Great Lakes fishing could not be greater, and inland lakes have an inside track on everything from walleyes and pike to a plethora of panfish.
A major ice melt on Erie and Ontario had perch fishermen hitting Erie’s mid-lake waters and trout and salmon seekers on Ontario on the go from well into Ontario Province waters to the headwaters of the Thousand Islands.
Stream water temperatures skyrocketed to well above bass/sunfish spawning readings. Anglers catching steelies in stream waters two weeks ago can work any fluttering or wobbling spoon, fly or body bait in the same spots to catch and release bass – along with suckers, bullheads and assorted panfish.
Inland lakes warmed to well above 60 degrees during daylight hours, and the panfish bite took a break for Mother’s Day weekend. But spawning cycles have bluegills, sunfish and crappie beginning to make a showing on many western Finger Lakes and along the Southern Tier.
Unhappy crappie dynamics
With the invasive intrusions of zebra and quagga mussels into inland lakes such as Silver, Conesus, Honeoye and many water bodies eastward, spawning moves of panfish such as crappie (calico) bass have altered.
Like yellow perch in Lake Erie, the clearing waters have gradually moved panfish off shallow beds along shore to spawning sites in deeper waters.
With winter’s prolonged cold and a late arrival of 55-degree waters at depths of five to 10 feet, the crappie bite has been slight, episodic and sometimes impossible to find.
What is more, a weekend stint at Honeoye Lake resulted in watching many a boater wish they had spent more time planning dinners/gatherings for moms.
With water temperatures what they should have been two weeks ago, boaters targeting crappie have been heading to the stumpy shallows at both Conesus and Honeoye lakes and to the weeded humps and north channels at Silver Lake. Chautauqua Lake still has its midlake mix holding in and at either side of the Route 86 bridge.
In all the popular spots where crappie seekers gather, the bite often comes as small pocket/patches of fish rather than schools. Midsized minnows remain the best live bait, but small, white Gulps, Mr. Twisters, Maki-Plastics and other vinyl/plastic bodies pulled slowly through mid-depths often pick off crappie that pass on larger rigs tied on heavier lines. Micro fly fishing has nothing on modern crappie-fishing preparations.
Walleye words are few and far between Buffalo and Barcelona Harbor, but perch prospects are golden.
Boaters out of Cattaraugus Creek headed to 52- to 55-foot depths over the weekend and hit into a ringback roundup mainly off the Evangola State Park white wall.
All launch sites are open along the Catt. Town of Hanover is open but without side docks as of Monday.
Sturgeon Point Marina should be open to access Thursday in time for the Southtowns Walleye Perch Derby on Saturday.
Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving has mainly heard of walleye caught in the creek, along with a few lingering, sizeable catfish. Trollers, drifters and casters all have seen some walleye successes, but the perch schooling has been tighter and more predictable.
All this heightens expectations for a good turnout for the Southtowns Perch Derby. Anglers can register as late as Friday and have to obtain membership status to enter this contest. For derby details, call 649-8202 or go to southtownswalleye.org.
Lower Niagara River
Smelt have moved well into the lower river and numbers are reaching a peak for dippers along shore. All may not come in with an 8-quart limit each night out, but the State of Lake Ontario Meeting predictions for a cycle of larger rainbow smelt have proved true in the lower Niagara.
Two-year-old stock appears and often dominates dips this year.
Browns and cohos still hug the shoreline at less than 40-foot depths, says Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott.
The open-water fishery has been mainly lake trout off the Western New York shoreline, but alewives began showing in Olcott Harbor and the king run should soon begin, Walker added.
Randolph Hatchery trucks have delivered yearling and two-year-old brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout this past week to these locations in time for weekend outings:
Allegany County – Little Genesee Creek (Bolivar) 1,295 brown trout; California Hw Brook (Bolivar) 255 brown trout; Dodge Creek (Clarksville) 1,300 brown trout; and Rushford Lake (Caneadea) 3,000 rainbow trout.
Erie County – Springville Field and Stream (Concord) 200 brook trout.
Wyoming County – East Koy Creek (Gainesville) 6,710 brown trout; Cattaraugus Creek (Java) 1,460 brown trout; Oatka Creek (Warsaw) 950 brown trout; and Letchworth State Park (Genesee Falls) 300 brook trout.