Fishing Line: Aug. 18
Author: Lisa Wilson

Published Date: Aug 18, 2010 12:36 AM
Last Updated: Aug 18, 2010 12:36 AM

Lake Erie's walleye schools are classy; Lake Ontario's salmonids keep foraging near and far out of every port in Western New York; inland lakes bass and panfish draw attention on every public-access throughout the western Finger Lakes and along the Southern Tier chain of waterways.

Ample time might be a greater need than the right tackle and techniques to get to all the spots that could be hot for anglers this week. Solar-Lunar Tables put peaks near mid-day. Every ardent angler knows the bite can get right at sunrise and dusk.

Warming surface waters have pushed many fish species to deeper or more weed-dense shoreline areas. But an overabundance of bait in Great Lakes waters and the right mix of predator and prey fish in inland waters make for more places to fish than time to take in at the bite prospects.

One caution: Rainfall has been good for small feeder streams that hold trout through the summer months. However, teasing a brookie or brown trout out from under a bank undercut or dense brush could result in a nice fish fight. But the stress of that hook-up, despite an apparently quick swimming away after a release, could result in what fishery biologist call "hooking mortality."

Steelies are moving in closer to shore on both Erie and Ontario. But hold off on working streams where trout might suffer from a hooking and release in above-average warm stream waters.

Lake Erie

If September comes, can steelies and perch be far behind?

Bass remain the mainstay, perch finally put in a presence, walleye seem to be on the move, and steelies have started moving closer to shore well west of Cattaraugus Creek.

But species searches often get stalled by storms as summer subsides. High winds have kept boaters ashore most days this past week; fishing reports have been scarce.

For certain, bass hold well along deeper drop-offs every day boaters can get out to drop baits resembling larger minnows, round gobies, crayfish and leeches. Both live and well-presented artificials can bring on the bass bite.

Walleye have presented a problem. Last year at this time, walleye schools finally moved into western waters in mid-August and began hitting after many a boater had called it quits for 'eye poking.

This year, massive schools of local and nomadic walleye showed off Barcelona Harbor and slightly west of Dunkirk Harbor sometime in mid-May and decided to stay -- until the past week, that is.

When trollers can get out of Cattaraugus Creek, Dunkirk and Barcelona, they find fair numbers but a scattering of dense schools. Boaters off the Catt and Dunkirk settle for 3-4 fish. West of Dunkirk the numbers may be slightly higher, but most are not "boxing out" with a limit for all on board.

Perch began showing in tight schools at 70-foot depths directly off the Catt last week, but when the schools moved in to 55-foot depths the bite and bucket count dropped off.

With all the advanced progress of fish patterns this season, an early showing of rainbow/steelhead trout just might be over the horizon. Most of the incidental catches have come well west of Cattaraugus Creek and water temperatures dipped but remain high. Nonetheless, steelies could be headed shoreward sooner than we saw last year.

If you're looking for fishing fun, drifts above the water plant "Roundhouse" might produce walleyes on hand-held rigs, but the better -- more frequent -- bite will come from smallmouth bass lakewide.

Niagara River

Bass have been good in the upper river, but lower river boaters and shore casters are having a smallie celebration. Boaters drift worm and jig rigs on drifts. Anglers working the shoreline do better with live baits -- crayfish, shiners and leeches, said Nick Custodi at Village Hardware in Lewiston.

Lake Ontario

Records could be broken in the Fall Lake Ontario Counties Derby that begins Friday.

Charter boaters take runs out to work over 500-foot depths off Wilson to Oak Orchard, but an early riser could see big king salmon trip releases at 40-foot depths close to shore at sunrise.

Most of the mix and numbers come from open-water runs of 8-12 miles from shore. Contest-conscious trollers skirt closer to shore to hook Chinook. The Orleans County contest saw a 27-pound king entry earlier this week.

A few boaters have cruised the Fort Niagara bar and drop-offs area, but the better bite has been at Wilson Harbor and west.

Most riggers still go with spoons or flashers, with minimal mention of cut bait. To check out the fall LOC Derby format, go to