As promised, this week’s fishing update will focus mainly on inland waterways with emphasis, wherever possible, on shoreline access.
With many surface temperature readings in the high 70s, even the warm-water species may not be schooling and feeding along shoreline shallows, but cover comes in odd ways for big aquatic predators that might bite close to shore.
Docks, piers and natural points provide enough shade from the sun, if not complete cover, for game fish and panfish throughout the warm-water season.
Weed masses and what appears to be weed edges can deceive anglers looking down and into weeded areas. Often, the outside edge of a weed mass is actually an overhang, not green growth emerging vertically like a vine or tree seen on land.
In fact, many of those “stringer” weeds that look like ivy tangles may be tips covering open areas below the weed edge where bigger fish hide and await passing bait fish and other forage.
Lure retrieval varies when casting along these edges, but any kind of spoon, spinner, body bait, jig, crankbait, spinnerbait, or other artificial will get their attention when the bait is placed properly.
Sometimes it is just a matter of lure speed. With waters this warm, metabolism is at a peak right now. Bug hatches of all sizes, from small flies to hellgrammites have done most of their hatching and minnow schools are starting to dwindle in size as summer reaches its midpoint.
Anything artificial that resembles a baitfish body might be worth a try around weeded shore edges where big pike and sizeable panfish might latch onto your lure.
Perch get the major mention for western Finger Lakes waters from Silver Lake to just west of Seneca Lake.
Weed edges as well as shoreline structures hold hoards of ringbacks around the north ends of Canandaigua Lake, with a fair perch presence at Conesus and Silver.
The big news at Honeoye Lake has been a productive run of walleye hitting both during daylight and nighttime hours. Trollers and drifters move slowly with bottom-bouncing rigs rigged with small worm harnesses; depths as shallow as 15 feet can hold ’eye schools. The largemouth run continues around the lake for both boaters and shore casters with access to docks and boathouse footers. The so-called whacky worm (a vinyl/plastic nightcrawler simulation) hooked in the middle and allowed to drop and lift, does a nice number on largemouths.
Conesus Lake offers a nice mix of both smallies and largemouths, with the bigger boys showing well at the north end of the lake, said Ted Decker at Ted’s Tackle in Lakeville. Both artificials and bass minnows work on these bass.
Rozalyn Japp at Roy’s Marina on the northwest shoreline on Seneca Lake reports a nice run of sizeable lake trout from Seneca waters. Finger Lakes lakers are known for their feisty fight and their fantastic table fare. Lakers have shown for trollers during the day and bait dunkers after dark. Capt. Eric Nappo has had many successful trips out of Roy’s this summer season. Check with either Larry or Rozalyn Japp for updates and charter options at (315) 789-3094.
Bass take up most of the north shoreline, either side of Geneva, at Seneca Lake. Shore casters can still stick a few fish, but the better bass bite has been at 12- to 20-foot depths as waters warm. Some good signs of perch schooling have shown, but Larry suggests holding off until mid- to late August for a ringback run.
At Chautauqua Lake, walleye is about the only fish species that has tanked as waters warm. Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors in Ashville is seeing all kinds of musky action well above the bite in midsummer, 78-degree waters.
Along with muskies, both bass subspecies have been active in both basins of the lake.
• Niagara River Anglers Association Annual Smallmouth Bass Contest is on from sunrise to 2 p.m. out of Fort Niagara on Saturday. For details, go to niagarariveranglers.com.
• The ninth annual Independent Living of Niagara County Bass Fishing Derby is set for 6 a.m. to noon Aug. 3. Entry includes fishing aboard a chartered boat. For more information, call 836-0822 (Ext. 181) or go to niagarafishingderby.org.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has just confirmed the second record-breaking freshwater catch in New York State for 2014.
James VanArsdall of West Henrietta hooked a heavy freshwater drum, often referred to as “sheepshead,” in Irondequoit Bay on Lake Ontario June 14. VanArsdall’s catch measured 33.5 inches and weighed in at 26 pounds and 9 ounces, which breaks the state record for a drum entry by more than two pounds.
The other state record catch for this year was a 60-pound striped bass caught in the Hudson River May 14, an inland record for a freshwater catch.