Trolling along weed edges remains the most productive tactic for walleye. However, anglers are also picking up some walleye by vertical jigging on steep drop-offs in 15-25 feet of water. Largemouth bass are biting well in and around weed beds and docks. Wacky, Texas and Carolina rigged plastics work well when fishing the weeds. Bass are also hitting surface lures run over the weeds. Trolling with large stickbaits along weed edges is still the best bet for muskellunge, however, some trollers are also catching suspended musky over deeper waters
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBS
No matter which basin — eastern or western — the walleye fishing on Lake Erie has been the best of any in recent memory. Full creels were the norm off Buffalo Harbor in 40-50 feet of water along the international line. Anglers were catching fewer shorts and better numbers of 3-5 pound walleye. Stickbaits and worm harnesses run in the bottom 15 feet work well near Buffalo. West of Sturgeon Point, better numbers of walleye are suspended. From Cattaraugus Creek to west of Dunkirk, anglers report good action in 55-65 feet of water on lures run 30-40 feet down. For many out of Barcelona it has not been a matter of if they get a limit, but how fast they get it. Anglers report heavy numbers of fish suspended 30 feet down over depths of 55-70 feet.
While walleye has been the king so far this season, anglers are catching some incidental yellow perch of Sturgeon Point and Dunkirk. Smallmouth bass fishing was previously good on deeper shoals in 25 to 40 feet of water. A drop-shot rig with tubes, plastics, crayfish or shiners works well.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
Smallmouth bass fishing in the upper river has been fair for most anglers, with some very good catches mixed in. Traditionally productive spots include around Strawberry and Motor Islands and along the west side of Grand Island. Boaters often target smallmouth bass outside weedlines, often over rocky or gravel bottom. Live crayfish or shiners work well.
Line fouling “moss” has been a problem for lower river anglers. Casting lures tends to pick up algae on every cast. Drifting live bait has worked better for smallmouth bass and white bass, and picks up less moss.
LOWER NIAGARA RIVER
In the Niagara River, action has been slowed by the excessive moss. Live bait, like shiners and worm harnesses, can still produce some fish like bass and walleye, but you really have to work for them.
Scott Rohe of Cheektowaga did well off Olcott in 200 to 300 feet of water. His best rigger was 60 feet down, 20 feet behind the ball with a spin doctor and fly. The two face spinny and a stud fly did the trick. His 85 foot rigger also took a couple of fish as did some divers set back 180 feet on a No. 3 setting. A green Pro Troll paddle in front of a green hammer fly was the ticket. His biggest was 22 pounds.
With the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby going on until July 29, your odds of catching a winning fish are better than playing the lottery. Time and time again, possible winning fish are caught by people who did not enter the contest. Steve Nichols and his son, Arri, are the latest victims of fate. They were fishing east of Wilson with Capt. Mike Johannes of On The Rocks Charters over the weekend and Steve reeled in a 27-pound, 3-ounce king salmon on a 400 foot copper rod rigged with a custom painted flasher and meat. Nope, no derby ticket. The leading fish is a 26-pound, 15 ounce Wilson fish hauled in by Scott Foster of North Tonawanda. Of course, that could change this weekend with a flurry of fishing events from LOTSA and the Wilson Bicentennial contest. Bob Migra of Lorain, Ohio heard about the good king fishing and decided to give it a try. Most of their fish were 15 to 26 pounds. Yes, 26 pounds. No, they weren’t in the derby. The 26-pounder was caught in the afternoon in 140 feet of water just east of Wilson. They also caught steelhead over 10 pounds in 400 feet of water. In the meantime, Capt. Joe Gallo of Two Bulls Sportfishing hit the water last weekend outside Wilson in 250 feet of water using a meat rig on a long copper line. His reward was a 26-pound king that is in third place on the LOC board.