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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

July 19 to July 26, 2019

Lake Erie

Lake Erie walleye action has been hot this week with good catches out of all ports. Mid-day can be a little slower, but anglers are reporting some quick limits both early and late in the day. Barcelona anglers report excellent catches in 40-65 feet of water with most fish right on the bottom. Between Dunkirk and Sturgeon Point there are consistent walleye catches outside 50 feet of water. Out of Buffalo, walleye are available anywhere from 35 feet of water out to the international line, however marks and catch numbers have been consistently higher at depths of 50-55 feet. Buffalo anglers are catching fish anywhere from 25 feet down to the bottom, with the hot depth(s) fluctuating from day to day, or even time of day. On Thursday, early morning anglers did very well by bottom bouncing with worm harnesses at 1.0 to 1.5 mph. Anglers were still picking up eyes with bottom bouncers in the late afternoon, but better marks and catches were coming on gear run 35-45 feet down. Lots of lunker sheepshead are hitting worm harnesses as well. Tell all of your friends!

Colder water pushed some yellow perch schools into shallower water near Dunkirk last week, and catches were good at that time. Water temps have stabilized and perch schools have been moving deeper and are still providing decent catches for those who can find the schools. Smallmouth bass fishing remains spotty with lighter angler effort. Target smallmouth bass around shoal and reef structure in 25-40 feet of water. A drop-shot rig with tubes, plastics or live crayfish is a typical tactic. For more information see the Smallmouth Bass Fishing on Lake Erie page.

Niagara River

Some walleye are showing between the head of the river and Strawberry Island, but smallmouth bass catches are more common in that area. Drifting along the east side of Strawberry and Motor Islands is another good spot for smallmouth bass.

No real change in lower Niagara River fishing. Decent numbers of smallmouth bass around with some walleye too. However, moss fouls the line on most drifts/casts. High water level continues to limit shore access. The NYPA platform is closed and the water is over much of the "landing" areas where people fish along Whirlpool, Devils Hole and Artpark State Parks. Anglers can wet a line from shore at Lewiston Landing, Joe Davis State Park platform and Youngstown landing. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario

At report time, the launches at Fort Niagara State Park (north launch only), Town of Wilson, Wilson-Tuscarora State Park, Town of Newfane (Olcott) and Golden Hill State Park are open. However, open launches may have intermittent closures due to Lake Ontario flooding. It is best to call ahead. You may need to center launch without aid of launch docks at any Niagara County launch except Town of Newfane launch.

King salmon fishing remains spotty as fish are widely scattered. However, anglers are reporting more kings over the 20 pound mark lately. Search around for pods of bait and fish, and then try to stay with them. Off Niagara County, anglers are catching king salmon anywhere from 200 to over 450 feet of water in the top 90 feet of water column. At depths over 300 feet of water, gear run in the top 50 feet has produced a decent mix of steelhead and kings of various sizes. Closer to the Niagara Bar, the king salmon bite has been a bit more consistent in 100-200 feet of water on gear run 30-50 feet down. Large spoons, flasher-fly combos and meat rigs are good king salmon offerings. Trollers have had issues with water fleas accumulating on lines lately, especially braided lines. Using thicker monofilament line (30-50 lb test) helps against water flea build-up. For those new to fishing Lake Ontario, visit the Trolling for Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon page for more information.

Chautauqua Lake

The better walleye catches in the north basin continue to come along weedlines by trolling or jigging. The walleye bite in the south basin has picked back up. Trolling down the deeper, middle section has been productive. Anglers are picking up some muskellunge in the same areas as the walleye catches. Large, 6 to 8 inch stickbaits and jerkbaits are good bets for musky. Largemouth bass are holding in shallower areas along weed lines, in pockets within the weeds and around docks. Live shiners, weedless rigged plastics, wacky rigs and topwater lures are good bass offerings. Target weed edges and pockets with minnows and worms for a mix of yellow perch, white perch, white bass and bluegill. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Fishing

Water temperatures are elevated on many area streams, especially in the afternoon. Hooking and playing trout in warmer water can be lethal to trout. It is best to fish spring fed streams or concentrate efforts during early morning hours. Most fly hatches are light and sporadic 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. 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.