Fishing Line: Aug. 25
Author: Will Elliott

Published Date: Aug 25, 2010 12:32 AM

Late summer waters have cooled slightly and winds have moved from wicked to tolerable for open-water runs on the Great Lakes and larger inland water bodies.

Bait numbers remain high on Erie and Ontario, but inland lakes are seeing a fall on forage, perhaps the result of warmer-than-average summer water temperatures and the resultant rise in metabolism and a big bite into bait schools.

Whichever theory you accept, most fish species are scattering. Bass run deeper in open waters or dig deeper into the deep side of weed edges. Perch move around often well off bottom -- to keep in feeding range of bait schools. Walleye wander. Salmonids cascade through the water column to seek that ideal feeding zone at or near their comfort level for water temperatures. They never seem to match both. Hence the mad dashes of trout and salmon through all of Ontario's Western New York waters.

Lake Erie

Perch offer the better deep-water prospect from Buffalo to well past Barcelona Harbor.

Walleye trollers from Cattaraugus Creek to the state line get perch pecks when running worm harnesses with live nightcrawlers on the hooks. Many have gone with body baits (Rapalas, Renoskys, Reef Runners, and other minnow-type baits).

'Eye numbers tailed off everywhere. Few limit catches have been posted/boasted for the past two weeks. Now, with fairly nice wind speeds and directions, the count remains a lesser amount.

Hard baits have been an option mainly to avoid hits from perch and other panfish predation of live bait while trolling close to bottom. Bottom-running has been the best catch report for rigs set anywhere west of Cattaraugus Creek.

Some good bites have been seen at 60- to 70-foot depths all along the Dunkirk to Barcelona shoreline. But the better numbers -- seen on the (sonar) screen and brought to bite and fight -- have come from deeper waters. Off Barcelona, depths of 90-125 feet have been populated and popular. Still, expect fewer 'eyes and consider three to four fish a prize.

Bass have dug deeper, making it tough to sit over a school. Drifting a dropper-type rig or heavy jig can stir up the smallies. An early run, just at sunrise, might result in bigger bass close to shore. But gunning to depths of at least 30 feet or more would be a better shot. If you can find rock structures at 45-50 feet, try those drop-shot rigs.

As for perch, the run looks like it has begun, but it's a tease by degrees. Perch show up at 65-70 feet just west of Evangola State Park one day and reappear the next day, or later that afternoon, in 55-foot depths east of the Catt.

Trollers working walleye and trout lines have helped drifting and anchored prospectors pan for perch.

Riggers get ringback hits at depths anywhere from just off bottom to more than 10 feet off bottom in depths greater than 50 feet. True, sheepshead, white perch, and other smaller fish show on the sonar well off bottom. But with hefty schools of yearling smelt, emerald shiners and other young-of-the-year food fish out there, perch are going to move off their beloved bottom and batter bait school suspended well up the water column.

More perplexing than the search for perch is the absence of emeralds and other live baits.

Bait buys

As of Tuesday afternoon, no bait dealer along the Erie shoreline could supply an angler with live minnows. Wholesalers have some bait. But live certified emerald shiners are long gone; salted emeralds are scarce; bait dipped for immediate use or salting is mainly pinheads right now.

Weekend deliveries of live bait (mostly smaller golden shiners) will probably arrive. Call ahead to your bait dealer before heading there with a bucket.

Niagara River

Upper river musky and walleye have offered some action. An Ontario Province fishing license is a must for working walleyes around the west side of Thompson's Hole.

Musky trollers can hold in U.S. waters most of the time, but drifting out toward Frenchman's Creek could require Ontario credentials to work casting and drifting lanes.

Lower river runners make a clear distinction of border waters. New York State anglers can hold tight to shore for the bass run from Stella Niagara down to Fort Niagara. The back drift at Queenston and Jackson Point structures are well within province waters.

Lake Ontario

The first-light bite could produce sizable salmonids. But it's the run to at least 400 feet and rig settings down 70 to 125 feet over 400- to 500-foot depths that result in mature kings.

Mornings and evenings may offer a mix of steelies, browns, smaller kings and the occasional Atlantic and coho salmon, but a spoon or flasher/fly rig works well set deeper and well away from shore.

Warm shoreline waters keep kings crowned far down.