Lake Ontario and tributaries: King salmon fishing was improving off Niagara and Orleans counties, with some kings over 20 pounds starting to show up. Off Olcott, trollers were catching a mixed bag of trout and salmon in 100-200 feet of water on spoons and flasher-fly combos run 30-80 feet down. Some mature kings were showing at the deeper end of that range. Anglers also reported a good deep-water bite between 300-500 feet. Spoons and flasher-flies run in the top 60 feet produced a mix of steelhead and king salmon, with the occasional coho salmon or mature king mixed in.
Warmwater species were plentiful in the harbors and slow-moving sections of the tributary streams. Anglers have been catching largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, bowfin, yellow perch, rock bass and other sunfish. You never know what you’ll catch next.
Lake Erie and tributaries: Walleye action off Buffalo from the departure buoy to the Canadian line continued to be good to very good for trollers and bottom bouncers. Worm harnesses were talked about most, but some stickbaits were also producing some ‘eyes. Focus on 40 to 50 feet of water off Buffalo. From Cattaraugus Creek to the west, best action has been outside of 70-foot depths. Bass fishing has also been good to very good wherever there’s structure, with fish coming from 20- to 30-foot depths on shiners, crayfish, tubes and drop-shot rigs. While the perch fishing has been slow, DEC reports recent creel data showed some activity in 50 feet of water off The Catt.
Upper Niagara River: Plenty of bass to go around in the upper river, with live bait like crayfish and shiners the preferred bait. Worm harnesses will take a mix of fish that will include bass, sheepshead and walleye.
Lower Niagara River: Action in the lower river continued to be a bit spotty. While live bait like shiners and crayfish will produce a few smallmouth bass, sheepshead and silver bass, artificial baits seem to be producing as many if not more fish for casters and drifters. Tube jigs and Booyah spinnerbaits were working for Capt. Frank Campbell and his customers. They had to work for them, but they did catch mostly smallmouth using tubes and spinnerbaits in the lower section of the river. Fish up to 5 pounds were reported, including a 20-inch smallie reeled in by Gary Hall of Niagara Falls. The Fishing Platform is still an option for shore fishermen, too, as well as the trails leading into the gorge from Artpark, Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool state parks. As always, caution is advised, especially in the early morning when water levels are low and rocks are slippery.
Chautauqua Lake: Muskie trollers and casters have been doing well from the Bell Tower at Chautauqua Institution to the fish hatchery at Prendergast near the launch area, according to Craig Robbins of Jamestown. Target 15 to 25 feet of water with large jerkbaits or bucktail spinners in black and white or black and orange; casters have been doing especially well. Bass were hitting in Ashville Bay outside the weed line in 10-12 feet of water on black and blue jig and pig setups. The perch bite continued to be good on the Mayville flats.
Orleans County: The story is that when you find bait there are usually fish on it that are active. Fish were being taken all the way down and into the 100-foot plus range. Some reports have a good mixed bag of fish species being taken, while others report mostly chinooks making up their catch. Right now the 260- to 300-foot range seems to be where the best action is. The most consistent color pattern was silver/green combinations in both spoons and also in flasher/fly set ups.
August in Orleans County seems to be derby month, with the Orleans Rotary Derby Aug. 1-16, the third leg of the King of the Oak on Aug. 15, the Fish Odyssey Aug. 22-30 and the LOC Fall Derby Aug. 21-Sept. 7.