By Craig Robbins
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBUTARIES
This weekend local anglers can enjoy free fishing days where no license is required.
Trolling with worm harnesses run near the bottom or bottom bouncing with worm harnesses has produced limit catches of 18-24 inch walleye, with a some larger eyes mixed in.
From the Dumping Grounds off Dunkirk Harbor to Cattaraugus Creek, walleye are scattered in 35-55 feet of water. Barcelona anglers report good catches in 65-70 feet of water between the harbor and Brocton Shoal. Walleye are hanging just off the bottom and stickbaits have been favored over worm harnesses.
Perch anglers looking for schools on the bottom before dropping anchor have done the best.
Good catch reports have come from various depths between 48 and 63 feet of water. Dunkirk Harbor perch grounds are generally the area off the red harbor buoy in 40-50 feet of water. However, the buoy is not in place at present. Live emerald shiners fished just off the bottom work best for perch. If emeralds are scarce, try other small shiners or salted minnows.
Lake Erie smallmouth bass are plentiful around reefs, rock piles and drop-offs in 18-35 feet of water. Good bets are Van Buren Bay and Reef and the Dumping Ground. Tube jigs, jigs with twister tails, deep diving stickbaits, live minnows and crayfish are good baits. A drop-shot rig with tubes, plastics or live bait is a top tactic when fishing deeper water.
The smallmouth bass fishing in the tributaries, especially Cattaraugus Creek, has been good with the lower section producing best.
Anglers are catching decent numbers of walleye along weed edges in the south basin. In the north basin, walleye catches have been reported along weed edges, between Prendergast and the Bell Tower in We Wan Chu Bay. Target walleye by trolling with jointed stickbaits and worm harnesses or by drifting and jigging with blade baits or jigs with nightcrawlers or leeches.
Early in the season working the shallows and docks are an angler's best bet. Spinnerbaits, stickbaits, tube jigs and other plastics have worked well. Now that regular bass season is open, anglers can use live baits such as minnows and crayfish.
Now is a good time to take young or new anglers fishing on Chautauqua Lake as bass, sunfish and smaller perch are readily available from docks and shore. Muskie hunters are doing well casting in the northern basin in Warners Bar and in front of the Prendergast Launch.
Largemouth bass are being caught in the mid lake off the lilly pads with top water baits such as frogs, floating worms and buzz baits. Jig and pig combinations are ideal in the well-defined weed pockets off Lilly Dale docks and Job Crops.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
During the 2014 catch and release bass season, anglers saw good smallmouth bass action around Strawberry and Motor Islands, as well as along the southwest side of Grand Island.
Live crayfish work great for smallmouth bass. Daytime anglers at Broderick Park (foot of Ferry St.) were catching a mix of white bass, white perch and sheepshead on emerald shiners. After dark, Broderick Park anglers are picking up some walleye on emerald shiners. Shore anglers are catching yellow perch at the Ontario Street boat launch and along the wall to the north