The walleye bite has been best from shortly before sunset to dawn near weedlines. Trolling with worm harnesses and stickbaits, casting stickbaits and jigging with shiners have all produced walleye catches. The crappie bite has been spotty, but some decent catches have come from depths of 8-10 feet in the bays on small minnows. Yellow perch are available around the lake at depths of 5-10 feet of water. Shallow areas around docks are a good bet for largemouth bass. As a reminder, bass fishing is by catch and release only with artificial lures only until the third Saturday in June. Muskellunge season on Chautauqua began Saturday.
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBS
The nighttime bite has been good in the nearshore shallows of Lake Erie. Focus on spawning shoals in 8-15 feet of water. Trolling or casting stickbaits works well. In areas where walleye are more heavily congregated, there will likely be a pack of boats to deal with. Anglers also have good chances to catch walleye away from the pack. Walleye are available during the daytime, too. Target depths of 20-35 feet of water off/near the popular nighttime spots and off the windmills. Try trolling, bottom bouncing or vertical jigging. The most consistent yellow perch fishing remains east of Cattaraugus Creek in 50-60 feet of water. Perch schools are moving around, so expect to do a little searching.
Dunkirk and Barcelona Harbors are catching good numbers of smallmouth bass. Water temperatures are still relatively cool in the outer Buffalo Harbor, so bass fishing is slower there.
Cattaraugus Creek is in great fishing shape, with a current flow of 433 cubic feet per second. The other Lake Erie tributaries have slightly lower and clear conditions. It is prime time for smallmouth bass fishing in tributaries. Woolly buggers and streamers are good bets for fly anglers, and spinning anglers do well with stickbaits, minnows and jigs with grubs or plastics fished under a float. The lower section of Cattaraugus Creek is a good spot to target channel catfish. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers or raw shrimp fished on the bottom works well, especially at night. The deeper holes down low in the other creeks may hold catfish as well. Anglers can also catch catfish along the Lake Erie shoreline on calm nights, especially near stream inlets.
LAKE ONTARIO AND TRIBS
Salmon and trout fishing in Lake Ontario off the shores of Niagara County continues to be good to very good, despite the announcement that the lake is once again in a state of emergency as far as high-water levels. Lake Ontario is open for business. The Town of Newfane Marina is in the best shape for boat launchers. You don’t even have to get your feet wet. Wilson-Tuscarora and Fort Niagara state parks have their launch ramps open, but bring a pair of boots and have at least two people for a safe launch. As far as the fishing, Capt. Pete Alex of Vision Quest reports that lake trout abound in 55- to 90-foot depths from the Niagara Bar to 30 Mile Point. For the Wilson Harbor Invitational last weekend, many of the top-10 teams fished from Olcott to Point Breeze. Last Sunday, they fished between Wilson and Olcott in 220 to 260 feet of water and did well on all year classes of kings. Fish were scattered from 40 to 140 feet down. They ran spoons in the top 60 feet, flasher-fly combos and cut bait below that.
LOWER NIAGARA RIVER
In the Lower Niagara River, it’s been a mixed bag of fish as the waters slowly start to warm. Wade Rowcliffe of Rochester hit the lower river from shore in the gorge and managed to catch some smallmouth bass and trout in the past week. Stickbaits like the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow in black and silver was working great. Boaters are still picking up steelhead trout, the occasional lake trout and numerous smallmouth bass. Live bait, like shiners or egg sacs, work well for trout, while bass prefer tube jigs, Rage Swimmers or other type of swim baits.