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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

May 18 to May 25, 2018

Lake Erie & Harbors

The walleye night bite seems to get better with each passing night, but there have been some good catches during the day too. Popular nighttime spots include Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar, off Hamburg and near the mouth of Smokes Creek. Trolling minnow-type stickbaits at around 2 mph over rocky areas in 8-15 feet of water is a typical program. The shoals are also worth a shot during the day. One group did very well over a three day period at Van Buren Bay in 8-12 feet of water. They were targeting bass, but ended up catching limits of walleye on bass lures! The other spawning shoals are good bets too. Anglers are also starting to pick up daytime walleye by bottom bouncing in 30 plus feet of water off the windmills. Anglers report scattered yellow perch schools between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point and there have been some limit catches for those who have found (and stayed on) a foraging pod of perch. Fifty-five feet of water out of Sturgeon Point and 60 feet of water off Evangola State Park are good starting points.

The harbors at Barcelona, Dunkirk and Buffalo are currently hot spots for smallmouth bass. A DEC electrofishing survey along the inner and outer breakwalls and shorelines in Buffalo Harbor showed lots of smallmouth bass all over. There were also decent numbers of northern pike along the outside of Buffalo Harbor State Park breakwall (especially at the southwest corner). Decent numbers of walleye were observed on the lake side of the outer breakwall gaps.

Lake Erie Tributaries

The steelhead run is about done on all Lake Erie tributaries except Cattaraugus Creek. Anglers continue to catch steelhead on Seneca Lands and below Route 5&20 bridge. Smallmouth bass are now available on all tributaries. Wooly buggers and minnow imitations are good bets for fly anglers, and spinning anglers generally do well with stickbaits, minnows and jigs with grubs or plastics fished under a float. The lower section of Cattaraugus Creek is a good spot to target channel catfish. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers or raw shrimp fished on the bottom works well, especially at night. The deeper holes in the other creeks may hold catfish as well. Anglers can also catch catfish along the Lake Erie shoreline on calm nights, especially near stream inlets.

Niagara River

Drifters are still catching decent numbers of steelhead on minnows, egg sacs and flatfish lures in the mid to upper drifts. Smallmouth bass are moving into the river and anglers are seeing a good bite on tube jigs, downstream of Joe Davis State Park. White bass and walleye are also showing in the lower river. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario & Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

Lake Ontario waters off Niagara County is the place to be, as king salmon action has truly been incredible this past week. From Olcott to the Niagara Bar anglers report steady salmon and trout action. Some boats have picked up double digit catches of king salmon in the 8-20 pound range. Depths of 60-150 feet have been productive with kings coming anywhere from 30 to 90 feet down. Lake trout are seemingly everywhere and there have been plenty of coho salmon mixed in, especially west of Wilson. Kings have been crushing large spoons, but flasher-fly and meat rigs also work well. Brown trout are still available inside 30 feet of water by trolling with medium-sized spoons and stickbaits.

DEC requests your help with recovering heads from Coho Salmon caught in Lake Ontario beginning in 2018. We are comparing Coho Salmon stocking strategies by mass marking and/or tagging all stocked Coho Salmon in 2016-2018, and wild vs. stocked Coho Salmon by clipping adipose fins in 2016-2018. For more information on data to include with coho heads and freezer locations for drop-off, see Coho Salmon Head Collection page.

Chautauqua Lake

The walleye bite is still going strong. Trolling along weedlines at night has been productive in both basins. During the day, anglers are catching modest numbers of walleye along weedlines and at depths around 20 feet on vertical presentations. The crappie bite has been tapering off. Anglers are seeing good yellow perch catches around the north basin on small minnows. See the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Fishing

Area trout streams are in prime shape with good flows and increasing bug activity. Look for hatches of hendricksons, caddisflies and March browns, with better surface action later in the day. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small in-line spinners. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams, Stocked Streams and Stocked Lakes to choose from. In addition, Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region's best streams. Check out the Fishing for Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, fishing equipment and techniques.

Spring Trout Stocking

All of western New York's trout stocking waters have been stocked with at least one stocking increment. For County lists of stocked waters and numbers of trout stocked, see the Spring Trout Stocking 2018 page. Call the Randolph Fish Hatchery at 716-358-2050 for stocking updates. Hatchery staff are now delivering additional stocking increments for the larger or more popular waters. The following waters are scheduled for an additional stocking between 5/21 and 5/25:

Allegany County: California Hollow Brook (Bolivar), Little Genesee Creek (Bolivar), Genesee River (Wellsville).

Cattaraugus County: Quaker Run (Cold Spring), Red House Brook (Red House).

Wyoming County: East Koy Creek (Gainesville).

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.