By Craig Robbins
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBUTARIES
The walleye fishing out of Dunkirk Harbor has been slow, with limited walleye reports coming. The upwelling event over a week ago had slowed things down, however the walleye bite has picked back up over the past few days out of Barcelona. Trollers now report decent walleye catches in 60-75 feet of water. Worm harnesses have outproduced stickbaits for suspended walleye in the top 30 feet of the water column.
Perch schools may also be a bit more scattered, so it will likely take some searching. Previously, better catches were found at depths of 60-65 feet of water off Cattaraugus Creek. Live emerald shiners are the best bait, but have been quite scarce lately. Fathead minnows or small golden shiners are the best alternative.
Smallmouth bass will move deeper as lake waters warm. Target structure areas around reefs, rock piles and drop-offs with drop-shot rigs combined with crayfish, minnows, tube jigs or other plastic baits. Depths of around 25 feet are a good starting point, work deeper for larger bronzebacks.
The tributaries are currently running high, muddy and will take a day or more for the small to medium sized streams to drop back to fishable levels. There are still plenty of smallmouth bass around the lower sections of the creeks. Channel catfish are also available in deeper holes in the lower sections of the creeks, especially Cattaraugus Creek. Anglers are catching catfish up to 20 pounds in Cattaraugus Creek. Better numbers have been caught after dark, but anglers are also catching catfish during the day. Nightcrawlers, raw shrimp, chicken livers or cut bait on the bottom work well.
Walleye anglers are still finding the bite good with worm harnesses trolled along weed edges. Catches have been best in the north basin near the Chautauqua Bell Tower and Dewittville Bay, and in the south basin near Ashville Bay and Cheney Point. Largemouth bass fishing has been very good inside the weed edges in 10 feet of water to shoreline structure. 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. Anglers can also work weed edges for musky by casting large stickbaits and bucktail jigs or by trolling bucktail spinners or large stick baits. Deep water musky trollers haven't found a consistent bite in the Northern Basin as of yet.
Middle Cassadaga Lake bass anglers have been finding success in and around the shore line structure such as lily pads and fallen logs. Morning and early evening anglers are finding top water baits such as buzz bait, floating plastic worms and bucktails. During mid-day hours, jig and pig or weighted 4-inch plastic worms Texas rigged in and around the lily pads are the best bet.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
Shore anglers at Broderick Park and along Squaw Island are catching a mix of yellow perch, white perch and white bass on emerald shiners and worms. Anglers fishing the stretch near the Ontario Street boat launch are getting a mix of yellow perch, white perch and rock bass. Anglers are catching smallmouth bass from the head of the river to down past Strawberry Island. Bass fishing in the upper river (north of Peace Bridge) is by catch and release only, artificial lures only until June 15th. The harbors, marinas and inlets are good spots to target panfish and largemouth bass.