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Lake Erie Fishing Hotline

September 26 to October 3, 2014

Lake Erie

Angler holding large Lake Erie walleye caught off Hamburg.
Ten pound walleye caught off Hamburg in 31
feet of water, on worm harness.

It has been great September for Lake Erie yellow perch anglers. The best action has been between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 55-70 feet of water. However, being in the right general location does not guarantee good catches. Anglers should try to locate perch schools on the bottom with electronics before dropping anchor. Also, the right perch rig and bait can be the difference between a cooler full of fish in one boat and only a few caught in a boat just yards away. Many successful Lake Erie perch anglers employ a fluorocarbon rig, as opposed to flashier offerings like a spreader rig (See a description of a fluorocarbon rig below and a diagram, below right, provided by a seasoned Erie perch angler). Live emerald shiners are easily the top perch bait. Even salted emerald shiners will outperform live fathead minnows or other small minnows. Emerald shiners are available for dipping at Broderick Park (foot of Ferry St.). Most are smaller emeralds, but the patient dipper can find some larger shiners mixed in. View the Baitfish Regulations for information on use, transportation and possession of personally caught baitfish.

Double Fluorocarbon Perch Rig: Tie a 6 foot section of 6 pound 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.

The walleye fishing has been winding down and no new information was available this week. Previously, trollers were still catching some walleye between Cattaraugus Creek and Dunkirk in 70-80 feet of water on gear run 50-55 feet down. From Dunkirk to the PA line, anglers were targeting walleye over depths of 80-110 feet with gear run 60-80 feet down. Worm harnesses have been the top producer, but stickbaits are a good option when pesky white bass are around.

Diagram of fluorocarbon perch rig.

Lake trout are still available at depths over 80 feet, from Dunkirk to the PA line. Trolling with spoons run near the bottom is a good bet for lakers averaging 8-12 pounds, with the occasional lunker over 20 pounds! Steelhead are staging off tributary streams in preparation for their fall run. Boaters can target steelhead around stream mouths and out to depths of 70 feet by trolling flashy spoons between 2 and 2.5 mph. In addition, some brown trout have been caught off the mouth of Chautauqua Creek and some coho salmon have been showing in offshore catches.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Steelhead are scattered in Cattaraugus Creek, all the way up to the dam in Springville. However, the best numbers remain down low, with most catches coming from the lower reservation and below the Route 5&20 bridge. Caught steelhead have averaged around 24 inches. The other tributaries remain very low and clear, with only a few steelhead holding in the deep pools of the lowest sections. With warm weather and no rain in the forecast, its unlikely that any new fish will enter the creeks in the near future. Look for the next large rain event to really get things rolling. Until then, wading and casting spoons and spinners off the creek mouths is worth a shot. For those new to steelhead fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page for information on steelhead fishing equipment, locations and links to stream maps.

Lake Erie Steelhead Diary Cooperator Program: The DEC Lake Erie Fisheries Unit is seeking active Lake Erie tributary anglers to participate in the Diary Cooperator Program. The diary program provides valuable information on angler's fishing trips and helps biologists assess the status of the lake and tributary trout fishery in the New York waters of Lake Erie. For more details or to sign up, contact senior aquatic biologist Jim Markham by phone at 716-366-0228 or email: james.markham@dec.ny.gov.

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 the fall, and boat launches on the river remain open late into the fall. Recently, anglers have reported good smallmouth bass catches around Strawberry and Motor Islands. Target feeding bass outside weed edges by drifting with live golden shiners, crayfish or plastics. Muskellunge fishing peaks in fall on the river as well. Drifting along weed edges with large 8-10 inch tube jigs or casting large stickbaits are top methods.

Chautauqua Lake

Chautauqua anglers are still catching some muskellunge. Better catches have been in shallow zones along weed edges, but some suspended musky have been caught over depths of 25-35 feet. Trolling with large, 51/2 to 8 inch minnow-type stickbaits is a good bet. Some walleye have been caught in the deeper holes of the north basin. Vertical jigging programs with spoons, jigging Rapalas or medium sized shiners are good bets for walleye.

Inland Trout Fishing

Fall is a good time to fish the inland trout streams, as trout are on the feed and many other anglers have shifted their focus to the Great Lakes tributaries. The area streams are running low and clear, but water temperatures remain cool. Anglers may see light hatches of isonychia, tricos or BWO on some streams. Terrestrials such as ants, beetles or grasshoppers are good bets for surface action. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small inline spinners. If you are a catch-and-release angler and use spinners, it is a 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 area's best trout streams.

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.