By Craig Robbins
Walleye fishing has transitioned to deeper waters where trollers target suspended fish 15-45 feet below the surface.
The key to better walleye catches is to locate bait schools on the graph, and run lures at those depths. Anglers also concentrate efforts in progressively deeper waters as you move west.
Action has been in 50 plus feet of water out of Dunkirk and Barcelona Harbors. From Cattaraugus Creek west to the state line, the best bite is found outside 70 feet of water. Dunkirk and Barcelona trollers have located limits in 80-100 feet of water.
Three to six colors of lead core with stickbaits or worm harnesses have worked well for walleye.
Deeper has also been better for yellow perch. Anglers have produced decent catches in 45-65 feet of water off Cattaraugus Creek. Large perch schools have been tough to locate.
Catches have come in flurries from small schools on the move. Live emerald shiners fished just off the bottom work best for perch. If emeralds are scarce, try other small minnows/shiners or salted minnows.
Smallmouth bass action has been good in 25-45 feet of water. Key on structures such as reefs, rock piles and drop-offs. Drop-shot rigs combined with crayfish, minnows, tube jigs or other plastic baits work well.
July and August are traditionally the best months to target lake trout in Lake Erie. Head for prime depths of over 90 feet deep, northwest of Dunkirk to the PA line. Downriggers with spoons run near the bottom is a productive method, although lakers may also be suspended in the water column.
While walleye fishing has been slow, anglers are still picking up a few along weed edges in both basins. Target walleye by trolling with jointed stickbaits and worm harnesses or by drifting and jigging with black hair jigs tipped off with nightcrawlers or leeches.
Muskie anglers are finding toothie critters either trolling or casting over rocky points and weed beds.
Some anglers are trolling weed edges, targeting musky that are waiting to ambush preyfish. Others troll in deeper water of 25-30 feet, targeting large musky that are suspended.
Good trolling lures include perch pattern crankbaits, large jointed stick baits and bucktail trolling spinners. Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing has been good along weed edges, around docks and in open pockets within weed beds. Top water lures, weedless rigged power worms and wacky rigged senkos work well.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
Boaters target smallmouth bass outside weedlines, often over rocky or gravel bottom. Live crayfish work great for smallmouth bass.
Anglers can target muskellunge along weed edges with large tube jigs or stickbaits.
Recently at Broderick Park, emerald shiners have produced good catches of white bass and white perch, with improving numbers of yellow perch in the 9-10 inch range. A few smallmouth bass and walleye have also been caught there. Emerald shiners are still available for dipping at the current break, but numbers are starting to dwindle.