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Lake Erie Fishing Hotline

September 23 to September 30, 2016

Lake Erie and Harbors

Angler holding 21 pound lake trout caught in 80 feet of water off Dunkirk Harbor.
21 pound lake trout caught off Dunkirk Harbor
on worm harness run near the bottom.

The walleye bite is going strong from west of Sturgeon Point to straight off Cattaraugus Creek in 65-75 feet of water. There has been considerable fishing pressure in that area and all are catching fish. One report in particular, indicated a good bite off Cattaraugus Creek in 75 feet of water. Best catches were on Renosky stickbaits in green, orange or purple. Worm harnesses have caught walleye as well, along with white bass, yellow perch and sheepshead.

The late season yellow perch bite seems to finally be kicking in, with anglers reporting catches in a number of locations. Anglers have seen decent to good catches off Van Buren Bay in 63 feet of water, off Purina plant and Cattaraugus Creek in 70 feet of water and west of Sturgeon Point from 68 feet depths to the international line. A recent DEC netting survey also showed perch concentrations off Evangola in 77 feet of water. Emerald shiners are the key bait for perch, but dippers have struggled to find them lately. Buffalo area anglers report decent smallmouth bass fishing. On Thursday, anglers were averaging a modest 5 or 6 bass each, in the area encompassing Seneca Shoal to the Round House. Many of the bass were between 3 and 5 pounds.

Walleye anglers are starting to catch some steelhead, suggesting they may be staging in deeper water. Lake temperatures need to drop before they move closer to creek mouths. Pink salmon seem to be more abundant this year, as many have been caught by walleye anglers over the summer. Pink salmon look a lot like steelhead or coho in the open lake, but can be distinguished by larger spots on their back and tail, and a more deeply forked tail. As they move into the streams, males will develop a distinctive hump behind their head. Pink salmon range 19 to 22 inches and 3 to 4 pounds.

Upper Niagara River

The upper river is a great smallmouth bass option in fall as waters cool and bass go on the feed. Also, conditions on the river are often more manageable than the open lake in fall, and boat launches on the river remain open late into the fall. Target feeding bass outside weed edges by drifting and bottom bouncing with live shiners, crayfish or plastics. Muskellunge fishing on the river generally peaks in the fall as well. Drifting along weed edges or over structure with large tube jigs or casting large stickbaits are top methods.

Chautauqua Lake

The south basin has been the best spot for walleye lately. Focus on depths over 14 feet, and troll with stickbaits and worm harnesses near the bottom. A mix of bluegill and yellow perch are available around weed beds in 8-12 feet of water. Panfish will hit a variety of baits including nightcrawlers, small minnows, small tube jigs and ice fishing jigs with grubs. Deep rocky points are good spots for smallmouth bass, with live crayfish or tube jigs. Trolling along deep weed edges with large stickbaits and bucktail trolling spinners is a good bet for muskellunge.

Inland Trout Fishing

The region's trout streams are still running low and clear, but cool nights have helped bring creek temperatures down. Anglers should still avoid fishing in the late afternoon on warm and sunny days. Tricos, small attractor patterns, ant and beetle patterns are good surface flies at this time of year. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small inline spinners.

Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams and Stocked Trout Streams to choose from. In addition, Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region's best trout 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; michael.todd@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

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