Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario & tributaries
It’s been a strange year so far out on Lake Ontario and things are finally starting to settle in with a bit more consistent angling action. Just ask Pat Comerford of East Aurora. Fishing in the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby on Monday aboard his boat “Sandman,” with friend Darryl Day of St. Catharines, they managed to catch not one but two leading fish in the contest — a 36-pound, 5-ounce king salmon to take over the lead for the $10,000 Grand Prize AND a 33-pound, 7-ounce king salmon — reeled in by Day — to take over the lead in the Salmon Division. They weighed in their fish at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston.
Carol Comerford, Pat’s wife, is currently leading the Rainbow/Steelhead Division with a 15-pound, 9-ounce fish reeled in off Wilson. To add to the week’s stellar catches, Ed Klejdys of North Tonawanda did the impossible — taking over the lead in the Lake Trout Division — with a 32-pound, 4-ounce monster from the Niagara Bar last Sunday, overtaking the 31-pound, 11-ounce fish that was caught by Darrin LaChance in June. Some impressive fish have come to the scales for sure and the derby continues until July 28.
Capt. Jim Gordon of Appleton reports some very good fishing off Olcott the past week, especially for City of Lockport Treasurer Mike White and some of his fishing buddies. They reeled in salmon up to 24 pounds over the weekend. According to Gordon, the best action was in 100 to 200 feet of water for a mix of salmon and trout, Steelhead and the occasional brown trout were hitting spoons up high, while king salmon were down deeper with flasher-fly. When the winds changed out of the west, moss became a problem, so they headed out to the 25 to 27 line. Earlier in the week, it was Capt. Jim Taylor fishing out of the “Hawg” to register 30 hookups for the day, a great effort on the water.
Wilson and Olcott harbors are still doing well on a mix of bass, pike and panfish. A King of the Oak one-day contest will be held out of Point Breeze on July 13. Contact Mike Waterhouse at 585-589-3103 for more details.
2. Lower Niagara River
Lower River action (below Niagara Falls) has slowly started to clean up of moss and as a result the bass fishing has started to pick back up again. Live bait like crayfish or shiners will work, as will tube jigs. Shoreline anglers can also cast twistertails in the gorge for bass up to the whirlpool. If you are into bass fishing, mark your calendar down for July 27 when the Niagara River Anglers Association will be hosting its annual smallmouth bass contest. Check out www.niagarariveranglers.com for details.
A word of caution if you venture across the International Boundary into Canadian waters: make sure you call into the Canadian Border Services Agency.
3. Upper Niagara River
Let’s not forget the Erie Canal Derby either, going on right now until July 14. In the 23rd annual contest, the leaders going into the weekend are a 4-pound bass, a 6-plus-pound walleye, a 5-pound pike, a 2-pound bullhead, a 9-pound catfish, a 25-plus pound carp and a 71/2-pound sheepshead. In addition, three tagged fish have also been caught. The awards ceremony to determine the grand prize winner for the boat, motor and trailer will be held next Sunday, July 21 at the Gasport Fire Hall at 3 p.m.
In the meantime, bass fishing has been hot in the upper river, according to Lyndon Hilts of Gasport. Fishing around Strawberry Island with Tim Scanlan of San Diego (formerly of Lockport), they managed to hit numerous bass on tubes and a variety of other artificial lures. Crayfish is also a good bait for bass right now. Broderick Park is a good spot for perch, but many of those fish have been smaller.
4. Lake Erie & tributaries
Walleye fishing continues to be hot, according to Capt. Larry Balch of Ransomville. He’s been enjoying some great success around the departure buoy off Buffalo in 35 to 45 feet of water using worm harnesses. Blade color doesn’t seem to matter, but speed does. He’s been keeping his troll around 1.1 to 1.3 miles per hours but varying a little. He’ll never go over 2.
You can also do well off Sturgeon Point in 55-65 feet of water. Yellow perch action is still available between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 50-65 feet of water with shiners the best bait. Bass are starting to move a little deeper with the warmer waters. Crayfish, minnows, tubes and drop shot rigs all the top the list of preferred enticements. Start in 25 feet of water around structure and move deeper.
5. Chautauqua Lake
Walleye anglers are still doing well with worm harnesses trolled along weed edges. Focus in the north basin near the Chautauqua Bell Tower and in Dewittville Bay. In the south basin, try your luck near Cheney Point. Largemouth bass fishing has been decent inside the weed edges in 10 feet of water according to Craig Robbins of Jamestown. Top water lures, weedless-rigged power worms and wacky-rigged senkos are working well. Live minnows, crayfish and plastic grubs have produced decent smallmouth bass catches outside weed edges. For musky, work the weed edges by casting large stickbaits and bucktail jigs. You can also troll with Hot N’ Tots, bucktail spinners or large stickbaits.
6. Finger lakes & Inland Waters
Seneca Lake: Fishing picked up this past week for lake trout in the 40 to 70 foot depth range over 90 feet of water. Spoons or flasher-flies were working for trollers consistently. Vertical jiggers were also taking fish 50 to 135 feet down with plastics.
Cayuga Lake – Trollers are picking up lake trout with spoons or flasher-fly 70 to 90 feet down over 100 to 150 feet of water. Vertical jigging is also working in 70 to 90 feet of water with plastics on the bottom. Some Atlantic salmon are being reported by spoon trollers in the top 40 feet of water. If you are looking for bass and panfish, target the northern section of the lake. The Mud Lock on the northern end of the lake is now closed to fishing due to abuse, litter and safety concerns.Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at billhiltsjr@ gmail.com.