The Con Club Walleye Tournament was held last weekend and the Orleans County Rotary Derby is underway on Lake Ontario. There's plenty to keep you busy for the entire month.
The salmon fishing is remaining a constant on the lake for trollers. According to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott, salmon have started to show the early signs of staging with mature kings available in 80 to 150 feet of water during the morning, even closer than that with J-plugs, meat and flasher-fly before the sun comes up. Out deep, it's been easy picking for a mix of salmon and trout. Scott Rohe of Cheektowaga hit the water Sunday with Mike Erdt of Williamsville and they went 8 for 11 on kings with the biggest being a 23.4 pound salmon that hit a flasher-fly combo. There was no specific pattern as they hit fish on the riggers at 45-55-65 feet and off the divers 120 and 220 feet back. Spoons, flasher-flies and cut bait all caught fish.
There were 100 teams fishing in the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club 3-day tournament last weekend and some impressive fish came to the scales. The overall heaviest walleye for the three days was the old veteran Herb Schultz with a 10.31 pound walleye. Overall heaviest weight for three days of fishing was the team led by Gregg Marzec and the G-Man team with a total of 59.27 pounds - 5 pounds more than the runnerup Thomas Stawatycki and his crew. There are daily winners, too. Go on the club's Facebook page for all of the results. Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga and his Forever Fishing team placed third overall on Friday and Saturday and ended up in the top 10 overall for a good showing. They fished out of Sturgeon Point for their fish in 56 feet of water using 3 to 7 colors of lead core line and Bomber stickbaits. The best color pattern was Northern Lights. To give you an idea how good the fishing was, they caught 50-60 fish each day on the water.
Bass fishing was tough over the weekend for the 13th Annual Bass Derby run by Independent Living of Niagara County at Lewiston. George Rohr, fishing with Capt. Arnie Jonathan of Lockport, reeled in the first place bass with 15 minutes to spare, a 3.72 pound smallmouth that hit a crayfish. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls hit the Artpark shoreline for some action and he managed to catch 5 bass using 2-inch tubes in 2 hours of fishing. It won't be long before the first salmon make it up the river and test the waters.
Bill Hilts Jr. is a past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Hilts is an avid outdoorsman, an outdoor writer who has contributed articles to numerous national and local magazines, newspapers, and other publications. Hilts is also responsible for Niagara County Tourism Sportfishing Programs. He freelances from his home in Sanborn N.Y. Hilts was inducted in the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame in the Spring of 2007!
Smallmouth bass are available throughout the upper river. Good spots to try include the head of the river, head of Strawberry Island, east side of Strawberry and Motor Islands and in the west river along Beaver Island State Park and Staley's Reef. A 3-way rig with softshell crayfish works well. Anglers can target muskellunge along weed edges and bottom structure with large tube jigs or stickbaits.
In the lower river, boaters are picking up a few walleye in the vicinity of the Stella drift. Walleye generally show from mid-river down to the Niagara Bar in late summer. Drifting with a bottom bouncing rig and worm harness or yellow sally rig (with worm) are traditional lower river walleye tactics. Smallmouth bass fishing slowed a bit, but bass are still available from Devils Hole down to the bar
It has been a banner year for king salmon fishing on Lake Ontario, and the bite remains hot off Niagara and Orleans Counties. Mature kings are starting to show in near shore areas of 60-150 feet at dawn, and as the sun climbs in the sky, consistent salmon action slides out to depths over 200 feet. Large spoons, flasher-fly combos and meat rigs are all working well for king salmon right now. Fishing in the deep water zone of 400 feet plus has also been very good. Lures run 40-70 feet down are producing a mix of large steelhead and king salmon of mixed sizes.
The walleye bite has been quite good from Sturgeon Point to the PA line. Out of those ports, most walleye seem to be suspended between 15-35 feet below the surface. Sturgeon Point trollers report good walleye numbers to the west in 55-62 feet of water. Off Cattaraugus Creek, depths of 50-75 feet have been productive, with better numbers at the deeper end of that depth range. You don't have to travel far to get into fish off Barcelona at present, where anglers report a good bite starting in 45 feet of water. You'll find walleye between 45-80 feet of water, with fish suspended about 15 feet down at the shallow end and around 30-35 feet down at the deeper end. The bite off Buffalo has slowed a bit, but there are still decent numbers of fish along the international line in 45-55 feet of water. Unlike the other locations, walleye are closer to the bottom off Buffalo.
Lake trout are certainly an underutilized species in Lake Erie, however August is a great time to fish for them. Best to target lakers below the thermocline, where water temperatures are around 50 degrees. Numbers are generally best in 80-115 feet of water from Dunkirk to the PA line. Downriggers with spoons run near the bottom is most productive.
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