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Lake Erie Fishing Hotline

May 13 to May 20, 2016

Attention Anglers: The Lake Erie Fishing Hotline will not be updated for the week of May 20th to 27th. The next update will by on Friday, May 27th.

Lake Erie and Harbors

Illustration of the Lake Erie yellow perch fishing rig.
Variation of the Lake Erie yellow perch rig.

Opening weekend walleye anglers reported plenty of walleye in the typical shallows at night, but fish were tight lipped. Mid-week outings were more productive. Look for the nighttime bite to pick up with rising water temperatures. Good nearshore shoals/shallows to try include Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar and the area between Hoak's Restaurant and the windmills. The typical nighttime program involves trolling in 6-15 feet of water with shallow diving stickbaits or worm harnesses over rocky areas. If the shoal bite is slow, trolling or bottom bouncing in deeper areas off the spawning shoals is worth a shot. The smallmouth bass bite is heating up in Dunkirk and Buffalo Harbors. Open lake bass fishing has been slow. For more information see the Smallmouth Bass Fishing on Lake Erie page.

Yellow perch fishing continues to be very slow. Yesterday, many boats returned to Sturgeon Point empty handed. Some anglers were catching fair numbers of perch around Seneca Shoal. Live emerald shiners are the top perch bait, and work best when fished close to the bottom. Many successful Lake Erie perch anglers employ a fluorocarbon rig (See description of rig below and diagram on right, provided by a seasoned Erie perch angler). Emerald shiners are available for dipping at harbor and inlet sites around the upper Niagara River. If you are dipping bait for use on Lake Erie, be sure you stay within the Designated Overland Transportation Corridor.

Double Fluorocarbon Perch Rig: Tie a 6 foot section of 6 pound test fluorocarbon line onto the main line using a surgeon's knot. Slide a #6 Aberdeen hook onto fluorocarbon line to 3 foot from end, and tie a double overhand knot, leaving a 1.5 inch loop with hook attached. Slide a second hook onto the line to 12-15 inches below the first hook and secure same as first hook. Attach a 1 or 2 ounce sinker, 12-15 inches below the bottom hook.

Lake Erie Tributaries

There may still be some steelhead stragglers in Cattaraugus Creek, but smallmouth bass are now the main draw on all of the tributaries. Erie County stream levels came up following last nights rainstorm, making them a decent smallmouth bass option for the weekend. Chautauqua County streams remain low and clear. Woolly buggers and minnow imitation patterns are good bass offerings for fly anglers, and spinning anglers generally do well with stickbaits, natural baits or jigs with grubs fished under a float. The lower section of Cattaraugus Creek is a good spot to target channel catfish. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers, raw shrimp or cut bait fished on the bottom works well, especially at night. The deeper holes in the other tribs may hold some catfish as well. Anglers can also catch catfish along the Lake Erie shoreline on calm nights, especially near stream inlets.

Upper Niagara River

With water temperatures now just over the 50 degree mark, look for an improved bass and panfish bite along the river shorelines. Harbor, bay and slack water areas are also a good bet for a mix of bass, sunfish and perch. Bass fishing is by catch and release only, artificial lures only in the Niagara River north of the Peace Bridge, until the regular season opens on third Saturday of June.

Chautauqua Lake

Over the first week of walleye season, anglers report many walleye in the shallows at night, but few are biting. Boaters can slow troll along weedlines with stickbaits and worm harnesses, or drift and work jigs with nightcrawlers or leeches. Shore anglers can connect by casting stickbaits, especially in areas near stream inlets. Yellow perch fishing has been very good along weed lines, with live minnows working best. The crappie bite has been tapering off, but anglers are still catching some near dawn and dusk on small jigs with minnows or small plastics.

Inland Trout Fishing

Area streams are in good shape with moderate flows. Depending on the stream, look for hatches of hendricksons, blue winged olives, caddisflies or March browns. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small inline spinners. If you are a catch-and-release anglers and use spinners, it is good practice to outfit your spinners with a single hook rather than a treble hook.

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.

Spring Trout Stocking

All of Region 9's trout stocking waters have been stocked. Hatchery staff are now delivering additional stocking increments to the larger and more popular area waters. Anglers can call the Randolph Hatchery Fish Stocking Hotline at (716) 358-4950 or check back here for weekly stocking updates. For County lists of stocked waters and numbers of trout stocked, check the 2016 Spring Trout Stocking pages. The following waters will receive an additional stocking increment between 5/16 and 5/20.

Allegany County: Dyke Creek (Andover), Cryder Creek (Independence), California Hollow Brook (Bolivar), Little Genesee Creek (Bolivar).

Cattaraugus Creek: Elton Creek (Freedom).

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; michael.todd@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

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