Don't forget that the Free Fishing Days of New York will take place this weekend around the state. No license is needed but you do have to follow the fishing regulations in the water that you intend to fish in.

1. Lake Ontario and tributaries

Free fishing days weekend is going on and the top activity for Olcott is the kids fishing derby taking place at the Town of Newfane Marina on Saturday at 8 a.m. Some decent fishing is still being reported in Lake Ontario off of Olcott in 100 to 150 feet of water. A mix of salmon and trout was being caught on spoons and flasher/fly combos by Capt. Eric Bickel of Burt. Fifty degrees was found down 80 feet. A fishing tournament is being sponsored by the Boat Doctors and the Slipper Sinker on July 1. Stop in to either spot to sign up. You can also check out the website.

2. Lower Niagara River

Moss has become a major problem and is impacting all kinds of fishing activities. In the opening day bass tournament sponsored by the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Niagara Falls, Andy Hastings of Youngstown was the big winner with two fish weighing in a 9.86 pounds. Second place was Dan Hudson with 9.85 pounds and he also had big fish for the day, a 5.46-pound smallmouth bass. Both anglers were fishing off Sturgeon Point in Lake Erie with live bait. Third place went to Smokey Kowaleski with two fish weighing 9.41 pounds. He was using Kwikfish and chubs off Hamburg. There were 86 anglers in this year's contest. Night walleye fishing has also been hampered by the moss off the Lewiston Landing area. Speaking of walleye, don't forget about the big Masters Walleye Circuit event slated for Youngstown July 21-22. Check out their website at for details.

3. Upper Niagara River

Moss has been a problem there, too. Reports indicated a bit less moss in the east river rather than the west. At least that's from musky trollers. A few musky have been caught but it's been a bit slow for most. As far as bass, both large and smallmouth action has been decent when you can find spots out of the moss, such as around Bluewater Marina. The Province of Ontario bass season opens Saturday (tomorrow) and that will open up some new areas for anglers. There have been some reports of northern pike hitting around some of the marinas by casters using stickbaits like Rapalas and Challengers.

4. Lake Erie and tributaries

Smallmouth bass action has been good to very good. Best baits have been live baits like shiners and minnows, tube jigs and spinnerbaits. Tubes have actually out-produced live bait at times according to Capt. Frank Campbell who's been doing some pre-fishing for the big BASS Elite Tournament scheduled for July 16-21. Meyers Reef, Seneca Shoal and areas around Buffalo have been producing some nice fish. Best color tubes have been dark colors like brown, melon pepper and goby. There's also been a good mix of walleyes with the bass. When you get out a little deeper, outside of 35 feet, you'll also pick up some perch. Speaking of bass and walleye, don't forget that the annual Basseye Angling Competition to benefit Cystic Fibrosis is set for July 11-12. It's a fun event that raises some much needed funds for a worthy cause. Call 686-9400 for more details. The perch bite has been good off Cattaraugus in 40-45 foot depths; 50 foot depths toward Sturgeon Point. The best walleye fishing has been good Dunkirk and Barcelona in 45 to 65 foot depths and it continues to improve moving east. The night walleye action has slowed, except off Waverly Shoal in 25-35 foot depths.

5. Chautauqua Lake

Musky action has been good off Camp Chautauqua along the weed edges in 10 feet of water. Try casting black and white Suicks over the weeds and retrieving it back to the boat. Three 44-plus inches were reported by Craig Robbins last weekend. For largemouth bass, try around Burtis Bay with a six-inch pumpkinseed plastic worm, floating the bait down into the weed pockets. There's also an early morning bite for bass at the Mayville flats with top waters like buzz baits. Walleye action has been slow.

6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters

n Honeoye Lake — Lots of bass around for the opener according to Dan Sharp at Honeoye Bait and Tackle. Live bait like shiners and crabs produced fish. Surface baits were also working, such as poppers and jitterbugs over weeds in the evenings. Walleye are still an option early morning and in the evening off places like Log Cabin Point and California Ranch. Use jigs and leeches or worm harnesses. Bluegills are still hitting red worms, wax worms and spikes in the shallows all around the lake.

n Hemlock/Canadice lakes — Bass fishing was good in both lakes for the opening weekend for casters, drifters and trollers. Casting Rapalas or drifting live bait like crabs or shiners were effective on bass.

n Oneida Lake — It was a good bass opener on the lake last weekend. Walleye fishing was also decent in 15 to 40 feet of water. Use dark colored jigs tipped with worms or sonars in perch or firetiger colors. Bullhead are still hitting worms at night from shore.

Bill Hilts Jr. is a past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Contact him at

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