LAKE ERIE AND TRIBUTARIES
The smallmouth bass bite has been exceptional off the breakwalls at Dunkirk Harbor. Anglers are catching dozens of smallies with some 6-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, shiners and plastic artificial crawfish style baits off the bottom for success.
Yellow-perch action picked up this past weekend off Dunkirk Harbor/Dumping Grounds. Finding schools of yellows hasn't been difficult, but getting the ''jack perch'' to bite has been the challenge. Deeper holes off the Barcelona and Dunkirk Harbors have been producing ''jacks'' but the key is using emerald shiners fished just off the bottom.
As daytime temperatures begin to rise the night walleye bite has been picking up close to shore on the reefs such Van Buren Bay. Trolling minnow-type stickbaits at around 2 mph over rocky areas in 6-15 feet of water are working great.
Chautauqua County creeks are at moderate to slightly high levels. Smallmouth bass catches were good through the weekend, in the lower sections of the tributaries.
Following mid-week rains, all tributaries except for Cattaraugus Creek have dropped back to fishable levels. Anglers can find smallmouth bass on Cattaraugus Creek from mid-Seneca Reservation down to the mouth (you need a license issued by Seneca Nation to fish on Seneca lands); on Chautauqua, Canadaway and Eighteenmile Creeks from the thruway down to the mouths.
Fly anglers do well with woolly buggers and minnow patterns. Spinning anglers do well with stickbaits and natural baits such as minnows, crayfish of worms.
Anglers have been catching channel catfish catches in the low end of Cattaraugus Creek. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers, raw shrimp or cut bait fished on the bottom works well for catfish, especially at night. Shore anglers can also catch catfish along the Lake Erie shoreline on calm nights, especially near stream inlets
Chautauqua Lake's water level is high from all the rain, but anglers are still catching fish. Waters in the south basin are stained, but anglers are catching bass in the shallow bays, such as Ashville and Burtis.
When water clarity is cloudy it is important to move into the shallows where baitfish are schooled. Remember that the special catch-and-release season is in effect until the regular season opens on June 21.
Anglers are still catching good crappie in 6-10 feet of water of sheltered bays and near reefs and sunken islands. Jig heads (1/32 and 1/64 ounce) with 1-inch tubes tipped off live minnows work well.
Anglers are picking up some walleye along weed lines in 8-12 feet of water by trolling with stickbaits and worm harnesses during low light periods. Shore anglers can also catch walleye by casting stickbaits at night. Trollers are working the weed edges off Warners Bar, The Bell Tower off Chautauqua Institution and Bemus Bays.
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, 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, artificial lures only in the Niagara River (north of Peace Bridge) until the third Saturday in June.