By BILL HILTS
Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
The New York State Free Fishing Days are here this weekend and everyone should be taking advantage of these special days. Whether it’s to tie into special events like the kids derby in Olcott on Saturday or the Gateway Harbor Hooked on Fishing Tournament in North Tonawanda both days, this is a perfect opportunity to wet a line and cast for some big prizes. If a fishing contest isn’t up your alley, then just go out and sample the local waters for a long list of fish species. If you have a license and are always looking to find someone to fish with, this is a great way to take a neighbor, friend or relative. While kids under 16 do not need a license, it’s still a perfect excuse to teach the next generation of anglers some tips of the trade.
On Lake Ontario, the summer LOC Derby is going on and several leading fish were caught this past week. Most noteable was the 27-pound, 12-ounce king salmon caught by Woodrow Bussenger of Barker to take of the division lead and Steve Klejdys of North Tonawanda to take over second place in the lake trout division with a Niagara Bar 30-pound, seven ounce fish – and those were from last Saturday. Check out www.loc.org for a current leaderboard. The lake fishing has been a bit tough, but normal in this June transition time. Better fishing should be just around the corner. The deadline for signing up online for the Oswego Pro-Am is June 30 at midnight.
Overall, fishing has been tough – typical for June as it goes through its transition. Best waters have been 80 to 150 and 350 to 450 as far as feet of water. Smaller fish are being caught in the top 50 feet; mature kings a bit deeper. Spoons and flasher-fly. A few browns have been caught off the Olcott piers early in the morning as they come in and feed on shiners. Cast spoons. In the harbors of Wilson and Olcott, bass, pike and a few panfish are being caught.
2. Lower Niagara River
Moss is still a problem and not too much fishing is taking place. Bass are available, but you have to work for them. Some silver bass are still being caught off the NYPA fishing platform.
3. Upper Niagara River
This weekend is the Hooked on the Tonawandas Fishing Tournament out of Gateway Park. For all the details, check out www.fishgatewayharbor.net or call 628-1247. The 22nd Annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby July 3 to 14 – that’s this coming week! The derby is an excellent vehicle to get the entire family out fishing and there’s plenty of shoreline access to take advantage of. If you have a boat – even a canoe or a kayak – it will open new areas for casting or drifting live bait. Check out the website at www.eriecanalderby.com for all the details. With over $20,000 in prizes and an additional $10,000 possible in tagged fish, the odds are good to catch a winning fish in the bass, walleye, pike, bullhead, carp, sheepshead or catfish categories. Moss is still posing problems for trollers, casters and drifters, but a few fish are being caught at Broderick Park, Ontario Street and Squaw Island.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
A decent walleye bite continues around the lake. Ed Belbas of North Tonawanda reported good success off the windmills on worm harnesses in 35 feet of water earlier this week. Anglers have been doing well from the windmills to Myers reef in 30 to 40 feet of water on worm harnesses and stickbaits. Perch fishing has been a bit sporadic off Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek, but if you can find the schools between 50 and 65 feet of water you can do well using emerald shiners or small minnows. Smallmouth bass fishing is steady in 20 to 35 feet of water wherever you can find structure.
5. Chautauqua Lake
Bass action continues to be good all around the lake for both smallmouth and largemouth. Target waters inside of 10 feet with tube jigs, stickbaits, spinnerbaits and a variety of plastics. Crayfish are also hot, as are minnows and shiners. Leeches will also work. Walleye are hitting stickbaits and worm harnesses under low light conditions along weed edges. Upper Dewittville Bay is a good place to try.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters
Lake Alice-Glenwood Lake
In the 3rd Annual Glenwood Lake Carp Derby last weekend, Gary Ettinger was the winner of catching the most, 51, and Bob Brown catching the biggest at 6.2 pounds. In the Youth Division, Elexa Taylor, age 9, caught a 3.9 pound Carp and Mickey Boccacci, age 11, caught 11 Carp. Lake Alice is seeing some good bluegill and crappie action. Bass are also being caught regularly.Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at email@example.com.