Perch runs afoot all around the area. All it takes are some trip planning and breaks from above — the horizon and the water line.
Hefty waves cancel out some mid-lake runs, but perchers from Lake Simcoe to the central and eastern reaches of the Finger Lakes are seeing nice numbers and sizes of these prize panfish.
Steelie stalkers are doing the same, where water levels allow for entry and passage up Great Lakes streams.
Bass can be a blast on just about every waterway supporting weed edges or supplying good rocky shoreline structure that offers forage and cover.
With hunting seasons kicking in (duck and goose seasons start a half hour before sunrise on Saturday and archery deer season moving towards the rut period) most good fishing sites are relatively free and clear for access and moves to likely/better spots out there.
Starting next Thursday (Nov. 1) boaters motoring to fishing sites must, by law, start wearing a PFD (personal floatation device or life preserver), if they haven’t donned PFDs on regular runs previously.
While most anglers are wading or walking shorelines, boat traffic remains high with the fishery options found on open water and in larger rivers and creeks through late fall into the winter season.
Last year, boaters fished off Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek until just before Santa arrived. Some hearty souls trolled for walleye in Canada’s Bay of Quinte during the holiday vacation.
For now, dress warmly (with some rain protection/gear) and check out the mid-depths. Perch and walleye schools are moving toward shore, many panfish are schooling in shallow pockets between weed clumps, and trout — along with a few lingering salmon — head upstream each time another round of rain falls.
Perch searchers are few and waves often cancel outings, but when boaters can get out the results can be at or near-limit catches. For more than a month the go-to depths were somewhere between 60 and 65 feet. This past week, some nice sonar readings, and a couple nice catches, came from 40- to 42-foot depths directly off and just west of Sturgeon Point.
Boaters headed out of Cattaraugus Creek and mostly made their moves eastward toward Evangola State Park. Last year at this time the Foxes Point to Camp 40 Acres had been fertile, along with a solid school off Evans-Angola Bar. For now, a few nice catches have been reported, but it remains a search for solid perch presence.
Cattaraugus Creek waders have not seen the rainbow/steelhead trout numbers of years past but the catch count continues to rise and the bite now extends well above Gowanda to just below the Springville Dam.
Heavy rainfall on Tuesday may render the Catt a dirty pause, but rising water levels might bring in more trout not only up Cattaraugus but also into smaller nearby feeders.
Gowanda Tourney Results
Entrants in the third annual Gowanda Area Chamber of Commerce Steelhead Fishing Tournament lined the banks of Cattaraugus Creek early Saturday morning and brought in some respectable steelies during that catch-and-release competition.
Forest Burkett of Cattaraugus took the top prize with a 5-pound, 24-inch steelhead. Brad Gabel of Gowanda finished second with a 22.75-inch entry. The third slot went to Hamburg angler Bob Waite with a 14-inch trout.
Mary Pankow, event coordinator, noted, “Unfortunately, although they had many nibbles, the youngsters entered in the tournament were unable to reel in a catch.”
This contest is held each year on the third Saturday in October. For more details on the tournament, go to gowandanychamber.org.
The king salmon run continues along Lake Ontario feeders, but the lower river bite is slight. Visiting writers attending a New York State Outdoor Writers Association fall conference at Niagara Falls fished the upper and lower river this past Friday and Saturday.
The king count was out, but lower river trout and upper river bass and muskies had many scribes shooting photo shots and tending texts for future stories. Look for a few highlights of these outings on the Sunday Outdoors Page.
Both egg-like offerings and Kwikfish connected on lake trout, browns and a few steelies in the lower river. Kwikfish has the advantage of working whichever way the wind pushes a boat in the river’s currents.
Upper river boaters have a nice mix of bass and muskies. Casters can work along open piers and weed edges for largemouth bass. Drifters above and around Grand Island have had steady strikes from smallmouth bass. Live bait (crayfish and minnows) work on the smallies.
But when cast with the right retrieval speed and depth, either a spinner bait or a tube jig can be deadly on both largemouth and smallmouth bass, with the occasional northern pike and musky taking hold.
The king run is fun and trout are all about. Despite low water levels, salmon are solid up to both the Burt Dam on Eighteen Mile Creek and the Waterport Dam on Oak Orchard Creek.
At the Oak, browns and steelies are regulars, with the occasional Atlantic salmon also a show, says Sharon Narburgh at Narby’s Superette in Kent.