Labors could be lighter for anglers this holiday weekend.
Weed and algae growth has been less than typical for late-summer waters along the Great Lakes corridor and on most inland lakes.
The lower Niagara River “moss” menace that often persists until mid-August was gone in late July, giving bass and walleye anglers more opportunities to get both sizes and numbers of both species.
Lower surface water temperatures on Erie and Ontario have given area anglers options for a nice bass bite on both Great Lakes and in both the upper and lower Niagara River.
Currently, the bite is better at greater depths, but signs of an early-fall onshore run are there. Feeder stream water levels remain low. Rainfall predicted for Labor Day weekend might improve the bass fishery and give a signal for some salmonid stirrings.
Go west young (and older) men (and women) when working walleye schools. The bite had been good for bigger fish at 60-foot depths off Sturgeon Point, but the chase is out to 80-foot depths well west of Cattaraugus Creek.
Trollers set up off Center Road and points westward for the lingering ’eye schools. Last year at this time the chase was well past Dunkirk Harbor and at midlake off Barcelona.
Now, a worm harness attracts “yellows” (walleye) as well as those pesky packs of sliver (white) bass, white perch, some impressive-sized yellow perch and sheepshead. Many blade colors work well, but a black-and-purple combination gets major mention.
Perch schools can be found out deeper off Sturgeon and the Catt. On rare occasion a pack of plug-sized ringbacks settles along 40- to 45-foot depths off Evans-Angola Bar, but the more consistent bite is out at 65- to 72-foot depths.
Among feeder streams, only the Catt offers good access water and some bass action. Eighteen Mile and feeders westward need a steady, soaking rain.
Niagara River/Lake Ontario
Some good signs of in-shore movement continue in open waters of Ontario; contest winners did not have to venture far off shore for their prize catches.
Lower river waters are a bass paradise, but the bite remains deeper, says Capt. Stephen Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait & Tackle in Lewiston. Drabczyk, drifting off Fort Niagara Tuesday afternoon, hooked into nice numbers of smallmouths that took crayfish worked along 26-foot depths off the fort.
“The walleye bite is good for big walleye out on the Niagara Bar, but nice numbers of smaller walleye have set up along the Jackson drift in Canada waters,” he said.
Two contests finished this past week with winners weighing in some impressive catches and two entrants taking prizes in both contests.
• The Niagara River Anglers Association Lower Niagara River Walleye Contest, held on Saturday, drew 39 entrants fishing the river and Lake Ontario waters. Most of the big fish and two-fish entries came from Niagara Bar waters for anglers working worm harnesses.
When competition ended at 2 p.m., Joe Augustyniak of Niagara Falls finished first with a 9.88-pound big fish and a two-fish total of 16.48. Jamie Brolinski of Lewiston took second with a 7.02-pound ’eye and a two-fish weight of 12.9 pounds. Steve Majka came in third with 8.26 pounds and 12.4 pounds for his two fish. Both Augustyniak and Majka also scored in the Odyssey competition.
• The 38th annual Niagara Fish Odyssey, booked this year as the “Charlie the Chimp Memorial Derby,” ended Sunday, and after nine days of fishing county waters of Niagara, Orleans and Erie, the top entrants in six divisions weighed in hefty winners.
Grand Prize winner Richard Acer of Appleton used a Heddon Bait off Olcott Harbor on Aug. 17 to hook into a 31.02-pound king salmon that not only won the Odyssey but currently leads the LOC (Lake Ontario Counties) Derby.
Larry Bowerman of Lockport ran an NK Spoon off Olcott to take the top entry in the Rainbow Trout Division, a 14.07-pound ’bow. Roger Turton of Sanborn landed the largest laker to win the Lake Trout Division with a 22.04 pounder.
Karen Cinelli of Newfane used an Alex’s Eggs lure in Olcott Harbor and weighed in a 36.09 pounder, the top Carp Division entry. David Muir of North Tonawanda traveled to Sturgeon Point on Lake Erie and worked a perch rig to hook into the top Smallmouth Bass Division entry, a 5.09-pound bass caught Aug. 19.
In the Walleye Division, James Kitner of Lock Haven, Pa., ran a worm harness on Aug. 21 and hooked into the heaviest ’eye, an 11.06-pound walleye. Joe Augustyniak took a 9.13-pound walleye on Saturday to finish third and Steve Majka caught a 10.02-pound ’eye on Sunday, the last day of the contest. All three anglers fished the Niagara Bar and ran worm harnesses along the bottom to connect with their winning walleyes.
For more details on entrants, including Youth Division winners, visit fishodyssey.net.