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Rod, Gun & Game: Chilly week has slowed fish bite

Giant smallmouth bass like this six-pounder are among early season prize catches for Carbon-X fishing rod inventor and USA manufacturer, Dave Gray, visiting Buffalo and Niagara Falls for early season fishing fun with Captain Frank Campbell.
The bass, perch and walleye bite has slowed right down with the change to windy and chilly weather since the weekend, but fear not, the fish continue either spawning (perch and walleye) or staging for the spawn (bass).

Despite the weather, early season bass anglers have done well in Lake Erie and Lower Niagara River waters from Lewiston to Barcelona, with the hottest bass bite to be found in the quiet Dunkirk Harbor waters. Tube jigs, twister tail jigs and stickbaits are among most popular bass angler lure offerings, with the jigs requiring very little effort to bring a hook-up with the fish.

Working the inner harbor breakwalls and shoreline drop-offs of the harbor areas, bass anglers simply align their boats laterally to the intended line of drift and drop a quarter to three-eighths ounce jig with tube tail in pumpkin pepper or a similar darker pattern and drift with the natural current toward the north, lifting the rod tip every now and then to entice the strike. Big bass to five-plus pounds are relatively common at this time, but please use caution to release these pre-spawning bass without harm.

Open lake anglers also scored high marks of fishing success working the same lures described above near drop-offs and rocky bottom lake areas between 10 to 25 feet of depth.

Most bass anglers are working 10-pound test Trilene-XT monofilament or a similar weight of braided super-line (Fireline or Sufix 832) and a short five-foot length of fluorocarbon leader between the braid and the lure, presented with either a casting reel or spinning reel and a fast tip IM-8 graphite, seven-foot long fishing rod. The rod length amplifies the strike signal for easy angler detection.

The special Lake Erie trophy black bass season is in effect on the open waters of Lake Erie, harbors and tributaries up to the first impassible barrier (dam or waterfalls). Anglers can keep one bass per day with a minimum size of 20 inches during the special season that started May 4. Note that bass fishing on all other waters in WNY is completely catch and release only, artificial lures only, until the third Saturday in June when the regular bass season will begin.

While most anglers have their boats out of storage and ready for water by now, the big draw for anglers looking for table fare with early season walleye have found action to be slow. With early season fishing for walleye is typically slow on Lake Erie, inland Chautauqua Lake action is usually already in gear and anglers are finding the walleye there are also a bit finicky.

The walleye are finished spawning at Chautauqua and they usually sulk about a week before they move into the shallows at night to feed. Fishermen are trolling or wading and casting at night from three to six feet of water. Here too, the walleye are looking for that 55 degree water which warms up closer to shore first. The Chautauqua perch and crappie are biting and the really good news here is that both of these species seem to be providing larger fish than usual, with some perch hitting 12 and 13 inches!

As Lake Erie warms to the mid-50 degree mark, the walleye will have completed their spawning ritual without getting caught (a good thing) and the shallow water walleye bite will accelerate into a steady after-dusk action. Most anglers troll with small motor propulsion and electric motors after dark to score on the tasty nighttime walleye predators while trailing shallow-running crankbaits in five to 10 feet of water. Sensitive rod tip actions will telegraph that the lure is running in tune and without any weeds or other debris impediments.

Most anglers report the yellow perch are in their spawning mode and have slowed in the bite. Take heart in the fact that not all the fish spawn at the same time, just keep moving until you locate a an active school of fish and then enjoy those special fish-catching moments on the water.

Anglers working 45 to 55 feet of water off Sturgeon Point and also off Evangola State Park have used multiple hook rigs to present live emerald shiners lip-hooked just off the bottom. If the fish are not cooperating, slowly pull your line back up to five or even 10 feet off the bottom. There are those days when wind and underwater current form a mineral layer that tends to push the fish up and off the bottom.

Boat launch report

Thanks to funding from federal sources identified by local angler Tom Marks and successfully obtained through the joint efforts of Senator Sean Ryan and Senator Mark Grisanti, the Sturgeon Point boat harbor dredging is complete and the boat launch was scheduled to open May 15. This access will offer Lake Erie perch and walleye angler’s access to prime early season fishing waters found not far in either direction from the launch site.

Other boat ramps now open for use include the Erie Basin Marina, Buffalo Small Boat Harbor, Cattaraugus Creek DEC launch, at the mouth of the creek and the Town of Hanover launch located almost a mile upstream, Dunkirk Harbor and Barcelona Harbor. Dunkirk and Bacelona are both very shallow this year.

Yellow perch fishing tourney May 18 in Hamburg

Western New York anglers have enjoyed the fishing-catching fun of the revitalized Lake Erie yellow perch population for the last several years, echoing the great perch fishing that was previously found only during the 1980s and 90s — but, it may be even better now.

The Southtowns Walleye Association of WNY is sponsoring their popular annual one-day yellow perch fishing contest this Saturday, May 18 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Weigh-in will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at the Southtowns Walleye clubhouse located at 5895 Southwestern Blvd. in Hamburg. Sign-up and registration deadline is Friday, May 17 at 4 p.m. Cost is $10 per person.

After the contest, the clubhouse is open to all participating anglers to enjoy the annual post-contest fish fry ritual with cash and tackle prizes for the heaviest bag of five fish per angler. Call 649-8202 for contest information.

Lake Erie channel catfish

Local anglers that enjoy the fun of fishing for channel catfish should have their gear ready for action this weekend. DEC reports that the big fish, many over 20 pounds, have started to move into the lower sections of the Lake Erie tributaries. Look for the quieter deep holes near the mouth of creeks for after dusk action. Anglers can catch the cats with an assortment of meaty baits including chicken livers, marinated venison, cut bait, nightcrawlers and hot dogs, all fished on the bottom. The lower section of Cattaraugus Creek and near the mouth of Eighteenmile Creek are among best and most popular locations.

Senator’s take on plastic guns

In the advent of recent discussions regarding plastic guns that can be made by anyone without serial numbers from 3D CAD-CAM files, Senator Charles Schumer said, “Everyone’s seen the movie ‘In The Line of Fire,’ where one of the great bad guys, played by John Malkovich, labored at making a gun out of plastic and wood so it could get through metal detectors and assassinate the president.”

He went on to say, “But that was only a movie, and just this week, it has become reality. We’re facing a situation where anyone, a felon, a terrorist, can open a gun factory in their garage and the weapons they make will be undetectable. It’s stomach-churning.”

The whole point of the designer kid to invent this idea for modern printing technology was that if you tell law-abiding citizens that they are not allowed to buy a gun to protect themselves because you say they cannot have it, they may find another way to regulate their personal safety; people that want to hurt others are hard to stop, but that we should not try to stop law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves. That was the point of the second year law student and inventor, it still is, in support of the second amendment.

Outdoors Calendar

May 16: Southtowns Walleye Association, monthly meeting, 7:30 pm, 5896 Southwestern Boulevard, Hamburg.

May 18/19: Niagara Gun Show, Newstead Fire Hall, 5691 Cummings Rd., Akron, 9 am-4 pm (Sat.) and 9 am-3 pm (Sun.), visit online at for more information.

June 1: “Teach-Me-To-Fish” fun derby for kids/parents, East Aurora Fish & Game, 1016 Luther Rd., 10 am-1 pm, Free, includes lunch, free rod/reel prizes, call Dave Smyczynski at 949-9483 for information.

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2013-05-16 | 07:23:43
Way to go Sharon. We are all so proud
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