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For hook setting, the emerging panfish and a fairly consistent trout run can be fun. But for a copious fish count lower Niagara River smelt dipping is on the rise.

Perch can be found in deeper waters and along shore, trout move in and out, but schools of rainbow smelt bring many a dip net to the Niagara shoreline mainly during evening hours. Regulations allow for an angler’s daily take of smelt at eight quarts, which is just a little less than half of a five-gallon bucket.

Like perch, the crappie bite can be episodic, but the action is mainly along shoreline shallows. Waters remain slightly below average for the better bluegill bite, but some nice ‘gills have gotten interested in ultra-light offerings.

Lake Erie

Walleye season will not open until Saturday, May 4, but boater brigades have started showing on both sides of Erie’s eastern basin in search of perch schools.

Water clarity, food sources and the ever present schools of larger predators scare yellow perch (what’s in a name?) and have them holding close to bottom in Erie’s deeper waters.

About 30 boats could be seen anchored off Point Abino Sunday afternoon and more than 30 perch boaters went out of Cattaraugus Creek Tuesday morning. The universal depth number stands either side of 50 feet in U.S. and Canadian waters. Off the Catt, the best numbers have come from 47- to 55-foot depths before and since that latest wind storming.

Not all boaters fill buckets. “It all depends on where you go and how things go that day,” said Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving about perch prospects. Ringbacks move around under suspended bait schools and today’s hot spot might be tomorrow’s cold, dead zone for fish presence and activity.

Water temperatures could be a factor. Readings in the lower 40s over deeper waters could have a slowing effect on the bite; stained water after heavy rainfall and rough wave actions also contributes. But some boaters have gotten over bigger perch in cold, mildly stained waters and done well with perch rigs — spreaders or in-line gang hooks — to pull up decent if not limit ringback catches.

Feeder streams can be tricky. Chilling nights had a renewed run of “sliver” (newly arrived) steelhead in Cattaraugus Creek. All that after a start of catfish and white perch began showing during warming periods. For now, expect the trout and panfish presence and bite to change daily with varied results. When over schools of biting fish, Erie can be productive right now.

Lake Ontario

The shoreline is just fine for both perch and mainly brown trout.

Sharon Narburgh at Narby’s Superette and bait and tackle shop in Kent has seen a good run of perch along shore and from Oak Orchard Creek’s banks, docks and bridges along with a good bullhead bite. Some steelhead and browns still remain in the “Oak.”

Rick Reagan at Jay-Vee Tackle in Rochester gets word of good bullhead presence but so-so perch activity in Irondequoit Bay. Reagan has had better ringback responses from Braddock Bay and Long Pond shallows.

Olcott Pier casters and shoreline trollers both connect on a brown trout and coho salmon run in depths of less than 30 feet. Out deeper, a few kings and lakers have shown at 40- to 60-foot depths, but the near-shore bite has been better for now. Capt. Bob Cinelli looks for a king salmon start in a week or two.

Inland lakes

• Chautauqua: Crappie have turned on for boaters along weedy shallows at both Mayville and Celeron. Bigger perch and bluegills have also shown in spots. Shoreline temperatures of 47 degrees has gotten things started, but the early morning and close to sunset hours still show the best results for shore and boating anglers.

• Western Finger Lakes: The crappie bite has been better at the north shore of Conesus but around the south end of Silver Lake; Honeoye crappie are good but scattered among bluegill bunches.

Trout stocking sites

The Randolph Hatchery has stocked area streams with brown trout, brook trout and rainbow trout at various sites in area counties. Along with spring yearlings, anglers can also hook into two-year-old brown trout stock. Here is a listing of locations by county of stockings made this week in time for weekend angling:

Allegany County: Genesee River (Amity) 2,650 brown trout and 350 2-year-old brown trout; Genesee River (Wellsville) 550 brown trout, 450 2-year-old brown trout and 1,000 rainbow trout.

Cattaraugus County: Ischua Creek (Franklinville) 150 brook trout, 1,670 brown trout and 750 2-year-old brown trout; and Olean Creek (Town of Olean) 150 brown trout.

Chautauqua County: Lake Erie (Dunkirk) 14,450 brown trout.

Steuben County: Keuka Lake (Urbana) 5,350 brown trout.

Wyoming County: Cattaraugus Creek (Java) 950 brown trout and 400 2-year-old brown trout.

email: odrswill@gmail.com