The heat is still on for popular cold-water and warm-water fish species anglers seek around Western New York.
Despite continued warm waters, a boost of rainfall nourished feeder streams along both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario the past week. Trout and salmon seekers have some good opportunities at creek mouths and below impassible dams from Barcelona Harbor to ports and feeders mouths along the eastern Lake Ontario shoreline.
Bass anglers not entered in competitions usually hang up gear by now as waters drop below 60 degrees and the bite gets slight. Not this year. Streams and open waters well off shore on big lakes often reach the high 60s by mid afternoon.
A select few walleye trollers usually set up just before sunset for ‘eye popping along shoal edges. This year, the near-shore bite has been a daylight thing as well as an evening-shadows activity.
Northern pike have put on a showing that has not been seen here for a decade or two. Healthy schools of bait, good shoreline weed growth and several good spawning seasons has increased pike populations in bays along Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes from Silver to Cayuga.
Fall panfish is perhaps the most neglected fishery on area waters. Crappie schools have made moves into shallow waters of lakes along the Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes. Some of the bigger “calicos” show up in the shallows, but their presence is in small pockets and patches at odd times of the day. Best bets have been at sunset, but many a boater has seen spring-like crappie action at mid morning and mid afternoon at Chautauqua, Silver and Honeoye Lakes in recent weeks.
Perch are everywhere, but their picky penchant ways keep boaters and shore casters on the move to find schools of bigger fish that are willing to bite.
Boaters have done better on bigger perch closer to shore off Cattaraugus Creek. Heavy schools of perch show at 60- to 72-foot depths, but shoal edges at depths of 44 to 50 feet have been productive from Sturgeon Point to the Catt at selected spots — not along every drop-off.
Out deeper, the biggest boat congregation has been at 68- to 72-foot depths between Grandview and Point Breeze. Catches vary there. Just when it seems time to pull the anchor and move to find bigger fish, foot-longs begin biting.
Catching peaks also vary. The 50-foot drop-off off the Catt produces better just after sunrise. The 68-foot hotspots between Sturgeon and the Catt can turn on any time of the day. Look for a detailed column on Lake Erie’s perch fishery on the Outdoors Page this Sunday.
Stream anglers are seeing nice trout runs despite the warm temperatures and relatively low waters. More than two inches of rain this past week raised stream levels enough on all major feeders.
All streams have been muddied; smaller feeders should settle out before the weekend. Even the Catt has seen higher waters and heavy staining, but earlier dry spells have kept water levels only modestly high through recent rainfalls.
While waters remain dingy, live baits of all kinds can be effective. Sections of night crawlers, egg sacks and skein all connect. In general, when waters become clearer spoons work better off the Cattaraugus Creek breakwater; spinners take turn on waters up stream.
If it’s a tossup between bass and salmon, buy some bass bait.
Stained waters have slowed both fisheries, but boaters in the upper and lower river have few problems getting to smallmouth bass in any stage of water clarity.
Drifter in Devil’s Hole Tuesday morning saw one salmon caught; bass drifters down stream could stick smallies with either live bait or lures. Smaller Kwikfish or other banana baits show a winsome wiggle to interest biting bass.
“Most charter boaters have finished for the year, but a lot of private boat owners are out there right now,” said Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott.
Shoreline trollers hit into kings and a good run of brown trout at depths of less than 50 feet off creek mouths at Wilson, Olcott and Point Breeze. Out deeper, spoons run at varying depths between 50- and 100-foot depths have produced steelies, browns as well as king salmon.
Water levels are up enough to draw trout and salmon on all Ontario feeders and to provide good numbers below the first impassible dams. Be courteous when joining crowds at Waterport Dam, Burt Dam and similar sites.