purple jigs tipped with a crawler or spinner-worm rigs are the top three baits — not necessarily in that order. Bass fishing has also been good around rocky points. One of the best spots has been in Big Bay. Tube jigs and live bait lead the way for best baits.
Lake Alice – Mike Waterhouse reports good panfish action all around the lake, especially for bluegills.
Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.