Friday the Thirteenth could be a lucky day, and the start of a catch-worthy weekend, for area anglers.
The Solar-Lunar Tables post peak fishing hours just after sunrise and at sunset that day. The best times for fish activity are slated for the coming weekend. Of course, the best time to fish is whenever it is possible to be on the water, but some pushes from the sun and moon might help.
A few less pushes from winds might help even more. Last week, failed attempts to catch up with Lake Erie’s walleye schools headed west of Dunkirk Harbor resulted in canceled outings on Tuesday and Thursday. A promised day of mild winds on Saturday resulted in a failed approach with 4-footers a half-mile off the stacks at Dunkirk.
On the plus side, stiff winds might help cool dayside anglers working the current heat wave. The bite has been good in rivers, creeks and protected bays throughout the day, A breeze makes things a bit less than an endurance contest.
Winds have less effect on streams and smaller inland lakes, where the pre-fall feeding foray is just fine. Surface water temperatures still holding above 70 degrees in some areas has game fish foraging on the last of the bigger, breeder-sized bait fish and hungry for more bulk to last through the fall and winter.
The latest crop of spring-hatched baitfish are still pinheads, so the big boys (pike, musky, bass, walleye, etc.) are out hunting down good-sized prey while warm waters keep their metabolism high. Many a lure could be alluring, but bigger spinner baits and body baits such as crankbait-style stuff might be worth an extra try before settling on worm/leech patterns on jigs and spinner rigs.
When wave heights allow, perch anglers do better than walleye seekers. Some trollers have done fairly well on walleye running downrigs, leadcore lines and side planers fairly close to bottom at depths of 60 feet and more of Dunkirk Harbor and farther west.
Out deeper, some spoons, stick baits and even worm harnesses have teased a trout or two, but the bite is slight and the main target remains aimed at walleyes.
Cattaraugus Creek has seen an early run of “jacks,” smaller rainbow trout that moved in to test the waters. Creek waters remain above average for late-summer temperatures.
Erie anglers have a depth of 62 feet as a peak place productive perch catching. Boaters out of Cattaraugus Creek have done well at 62 feet directly off and west of the creek. Off Sturgeon Point, a 62-foot depth anywhere from the water pumping station to Point Breeze has been good for bigger ringbacks on recent runs.
When the fish are biting, either commercial live bait or salted emerald shiners work on whatever is schooling at the time — bigger or smaller perch, white perch, white (sliver) bass, sheepshead, round gobies and the occasional walleye.
Upper river bass are a blast, and shore casters are also explosive about the perch bite. Bill Van Camp at Big Catch Bait & Tackle has been stocking the small hard-shell crayfish for shore-casting perch anglers. These “smaller crabs” have done well on bigger ringbacks along the river’s piers, docks in inlets in waters with above-average temperatures.
Lower river boaters have a fairly good bass fishery going in this warm water. Some salmon have moved up current and the Devil’s Hole drifters can connect on occasion with fresh Chinook, bearing their bright lake-run colors.
Successes are about the same for boaters and shore anglers. Van Camp suggests stocking up on supply of Little Cleo casting spoons for the coming run of king salmon along the shore and from piers and docks on the river and Lake Ontario.
New York Power Authority officials announced repair work at the South Access Road leading to the fishing pier starting Monday. The area will be partially blocked for shoreline access during construction of a riverside walkway, a paved and safer access road, and a guide rail separating pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic at the site. Boaters noticed several shore casters on the casting pier on Tuesday morning.
The fishing pier remains open dawn to dusk and features a cleaning station and restrooms. For an update on renovation progress, call 796-0135 (ext. 45).
Boaters are running tight to shore, running J-Plugs at fairly high speeds off side-planer rigs for salmon, says Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott. When waves are modest, shoreline trollers do best during low-light hours.
The same low-light hours work best for shore casters from piers at Wilson, Olcott and Point Breeze. Little Cleos, KO Wobblers and Moonshine spoons all get major mention from pier casters seeking salmon. A few kings have shown above the Route 18 Bridge in waters below Burt Dam.