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Rod, Gun & Game: Outdoors going through transition of seasons

ONE IN THE NET — Anglers fishing below Burt Dam in 18-Mile Creek, a Lake Ontario tributary near Olcott, NY, use long noodle-rod rigs and light monofilament line to present flies, egg sacs, plastic egg baits and plastic worms to score on big fish beginning by Oct. 1. This brown trout weighed 18 pounds. Forrest Fisher Photo.
As outdoors folks have started to search basement and attic storage bins for outdoor clothes to accommodate cooler weather, Western New York hits record heat this week and it seems we’ll need to keep two sets of clothes handy the next few weeks.

Hunters are thinking ahead to the southern tier early archery black bear and whitetail deer season that will open on Tuesday, Oct. 1. There are numerous 3D shoots in many WNY locations to help archers hone arrow shooting skills, but many sportsmen are not finished with fishing season. The early archery season ends the day before the NYS big game firearms opener on Nov. 16.

Anglers fishing Lake Erie for walleye have experienced the usual end-of-summer slowdown as schools of fish move back toward the western basin, though trollers working out of Buffalo, Sturgeon Point, Dunkirk and Barcelona still report occasional fair catch rates. Anglers fishing the deep water in the central portion of Lake Erie west of Sturgeon Point and north of Cattaraugus Creek, near the international line, are still catching some impressive fish, though very few anglers are limiting out with six fish per day.

Working 65 to 70 foot deep water, anglers running smaller stickbaits and black/purple or pink/green spinner-worm rig deployments closer to the bottom, do very well. One problem with the worm rigs is that they attract smaller silver bass and white perch, foiling attempts for bigger walleye gamefish. In this regard, many anglers prefer to run Renosky stickbaits (pink/silver) with no worm and report good success, as has been the story all summer.

Additionally, New York anglers fishing outside Presque Isle Bay near Erie, PA. report limit catches of walleye fishing just two miles outside the shoreline there. Anglers are using similar stickbaits with sideplaner trolling rigs and six to 10 colors of lead core line.

Local perch anglers dropping their minnow nets at the foot of West Ferry and foot of Sheridan looking for two- to three-inch emerald shiners are only catching very tiny minnows, new-borns, usually too small to use as bait. Bait dealers call these small shiners “pinheads.” Watching some netters at Ferry Street the other day, they used polarized sunglasses to move around and find useable larger emeralds. Savvy and patience is required no matter the fishing

With emerald shiner minnows in the bucket, though anglers also report that fathead minnows have also worked well on the perch in 70-71 foot depths off Evangola State Park. Anglers can access from Sturgeon Point or any of the three usual launches at Cattaraugus Creek. Two-hook spreader rigs work well on windy days, while in-line, two-hook, crappie style rigs score on calm days.

Local perch fishing mentor and seminar celebrity, Herb Schultz, wastes little time fishing with light line and finesse fishing for perch. Schultz advises, “Find a hungry school of perch and use 17-pound monofilament with one-ounce sinkers with a sturdy crappie rig to present the minnows. When the fish are on the feed, there is no need to use four-pound or six-pound line to risk breaking fish off.” He adds, “many times, you’ll find these Lake Erie perch are really big! Two of them will snap your line if you are lucky enough to find the fish.”

Fishing for smallmouth bass with my grand-daughter last weekend, it didn’t take much time trolling in waters between 20 and 30 feet deep to hook multiple big fish. Fishing near Van Burn Point and using downriggers set at 16 to 20 feet, we trailed the new Rapala Scatter Rap lure in silver/black at about two miles per hour to enjoy heavy fish in short order. While we could only see one other bass angler in the distance, others typically work drop shot rigs with plastic baits or jig heads near bottom to enjoy similar success on the rocky shoals that exist from Buffalo to Pennsylvania.

Anglers from all over the northeast can be found fishing Lake Ontario and the Niagara and Orleans County tributaries for king salmon. From a boat not far offshore, this is the hottest local action on the WNY fishing scene right now. Mature king salmon running between 30 and 38 pounds, have been taken by trollers working flasher-fly rigs or spoons in 70 to 150 feet of water between Olcott Harbor and the Niagara Bar, with the deep edge of the Bar providing some great fishing action the past weeks. Steelhead, Coho salmon, lake trout and brown trout have also provided mixed bag Salmonid, with the lake trout and brown trout usually found closer to bottom in 60 or 65 feet.

When the recent winds drove boat anglers off the lake, shore anglers started to catch a few salmon and brown trout from the piers, too, and more recently, from the creeks where the water temperatures were dropping with the occasional chilly mornings until last Tuesday and Wednesday. The Lower Niagara River water temperatures are still about the same as Lake Erie is not quite cold enough for the big king salmon run to trigger yet, but as soon as we have a few more consecutive cold mornings, the fish will be there in big numbers, making for some incredible fishing for shore anglers.

To learn more about the type of tackle you need and what lures to use, check the NYSDEC website at

No Crossbow for NYS

NY Senator Pat Gallivan addressed about 100 visitors at the WNY Safari Club meeting at Michael’s Banquet Hall last week. Gallivan said, “We have conducted our own polls with sportsmen at outdoor shows and across the region with mailers, and found that the vast majority, about 65 percent, favor crossbow hunting in New York State.”

However, Gallivan went on, “While even the NYSDEC is in favor of crossbow hunting and some of the New York Bowhunters agree, there seems to be just one issue and his name is Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney from Long Island. Sweeney is the chairman of the New York State Assembly Environmental Committee and he personally does not favor crossbow because he says — it is a superior weapon.”

Gallivan’s advice was to send emails and letters and make phone calls to your local legislators and especially to Assemblyman Sweeney’s office too. Safari Club president Jim Monteleone, thanked Gallivan for his report from Albany. Gallivan drew a rousing round of applause.

Outdoors Calendar

- Sept. 12: Archery Shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 15 targets, 4pm, unlimited shooting, call Mike at 655-5030.

- Sept. 14: WNY Chapter 29 Pheasants Forever Banquet, Classics Banquet Hall, 2425 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst, call 568-1619 for tickets.

- Sept. 17: 3D Archery Shoot, Allied Sportsmen Club, 12846 Clinton St., Marilla, 5:30pm, visit online at

- Sept. 18: 3D Archery Shoot, Evans Rod & Gun, Cain Rd., 4pm, call 549-0333.

- Sept. 18: 3D Archery Shoot, East Aurora Fish & Game, 1016 Luther Rd., East Aurora, 5pm, unlimited shooting, target bunks, call Nadine at 982-7069.

- Sept. 19: Seminar, 7pm, Economics of Lake Erie, Bruce Fisher, SUNY professor, will speak, Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center, Route 5, Woodlawn, open to public.

E-mail outdoors news to Forrest Fisher 10 days in advance at

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