Pumpkins got frosted and shallow mud puddles saw a skin of surface ice Tuesday morning as hunters and anglers set out on early outings.
Winds, rather than sudden chills, have curbed enjoyment of outings so far this fall. When boaters can get out on open waters of the Great Lakes and larger inland lakes, catches can be interesting. So much depends on the arrival of ill or healthy winds each day boaters head out onto area waters.
So much attention has been given to the big lakes through much of the summer and early fall that an update on inland lakes might be helpful in setting up a trip to check out the fall run of panfish, pike and the bass family.
Erie, when breezes allow, can be a perch paradise and the lower Niagara River can deliver. But the broader focus of this update will be good options for inland waters.
Perch put most boats seen on Erie waters now; walleye tries have gone bye.
When waves cooperate, perch numbers can be good at and beyond 60-foot depths off Cattaraugus Creek, said Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving. Miller also noted fish movement up the Catt as far as Gowanda, with everything from spinners and spoons to small, bug flies taking steelies.
Devils Hole has been the central focus for king salmon, said Steve Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait & Tackle in Lewiston. Grabczyk puts the king count at one to six fish per boat trip. “Water temperatures have been high and we’re just now seeing the 60-degree temperatures and cooler that bring kings into the river,” he added.
Boaters and shore anglers have seen a fair number of brown trout hugging the shoreline down current along Artpark and closer to the river mouth.
The bass bite continues close to the river mouth and out on the Niagara Bar.
• Chautauqua Lake — The walleye bite has improved, with a few nice keepers (measuring at and over 18 inches) taken during the daylight hours around weed edges in the Southern Basin.
Perch schools can be found all around the lake, but many who have set up with minnows and blood worms for ringbacks have had to pick through big batches of smaller perch.
• Silver Lake - That sudden spike in crappie numbers, seen a few weeks ago, is long gone. But some fair perch numbers deeper and bluegill bites shallower keep boaters coming into Castile Bait & Tackle for minnows and worms (mainly nightcrawlers) as western Finger Lakes waters cool and weed lines become more distinct.
• Honeoye Lake - Panfish have been the mainstay, with a few walleye seen on occasion, according to Dan Sharp at Honeoye Bait & Tackle. Boat traffic has been slow at the start of the bow-hunting deer season. Waters have cleared of algae bloom and the bass bite picks up as water temperatures drop.
• Seneca Lake - Perch, northern pike and lake trout have kept charter boaters and recreational anglers busy in relatively shallow water noted Rozalyn and Larry Japp at Roy’s Marina on the western shore of Seneca, in Geneva.
“The perch moved into less than 30-foot depths and the pike are right on shore,” Larry said. Lake trout have come into 45- to 75-foot depths and hold near bottom for jigging rigs, Rozalyn added.
Jigging spoons will work, but most successful jiggers have gone with a lead head jig with a tail and no live bait.
Of the three species, perch have shown the most promise for a mid-fall bite.
• Oneida Lake - Walleyes can be illusive, but the perch bite (and an improving bass fishery) keeps boaters close to shore, say folks at Anglers Bay Cottages on the north shore just east of Godfrey Point.
Anglers Bay Cottages has both perch and bass minnows and nightcrawlers; the perch bite can be as shallow as 10-foot depths at times.