New York DEC Eastern Lake Erie Fishing Report

  • May 5, 2017

All the Lake Erie boat launches are now open for the season. Launching at Buffalo Boat Harbor may still be limited to the launch closest to the restaurant.

There have been some excellent yellow perch catches lately between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 45-55 feet of water.  Most perch are now post spawn and spread out.  Searching around for schools on the graph may be futile, as fish are scattered and roving.  Some reports also indicate light-biting fish, with most perch mouthing bait rather than hitting it.  Watch or feel for line tightening rather than rod tip bouncing.  Many successful Lake Erie perch anglers employ a fluorocarbon rig with emerald shiners (See description below and diagram to the right).

Double Fluorocarbon Perch Rig:

Lake Erie Yellow Perch fishing rig common among successful anglers. Courtesy NYSDEC.

Tie a 6 foot section of 6-pound test fluorocarbon leader onto main line using a surgeon’s knot.  Slide a #6 Aberdeen hook up leader to 3 feet from end, and tie a double overhand knot, leaving a 1.5 inch loop with hook attached.  Slide a second hook onto line to 12-15 inches below first hook and secure similarly.  Attach a 1 or 2 ounce sinker a foot below the bottom hook.

Walleye season kicks off on Saturday (May 6) at 12:01 AM, but may be off to a slow start with heavily stained nearshore waters of Lake Erie.  The nearshore shoals/shallows are typically productive when the season opens.  Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar, off Hamburg and near the mouth of Smokes Creek are good spots to try.

There has been good smallmouth bass action in Dunkirk and Buffalo Harbors. Good numbers of 7-8 inch bluegill have been biting in Buffalo Harbor and Bell Slip Harbor.

The rain radar map has been heavy with rain for nearly a week, causing muddy water conditions for walleye trollers on Lake Erie.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Heavy rains again have all Lake Erie tributaries running at very high and muddy levels. Trib anglers saw good smallmouth bass action in the small to medium streams before the latest round of rain. Look for more bass to have moved in on this high water event.

Upper Niagara River

Due to muddy creek outflows, waters are turbid along the upper Niagara River’s east shoreline.  Harbors and marinas are the best bet until river waters settle out. These areas warm quicker than the river, attracting both bait and panfish.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye season opens tomorrow and new regulations are in effect on Chautauqua Lake. The rules now mirror the statewide regulations with a minimum length of 15 inches and a daily limit of 5. Previously it was a minimum length of 18 inches and a daily limit of 3.

Targeting walleye along shallower shoreline areas at night is a good early season tactic. Boaters can troll with stickbaits and worm harnesses or drift and work jigs with nightcrawlers or leeches.

Shore anglers can connect by casting stickbaits, especially near stream inlets.

See the Fishing for Walleye page for more information. Yellow perch fishing has been very good seemingly lake-wide. The area around the bridge has been a hot spot for larger perch.

 The crappie bite in the canals has tapered off, as canal anglers now catch mostly bluegill. Anglers are still catching decent numbers of crappie in open lake at depths of 4 to 8 feet. Target areas near structure and weed beds.

Inland Trout Streams

Inland trout fishing is on hold due to high water conditions, with muddy conditions on all creeks. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams and Stocked Trout Streams to choose from.

In addition, Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region’s best trout streams.

Check out the Fishing For Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, equipment and fishing techniques.

Spring Trout Stocking

All of Region 9’s trout stocking waters have been stocked with at least one stocking increment. For County lists of stocked waters check the Spring Trout Stocking 2017 page. Hatchery staff are now delivering additional stocking increments for the larger or more popular waters. The following waters are scheduled an additional stocking between 5/8 and 5/12.

Allegany County: Dodge Creek (Clarksville), Dyke Creek (Andover), Cryder Creek (Independence), California Hollow Brook (Bolivar), Little Genesee Creek (Bolivar).

Cattaraugus County: Elton Creek (Freedom).

Wyoming County: Tonawanda Creek (Orangeville), Buffalo Creek (Java).

Genesee River Angler Diary Program

DEC Region 9 Fisheries Unit will be running an angler diary program for the Genesee River during 2017, and is currently looking for anglers to keep diaries. The diarist program aims to record data for trout and bass fishing trips on the Genesee River from the Pennsylvania line downstream through Letchworth State Park from March 1st through October 31st, 2017. If you fish the Genesee River (even once) and would like to contribute your observations by keeping a diary, please call DEC Fisheries at (716) 379-6372 or email

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.