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Rod, Gun & Game: Lake Erie walleye fishing remains hot

Chautauqua Lake bass fishing has been hot for Amherst school teacher, Patrick Kapperman, working weedless pumpkin-pepper color Senko worms in the south basin near Asheville Bay. (Photo by Forrest Fisher)
Lake Erie walleye fishing has been the best we have seen in many years. Three huge schools of fish are moving about in the eastern basin and anglers fishing out of Buffalo and out of Sturgeon Point have been the fish-catching benefactors.

One school is situated north of Point Breeze, another school if east of Meyer’s Reef and the last school is between the Departure buoy and five miles west. The fish are running 19 to 31 inches in length, so there is a variation of many year classes present. Some anglers limit out each day in short order, others surprisingly cannot find a fish.

No matter what type of fishing lure or bait process is fished, there is no “right way” to explain why on some days certain color lures or baits work and on other days, the same rigs are strictly washing water — even when the graph clearly displays big fish are present. Folks that fish Lake Erie for walleye understand that these days can occur often.

Usually it’s that there is a change in something — the wind direction, wind velocity, sky color, barometer, the water clarity, the location of forage, has it moved? Also, the boat speed, the direction of the troll or the last, but not least, the underwater current, both direction and velocity. If you can think to consider some of these “fishing dimensions,” chances are you are not an ordinary fisherman — you happen to be a smart WNY walleye fisherman.

Anglers that fish for walleye in the Buffalo to Barcelona region of Lake Erie seem to know more about the fishing presentation variables than most other anglers ever consider in other parts of the U.S. Sometimes the fish move toward the surface and they disappear from sonar, where have they gone? Then some anglers head for the boat launch and home to finish that summertime (endless) honey-do list, while others begin to change the variables of their presentations. This is truly the fun challenge.

On occasion, you can burn the entire day and never identify the fish-catching secret for that day, but other times — if you keep an open mind, you will find that a learning process has started to evolve in your thinking pattern. You’ve discovered the bottom of your tackle box and you begin to understand the many options of new lures, leaders, rigs and more, that are part of your tackle collection. You are becoming a better fisherman!

For certain fishermen, it is a matter of deciding what to fish in the manner of their favorite personal fishing styles. That might be trolling or drifting with a three-way spinner/worm and sinker rig, trolling with three-color or six-color lead core line, or using the side-planers to offer a floating stickbait close to the surface — weighted with clip-on sinker weights from one to six ounces. Maybe the favored method is using a deep trolling plane device such as the Dipsey-divers, Slip-divers or Jet-divers.

Over time, most anglers develop their favored style of fishing and they learn “how to adapt” with their style. Wherever the fish are, they know how to change depth, so control lure action, and put their presentation where they see the fish on the graph or take their offerings to the section of the lake when they cannot see the fish (when they are just under the surface).

No matter which fishing method is your choice, if you turn the boat often, change the boat speed (lure speed) once in a while and vary your presentation to mitigate the differences of what the fish want each day. You will find walleye fishing success in short order.

For most anglers, pride runs deep, but so does the humility of successful anglers. If you ask them, they will usually tell you everything. They are done for the day and they know the fish will probably move to a new location overnight, sometimes not, and you can repeat hot fishing for a few days in a row during certain periods of the summer.

For Ted Malota, the Dipsey-diver magic man of local legendary walleye fame, daily walleye limits and culled creels have been the norm this year. Malota and best friend, Jack Schultz (Herb’s humble brother), fishes the deep line style, using Dipsey divers to present spinner/worm rigs while trolling 1.8 to 2.1 miles per hour.

Fishing the hot school that sets up down the international line off Meyer’s Reef each year, Malota trolls a little Dispey with ring (hot nuclear pink color, about 150 feet out with an index of three). This past week, with a big Dipsey and ring, he sets lines between 120-130 feet back. The black/gold and avocado green spinner blade combinations have been the hot fishing lures for him, setting line to run three to eight feet off the bottom. On some days, Maloata says, “We’ll catch 13 or 14 fish between 7 and 11 a.m., then it’s time to head back and get started cleaning the fish and boat.

Malota is retired these days and enjoys frequent walleye and perch fishing trips to Lake Erie. He has developed a hobby that has led him to become a lure maker, allowing him to test spinner-worm rigs in any color he can imagine. He usually finds the right color combination and as you can see, is always willing to share the story of his success with others. Humble fishermen that really catch fish often do that. The secret-keepers are usually not all that successful. Good luck out there!

Chautauqua Lake news

Bass and walleye fishing has shown regular success for anglers fishing along structure in the southern tier hotspot Chautauqua Lake. Walleye action has been hot with rainbow color hatchet blade worm harnesses set up in three-way rig fashion drifted with a light wind or slow electric motor trolled outside the weedline in 14-15 feet of water has been the hot bait with many anglers creeling a limit catch each day. The north and south basin have both produced good walleye action through the last week.

For anglers that can skip cast a six-inch Senko worm fished weedless off a 3/o size plastic worm hook, the largemouth bass fishing has been great. The southern basin near Asheville Bay has shown big bass to five and six pounds with fishing better at mid-day when definite shadows allow fish to find the shade of the docks and moored boats. Captain Larry Jones reports great musky fishing, too, with one or two musky taken each trip trolling the super-large Wiley lures he favors. The big fish are running between 35 and 44 inches so far this year, though he had caught and released a few fish over 50 inches last year. Contact Jones for a charter at 833-6739.

Connecticut goes through similar law process as NY

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) filed suit in federal court this past Monday against Connecticut’s new gun laws. The suit alleges that Governor Dannel Malloy and the leadership of the Connecticut General Assembly misused the so-called “emergency certification” exemption in order to bypass procedures and speedily pass strict gun-control regulations.

Looks like they took a page out of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “pass the law at midnight” book. Further, the suit argues the enactment of the new law violated fundamental due-process rights guaranteed by both the Connecticut and United States Constitution’s. NSSF is asking the court to declare the law invalid and issue an injunction prohibiting its enforcement.

Outdoors Calendar

July 11: Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Assoc., monthly meeting and seminar, 4487 Lake Ave. (Route 78), Lockport, 7pm, Capt. Don Ruppert – Lake Erie Walleye Techniques, call 636-0519.

July 13/14: Ameri-Can Walleye Classic, Chadwick Bay Marina – Dunkirk Harbor, five fish/day for two days, call 875-8148 for more information.

July 13: LOTSA King Salmon Tournament, Lake Ontario, single largest salmon, visit, email:

July 17: Military veterans Fun Fishing and Food Picnic, Elma Conservation, 12 noon, call Tom Ryion at 895-1607for information and details.

July 22/27: NYS Trapping Certification Course, Elma Conservation, 600 Creek Rd., Elma, 7/22: 6-10pm, 7/27: 7am start, call 681-5690.

July 27: Sunset Bay Walleye Shoot-Out on Lake Erie six fish for one day, email or call Bob Rustowicz at 830-6394 for info.

Aug. 2/3/4: Northern Chautauqua County Walleye Derby, Dunkirk Harbor, three/day for three days, contact Zen Olaw at 640-2776 to register.

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