By BILL HILTS, JR.
Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
The Niagara County version of the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament is next weekend out of the ports of Wilson and Olcott, June 1-2. The deadline is past for the Classic and Trophy Divisions and a chance for 100-percent cash payback. It will certainly be exciting for this 29th annual event. In the meantime, the Recreational Open Division, which has few rules and no observer, offers another skill set of anglers to compete in a tournament event, but only for three fish each day – Saturday and Sunday. The deadline is Monday, Memorial Day at 5 p.m. Drop your registration off at the Niagara Tourism Visitor Center at 10 Rainbow Blvd. in Niagara Falls or at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott.
As a precursor to the Pro-Am weekend, the Don Johannes and Pete DeAngelo Memorial contests are set for May 31, a combined three-fish, one-fish event that will have teams compete for the best three-fish catch and the biggest fish overall – salmon and trout. Weigh-in will take place at Clark’s Park in Wilson starting at 3 p.m. when all competitors must be in line. Sign up at The Slippery Sinker or the Boat Doctors in Olcott or the Gas Shack in Wilson by 7 a.m. on the morning of the event. You don’t have to be fishing the Pro-Am to compete in this fund contest.
Fishing in the lake has been spotty and even if it was good, we wouldn’t hear about it from the captains fishing the Pro-Am tournament. This is when it really gets interesting. Lake Ontario flipped over on Tuesday and cold water was everywhere. Seek out any place where there’s warm water … like the Niagara Bar where the warmer Lake Erie waters are flowing out of the Niagara River. Capt. Matt Yablonsky had four days of limit catches – primarily on spoons – before the lake flipped. Some days you can catch fish 40 feet down; other days you need to fish 140 feet down. The Burt Hotel will be holding an opening day Bass Contest – smallmouth and/or largemouth – on June 15 for interested bassers. Stop in to sign up.
2. Lower Niagara River
In the lower Niagara River, Don Dziedzina of Chicago came in and did a television show with Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown last Monday. It was an impressive day as they boated no less than six species of fish including lake trout, steelhead, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, sheepshead and silver bass. Dandy Don had one fish on for more than a half hour that we guessed was a big old sturgeon. Speaking of silver bass, quite a few were being caught off the NYPA Fishing Platform this week. Use jigs tipped with twister tails or an emerald shiner. Emerald shiners were working from boats fished off three-way rigs.
3. Upper Niagara River
Yellow and white perch continue to cooperate in places like Broderick Park, Squaw Island and Ontario Street. Some walleye are also being caught at Broderick Park. Use minnows on the bottom. Catch and release bass fishing is also taking place in many marinas, harbors and streams or creeks. Remember that you must use artificial baits. You will also catch a mix of panfish in those same areas on emerald shiners. Remember that the Wagon Wheel Restaurant will be holding their opening day smallmouth bass fishing contest on June 15 once again. Sign up at the restaurant located on Niagara Falls Blvd at 72nd Street in Niagara Falls.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
Perch should be back snapping again between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 45 to 55 feet of water. Walleye fishing continues to be slow for night trallers, but as water temperatures increase, the fishing should get better with stickbaits or worm harnesses. Channel cats have moved into some of the lower sections of creeks like Cattaraugus and Eighteen Mile Creek. The best fishing has been for bass and they are spread around any kind of bottom structure – 10 to 30 foot depths. This past week, anglers were catching bass on live bait (they can for the early trophy season on Lake Erie), jerk baits, tubes and spinnerbaits. Fish up to six pound were reported this week.
5. Chautauqua Lake
Walleye trollers are picking up a few fish under low light conditions (dawn and dusk) with orange and yellow worm harnesses. Work the weed edges in Dewittville Bay. A few are also being caught in Bemus and Burtis bays. In the early catch and release bass season, some big fish are being caught off Warners Bar in 12 to 18 feet of water on a four inch plastic worm in black and purple. Some bigger crappie are being reeled in from Lakewood Bar. Fish the morning with a slip bobber, 1/32 ounce jig head and a minnow. Start in 10 feet of water.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters
Letchworth State Park – The first instruction event of the year for the kids will be taking place this weekend at Letchworth State Park on Saturday, May 25 with the annual Learn to Fish Picnic from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To find out more information for this free event, contact the park at 585-493-3600.
Lake Alice – Bluegill fishing has been improving according to Mike Waterhouse. Crappie fishing remains slow but a few fish have been caught.Bill Hilts Jr. is the outdoor sports specialist with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.