By Craig Robbins
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBS
The overall nighttime walleye bite has been fair in the near shore reefs, with the occasional limit catch. Recently, good reports are coming from anglers fishing Van Buren Bay. Trolling minnow-type stick baits at around 2 mph over rocky areas in 6-15 feet of water is a good bet.
Yellow perch catches picked back up this week between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point, although some searching is required to locate the tight active schools. Anglers report decent action in 50-56 feet off Evangola State Park, Point Breeze and Evans Bar. Live emerald shiners fished just off the bottom can't be beat.
The smallmouth bass bite has been exceptional off the break walls at Dunkirk Harbor. Anglers are catching dozens of smallies, with some six pound smallmouth reported. Tube jigs and live emerald shiners have worked well. Rocky areas near shore in 8-30 feet of water are also good bets for smallmouth bass. Van Buren Bay and the Reef have been producing good numbers of trophy smallmouth bass. Anglers have been bouncing tubes and plastic artificial crawfish style baits off the bottom with success.
With the hard rains this past week Chautauqua Lake's water level is high and still a bit stained but should be cleared up by this weekend. With all that in mind boaters need to keep an eye out for floating debris. Anglers are picking up some walleyes along weed edges in 8-12 feet of water by trolling with stick baits and worm harnesses during low light periods in Ashville and Mayville Bays. Shore anglers can also catch walleye by casting stick baits at night. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are available inside 10 feet of water. As a reminder, fishing for black bass in Chautauqua Lake is by catch and release only, using artificial lures, until the third Saturday in June.
Anglers are picking up crappie catches in 6-10 feet of water in Ashville, Bemus and Greenhurst Bays. Jig heads (1/32 and 1/64 ounce) with one inch tubes tipped off with live minnows are working well.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
River temperatures are creeping into the mid-50s. With the warming trend, look for yellow perch, white perch and sunfish to show along shore sites such as Broderick Park, the northern tip of Squaw Island and the area down river of the Ontario Street Boat Launch. Emerald shiners are readily available for dipping and are the top bait. The harbors and marinas along the river are also good spots to target sunfish and perch, as well as largemouth bass. Boaters have started to pick up some smallmouth bass in the drifts around Strawberry and Motor Islands. Keep in mind that bass fishing is by catch and release only, using artificial lures in the Niagara River (north of Peace Bridge) until the third Saturday in June.
INLAND TROUT FISHING
The area streams are running at moderate to higher levels. The smaller streams are your best bet at the start of the holiday weekend. Larger streams are running a bit high, especially to the south. Look for hatches of March browns and caddisflies. Fly anglers do well with the appropriate imitation dry flies or sub-surface with nymphs such as stoneflies, hares ear, pheasant tails and caddisflies. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small inline spinners. If you are a catch-and-release angler and use spinners, it is a good practice to outfit your spinners with a single hook rather than a treble hook.