So many things influence fishing conditions and successes, but winds (directions and intensities) seem to be a leading control-factor presence for area anglers right now.
High winds have canceled many an outing; higher winds have moved microorganisms and bait schools on bigger and smaller water bodies. And the long-standing lore of “fishing is least in winds from the east” is holding everywhere except where the fish bite is spectacular.
As an exception, boaters have reported nice walleye numbers on lakes such as Oneida Lake and Lake Erie on days with east winds; minor dips in warm/hot temperatures could add a cold-front contagion to the wind woes.
Perhaps east winds are simply an easy excuse after a day of so-so or shutout fishing. Bruce Wager, avid Lake Erie perch and walleye guy now recouping from hernia surgery, said it best: “You gotta’ move.” Though Wager cannot get out for Erie perch right now, he gets reports of ringbacks as shallow as 14 feet and boaters boxing out (a 50-fish perch limit) while others only see a sheepshead and a couple round gobies at various depths out to 65 feet.
Move, that best and worst of four-letter-words for anglers, is a must right now on the big Great Lakes and every small pond, bay and inland lake in the area.
Hefty breezes kept most perch anglers off Erie’s open waters through the holiday weekend, but both the perch and walleye bite was all right.
A Friday afternoon foray in my own vessel off Cattaraugus Creek ended after just a long hour of fishing when a southwest wind pushed waves over the bow at anchorage. When Mother Nature decides to kick up a breeze, her angler-kids often have to take a bye.
With more than 60 fish caught on the bottom at 44 feet in just over an hour, including 25 perch (10 well over 10 inches) the anchor was pulled for that day and weekend.
Other Erie anglers had weekend successes during early-morning runs out of ports from Buffalo Harbor to well west of Cattaraugus Creek. Drifters out of Buffalo have moved to depths of 45 to 55 feet; trollers out of the Catt start at 60-foot depths and head to 70-foot areas by midmorning.
Body/stick baits reduce the number of perch, white perch, white (silver) bass and round goby bites, but the worm harness holds a slight edge for walleye numbers at mid-depths. The most recent day trollers could get out from the Catt, settings at 30 to 35 feet were the most productive.
Even a trip without monster walleyes can be a prize outing. Joe Famiglietti of Lancaster booked a trip with Ernie Callandrelli of Ernie’s Guide Service on Saturday for himself and his grandson, Ryan Pfohl of Kure Beach, N.C.
Drifting worm harnesses over 50-foot depths off the Hamburg shoreline, the duo boated a 6-fish limit each before noon. No monsters, all just nice eaters.
As for perch, mixed schools of panfish (desirable and “rough” species) were solid at depths of 44 to 46 feet off Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek, but bigger and tighter schools of yellow perch seem to be out deeper.
“I think the perch bite may be dropping off and the walleye will keep picking up,” said Ricky Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving earlier this week.
The New York Walleye Association 21st annual Amara-Can Walleye Classic tourney, a team event, goes out of Dunkirk Harbor Saturday and Sunday, with good reports on walleye schooling around Dunkirk. For last-minute entry details, including a captain’s meeting of Friday evening, check with Bob Zoeller at 875-8148 or Dayton Kane at 875-8872.
The trout and salmon bite is improving but mainly distant. Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott Harbor gets reads of brown trout at 60-foot depths in places close to the harbor. But the better bite for both kings and steelies is over 450-foot depths some seven miles offshore.
The better news is that widespread bait schools are tightening and drawing predator fish into more definable areas. All this could mean a better, at least more predictable, fishery as west winds continue to stratify the water column.
Along shore, the warm-water fishery offers even better odds. Shore casters at Wilson and Olcott Harbors have seen good numbers of northern pike going for either pike (chub) minnows or larger spinners.
The perch bite slowed but rock bass and smallmouths in respectable sizes have been schooling along shore since the water temperatures rose above 70 degrees.
Erie Canal Derby
The 24th Annual Erie Canal Derby continues to Sunday and anglers can sign up for prizes in seven divisions. For daily registration fees and sign-up sites, go to eriecanalderby.com.