Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament Week is upon us, with the main event starting on Friday out of Wilson and Olcott. A total of 50 teams will be competing for some great cash prizes based on a unique scoring system. East wind continues to be a problem, but action finally turned on for some decent spring salmon fishing on Tuesday for many of the boats. Exact details are sparse because of the tournament, but many boats were catching fish between Wilson and the Niagara Bar, as well as east of Olcott. Decent kings, too, in the 20 pound class. A 31 pound king was caught off St. Catharines last weekend as the catch was flying around social media circles. In the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Charity Fishing Outing last Wednesday, a total of 24 boats hit the waters around Olcott. The captain guiding the crew to the biggest fish was Capt. Mark Vilardo with Kingfisher. His 19 pound, 3 ounce king took the top prize with numerous in the 18 pound class on other boats. It was a fun time had by all as the local fishery was showcased. Look for a mixed bag this weekend at the tournament weigh in at Krull Park at 2 pm each day.
There will be a Teach Me to Fish Clinic at Bison City Rod and Gun Club in Buffalo on Sunday, May 22 starting at 2 pm. Get there a little early for registration. Fish the harbors, inlets and creeks for a mixed bag of panfish and bass around Grand Island and along River Road. The Erie Canal is open for fishing now, too.
Devil's Hole is the place to be for a mixed bag of fish, but with the closure of the gorge early in the week because of the transmission line removal, it forced guides down river to try and target other areas and other fish species. Kwikfish and minnows are the best baits to use. Mitch Grant of Virginia was showing off some of him new Rapid Fishing Solutions gear while fishing with Capt. Bruce Blakelock on Tuesday and they reeled in some nice smallmouth on tubes and swim baits. It won't be long before the hard baits will be working on the smallies as those water temps were just starting to hit 50 degrees. We told you about the green can area working for the Killer B's at the mouth of the river on lake trout. During the derby they reeled in over 100 lakers.
Perch fishing can be hit or miss, but according to Capt. Joe Fonzi, don't give up. He had a charter last week and they had three fish in the boat by noon. When they finally found the fish, it was nonstop. They ended up with a limit of yellow perch in 55-60 feet of water. Walleye fishing has been slow but some have been doing well working the reefs and shoals or the shoreline at night. The Southtowns Walleye Assn. has its perch contest on Saturday (May 21) and the walleye contest is coming up in June. More details later. The bass bite can be good on tubes, swimbaits or shiners. It can be very good if you hit the right spot with the right bait. The Buffalo breakwalls is a good place to start or to try later if the winds on the lake chase you off. Tributary action has been mostly for bass.
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.
Boaters are still catching some steelhead and lake trout. However, smallmouth bass and white bass are starting to dominate the catch count. Tube jigs have produced good smallmouth bass catches near the mouth of the river.
Brown trout and the occasional coho salmon area available at pier sites. Fishing during low light periods or when waters are murky green, will improve your catch odds. Spoons, spinners and a minnow under a float are good pier offerings.
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