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Lake Erie Fishing Hotline

May 6 to May 13, 2016

Attention Anglers: Walleye, northern pike, pickerel and special Lake Erie black bass (smallmouth and largemouth) seasons open on Saturday, May 7th.

The special black bass season is in effect on Lake Erie and its tributaries up to the first impassible barrier only. Anglers can use natural/live bait and can keep one bass per day, with a minimum size limit of 20 inches. Bass fishing on all other waters in western New York is by catch and release only, artificial lures only, until the 3rd Saturday in June. Tiger muskellunge season also opens on May 7th on the inland waters where they occur. Tiger muskellunge remains closed on Lake Erie, Niagara River and Lake Ontario until the 3rd Saturday in June.

Lake Erie and Harbors

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

Yellow perch anglers did well up through last weekend, but catches took a dip starting on Monday. The previously productive area was between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point at depths of 45-60 feet of water. Try to locate perch schools with electronics before dropping anchor. It is best to locate a school that is up off the bottom a few feet, as these schools tend to be more active than those tight to the bottom. If perch are biting well and then stop, try raising and lowering the baits (10 feet of the bottom) to draw them back in. 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. Side 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.

Walleye season kicks off on Saturday at 12:01 am. The nearshore shoals/shallows are typically productive when the season opens. Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar, off Hamburg and near the mouth of Smokes Creek are good spots to try. 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 harbors are good spots for smallmouth bass when the special season opens on Saturday. These areas warm quicker than the open lake, drawing in bronzebacks.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Cattaraugus Creek is in good shape with a flow of about 460 cubic feet per second. Anglers are still catching steelhead in the Catt. Smallmouth bass have also moved well up into the creek, and channel catfish are just starting to show in the lowest section. Bass fishing is by catch and release only, artificial lures only until the special black bass season opens on May 7th. Following a soaking rain, all of the creek levels came up earlier this week. Look for more bass to have moved into all tributaries on that high water event.

Upper Niagara River

Harbor, bay and inlet areas are good places to target yellow perch and sunfish in the upper river, along Grand Island and the Tonawandas. These areas warm quicker than the main river channel, attracting both bait and panfish. Emerald shiners are the top bait, but other small minnows and worms will work.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye season opens on Saturday, May 7th. Targeting walleye along shallower shoreline areas at night is a good early season tactic. Boaters can slow troll 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

Most of the regions trout streams are in good fishing shape. Some of the larger creeks are still running a little high. The majority of action is still below the surface on nymphs. Small streamers or buggers also work. 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 5/9 and 5/13.

Cattaraugus County: Great Valley Creek (Great Valley), Forks Creek (Great Valley).

Wyoming County: Tonawanda Creek (Orangeville), Buffalo Creek (Java).

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.