Watch the winds but get on the water this weekend. Spring spawning and bite cycles are behind but catches are catching up right now.
Want walleyes? Check out the night bite. Want perch? Wait for a day when the winds settle.
“Boaters head out of the harbor at about 10 p.m. and troll with Rapalas,” was the standard fare Gerri Begier at Bill’s Hooks in Dunkirk offers anglers looking for walleye catches at Dunkirk Harbor. Numbers have been better west of the harbor off Van Buren Point, but the shoreline can be good well west of the harbor.
Buffalo Harbor trollers offer mixed reports on the walleye bite. Many have tried the Hamburg shoreline between bouts of high winds; the boat traffic is picking up but not the numbers usually seen during the Lake Erie post-spawn for walleye. Water temperatures reaching the mid 50s should provide ’eye-popping results, but the better bite on Erie’s waters right now comes from bass and perch.
Smallmouths are right on the spawning bubble. Drifters can work any rock pile from Barcelona to Buffalo and find nice smallies. The bait bite had been necessary earlier this month, but now it is more a location than a terminal-tackle tasking.
Casters work waters less than 25 feet around structures for bass activity was the word from Capt. Jim Rores. He has been putting clients onto bass with bait, but a good plastics caster can do nearly as well with tube jigs and vinyl bodies, without having to bait the hook after each bite.
Perch put more boats on the water than other fish species right now, and the results can be spectacular when in the right place. Out of Buffalo perch schooling is patchy but productive. Between the Ford Plant and Pinehurst a 48-foot reading has been tops.
Out of Cattaraugus Creek the more productive depths have been 52 to 58 feet. Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving was busy selling bait well into Monday. High winds kicked up later in the day, but Miller got good reports for both Sunday and Monday.
Good ringback counts at the Catt have come from both Evangola State Park to the east and off Eagle Bay to the west. At the state park 52-foot depths have been good; to the west, 56- to 58-foot readings have shown better schooling.
Wherever boaters anchor, drift or idle with a front-mount trolling motor, the task is to get over a working school of bigger perch or keep moving until a solid school of feeders begin biting.
Along with a nice bass presence, boaters have seen good perch numbers at 15-foot depths around Grand Island and along the New York shoreline, said Capt. Chris Cinelli. Charter boaters can work the upper and lower river during high winds on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Cinelli also noted a good steelie bite up in Devils Hole in 53-degree waters.
“The weekend king salmon bite picked up from the Niagara River to Oak Orchard Point; before that most of the king action was toward Rochester,” said Capt. Bob Cinelli earlier this week.
Relatively cold water has kept the fishery behind, but things are picking up for salmon as well as trout. Cinelli has had some success on a new version of Pacific cut bait, which he found at Boat Doctors in Olcott Harbor.
Lake trout have been the main target through the earlier spring season on Ontario, but the warming cool waters (normally at 60 and now in the low 50s) keep cold-water species lagging in their spring progress. For Cinelli, the morning run has been better than most afternoon or evening runs.
Western Finger Lakes
Flooding woes continue for many lakes from Silver to Seneca. No-wake and no motor boat traffic had been imposed on several lakes and ebbing flood-level waters have made it difficult to target everything from panfish to pike.
The extreme western lakes have settled down better than Penn Yan and Canandaigua, but the panfish presence can be good with the right approaches.
Muddied waters, floating debris and frequent high winds have muddled shoreline edges, but emerging weed beds have been a good start for both crappie and bluegill on Sliver and Honeoye. The Canandaigua perch count can be good at drop-off depths of 15 to 25 feet.
In all areas, check ahead for launch ramp access and water conditions before taking a trip. Panfish are in a post-spawn feeding spree; bass offer a catch-and-release Ginza; walleye hit better after dark.
Randolph Hatchery completed its deliveries for the spring run. “Unless Caledonia Hatchery has some additional 2-year-old brown trout, we are done for now,” said Rich Borner, Randolph Hatchery manager.
A late cooling of area streams and ponds kept many trout active late into the spring season. Now, trout anglers have to target whatever survived hooking mortality and can endure water temperatures well above 50 degrees.