Pick your favorite Great Lakes port either side of Buffalo and you will probably head out to either a walleye-opening Erie run or a salmonid slam on Lake Ontario.
A steady spate of high temperatures driven by south and easterly winds have pushed many a water column into a late-July and early August mode for anglers working the big, deep lakes and weed-whackers working inland-lakes shallows for bass, pike, walleye and assorted panfish species.
Many inland lakes have formed an algae slime that has grown or spread heavily this past week. Trollers and drifters on Lake Erie report seeing pods of algae bloom when waters settle or are calm. Boaters see a much greater presence of surface algae in the Western Basin off ports such as Port Clinton, Sandusky, Port Huron and others. So far, this green goo and seed mass has had no effect on the fish bite or signs of floating die-offs.
A good rainfall and possibly some wind and wave action might clear some of the clutter/gook along shallow shorelines.
Grant monies have been given to agencies and groups to hire college kids as assistants at boat ramps at many inland lakes in our area. Surveys are being taken to monitor boaters’ movements between inland lakes. As always, check for weed and algae trapped on trailer and boat surfaces after pulling out of a launch ramp, and drain live wells before departing each boating site.
Boaters who cannot catch a walleye at the east end of Lake Erie right now might consider taking up golf or shuffleboard. True, the occasional outing ends in a shutout, but most trips between Buffalo and Sturgeon Point result in a limit catch or a box/cooler with sizeable walleyes in a relatively short period.
Typically, Western Basin walleye move eastward en mass and occupy deeper waters between Barcelona Harbor and Cattaraugus Creek through midsummer. The bad news: that movement was stalled. The main school has just moved eastward enough to dominate northeastern Ohio’s ports, such as Conneaut and Geneva. The good news: a massive school of both resident and mid-lake migrants have taken up waters near Buffalo and provide boaters a shallow-water fishery that requires drifting or trolling waters of greater than 50-foot depths near Buffalo.
Boaters vary in their preferences – drifting vs. trolling – but both means lead to happy endings. Drifters run bottom-bouncing rigs with fluorocarbon leaders and worm harnesses displaying purple or green beads and blades. Trollers run side planers and lead-core lines that hover in the top 20 feet over depths of 40 to greater than 55 feet on sunny or overcast days.
Some say this near-Buffalo school will hook northward and mainly occupy Canadian waters; others see them heading west to deeper waters along the International Line.
However they head, Buffalo waters have dominated the Eastern Basin fishery for weeks, and the schooling movement remains steady and has moved westward to just off Sturgeon Point this past week, according to Capt. Don Ruppert, whose team won the Amara-Can Walleye Classic out of Dunkirk Harbor last weekend. Look for a detailed report on that competition on the Sunday Outdoors Page.
Boaters west of Cattaraugus Creek have taken a fair share of Erie ’eyes at the start of summer. Mixed catches of walleye and trout have been logged from deeper waters off Dunkirk and Barcelona Harbor. Look for a Sunday column on the “Fourth Annual Fishing with Heroes” outing held this past weekend out of Barcelona.
Bass and walleye prospects look good in the lower river. Steve Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait & Tackle reports good walleye presence along the Stella Niagara and Artpark drifts at 30-foot drifts just outside the “moss line.”
Bass have shown up everywhere, hitting live bait (minnows or crayfish) in good numbers and sizes. The movement looks good for the Niagara River Anglers Association’s annual Niagara River Smallmouth Bass Contest held on the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and tributary waters July 27. For details, visit Creek Road Bait & Tackle or go to niagarariveranglers.com.
Port picking can be easy for anglers headed out from Wilson Harbor to well east of Point Breeze.
Schools of sizeable salmon — those fish that were 2-year-olds last year — are appearing over 300- to 450-foot depths either side of Olcott Harbor regularly. Bottom bumpers can hit into nice numbers of lake trout, but the kings, steelies and some bruiser brown trout are up and running at depths of 30 to greater than 100 feet most days.
Winds have pushed cooler waters closer to the surface and kept kings in line for running spoons or flasher-and-fly rigs at fairly controlled depths. Capt. Bob Cinelli has gone with mainly flashers, but he sees nice catches coming for spoons or flashers with smelt or “meat” rigs.
“Just about everything is working out there now,” Cinelli said earlier this week.