Despite more east wind that has kept local waters unstable, some better reports are starting to come in from area charter captains - at a good time when you consider the fact that the Summer Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Derby is still struggling to produce its first salmon of the contest (something that has been going on since June 13). With a new prize structure in place, the $1,000 for the weekly salmon prize will be rolled over for the following week. Check out www.loc.org for details. Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane has been hitting the lake in search of stable water and he’s finally found some off Wilson between the 25 and 27 line. With cold water still stacked in along the shoreline off Wilson and Olcott, he managed to find some decent water holding fish as water temperatures gradually increased heading north. He found the bait fish first, followed by more active predator fish. While it wasn't hot and heavy, he did produce 4 or 5 salmon and 8 steelhead. It turned out to be a decent day when compared to how things have been. Spoons are the best bait of choice. The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association has a couple of events coming up for club members, including the Curt Meddaugh Memorial Derby on July 17 and the King Salmon Tournament set for July 18 with the club picnic to follow. Check out www.lotsa.org for details. The next LOTSA meeting is this coming Thursday (July 8) at the 4-H Building of Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, 4487 Lake Avenue, Lockport starting at 7 pm. Guest speaker will be Capt. Pete Kelly talking Lake Erie walleye fishing.
Action in the upper river has been decent of late. Jim DeSiena and Joe Kushner were tossing tubes and drifting crabs around Strawberry Island to take a fair number of smallmouth and a nice musky. Tubes worked best in the shallow water; crabs in the deeper water out to 20 feet. After getting blown off Lake Erie, this was a great back up plan for them. In addition to bass, you can also catch walleye in the upper river. Case in point was the big walleye in the BassEye contest last Friday. Dick Hill was fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli when he hooked into a 29.5 inch walleye while drifting the upper river. For bass, Capt. Matt Yablonsky and his team were fishing Donnelly’s Wall for smallmouth to win the contest for the second year in a row.
The Fifth Annual Hooked on the Tonawandas Fishing Tournament held last weekend out of Gateway Park in North Tonawanda was marred with recording setting rain and uncomfortable winds. It had competitors feeling more like the fish they were trying to catch! Despite the inclement conditions, some nice fish were caught by the more than 110 anglers that registered for the fun contest. I guess it’s all relative. The most impressive catch for the weekend was a 15 pound Northern pike caught by Michael Bancore of North Tonawanda. Leading the carp division was Charles Young of North Tonawanda with a 17 pound Erie Canal fish. In the bass category, Bobby Knapp of Williamsville weighed in a 3.2 pound largemouth to win that division. A half pound perch also qualified as a first place winner, weighed in by Glenn Krupp of North Tonawanda. In the Channel Catfish class, Matthew Clarke of North Tonawanda weighed in a 5.8 pound fish. More than $2,000 in cash and prizes were handed out to the diehard fishermen and women. Which leads us up to the big one - the 25th Annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby set for July 1-12. Action is already underway and it will go on all week long. With more than $20,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, there should be plenty of anglers lining the banks of the canal from the Niagara River to Albion. To find out more information contact Steve Harrington at 772-7972 or visit the derby website at www.eriecanalderby.com.
Action in the lower river has been decent despite some moss issues that plague anglers every June. Capt. Jake Joseph of Youngstown took contest winner James Findlay of Burlington, Wisconsin out last Saturday before the monsoon hit and timed it perfectly to be off the water by the time the rains hit. Using crayfish and shiners off three-way rigs, they produced 15 fish in quick order - mostly smallmouth bass, but including sheepshead and silver bass. Jim also brought his daughter Anne along and they had a grand time. Most of the fishing took place along the Coast Guard drift along Fort Niagara. According to Joseph, bass are stacking up in the river in 12 to 18 feet of water.
For the second year in a row, Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown has led the Oneida Concrete team to the BassEye team title in raising money for Cystic Fibrosis. The event, held out of Buffalo last Friday, saw 36 teams ply the waters of Lake Erie in search of bass and walleye - hence the "BassEye" connotation. For bass, Yablonsky and company used three-way rigs to take a total of 25 smallmouth along the “fish market” at Donnelly’s Wall. Golden shiners were the bait of choice. For walleye, the team fished between Seneca Shoal and Myers Reef in 36 to 40 feet of water using 3-D worm harnesses. They managed to take five walleye, giving them the winning combination once again. Team members included Jim Schmit, Mike Keller and Fred Saia. Schmit was deemed Grand Champion of the 14th Annual event. A total of $140,000 was raised this year, bringing their total to more than $1.5 million for CF! Better walleye fishing is being reported by trollers around Barcelona in 70-80 feet of water using worm harnesses or stickbaits. Bass fishing has been consistent all along the lakeshore. Perch fishing has been spotty, but if you find them you can do well.
Bill Hilts Jr. is a past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Hilts is an avid outdoorsman, an outdoor writer who has contributed articles to numerous national and local magazines, newspapers, and other publications. Hilts is also responsible for Niagara County Tourism Sportfishing Programs. He freelances from his home in Sanborn N.Y. Hilts was inducted in the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame in the Spring of 2007!
His column is seen in the Niagara Gazette on Fridays. The Niagara Gazette is the area's leading outdoors sports information newspaper.
Filamentous algae or "moss" has been a problem for lower river anglers lately. There are plenty of smallmouth bass in the river, but expect to clean your lure/line frequently. Boaters can target bass by drifting with bottom-bouncing rigs with tubes and plastics or by casting towards shore with jerkbaits, stickbaits and spinners. Anglers at the NYPA fishing platform are catching mostly smallmouth bass and white bass
It has been a tough month of salmon fishing in the west end of Lake Ontario, with windy weather and scattered fish. However, the deep water bite from Wilson to Sandy Creek has been improving recently. Trollers working depths of 200 to 450 feet have been catching a modest mixed bag of steelhead, lake trout and smaller king salmon, with the occasional coho salmon or larger king salmon. Spoons have worked best in the top 60 feet.
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