Lake Erie Fishing Adventure includes Thunder of Niagara Falls USA

As an outdoor travel writer, I sure enjoy catching these tasty Lake Erie walleye.

  • The history and vista view of Niagara Falls itself is inspiring, but the thunder and vibration from the falls is simply awesome  
  • Lake Erie offers walleye, perch, smallmouth bass and musky
  • Lake Ontario offers King salmon, Atlantic salmon, Lake Trout, Brown Trout, and Steelhead
  • Niagara River offers some of all those species in the Upper and Lower River sectors

By Bob Holzhei

The American Falls with the Power Vista viewing platform in the background, and a sacred rainbow offer the ultimate adventure view, complete with Niagara Falls “thunder,” for Jeff and Tiffany Liebler, visitors from Tampa, Florida. Forrest Fisher Photo

It was a few years ago that I fished Lake Erie from the New York shoreline. It was time for a return trip to not only fish but to revisit the rich history of nearby Niagara Falls, U.S.A.

Niagara Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world. Even though I’ve visited the falls before, each return trip is an experience of a lifetime. In addition, I love history, and Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in America. Fort Niagara was established in 1726! It makes me feel young.  Costumed reenactments portray men and women dressed in primitive attire of the time during special item events held many times a year. Living history programs and artillery demonstrations take visitors to the park back in time.

Boat tours take visitors near the falls aboard the safety of a boat vessel named, the “Maid of the Mist.”

The “Maid of the Mist” offers a safe, powerboat trip to the river portion directly below the Canadian Falls, an ultimate adventure experience while you visit here. Forrest Fisher Photo

The “Festival of Lights” draws visitors from Thanksgiving to the Epiphany, on January 6th, each year.

“The Niagara Gorge spans 800 feet across and up to 200 feet deep, where the lower Niagara River flows below. Blend in the opportunity to fish the area rivers, streams, and legendary Lake Erie, it’s an amazing time. The world-renowned Niagara River connects two Great Lakes, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and also offers access to the infamous Erie Canal – the man-made waterway of the 1800s from Buffalo to Albany and New York City that was a big part of the industrial revolution.

What’s new at Niagara Falls, U.S.A.?

“A zip line over the Erie Canal in Lockport and a new improved Marina in Wilson, named Bootlegger’s Cove Marina,” stated Bill Hilts Jr., Outdoor Promotions Director for Niagara Falls Tourism Bureau.

Blend in several new breweries, downtown hotels, and a revamped Niagara Falls State Park, including a renovated “Cave of the Woods.” Outdoor activities have also expanded including hiking, biking, birding, and boating, so Niagara Falls has something for everyone.

The Niagara Falls Region provides opportunities to fish for perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, muskellunge, and Northern Pike.

A monster Lake Erie walleye near Dunkirk, NY was caught by my friend, Ed Cheeney, of Cheeney Media Concepts. Bob Holzhei Photo 

In the Lake Ontario sector, where the Niagara River makes entry, it offers Chinook, Coho, Atlantic salmon, Lake Trout, and Rainbow Trout.

The Erie Canal Region is noted for slow-moving water making it great for family fishing. Species found there include walleye, northern pike, catfish, and carp weighing up to 20 pounds.

The “River Region” is open for year-round fishing. In the fall, salmon and brown trout lure anglers to the area. In winter, steelhead fishing is popular and spring is the prime season for trout and steelhead in the river. In summer, the muskie, walleye and smallmouth bass provide excellent action for anglers. Professional charter captains are available and take the guesswork out of fishing.

With a smorgasbord of outdoor adventure and fishing opportunities throughout the year, it is no wonder why Niagara Falls and the surrounding area is one of the natural wonders of the world!

FAST FACTS: Looking back over the years

  • 1817-Erie Canal Construction Begins
  • 1859-Hydraulic Tunnel Construction begins
  • Mid-1800’s: Freedom seekers escape slavery through the Niagara Falls railroad.
  • 1885-Niagara Reservation created-Niagara Falls State Park consists of 400 acres.
  • 1896-Inventor Nikola Telsa transmits electricity 22 miles from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, New York.
  • 1901-Ajjie Edison is the first person to go over the falls in a barrel and survives.
  • 1915-Herschell Carrousel Factory/Museum; the founder of the American Amusement rides & vintage carousel rides.

To request a visitor’s guide:

Best Walleye Fishing in 30 Years! New York’s Eastern Lake Erie

  • 2017 Angler Survey Catch Rates are nearly THREE TIMES GREATER than 30-Year Average
  • Anglers Harvested More than 70,000 Walleye in 2017
  • Walleye Fishing Expected to Remain Exceptional for Years to Come
While fishing Lake Erie with Captain Dan Korzenski of Hooked-Up Sportfishing from Dunkirk Harbor, NY, Ted Kokur and his three buddies landed more than 20 walleye in a morning of fishing. Korzenski is a noted trolling expert with charter openings for 2018 (716-679-9320,

Stickbaits, spinner/worm rigs and spoons fished in, or just above, the thermocline in summer last year, produced limits of walleye for anglers near and far.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that walleye fishing on Lake Erie during the 2017 season experienced the highest recorded success in nearly 30 years.

Captain Korzenski is a local professional charter captain and shares his fish-catching success methods with all of his clients on each trip, if they want to know how.  A good thing if you own a boat and want to come back and try walleye fishing with your own tackle.  The local stopover bait and tackle store for daily catch rate success is Bill’s Hooks (5139 W. Lake Rd., Dunkirk, NY; 716-366-0268), just a few miles south of the city of Dunkirk on Route 5.  Visit with Gerri Begier there and allow yourself to learn about hot lures, snaps, swivels, fluorocarbon, leadcore line, rods, reels and a dozen other things you never knew about walleye catching, lure making and finding fish if have the time.

Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The New York State waters of Lake Erie are world famous for outstanding angling opportunities for walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch,  Our Lake Erie waters have consistently ranked among the top three most heavily fished waters in the state and the fishery generates more than $26 million in economic activity annually.  Anglers should take advantage of Lake Erie’s current conditions and experience this world-class walleye fishery for themselves in 2018.”

DEC has conducted an angler survey on Lake Erie to estimate fishing quality and fish harvest annually since 1988.  In recent years, walleye fishing quality has been generally increasing.  Survey results for 2017 revealed record-high walleye catch rates that are nearly three times greater than the 30-year average.  DEC estimates that anglers harvested more than 70,000 walleyes in 2017, a level not achieved since 1989.

Walt Gaczewski of Elma, New York, 80 years young, full of smiles, has his hands full walleye fishing with charter captains from the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (; 716-672-4282) last summer.  Steelhead, giant smallmouth bass, yellow perch and white bass are also secondary catches during Lake Erie walleye fishing outings off Chautauqua County, NY.

This exceptional fishing was due in large part to contributions of strong walleye reproduction in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2015.  Recent evidence also suggests that walleye reproduction was strong again in 2016.

Walleye are one of the most popular gamefish in New York, as they put up an exciting fight during the catch and make for a tasty meal on the table.  Walleye are aptly named because of their unique eyes that have a reflective layer of pigment called the tapetum lucidum, which allows them to see very well at night and during other low-light periods.  This layer also gives walleye their “glassy-eyed” or “wall-eyed” appearance.

Lake Erie is continually ranked among the world’s top walleye fishing destinations by angler publications with an abundance of trophy-size walleye ranging from 8-10 pounds, with local tournament winners often landing fish exceeding 11 pounds.

If you are looking to organize an office party outing, Captain Lance Ehrhardt from the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (716-672-4282) can provide a listing of local charter captains that catch fish.  Erhardt prefers to keep the live bait worms on shore – he is a stickbait expert, but has clients reporting summer catches of more than 40 walleye a trip during hot summer outings.  Imagine that!

Given that walleye typically live 10 years or more in Lake Erie, combined with excellent reproduction rates in recent years, anglers should experience continued, exceptional walleye fishing in future years.

For the latest Lake Erie fishing hotline report updated weekly in summer, visit  For lodging and other information for vacation planning, wine country tours, microbrewery locations, campsites, boat launches and more, visit

Boat speed, surface temperature, bottom temperature and frequent turns into “secret lake areas” where fish are found allow anglers to reap schooled walleye benefits.


Lake Erie-Lake Ontario-Niagara River “On-Line” Fishing & Vacation Map is FREE

  • Integrated Map Provides Fish Locations, Shore Fishing Access, Boat Access
  • Depth Contours ZERO-IN on Hotspot Fishing Locations
  • Bait Shops, Marina Locations, Shipwrecks, ALL HERE…ALL FREE
Depth Contours as well as on-shore landmarks for boater access, shore fishing, restaurants and marina locations are included for Niagara County, Erie County and Chautauqua County waterway areas.  The website map link and info is free. 

By Forrest Fisher

There is a NEW interactive, online, Western New York Hotspot Fishing Map application that is yours FREE at this link:

The regional website map has been designed for everyone, including for cellphone and laptop use.  It is the perfect “get-it-now” reference tool for many user groups.  Boaters, anglers, scuba divers, vacationers and many other groups, family fishing groups, now have good waterway reference map.  Need to research waterway areas of the Greater Niagara Region of New York State BEFORE the trip?  Here is your resource.

The map spotlights lake depth contours, boating access points, marinas, shore fishing sites, sunken wrecks, fish species locations, bait shops, information sources, dining establishments and give all that to the user with GPS coordinates.  Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties offer some of the best freshwater sportfishing the world has ever seen!

World class walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, musky, trout, salmon, all here, and many species of panfish.  Nearly everything an avid fisherman would ever want.  Carp and Channel Catfish too.

The Greater Niagara Region has established a reputation that boasts excellence in sportfishing, boating, kayaking, and outdoor on-the-water recreation.  Hire a charter, bring your own boat or fish from shore, the new regional map website will be useful for everyone who looks to quench a hungry angling appetite.

The website map is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast and for families looking to get back to finding the family fun of the outdoors through fishing and boating.  There are many other outdoor attractions, state and county parks, hiking paths, bird-watching opportunities (the Niagara River Corridor is internationally recognized as an important bird area), hunting options and more.  There are cultural, historical and recreational highlights from Lewiston in Niagara County, to Buffalo in Erie County and to Jamestown in Chautauqua County.  The new website and map app offers access to outdoor information and adds value for visitors and residents alike.

The area below Dunkirk, NY, and Barcelona Harbor, in Westfield, NY, is the “HOT WALLEYE ZONE”. Here is the 1st look-see from a free fishing map link that all anglers can enjoy for the very first time at no charge.

The website ( offers information to get you started and headed in the right direction, from charter listings to marina information; from shore fishing spots to license information. Unfortunately, it can’t help you set the hook and reel the fish in!

Greater Niagara – You’ll “fall for us” all over again reel soon!

Lake Erie Fishing Hotline, (716) 855-FISH,, fishhotlines.html

Niagara Co. Fishing Hotline, (877) FALLS-US,

This map was made possible through the funding of Erie and Niagara Counties. It was prepared cooperatively between Erie and Niagara County’s respective Sportfishing Promotion Programs, with assistance from the Erie and Niagara County Fisheries Advisory Boards. Additional maps may be obtained by calling: Buffalo-Niagara CVB at 800-BUFFALO or Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. at 877-FALLS US.

NYSDEC Eastern Lake Erie Fishing Report – June 10, 2017

Lake Erie and Harbors

Fishing from a very windy Sunset Bay in Irving, NY, retired Charter Captain Bob Rustowicz and teammates, caught a few walleye from Day 1 of the Southtowns walleye Association Tournament in Lake Erie.

The night bite along the nearshore reefs has fallen off. Most walleye anglers are now targeting daylight hours and catches have been slowly improving in 40-60 feet of water near major spawning areas. Productive methods include trolling with worm harnesses or stickbaits just off the bottom, or by slow trolling (1 mph or less) with a bottom bouncing rig and worm harness. Working deeper edges off the walleye spawning structures is also worth a try. Some walleye anglers are still doing well at night off the Buffalo Harbor’s outer breakwalls out to 30 feet of water, with a few catches inside the harbor as well. There have been some decent yellow perch catches recently out of Cattaraugus Creek starting in 60 feet of water. Anglers fishing in around 50 feet of water report plenty of nuisance goby. Live emerald shiners fished near the bottom work best for perch.

Smallmouth bass are still available in and around Lake Erie harbors and their breakwalls. Early this week, Dunkirk Harbor anglers were catching between 15-35 smallmouth per outing. On Lake Erie, depths of 20-30 feet of water over rocky shoals has recently been productive. Good spots to try include Myers Reef, Seneca Shoal, Evans Bar and Van Buren Reef. Many smaller reefs, rock piles and humps will hold bass as well. Tube jigs, jigs with twister tails, deep diving stickbaits, live minnows and crayfish are good bass baits. For more information see the Smallmouth Bass Fishing on Lake Erie page.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Some smallmouth bass are still available in the Lake Erie tributaries. However, with low and warming waters in the small to medium streams, the bite is fading. Best chances for bass is in the lower end of Cattaraugus Creek.

Upper Niagara River

Smallmouth bass catches are on the rise around Grand Island. Bass fishing is by catch and release only, artificial lures only in the Niagara River north of the Peace Bridge, until the regular season opens on third Saturday in June.

Chautauqua Lake

Musky fishing along weedlines has been productive since the season opened. Good techniques include trolling large stickbaits along weed edges or casting stickbaits over weed beds and retrieving towards open water. There has been some decent walleye fishing during daylight hours. One group caught a bunch of keepers in 15-18 feet of water by drifting with bottom bouncing rig and worm harness and by trolling (1.3 mph) with harnesses or deep diving stickbaits. See the Fishing for Walleye page for more information. Yellow perch and sunfish seem to biting well lake-wide inside of 10 feet of water. Perch catches are also good in deeper areas.

Inland Trout Streams

Trout streams throughout the region are in great shape with moderate flows. Warming water temps also have more bug and fish feeding activity at the surface. Sub-surface nymphs are good bets early in the day, while dry flies can be productive in the afternoon. Look for hatches of March browns, sulphurs, caddis flies and stone flies on the streams that have them. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small inline spinners. 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 all of designated stocking increments. For County lists of stocked waters check the Spring Trout Stocking 2017 page. Hatchery staff stocked some surplus two-year-old brown trout in the following waters between May 23rd and 26th: Genesee River – 400 brown trout from Wellsville to PA border; Cattaraugus Creek – 400 brown trout in Erie and Wyoming Counties; Cohocton River – 275 brown trout; Oatka Creek – 275 brown trout.

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

More Information:

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.

When Lake Erie Charter Captains Meet

  • Trolling, Casting?
  • Stickbaits or Live Bait?
  • Depth, Direction, Lure Details and GPS Numbers
Choosing the right lure, the right color, right size are key to success. Charters Captains have a virtual tackle shop aboard their fishing rigs. Forrest Fisher photo

The sky doesn’t fall in when charter captains meet, but secrets may be shared and debated. If you were a fly on the wall, you might want to be there. The knowledge of professional fishing guides and Great Lakes charter captains is one of those fishing resource elements that all who fish yearn to know more about – the guides know so many details.

They understand the important elements of water depth, wind direction, forage location and related changes, fishing line – type and strength, rods – length and action, reels – level wind or spinning, boat gear – safety first, landing nets – handle length and hoop size, cooler efficiency – Orion long-life coolers, live wells, sonar – Hummingbird and Lowrance, GPS, diving planes – Dipsey divers and Pink Lady’s and so many more, downrigger balls and releases – Black’s releases or Cannon or Big Jon or others, leader materials – Fluorocarbon or doesn’t it matter? How many are a gazillion things to know? These guys know all the not-so-little things.

When professional fishing guides and charter captains sit down together for great food and kinship at a 5-star facility such as Peak’N Peak Resort and Spa, do they share fishing secrets? You can ask ‘em! From left to right, Captain Frank Shoenacher – Infinity Charters, Gene Pauszek – Dunkirk Observer News, Captain Joan Erhardt & Captain Lance Erhardt – Sassafras Charters, musky guide – Captain Larry Jones, Captain Dan and Mrs. Korzenski – Hooked-Up Charters, and Captain Roger and Mrs. Corlett – 89 Surprise Charters. Forrest Fisher photo

Charter captains live to fish every day. They understand the pedigree of changes where they fish and believe it or not, most of them that catch fish all the time, share their effective fish-catching details with other trusted charter captains. Why? So that they are all in the winning column when they return to the dock with paying customers. That’s where the final score is decided.

Well-equipped fishing rigs are the standard for professional charter captains and guides where safety and fishing success is the objective every day. Forrest Fisher photo

Winning on the water means return trips in the future, extra tips at the dock and maybe even a Christmas card with a Tim Horton’s gift card in there. Paying customers are those folks that usually have little time to fish – but love to fish, and they have no time at all for learning the fishery and the gear, and all those things that matter so they don’t waste time looking for fish. When they are ready to try their luck, these folks NEED charter captains that know. They are willing to pay extra for that privilege and if you figure it all out, it may be way less expensive to simply fish with a good charter captain than on your own if time and money are a limitation for you.

It costs more to fish on your own, takes longer to learn all the necessary things to know, but its fun doing that too.

My last new boat, motor and trailer was list priced at $48,000. That’s not counting such necessary gear as sonar, rods, reels, line/lures, leaders, snap-swivels, etc. It’s a long and pricey list. At that price, I could take 3 charter trips of $500 each about three times a year, fill my freezer and do that for about 32 years and include a $100 tip at the dock for every good trip. That would result in a happy captain and I would probably get preferred status in the captain’s book when I call to go fishing.   Not a bad way to go right?

Steve Geertsen (Clam Outdoors), with a whopper walleye caught near Dunkirk Harbor, Chautauqua County, New York. Forrest Fisher photo

Where I live, Captain Lance Erhardt and the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (ELECBA) share information among themselves and their clients when it makes sense to do that. All fishermen have secrets, some things are special and some things are top-secret, like where they store the toilet paper when you really need it. The charter captains are always good for a few laughs.

When New York Outdoor News editor, Steve Piatt, fished with Erhardt and first mate, Zen Olow last week Piatt said, “We had such a good time, we laughed, we had lots of hook-ups, caught multiple species – especially walleye, and best of all, when we returned to the dock, we smelled pretty fishy! I think that’s the goal!” Not everybody does.

ELECBA has top captains that are drug tested prior to membership, first mates too, and so clients know things are on the up and up. Clients like that.

When the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) and the New York State Outdoor Writers Association (NYSOWA) met in Chautauqua County (New York) at Peek’N Peak Resort and Spa in mid-September (2016), ELECBA was the organization that provided the large group with the opportunity to learn about Eastern Basin Lake Erie fishing and catching opportunities. They excelled in their task. Camera shutters and video cam’s clicked for several days in a row and it was exciting for these visitors to experience fishing success like they did because they can spread the information across their respective communication links – newspapers, television, radio and website blogs. That means economic impact in a positive manner for the future.

Our fishing/communicator team of Dave Mull (Midwest Outdoors), Steve Geertsen (President of Clam Outdoors) and myself, fished with Captain Roger Corlett aboard his 31-foot Sea Ray, with first mate, Dennis Gullo, to catch seven walleye, a surprise pink salmon, a feisty steelhead, some hard-fighting sheepshead and a few giant silver bass.

All this in less than 4-hours on the water. Photo opportunities! I took 350 pictures! Dave Mull video’d several catches. One of our walleye measured 29-3/4 inches and neared the 10-pound mark, another was 28-1/4 inches and 9 pounds, and the other walleye were not little fish. That’s a freezer full.

Captain Roger Corlett has sore arms from Eastern Lake Erie walleye near Dunkirk Harbor. Forrest Fisher photo

The next day we shared the best problem, sore shoulders, hot coffee and no complaints. Dave Mull was mulling for a while that he lost a giant walleye that could have been a new state record, the fish was a monster – but slipped away. Do we wanna return? We left warm wishes for that with a $100 friendship tip. What fun!

We learned about setting diving planes, multiple line deployment tactics, lure selection options and why, and depths to fish.

The best deal is not when charter captains meet, the best deal is when you meet with the charter captains. Pass the word and get out there to learn more about where you like to fish when you get to fish on your own. Do it the hands on way with a charter captain or guide that is a professional and knows the ropes.

Here are a few of the Great Lakes Charter Captain’s from Dunkirk that I had a chance to meet over the conference, there are many more, and you can contact Captain Lance Erhardt (see below) for a complete list:

Tight lines!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, August 19, 2016

10 year old Adam Flachbart of Fairview Park, Ohio, fishing with his dad, landed this 14 lb 5 oz Brown Trout while casting a Yo-Zuri crankbait from the Olcott Pier in Niagara County, New York. The youngster won the youth award for that species in the Summer LOC Derby. Picture courtesy of LOC Derby

Lake Ontario – King Salmon & Steelhead Action

It will be a busy weekend in Wilson, Olcott and the Fort Niagara areas. It happens when the calendar aligns properly – three different fishing derbies on the same weekend, giving you nearly $100,000 in cash and prizes – if you get into all three contests.

Just another friendly reminder that you have to be in it to win it and the odds are better for these contests than they are for the state lottery!

Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker sends word that the mature king salmon are starting to stage off Olcott in 50 to 100 feet of water as they start to darken up color-wise. Any lure that will get them to strike out of aggression – J-plugs, cut bait and flashers, flasher-fly rigs, or magnum spoons – will work on any given day. This is a time when you can catch them outside of the preferred temperature zones, too.

Out deep, a mix of immature salmon, the occasional mature and steelhead will show up in the top 60-70 feet of water over 350 to 500 foot depths. Standard or super slim sized spoons are the preferred trolling bait.

Perch and rock bass are being caught in the harbors at Wilson and Olcott. Largemouth, smallmouth and pike are also possibilities. Over in Wilson at the state park, some work around the launch ramp should be completed by Friday for the LOC Derby, but it might take an extra day or two so be prepared for a secondary option for launching.

Eighteenmile Creek has good water flow after recent rains. It was 87 cfs on Wednesday morning, blowing out duck weed and triggering some fish to hit.

First up on the contest calendar is the Orleans County Rotary Derby, currently running through August 21. Yes, it ends this Sunday. The current leader for the Grand Prize is a 30 pound, 14 ounce king salmon reeled in by Julie Schaeffer of Sligo, Pennsylvania – well within reach. Top steelhead is a 14 pound, 1 ounce fish caught by Robert Griffith of Akron, Ohio. Jessie Pepper of Rochester has the top lake trout with 16 pounds, 12 ounces and Patrick Pullinzi of Hamlin is the leading brown trout catcher at 15 pounds, 7 ounces. The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby – the Fall Return of the King event that runs for 18 days – starts on August 19 and will be offering up over $70,000 in cash and prizes including $25,000 for the largest salmon weighed in. Go to for details.

The third event kicks off on Saturday, August 20 – the 40th Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby honoring the late, great Capt. Jeremiah Heffernan. The prize structure has been increased for this year’s history-making contest, including $4,000 for the Grand Prize. There are categories for salmon, smallmouth bass, walleye, carp and trout. The winning catches in each of those categories will be placed into a hat at the Captain’s meeting in Newfane. The winning pick earns the Grand Prize. Last year it was young Nick Perri, winner of the Brown Trout Division winning the top prize. The best part of the Odyssey is that kids fish for free in a special Youth Division. Lots of great prizes will be handed out – whether you catch a fish or not! Sign up at or at any of the registration outlets. Get out there and have some fishing fun.

Also on Friday, August 19, is the inaugural “Reelin’ for a Cure” event out of Olcott.

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

Walleye action has increased a bit, just in time for the NRAA walleye contest on Sunday. Worm harnesses or yellow sally flies rigged with a spinner and a worm, fished off three way rigs is the best approach. Mike Heylek and the Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding the annual lower Niagara River walleye contest on August 21. There will be a guaranteed $500 prize structure no matter how many people are in – $250 for first; $150 for second; $100 for third. 100 percent cash pay back from the $20 entry fee and $5 big fish category. Best two fish, total weight. Scales will be open all day at the Lewiston Landing until 2 pm. The picnic and awards will also be at the pavilion at Lewiston Landing – pizza and wings from Mr. B’s. You can check the NRAA website ( and the Facebook page Niagara River Anglers for details, or stop in at Creek Road Bait and Tackle. If you fish in the contest, make sure you are registered for the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby set for August 20-28. Just ask John Walaczak! Bass action has also picked up a bit, but you do have to work for them. Crayfish and shiners top the list of preferred baits. Expect to catch a few sheepshead or silver bass, too.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass is still the primary focus for drifters and casters with live bait working the best, fishing off three way rigs for drifters. Casters are using tubes, drop shot rigs or stickbaits – the same artificial lures that worked for the fishing pros a few weeks ago. Strawberry Island is always a good spot to start, at the head of the island or just east of the island. In the west river, bass action can be good, but remember that is mostly Canadian waters – follow the rules. The head of the river in the current is also a good spot to target bass and the occasional walleye. Sheepshead are showing up regularly.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Lightning Bolt Walleye on Lake Erie

Solutions for Thunder and Skittish Fish

John Mills from Orchard Park, New York, was straining to lift his walleye prize from the clear water depths of Lake Erie while fishing with Captain Jim Skoczylas aboard Ultimate Adventure Sportfishing.

When Mother Nature decides to drop in on your fishing plans, the wind and the rain may not keep you from fishing, but those big bright lightning bolts with clapping thunder will sure turn most of us around.

What’s almost worse, when the cloudburst and natural fireworks happen the night before a fishing day plan for 60 people and the lake turns calm, the fish do too.

That’s what happened for the VIP Fishing Day in Dunkirk Harbor, New York, on Wednesday, August 11, 2016. Our dedicated hosts included Zen Olow (Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Club), Lance Erhardt (Lake Erie Charter Captain’s Association) and Andrew Nixon (Executive Director Chautauqua County CVB) and their supporting crew. The plan was to provide the time and resources for a networking opportunity where 12 charter boats (walleye and bass guides), local expert fishermen, legislators, business owners and Mother Nature, could share conversation. lightningwalleye2There is nothing like a face-to-face meeting of the minds. Issues can often find solutions or at least become identified. This annual event is one an effective way to bring real issues and the potential for discussion and action together on the battlefront of conservation, the outdoors, Great Lakes resources and other factors.

Overnight the lake was a sea of flashing thunder and driving rain, but by morning, the lake was calm and the charter anglers all knew where the schools of walleye had been located over the last few days. So off they went, some of the boats carrying three, four and five of the would-be angler folks to fish catching destinations looking for the sweet song of a screeching drag.

There is nothing like walleye gills and fins to bring a smile to anglers that expect fishing action.

I was aboard the new 31-foot Tiara piloted by Captain Jim Skoczylas (Ultimate Adventure Sportfishing, (716-796-5372) with his first mate, Tom Yetzer, and it was fully equipped with 16 rods/reels, downriggers, diving planes, planer boards, temperature and current speed sensing equipment for surface and down deep detection, and all the lures necessary to fool those fish we call walleye in untold different ways.

We could see the fish suspended 55 to 65 feet down in 91 feet of water, but they decided to play hard to get. Question was why? Answer: Overnight lightning seems to spook both baitfish and predators. I have often wondered if when we see what appears to be a lightning bolt striking the surface of the lake, that the effects are not more serious than we think. Maybe the fish are getting a shock treatment?! Whatever it is, it seems they head for their brick house in the lake bottom and stay there for a bit before thinking about breakfast.

The interconnectivity of water molecules and electrons may have secondary effects that have not been yet explored, since it appeared on this day, that the fish were just going to take a breather.

Running 12 lines at depths of 40 to 65 feet down in 90 feet of water, some with 10 colors of leadcore line with fluorocarbon leaders, some off diving planes, some off downriggers and all displaying either homemade spinner/worm rigs or Bay Rat hard stickbait teaser lures with extra sharp hooks, Captain Jim and First mate Tom had hooked us up with eight fish on a day in waters where 19 or 20 fish in the boat were the norm for four hours of fishing on the days before. Other boats hooked up far less, some had no hookups.

Even secret fishing lures are not overly effective on days following an electrical rainstorm.

The fish we lost were light-biters, even the fish we landed were lightly hooked. Did it matter? It sure made for good conversation time! Maybe it was the best scenario! We caught a few fish and enjoyed more time to discuss issues and answers.

The chef-supreme walleye fish fry and fish chowder lunch with multiple desserts that was shared by all made the mediocre fishing of the storm effects just dissolve. It didn’t matter. Everyone enjoyed a great time networking about life in the outdoors and the incredible natural resource, Lake Erie, which we all work hard to keep as a treasure into the future.

God Bless America!

Program coordinator, Zen Olow, from the Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Club in Dunkirk, New York, is the friendly mastermind that has brought national, state and county legislators to the common discussion table everyone can find when they go fishing for a few hours.

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, August 5, 2016

Lake Erie bass fishing can be unbelievable at times, especially when you fish with Captain Frank Campbell

Lake Erie – Walleye and Bass

Closest consistent action for walleye continues to be off Sturgeon Point in 70 feet of water. While trolling worm harnesses or stickbaits are always an option off planer boards, downriggers or diving planes – like Dipsy-Divers, some anglers prefer to use the very basic approach of a three-way rig, bouncing bottom with a worm harness trailing.

Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls has been focusing between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek in 68 to 73 feet of water to take limit catches of ‘eyes. The recent northeast winds did shut things down a bit and he only had 8 fish on Wednesday. Orange and chartreuse are the best colors, but firetiger does well, too. His basic set-up has the distance from the three-way to the worm harness at 3 feet. His front rods will have a 5 ounce drop weight; the back rods a three ounce weight to avoid tangles. GPS ground speed is normally around 1.3 mph, using his trolling motor to supply the speed he needs. Bass action has been a bit tough. Deeper has been better on the outside of reefs and shoals. Crayfish and shiners; tubes and drop-shot rigs. Start in 25 feet of water and work out.

Lake Ontario – King Salmon, Steelhead

After a hard east-northeast blow last weekend, the lake is just starting to settle back down and resume with some of the great salmon and trout action we’ve seen this summer. Anglers are still experiencing tackle-busting salmon inside of 150 feet of water, starting in 60 feet of water at first light according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Meat rigs, flasher-fly or spoons will all take fish, but some days you do have to work harder than others.

Browns have pushed inside of 50 feet of water and the leading youth catch in the LOC Derby was Adam Flachbart of Fairview Park, Ohio with a 14 pound, 5 ounce brown trout, caught off the pier in Olcott on a Yo-Zuri crankbait! Walker also reported a few jack kings came from the pier after the lake rolled over following the storm. Now it’s back to the normal catch of bass, perch and a few crappies. Ditto for warm water fish over in Wilson. Out deep, the 23 to the 26 north line continues to be productive on steelhead and teenager kings. It was actually tougher fishing in the 450 to 500 depth range due to some cold water upwelling.

Niagara County led the charge once again in the Summer Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby held July 1-31. Grand Prize catch came from Olcott and Wilson both – Chad Fenstermaker and Mitch Shipman of Ohio were fishing out of Olcott, but ended up north of Wilson in 205 feet of water when a 31 pound, 7 ounce salmon hit their raspberry shadow Moonshine spoon 90 feet back of their dipsy diver set on No. 2. Chad reeled the fish in – his first salmon on his first Lake Ontario fishing trip – to take home the $10,000 check. First place in the salmon division was Larry Wills of Lewiston with a 30 pound, 15 ounce king salmon caught out of Wilson on a purple Warrior spoon – 40 feet down over 400 feet of water. First place brown trout was Guy Witkiewitz of Ontario, NY with an 18 pound, 14 ounce fish caught east of Irondequoit Bay. Second place came from Wilson when Thomas Gies of Michigan reeled in a 17 pound, 6 ounce trout while fishing with Capt. Dan Evans of Lone Wolf Charters. It hit a Moonshine Ice Shadow spoon 45 feet down over 220 feet in front of Wilson. In the Lake Trout Division, Ephriam Burt of Watertown bested Bob Turton on Sanborn with a 24 pound, 3 ounce fish from Henderson harbor. Turton’s Niagara Bar laker tipped the scales at 23 pounds, 7 ounces. He was using a green Kwikfish to take his local trout. Top steelhead came from Niagara when Wade Winch of North Tonawanda hauled in a 17 pound, 10 ounce fish from Wilson. He was using a slide diver, back 185 feet on a No. 2.5 setting over 180 feet of water with a purple Dreamweaver spoon as bait.

Next derby on the calendar is the Orleans County Rotary Derby, set for August 6-21. The Slippery Sinker and the Boat Doctors in Olcott are both registration points.

The inaugural Reelin’ for a Cure team tournament – focusing just on the ladies – will be held out of Olcott on August 19. Get those teams together and plan on fishing! For more info contact Stephanie Pierleoni at 481-6388 for more info. Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey registrations are now online at and at area registration outlets.

Canadian Open Bass Tournament (Lake Ontario) – Congratulations are in order to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport who placed third overall in the Canadian Open last month out of Kingston, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, with a three day catch of 64.50 pounds. He caught 19.5 pounds, but with a penalty for one dead fish. It may have cost him second place. Day two he reeled in 19.85 pounds of bass, sitting in 8th place. On the third day, he brought in the big bag of the tourney, a five fish total of 25.65 pounds, anchored by a 6.75 smallmouth that was big fish for the day. Steve Boris of London, Ontario, won the tournament with over 67 pounds of bass. Big fish of the tournament was caught by Darren Izumi, son of Canadian legend Bob Izumi, with a 7.2 pound fish. Secret to Fonzi’s success was a drop shot rig approach in 18 to 28 feet of water with goby imitation plastics, running about 27 miles to his favorite fishing hole. He attributes his successful runs to his Ranger 621FS Fisherman that handled the 3 and 4 foot waves admirably and his Cabela’s fishing gear that helped him to deal with the adverse conditions.

Lower Niagara River – Sturgeon Caught!

After a lake roll-over resulted in some great bass fishing at the mouth of the river last Sunday (according to Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston), those fish scattered and it was a struggle for anglers fishing in the Lower River Fishing Challenge to benefit Cystic Fibrosis, part of the second annual Charity for Children event held Monday and Tuesday.

Moss is no longer an issue, but finding bass and walleye during the dog days of summer was definitely a “challenge” as the name suggested. The most bass any one person caught was Tim Kolb with 5 on Monday; 7 for Dean Hale on Tuesday. Only a few walleye were caught and trollers that hit the lake did produce some salmon and trout on the Niagara Bar. Top salmon catcher on Monday was Jim Weber of Newfane; Tuesday it was Adam Thomas of Amherst with Beneficial Soil #2 – who also won the individual title for the overall contest with 1,305 points. He was fishing with Capt. Mark “Sparky” McGranahan. In the end for the team title, it was Capt. Jim Gordon of Appleton leading the Team event for Beneficial Soil #1 (Frank D’Amico, Joe Manz and Rick O’Brien) with a total of 3,320 points.

The surprise catch of the contest would have been Gary Hall’s 5 foot sturgeon that he fought for a half-hour before losing it at the side of the boat when the hook came out. Quite a thrill!

The 11th Annual Bass Contest to benefit Independent Living of Niagara County will be held at Fort Niagara and the Three-F Club on August 7. Contact 284-4131 Ext. 146.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Silver Bass Time

Best fishing has been along the east side of Strawberry Island for smallmouth on crayfish, shiners or tubes. The inside of the Strawberry Island horseshoe has been closed due to nesting bald eagles. Bass action has been consistent, but you can catch sheepshead and silver bass from boat and shore if you are using live bait like crayfish or shiners.

In the Erie Canal, the kids will be flocking to the Wide Waters Marina in Lockport on August 13 from 10 am to 2 pm for a special free derby that is open to the public.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, July 29, 2016

John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda, targeting King Salmon between 4 Mile and 6 Mile in 120 to 140 feet of water, 50 to 80 feet down, hammered the fish using DW cut bait and DW Twinkie rigs.

Lake Ontario and Tributaries

Salmon and trout action continues to be very good for trollers. Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctor’s in Olcott reports limit catches by many of the charter captains.

One in particular was Captain Jim Gordon of the Hawg, has been doing excellent on a mix of kings and steelies anywhere from 100 to 400 feet of water, depending on the day and the winds. Sometimes he will fish a little bit west (as far as the red barn), sometimes a little bit east. Using a Hog Wild spin doctor and a Dreamweaver (DW) Kryptonite (green and gold) fly, he’ll run those set-ups off his divers 170 to 180 feet back on a 1.5 setting for salmon.

N and D Cutbait (AKA “The Good Stuff”) has also been working like dynamite. For steelhead, he’ll run the divers 100 to 150 feet back on a 3.5 setting with his best bait being a DW “Super-Slim Spook” spoon in black-white-silver. For his riggers, the Spooks are working there too, set down 50-60-70 feet. Fishing has been the best he’s seen in years.

A little closer to the Niagara River, John Van Hoff of North Tonawanda had another banner weekend targeting kings. Saturday it was between 4 Mile and 6 Mile in 120 to 140 feet of water, 50 to 80 feet down using DW cut bait and DW Twinkie rigs. They only ran four rods. Sunday it was 200 feet of water from 4 Mile to the Red Can on the Niagara Bar. The LOC Derby ends at 1 pm on July 31.

Where are you Niagara lake trout guys? There was a 32 pound salmon caught in Sodus last weekend that would have taken over the Grand Prize, but not everyone on the boat was registered!! Check out the leaderboard at

Lower Niagara River

Bass and walleye are starting to pick up. No results on the NRAA bass contest, but we did hear from Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle that there’s been some action around the fort and the green can.

In addition, Yellow Sally rigs turned a few mid-sized walleye at the Stella drift this week, so that aspect of the fishery is starting up. The Whirlpool Stairs are open again for gorge trekkers. Get down there and catch some bass from shore on spoons and spinners.

The 11th Annual Bass Fishing Derby to benefit Independent Living of Niagara County is August 7 at Fort Niagara. Call 284-4131 Ext. 146 for more info.

The 40th Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby is slated for August 20-28 this year and the prize structure has been increased to honor the four decades of derbies. Go to Registration page is live and registrations are at most of the outlets.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal

Best action has been for sheepshead and silver bass around Ontario and Ferry Streets from shore. Smallmouth bass can be caught with regularity from boats. There is a restricted area off Strawberry Island on the inside due to nesting bald eagles.

In the Bassmaster Elite Bracket Tournament held on the Upper Niagara River last week, it was the legend – Kevin Van Dam of Michigan – winning his 23rd Bassmaster contest in a (first-time) unique catch-weigh-release live-time event. In the finals against Brett Hite of Arizona, a change in the rules saw the two bass catchers try to reel in as many fish as they possibly could in the time allotted. In the end, Van Dam hauled in 11 fish for a total weight of 20 pounds, 3 ounces. Hite tipped the scales with 13 pounds, 9 ounces on seven bass. KVD’s main baits were Strike King tubes, drop-shot rigs and jerk baits. There was a short controversy going on when KVD caught a fish out of the NYS boundaries, but that fish was disqualified, a ruling was made and the competition continued.

In the Erie Canal Fishing Derby, it was John Justice of North Tonawanda winning the boat, motor and trailer in the special drawing of winners at the Gasport Fire Hall last Sunday. Justice earned the right to be in the drawing by catching a 3.8 pound bass.

Other first place winners were Shawn West of Lockport with a 3-1/2 pound walleye; Albert Whaley of North Tonawanda with a 7.9 pound pike; Joe Cwiklinksi of Depew with a 2.9 pound bullhead; Patty Young of Kent with a 9.8 pound catfish; Craig Udell of Gasport with a 20 pound carp; and Ron Robel of Wheatfield with a 8.4 pound sheepshead.

In the youth division, Kyler Nowak of Lockport won the Grand Prize bike. He caught the top walleye at 1-1/4 pounds. Other youth division winners were Jakob Bensiger of North Carolina with a 3.1 pound bass; Tim Hughes of Amherst with a 4.9 pound pike; Emma Hermam of Medina with a 1-1/2 pound bullhead; Cassandra Sanney of Lockport with a 5.6 pound catfish; Ava Udell of Gasport with a 17-1/2 pound carp; and Colby Lawrence of Sanborn with a 3.3 pound sheepshead.

The Third Annual End of Summer Free Kids Fishing Derby is set for Wide Waters Marina in Lockport on August 13 from 10 am to 2 pm. Awards to follow at 2:30 pm.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Dunkirk Fishing Pier Allows Shore Fishing Access

Upgraded Pier Improves Fishing Access to Lake Erie
By NYSDEC Press Release


Repair work and accessibility improvements to the Dunkirk Fishing Pier in the City of Dunkirk, Chautauqua County, are now complete. Enhancements to the pier now offer improved access to one of Lake Erie’s most popular fishing sites.

The Dunkirk Fishing Pier is located in Dunkirk Harbor and provides exceptional, year-round fishing opportunities in an urban setting. It is a favorite Lake Erie fishing destination among Western New York anglers for trout, bass, panfish and walleye.

Improvements to the pier include:

  • An upgraded design to create greater accessibility for all users
  • Repair work to ensure the pier’s structural stability
  • Reconstruction of the existing wooden fishing pier above the existing steel substructure
  • Replacement of a portion of a concrete sidewalk to improve accessibility
  • Installation of accessible railings and benches
  • Aesthetic improvements

Construction activities were funded through the NY Works program. DEC publishes a weekly updated fishing hotline for Lake Erie on DEC’s website, or by calling (716) 855-FISH.

Old-Timer Walleye-Catching Fish Secrets

Understand Depth and Speed, Control Bait Attraction

Big walleye in big deep waters like those found in eastern basin Lake Erie are not always easy to find, but the fish are there if you know how to approach them and how to keep your bait in the fish zone long enough for the fish to find it. After that, HANG ON!

For many traditional deep water (eastern end) Lake Erie walleye anglers, fishing methods have not changed much. Most of the old timers still prefer to troll than cast or drift, and they troll plugs using any of many longline trolling methods. It’s many of the old timers too, that catch most of the big fish. Go figure!

Their reasons are simple. They understand how to do it and they understand all the variations they think they need to make changes on the fly and be successful. Can it ever get any better than that? Do they ever get stumped and admit it? Answer: yes.

What changes? The savvy anglers who will talk details, many won’t, say it is the fish that seem to change their appetite for the lure type. They share that some old lures still work with regularity – like the floating Rapala taken to the desired depth, but many times, it is the brand new lure designs that simply slay the big numbers of fish and the biggest fish too.

Is it because the fish have not yet seen these lures? Do they have a different, more appealing wiggle? Are the lure makers doing a better job of convincing anglers to use the new lures and therefore they are in the water more and maybe even most of the time? Hard to say, maybe all of those reasons.

Some of the old timers I hang with when I can say they have not changed much except one thing. They use more simple means to get to the depth they want to fish. They use quiet speed control (electric motors) and slow down with the shortest possible line to reach the level that the fish (walleye) are suspended at.

Many still use in-line weight systems, 3-way rigs, and clip-on weights with old-fashioned 14, 17 or 20-pound monofilament line and they will not switch. Why? They are catching fish! They reason this way: they say they know the fish always on some kind of feeding timetable and that time can change from day to day. They shy away from 10-color lead core, 400 foot copper, and similar very long line systems. Why? They’re old and they won’t admit they’re lazy, but they do admit they don’t want to reel in a 10-pound fish for 35 minutes and have to go home because they’re tired. Guess that keeps their logic simple!

This modified Renosky lure is extremely effective when using simple speed and weighting system methods to get the bait to the fish.

So they troll around familiar waters with their familiar sinker-weighted, short-line, systems that harbor eddy currents that attract forage baitfish, then they try to match the shimmer and shake and size and color reflections of the type of baitfish they find there.

If they see suspended baitfish, they may be emerald shiners, smelt, shad or perhaps, there are schools of gobies if they see the bait right down near the bottom. They usually tinker with line deployment and weight-size vs. boat speed to connect with fish before very long.

Trolling lure plug types are usually 3-1/2 inches to 5-1/2 inches long, are usually wobble stickbaits and more often than not, they switch back to an old alternative all walleye anglers know, the spinner/worm. They switch between lowering speed and increasing their in-line weight to get into the fish zone, then let the fish decide on when to feed. They repeat the process with their known alternative baits every 15 minutes or so, one line at a time. They are patient anglers and that usually wins them many fish in the cooler.

Stickbait favorites in the eastern end of Lake Erie and many other larger water bodies include the new Bay Rat lures, new Rapala Shad family of lures, the new color Renosky lures, and the new line of Live Target Lures.

On many sunny days in July with a little riffle on the surface, early in the day fishing right after sunrise will find that lures that reflect shades of purple with any other color seems to be a killer. Many modify their lures and hard-lipped about sharing those secrets, but in the end, they say removing the front treble of 3-hook lures allows for a wider wobble at slower speeds and that this modified action catches more fish than other lures changes. They add a 2-3 inch piece of nightcrawler to the center hook and that allows an even wider wobble at slow speed. If the fish are near bottom, orange color lure pigmentation will often turn the fish on.

Spinner/worm style favorites depend on water temperature. There are the choices of Colorado blades, Indiana blades, turtle blades, willow leaf blades, and many other styles, including one-blade, two-blade and bead size and bead spacing variations, clevis size changes for efficiency and blade rattle (with the beads) that can really make a difference.   All have a purpose. Tight lines.

More on that next time!

Fishing Report: Orleans County, New York Lake Ontario, Lake Alice, Erie Canal for Wednesday July 13, 2016

The Erie Canal Derby is in full swing with some great fish already on the leader board. With 4 more days left in the derby there is still plenty of time to get out there and catch a winner. On the Erie Canal catches of both catfish and sheepshead are being reported all along the system.

Speaking of derbies, the LOC Summer Derby is just past the half-way point and the 30 pound mark for Chinook salmon has already been broken.

The waters of Lake Ontario off Orleans County have been very active with a great mix of fish, but Chinook salmon has made up the majority of the catches. Fishing has moved out to the 400 to 450 feet depth range, but there are still some fish being produced on those inside waters. What started out slowly has sure picked up to some great fishing on the big lake.

Lake Alice is still producing some nice catches of Crappie and some great catches of bass. The water clarity has improved greatly over the past week or two and now shows a visibility of 5 or 6 feet.

Give a gift of the great outdoors to our youth by taking a kid fishing!

From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County. We try to make everyday a great fishing day in Orleans County.


Tuning Up for Summer Walleye – Part 2

Find the Forage, Match Your Lure, Catch Fish!

Bob Rustowicz has been a tournament winning angler for many decades- he fishes hard and often, following bait schools near his favorite fishing areas in Eastern Basin Lake Erie. This 11.42 pound walleye is currently leading the 32nd Annual Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament.

When tournament anglers travel to a waterway that they know, it is often a brand new ball game because everything changes week to week.  Sometimes it’s better not to know the waterway, that way you can’t make the same mistakes by fishing the same way you did last time when you caught fish and now, the conditions are changed.  Bad habits can cause bad fishing days, of course, we all know there are no days that are actually bad days to be out fishing!

You may know where the creek beds and the sunken roads are in reservoir lakes, the offshore shoals and reefs in natural lakes – maps can tell you that too, but it’s the other variables that affect forage location.  Where the forage schools are controls where the predator fish are and what they will strike.  As you choose your lures, this is a big key to catching fish.

Plain and simple, walleye like to eat.  As waters warm, they eat often.  Their metabolism rises and they have no choice, so they stay close to forage school locations.  As anglers, it is up to us to understand how the wind direction and water temperature changes affect the forage.  It pays to know as many details as possible about the forage community.  What types of forage live in the waterway?

On Lake Erie, the deep eastern basin off New York and Pennsylvania offers many forage types, but the primary forage are emerald shiners, rainbow smelt, yellow perch and round goby.  The walleye will key on whichever species has the most abundance where the walleye are located.

Walleye favorites in Lake Erie are the emerald shiners and smelt, so angler lures that mimic those forage types – when those forage types are available, are usually taking fish to the boat.

Usually, the smaller walleye key on the emerald shiner minnows, the larger walleye key on the longer and heavier smelt, but when or the other is in low supply, the fish switch in favor of abundance.  When these two forage are hard to find, the walleye move toward shore into shallower waters and key on the yellow perch.  Again, the walleye locations vary with forage density locations.

So while I am not a biologist, I have been fishing out there for nearly seven decades and have learned from the best of the best anglers.  Today, we have so much equipment to help us cheat fair out there, since it now largely a matter of who can afford the best equipment to catch fish with science and technology helping us figure out where the forage is.  We can monitor, water temperature, wind speed, water current, boat speed, oxygen content and Ph to narrow down where we fish any length of time.

To simplify, watch your graph, study the wind and wave weather maps – the resulting current eddy’s control the flow of phytoplankton and photoplankton. The young of the year emerald shiner and smelt nursery schools feed on these the larger forage is never too far from them.  The walleye are nearby.

The wind maps can be found here:

Wind maps and lake current maps are available for all the Great Lakes at this link sector.  These maps help you locate the surface temperature of interest and help you figure out where the forage are located in their highest density.

Rig up your preferred fishing tackle, just allow for adjusting to the baitfish that you locate to catch fish.  As we transition into summer, the temperature cycles have been fluctuating and the wind shifts the lake currents topsy-turvy, often causing short duration turnovers.  When you leave the dock and head out about a mile or so, check the water temp.  If it’s 45, turn around and go fish somewhere else.  Or, head out about 15 miles to get to the other edge of the thermal break.

Match the hatch is the key rule.  Mimic the forage.  New model lures always seem to catch more fish than old stuff for some reason.  Are the fish educated?  Nope.  It’s just that they seem to always slam new baits, new colors, new sizes better than old stuff.  Can the old stuff still work? Sure it can, but sometimes only on those days when the fish are really gorging themselves.  Funny how that works.


So I am always trying new lures. The new effective lures from my end include those that look like smelt.  This one from Live-Target Lures simulates an elongated school of baitfish.  I really like it, especially when it’s working!  It’s ideal when walleye are feeding on small baitfish, has a wide body profile, two hook or three hook design dependent on size, it suspends and is silent.  The EBB90S in pearl/olive (color 801) is a 5/16 ounce suspending lure, 3-1/2 inch long that will dive 3-4feet.  It has two hooks in size 4.  The EBB115S is a 4-1/2 inch model and has three hooks in size 6.


Another of the new lures that has met with recent success is this one from Rapala.  Another of the newbies that has attracted some of the country’s best anglers for many species is the Rapala Shadow Rap (SDR11MBS).  This lure works best when there are also gizzard shad in the forage mix, as sometimes happens here in WNY in spring.  It has flatter sides and offers a swimming minnow action, has a rattle, will suspend and stay there, a very effective lure to cast or troll, especially when fished as a jerk bait.  The moss back shiner color has been my favorite here.  It runs just 2 to 4 feet deep, but works well off the boards with weight or a diving plan or 3-color lead core for the June timeframe.

These lure types are also offered in deeper diving models if you prefer to fish without lead core or weights as the fish head out deeper.

In the Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament on Lake Erie’s eastern basin, the largest fish so far include (June 13th) for first place: 11.42 lbs, second: 10.72, third: 10.51 lbs.  For the junior anglers under 16, first place is 9.52 lbs, second is 7.80 and third is 7.75.    Bob Rustowicz is leading with the big fish.

Tight lines!

Lake Erie & Niagara River Status Update


New York State Fishery Biologists Outreach Event – June 21, 2016

An upcoming free seminar to update the public about the status of the Lake Erie and Upper Niagara River Fisheries is scheduled for Tuesday, June 21 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., at Woodlawn Beach State Park’s Lodge, Blasdell (Erie County), by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The free seminar will begin with informal discussion and poster exhibits, followed by a series of presentation topics on Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River fisheries.  These will include an opportunity for angler input on a variety fisheries management activities.  The meeting will conclude with questions and an open discussion.

“DEC is committed to sound management of Lake Erie and Upper Niagara River fisheries to maintain high-quality angling opportunities and associated economic benefits,” DEC Regional Director Abby Snyder said.  “This event provides an excellent opportunity for anglers to interact with DEC experts who study and manage Great Lakes fisheries.”

Key members of Lake Erie and Niagara River’s fisheries management and research community will present on Lake Erie fisheries management and assessment activities for steelhead, walleye, muskellunge, research initiatives, and habitat improvement projects.  This seminar is sponsored by DEC’s Lake Erie Fisheries Unit and Region 9 Fisheries offices.  Anyone interested is welcome to attend this free event and registration is not required.

The Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River rank among New York State’s top fishing destinations, especially for walleye, smallmouth bass and steelhead.

A recent survey (2007) of statewide anglers estimated more than 800,000 angler days spent on these waters.  The estimated value of these fisheries exceeded $22 million to the local New York economy.

For further information contact Don Einhouse, Lake Erie Unit Leader, (716) 366-0228.

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, May 27, 2016

Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Niagara River, Chautauqua Lake, Finger Lakes

Captain Vince Pierleoni and Team Thrillseeker outsmarted the bruiser King Salmon to finish in the money in the professional division of the Pro-Am Tournament on Lake Ontario last.

Weather Helps Fishing Action! 

We finally saw some west wind blow some fish into local waters, but it wasn’t easy fishing for the Pro-Am tournament last weekend for sure.  According to Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Team Thrillseeker (who placed in the money yet again for the Professional Division), transition time in the lake is rapidly approaching with the super warm weather arriving this weekend.

Combine that with four straight days of calm weather before the recent winds at mid-week – there are some quality king salmon around, but there is no set pattern for a consistent bite.  You can find fish (kings, lakers and steelhead) in 80 to 300 feet of water, from 20 to 100 feet down.

It’s been a mix of techniques and baits working. One approach that has worked better for bigger kings has been a flasher with cut bait.  N&D is one brand type that keeps surfacing around fishing circles as a good brand according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors.  One interesting note is that the fish have been moving around with the more favorable west and southwest winds.  Last Saturday, tournament teams out of Wilson and Olcott all headed west in pursuit of salmon.

Capt. Jim Gordon of Olcott, who was not fishing in the tournament, headed straight out of his home port of Olcott to take a dozen nice kings for customers just a mile or two straight north.  No one did that good in the tournament that day.  In the 32nd annual Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament held May 20 to 22 out of Wilson and Olcott, it was the Shark Tank team led by Capt. Greg Gehrig of Oswego leading the way with an impressive score of 599 points in the Classic Division and 391 in the Trophy Division – based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound – to win the tournament.  They also won the ITO flies big fish for the contest with a 24 pound king salmon.  For their efforts, they won more than $29,000.  Second place was Capt. Rich Hajecki and his Yankee Troller team out of Rochester.  They were just 10 points behind the winners in the Classic or 12 fish category.  They won $8,000.  Third place in Trophy was Dirty Goose led by Capt. Casey Prisco with 341 points.  Fourth place was Team Thrillseeker led by Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane with 338.  Third place Classic Division team was Thrillseeker with 505 points.  Fourth was Free Spirit with 498 points led by Capt. Paul Czarnecki of Waterford, PA.

Rochester anglers are happy with yellow perch taken from a marina waterway.

In the Amateur Open on Day One it was Abe DeBadts of Rochester and his Fishin’ Physician Assistant team with a score of 88.49 points.  Winner of Day 2 was Greg Wiacek of Lockport and his Fisherman’s Daughter team with a score of 72.52 points.  For Day Three, it was Mean Machine and Kyle Hovak of North Tonawanda taking the day with a score of 80.10 points.  However it wasn’t enough to win the Amateur Open Cup for the best two days of fishing combined.  That was reserved for Anonymous led by John Muehl of Maryland, NY, who scored 150 points over two days.

Next contest is the Oak Orchard Open set for June 10-12 out of Point Breeze.

The 1st Annual Reelin’ for a Cure is set for August 19 out of Niagara County, an event that will get the ladies out fishing on Lake Ontario and competing for fun prizes while at the same time raising funds for cancer research.

For more info call Stephanie Pierleoni at 716-481-6388.

Lower Niagara River

The first signs of the dreaded moss have started to show up to the dismay of anglers. You can still fish without much of a problem, but be forewarned – it will be here before we know it.

Trout are still available in the river – steelhead and lake trout – and smallmouth bass are starting to turn on now, too.

Shiners and Kwikfish top the list for trout; Kwikfish, tubes, shiners and swim baits will all trick smallies into hitting.  Best areas have been around Fort Niagara, Peggy’s Eddy and the clay banks for bass; Devil’s Hole for the trout and the occasional bass.  You can still pick some of these fish up from shore, too.  Spinners are taking some nice fish.

Upper Niagara River 

The shoreline bite can be good for walleye at night or under low-light conditions as post-spawn fish move in to feed.  Worms work best.  Panfish action has been good around marinas and around Grand Island bays, channels and tributaries.

A couple fishing contests to mark down on your calendar, including a kids fishing contest at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge on June 4 at the Ringneck Overlook starting at 8 am; the City of Tonawanda kids fishing contest at Niawanda Park with registration at the bandshell along River Road on June 18 starting around 7:30 am; and a Teach Me To Fish program at the East Aurora Fish and Game Club on June 4.

Lake Erie and Tributaries 

Perch action seems to be picking back up again according to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Thumbs Up Charters.  He had customers out this week, including Salvador, James and Raymond LaChase of Rochester, and they did well between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek in 56 feet of water.  The key is finding the fish and staying on them.

The walleye bite has been best at night with stickbaits along the shoreline, but that could be changing this week according to Fonzi, who is anticipating those post-spawn fish to turn on any day.

Bass action around Buffalo Harbor has been decent with shiners, drop shot rigs and tubes.

In the Annual Southtowns Walleye Association In-Club Perch Tournament last Saturday, Ben Slawatucki won the five-fish contest with a weight of 6.98 pounds.  Jim Dolly Sr. was runner-up with 6.81 pounds.  There were nearly 170 anglers in the fun contest that requires the weight of your 5 biggest fish in the tally.  These perch are all post-spawn now

Chautauqua Lake 

Smallmouth bass are hitting three-inch tubes in a pumpkinseed color around Warner’s Bar in 12 to 24 feet of water.  You can also pick up some nice bass by moving into the weed pockets with a black and blue pig and jig according to Craig Robbins of Jamestown.

There is also a top water bite in the mornings and evenings off the Mayville Flats, Rock Island and the point off Lakewood Bar. You can also hit the dicks in Dewittville Bay and along the condos with buzz baits or spinnerbaits in white and chartreuse.

This is opening weekend for inland musky (not Great Lakes) and you can find success throwing over-sized jerk baits and bucktails over weed beds in places like around Wee Wan Chu Cottages and trolling in the southern basin of the lake in Ashville Bay in 10 to 14 feet of water.

Finger Lakes 

Seneca Lake – This Finger Lake will see a busy weekend because of the National Lake Trout Derby that will run through Memorial Day.  Not too many people have been sharing information going into this popular contest, but going into this week lake trout were being taken in 90 to 150 feet of water on spoons, flasher-fly combos and jigs tipped with plastics or live bait.

Atlantic salmon can be found near the surface with stickbaits, spoons or streamers. Good luck! Good to for information.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

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