Fireworks started much earlier than Independence Day for area anglers.

Trout, bass, walleye and other season openers got off to stunning starts this spring, and the summer run looks like fun.

Water temperatures steadily climb now, which may or may not push fish away from shoreline structures during the first week of July.

Weed growths, particularly along inland-lake shorelines, can be deceiving. Fish species that are usually thought of as migrants to deeper water often hold in the weeds. With the right combination of bait food and protective cover exists along those shoreline weed patches, fish other than largemouth bass and northern pike will remain active in water depths of less than 10 feet.

Even without bottom-to-surface weed growth, a sharp drop-off the experts deem to be “structures” can produce some nice fish numbers in waters heated above 70 degrees and not considered favorable for walleye, perch and other warm-water fish species.

Big lakes have set up fairly stable water columns, with somewhat predictable temperature levels just below the surface and often to 100-foot depths. Trollers can set to fixed depths at several ports along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and find similar bite responses.

Enjoy the fireworks safely on the Fourth and look for some explosive fish forays this holiday weekend.

Fly streams

Catch-and-release fly anglers have a nice start to the summer season. Jules McCann at the Oak Orchard Fly Shop in Williamsville sees good conditions for catching trout and releasing them with minimal stress. “With all this rain the waters have been staying cool,” McCann said after working a stream earlier this week with temperatures around 62 degrees.

Typically, warming waters limit the number of trout moving in area streams. Waders usually are cautioned to limit their fishing to early-morning stints to reduce hooking mortality of fish caught to be released. Right now, excess rainfall and higher waters cancel out trips to some areas and afford great fishing opportunities throughout the day for fly anglers working area streams with good water clarity.

Lake Erie

Walleye trollers are beginning to outnumber perch prospectors along the Erie shoreline. The perch bite continues in deeper waters, with an increased number of runt ringbacks running among sizeable guys. ‘Eye poppers cruise relative shallows for a run of mixed sizes of walleyes.

“They’re still in the top 30,” said Bob Rustowicz, competition and recreational angler now focusing most of his time on the water to working walleyes. Trollers have gone to four of five colors on lead line, but Rustowicz still holds at three colors to pick off walleyes feeding high in the water column.

Most of the time neither bait schools nor walleyes will appear on the sonar screen when the boat moves over them at depths of less than 30 feet. Either they move to the side or are just out of the scanning cone; many boaters report nice catches in areas with a clean sonar screen.

Every port from Buffalo to Barcelona Harbor offers some kind of walleye action. Off Buffalo, boaters either drift currents at the head of the river or head out to 50-foot depths between the Ford Plant and Pinehurst. Off Sturgeon Point, some nice numbers showed between the Evans-Angola Bar and Grandview Point at depths of 50 to 80 feet. Cattaraugus Creek trollers head either east or west, with some consistent biting just off Eagle Bay slightly west of the Catt. From Dunkirk to Barcelona the bite has been steady in the trench between Van Buren Point and Brocton and at mixed depths, usually less than 100 feet, going either side of Barcelona Harbor.

All of this diverse activity should be good for teams entered in the 20th annual New York Walleye Association Amara-Can Walleye Classic set for July 13 and 14 out of Chadwick Bay Marina in Dunkirk Harbor. More gathering space has been opened at the marina for this event with a $15,000 payout to the top 10 winning teams. For details on this contest, check with Bob Zoeller at 875-8148, Dayton Kane at 875-8872 or Bill Benk at 692-7670.

NYWA has its annual Kids Fishing Derby planned for July 28 at Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park. For details and to donate to this event, call MaryAnn Filsinger at 897-3290.

Bass can be found almost anywhere rocks are piled under water or the bottom takes a sharp drop-off. Weed/algae growth has built up on shoal tops, and smallmouths cruise along these green mats in search of crayfish as well as minnow life. Casters and drifters go with crayfish for bass, but Lee Weber at Weber’s Bait & Tackle in Evans suggests trying leeches along with crayfish for bass activity. “Bass chew off crabs but hold on to leeches longer.” Warming waters have pushed bass to deeper drop-offs, but many good smallies have shown at 20-foot depths this past week – when boaters can get on the water.

The bass and walleye bite was just right for entrants in the annual BassEye Celebrity Challenge last Friday. Look for a detailed account of this event on the Sunday Outdoors Page.