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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

July 20 to July 27, 2018

Lake Erie & Harbors

Lake Erie walleye fishing has truly been exceptional lately, with fast action out of all ports. On Thursday, limit catches were the norm off Buffalo in 45-50 feet of water along the international line. Anglers were catching fewer shorts and better numbers of 3-5 pound walleye. Stickbaits and worm harnesses run in the bottom 15 feet work well near Buffalo. However, west of Sturgeon Point, better numbers of walleye are suspended. From Cattaraugus Creek to west of Dunkirk, anglers report good action in 55-65 feet of water on lures run 30-40 feet down. For many out of Barcelona it has not been a matter of if they get a limit, but how fast they get it. Anglers report heavy numbers of fish suspended 30 feet down over depths of 55-70 feet.

With most anglers targeting walleye, there is not much info available for other species. Walleye anglers are catching some incidental yellow perch of Sturgeon Point and Dunkirk. Smallmouth bass fishing was previously good on deeper shoals in 25 to 40 feet of water. A drop-shot rig with tubes, plastics, crayfish or shiners works well. For more smallmouth bass information see the Smallmouth Bass Fishing on Lake Erie page.

Niagara River

Smallmouth bass fishing in the upper river has been fair for most anglers, with some very good catches mixed in. Traditionally productive spots include around Strawberry and Motor Islands and along the west side of Grand Island. Boaters often target smallmouth bass outside weedlines, often over rocky or gravel bottom. Live crayfish or shiners work well.

Line fouling "moss" has been a problem for lower river anglers. Casting lures tends to pick up algae on every cast. Drifting live bait has worked better for smallmouth bass and white bass, and picks up less moss. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario & Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

West end anglers enjoyed another week of excellent salmon fishing. Out of Olcott and to the west, trollers report a hot king salmon bite in 200-400 feet of water. Large spoons, flasher fly combos and meat rigs run 40-80 feet down are picking up plenty of kings with some coho and trout mixed in. Gear run in the top 40 feet of water have caught a mix of steelhead, coho salmon and smaller king salmon. Fortunately, the waterfleas have let up a bit. Closer to Point Breeze, anglers are catching decent numbers of salmon in 100-300 feet of water on gear run 40-70 feet down. Some big brown trout are also showing inside 60 feet of water. For those new to fishing Lake Ontario, visit the Trolling for Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon page for more information.

At harbor sites, anglers can catch a variety of warmwater fish including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, bowfin, yellow perch, rock bass and other sunfish. You never know what you will catch next.

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

Trolling along weed edges remains the most productive tactic for walleye. However, anglers are also picking up some walleye by vertical jigging on steep drop-offs in 15-25 feet of water. Largemouth bass are biting well in and around weed beds and docks. Wacky, Texas and Carolina rigged plastics work well when fishing the weeds. Bass are also hitting surface lures run over the weeds. Trolling with large stickbaits along weed edges is still the best bet for muskellunge, however some trollers are also catching suspended musky over deeper waters. See the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Fishing

All of the area trout streams have lower flows and many have warm water. Keep in mind that hooking and playing trout in warm waters can be lethal to trout. Best to fish spring fed streams or concentrate efforts during early hours of the day. No significant fly hatches happening now. Fly anglers can see surface action on terrestrial patterns such as ants, foam beetles and grasshoppers. Fish terrestrial patterns on a dead drift, giving a slight twitch every now and again to imitate a struggling insect. 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.

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; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.