Shore casters have an extra boost in access this year. Before this summer-like weather arrived this past week, a gradual warming in early spring kept shoreline shallows cooler than usual.
Weed growth has not emerged heavily so far this season; last year’s early panfish and walleye/pike openers were met with heavier weed masses and better odds for boaters as soon as spawning and warming water metabolism kicked in for all fish species.
Casters in search of everything from daytime panfish and catch-and-release bass to night forays for walleye can work relatively clear waters with temperatures in the 50- to 60-degree range along shorelines of deep and shallower lakes. Deeper waters can produce nice numbers of bottom-holding yellow perch and incoming schools of trout and salmon, but shore anglers can continue to enjoy fisheries that typically get lost to deeper waters when things start warming in early May.
Walleye trollers saw mixed results for night runs on opening week. That school of barely 15-inch fish last year has shown at 18 inches at this season’s start. Many of the boaters working the Buffalo to Hamburg shoreline took more of these ‘eyes than smaller or larger year classes of walleye.
Night boaters are cautioned to have all the proper lighting and safety gear on board when motoring along the near-shore shallows. U.S. Coast Guard patrols have been checking vessels in those crowded boating lanes. Day and nighttime boaters must make sure to report their planned trips into Canada at the CanPass number before venturing into Canadian waters. That number is (800) 842-7647 for boaters planning to fish Ontario Province waters but will not land on shore during the trip.
Perch fishing has been more consistent on the Ontario shoreline than New York State of late. On both sides, the most mentioned water depth has been 54 feet. Ventures off Point Abino, Crystal Beach and Windmill Point all have resulted in sizeable ringbacks.A waypoint hot spot one day could be a dead spot the next day. A trip last Friday resulted in searches from Cattaraugus Creek to Sturgeon Point before we hit into numbers and bigger perch. Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving got good reports of Saturday catches and poor results in the same places on Sunday runs.
Lower river smelt dipping is history, but boaters in Devil’s Hole are still sticking a steelie or two while bass move into warming river waters. Water temperatures move at and slightly above 50 degrees, which ended the smelt run but has yet to trigger a perch presence along the river’s shoreline.
Lake Ontario Counties Derby entrants are pounding lake trout in Ontario’s western waters. Virtually all the laker division entries are from west of Point Breeze, with a good number pulled from around the Niagara Bar. Look for a detailed report on an expert bar drifter on the Sunday Outdoor Page. Trollers hit the green can (navigation buoy) on passes, but the major work is being done deeper and around the red can some four miles out and along the big drop-off to open waters.
The Derby continues to 1 p.m. Sunday and fish movement offers greater promise for kings and lakers at the west end of the lake and brown trout off eastern ports. To check the leaderboard, go to loc.org.
Chautauqua Lake: Crappies school slightly deeper, with the Lakewood Bar area showing best in the Southern Basin. With weed growth still down, both crappie and nice bluegill schools have been active.
Silver Lake: Boaters finally began hitting into blue gills, with a few lingering crappie schools showing more at the north end. South embayment weed edges have been good for ‘gills.
Honeoye Lake: The ‘gill bite dominates; some crappie still gather along the northeast shoreline. Those bigger perch school in tight pockets out in 18- to 22-foot depths, but the bite is hard to find.