By Craig Robbins
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBUTARIES
Out of Dunkirk, anglers report decent smallmouth bass catches around Van Buren Bay and deeper off the point. Van Buren bass anglers have also caught a few walleye and lake trout. Three tube jigs, jigs with twister tails, deep diving stickbaits and live minnows are good bass baits. The harbors at Barcelona and Dunkirk are great spots to target smallmouth bass as well.
With cold water temperatures since walleye season opened last Saturday, there has not been much walleye fishing activity. Near shore, temperatures are still in the mid-40s. Traditionally, the best near-shore walleye action occurs at water temperatures between 50 and 54 degrees. The early season walleye bite is generally found around nearshore spawning shoals at night. Good early season locations (from west to east) include Van Buren Bay and off the mouth of the Cattaraugus Creek. Trolling over rocky/rubble areas in 6-15 feet of water with shallow diving stickbaits or worm harnesses is the standard program.
Steelhead numbers are starting to slowly drop in the tributaries. Targeting the remaining steelhead in the lower sections of streams works best in late spring.
Smallmouth bass are now moving up into the streams. As creek temperatures warm, look for the smallmouth bass action to really take off. Woolly buggers and minnow imitation patterns are good bass offerings for fly anglers, and spinning anglers generally do well with stickbaits and natural baits like minnows, crayfish and worms. Channel catfish have started to show near the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek. The small and medium size streams have lower, clear conditions. Cattaraugus Creek is in great shape.
The first part of the walleye season saw cool water temperatures and walleye season got off to kind of a slow start but this past week the water temperature has moved up into the high 50?s. Anglers are catching walleye, trolling along weed edges in Warner and Dewittville Bays and off the Chautauqua Bell Tower. Targeting walleye along shallower shoreline areas at night is a good early season tactic. Boaters troll outside weed edges with stickbaits and worm harnesses, or drift and work jigs with night crawlers or leeches. Shore anglers can connect by casting stickbaits, especially in areas near stream inlets.
With the warmer water temperature, bass are moving into the shallows. Lakewood Bar, Burtis and Bemus Bays have been producing good numbers of both large and smallmouth. Anglers are mixing up their baits with stick baits and three tubes. Keep in mind the special catch and release bass season regulation are in effect until the opening of the regular season June 21st
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
The last of Lake Erie's ice is exiting the river now. However, upper river boaters should still keep an eye out for random ice chunks this weekend. Anglers are catching yellow perch and sunfish in harbor and marina areas. Some perch are starting to show around Squaw Island as well. Emerald shiners are best bait for perch and are readily available for dipping at multiple harbor, launch and inlet sites.
Keep in mind that down river of the Peace Bridge, smallmouth bass fishing is by catch and release only, artificial lures only, until the third Saturday in June.