Walleye catches are on the rise in the deeper, center section of the south basin. The better walleye bite in the north basin is still along weed edges. Muskellunge fishing has been a little slow, with most catches still coming along weedlines on large stickbaits. Largemouth bass are available inside 10 feet of water around weed beds and docks. Top water lures, weedless rigged power worms and wacky rigged senkos work well for bucket-mouths. Target smallmouth bass outside deep weed edges and around rocky structure on the bottom. Live minnows, crayfish and plastic creature baits work well.
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBUTARIES
The recent Lake Erie walleye bite has been excellent, with anglers reporting good catches in multiple locations. Plenty of limit catches have been reported by trollers out of Barcelona who are working depths of 50-70 feet of water with gear run between 30 feet down to just off the bottom. Worm harnesses have outperformed stickbaits. Barcelona anglers are also catching many short walleye and the occasional incidental jumbo perch. The walleye bite has also been good from Cattaraugus Creek to west of Dunkirk with 65 feet as the most mentioned depth. Gear run 40-55 down is a good bet. Action off Sturgeon Point has been spotty. Buffalo anglers are seeing decent walleye catches between 40-60 feet of water. Trolling and bottom bouncing have both been productive.
Anglers are seeing decent smallmouth bass action in 25 to 40 feet of water around rocky structure. Good spots to try include Seneca Shoal, Myers Reef, Evans Bar and Van Buren Reef. A drop-shot rig with tubes, plastics or crayfish works well when fishing deeper waters.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
Some walleye are still showing between the head of the river and Strawberry Island, but smallmouth bass catches are more numerous in that area. Anglers can also find smallmouth bass around Motor Island and along the west side of Grand Island.
LAKE ONTARIO AND TRIBUTARIES
Water levels are continuing to come down in Lake Ontario to the delight of boaters and landowners. However, the water levels have not had any effect on the fishing in the lake. Salmon fishing continues to be very good out on the Niagara Bar, as well as out of Wilson and Olcott. Salmon action just off the drop on the Bar continues to be excellent. Spin doctors and flies are near the top of the list for preferred baits; a flasher and meat rig with cut bait is another. Some fish are being caught on spoons, too, but they seem to be third on the list. The new A-Tom-Mik stud fly has been mentioned quite a bit by trollers in the lake. Niagara Falls USA waters are still at the top of the Lake Ontario stage for the Summer LOC Derby that is going on through July 30.
LOWER NIAGARA RIVER
Fishing action on the Lower River has been good and the moss has not been as much of a factor as in previous years for some reason. Shoreline casting with 2-inch pearl tubes was working for Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls this week, catching double digit bass and even a 9-pound steelhead. Boaters are still doing well on bass by casting the shoreline with spinnerbaits or working shiners or crayfish off three-way rigs. On July 17, the Devil’s Hole State Park stairs and trail will be shut down until the spring of 2018 for reconstruction and repairs. There are still plenty of other access points to get you into the gorge, but this trail is one of the more popular ones. Alternative access can be gained through the New York Power Authority’s South Access Road where a fishing platform and a stairs to the shoreline is available from April 1 to Dec. 1.