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Fishing Western NY
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Fishing Western NY

Western New York ----The Niagara Frontier

By Sven Stau

Over 40 years of living, working in this area and fishing the bulk of my life has given me the opportunity to try out many great fishing spots. As well as trying many different fishing techniques and lures. Working within the fishing industry for a number of years, has kept me in touch with lots of old and young fishermen, who I can give credit for a lot of I have learned. I will share some of it with you.


A favorite fish to catch in this area. A great tasting fish for those Friday fish frys. May is the opener that everyone waits for, in shore spawning is just about completed. The time shore fishermen have an equal chance of catching these toothy critters. Fishing for the most part is done just after sunset until the wee hours in the morning.

The shore fisherman has a few good spots to go to. One excellent spot is at Athol Springs, the small beach at what was Hoak's Restaurant. From opening day into June or until the water reaches 58-60 degrees your best bet is to wear insulated waders and wade out about 30 feet and cast out as far as you can. Retreive your lure in slowly as the water is still cold, as the fish are not in the fast chasing mode. The lures found to work best are the RAPALA floating minnow type lures, #9-13, color-- all charteuse, firetiger or orange. The STORM Thunderstick in roughly the same sizes and colors. Also, found the COTTON CORDELL "shallow" Walley Divers 2 1/2-3 1/8" lures are killers. Painted up a special Walley Diver in the following way. Sand the orig finish off to the basic dull white, brush on vinyl jig paint. The top half with flourescent hot pink and the bottom half with flour. chartreuse. The trick is to mix in some glow in the dark white in with these colors. This produces just the right amount of glo that the walleye can home in on without being spooked. Add a black back and your ready to go. A blast of light from an ice jig flash unit or camera flash unit onto the painted lure, and you're ready to fish. Shore fishermen can also target Channel Catfish if so inclined, they get huge!!!

Other good Lake Erie shore areas are Hamburg Beach using Rattling Rebels or Rouge minnow lures, the mouth of 18 Mile Creek or Cattaraugus Creek casting spoons.

Boaters can be seen trolling close in shore, in water as shallow as 5'. Using the same lures as mentioned above. As the water heats up the walleye tend to move into deeper water. Tactics change somewhat. Fish these areas: along the South Gap to Middle Gap in Breakwall to Lighthouse on the wall.. Jig a 3/4 oz jig with worm. Troll out the middle gap to the departure bouys and Meyers Reef. Some years a worm harness works best other years a stickbait lure or spoons in the hot set up.. Some worm harness set ups that were secret weapons:

1) A yellow salley type fly tied with a pink body and red wings on a 2/0 hook with a trailer hook for a nightcrawler. Ahead of the fly a bunch of pink beads and a willow or colorado blade in pink.
2) Purple beads with copper/black blades
3) Wire worm harness that will measure 9-10" overall. Two 3/0 hooks, then ahead of the hook a large flourescent red bead, three smaller orange beads, #6 firetiger willow blade, small orange bead, a large black bead, three small orange beads another willow blade same color, orange bead, 1' of green tubing, orange bead and then tie a loop.
Another variant of this harness is to change out the orange beads for raspberry or purple beads, raspberry prism tape on black willow blades.Still another viant, pink beads, pink or gold blades.
4) A Tourney fisherman's killer harness: pink beads with a large willow leaf blade and a Berkley 7" Power Bait worm in Motor Oil color. Only one hook on this harness, Hook the worm just thru the very tip. The above harness any other combination worm harness are trolled behind a Dipsey Diver size number 3. Dipsy colors: watermelon, pink with black ring. Others use a Jet Diver tied on the middle setting.

Other lures that have worked well trolling behind a Dipsy or straight lining behind a boat are: small Storm Hot'n Tots in firetiger, chartreus, black/silver, chrome/blue, crawdad. Rapala or Rebel Minnow lures in gold/black. Storm Thunderstick with white sides, blue back and sparkles, metallic orange/charteuse/specks. Smaller shallow Thundersticks or Rapala Shad Raps in sizes 5-7.

Fishing in the lake as the water warms tend to push the walleye miles off shore, these are the migratory fish that travel here from Ohio. Deep water trolling with downriggers will now be required. There is a large resident population of walleye that can be caught thru the summer and fall, day or night time, from a boat. Mostly in the same areas mentioned, from a hour before sun up to about 11:00 am. With the most productive time being up to 8:30 am. My favorite spot would be drifting down the Emerald channel the area between Erie Beach past the Round house to just below Ft. Erie. Using a special Fenwick Bottom Bouncer Rod and baitcasting reel filled with 12lb. test line, using a 48" worm harness attached to a Bottom Bouncer, catches fish. My favorite worm harness consists of a floating chartreuse jighead with a trailer hook 3" behind. followed by 6 small pink beads and a #3 pink, gold, orange, firetiger cupped colorado blade Cabela's. A lively night crawler blown up with an air injector will catch you fish. Be warned you'll also catch some giant Smallmouth Bass here. If you use a chartreuse blade, expect you'll be reeling in some Sheepshead.

Other nightly areas to catch some walleye during the month of May is off the Bird Island breakwall 20 minute walk from the foot of Ferry Street. You'll walk past the Peace Bridge heading out past the the shallow reef where the breakwall bends. Cast out into the lake from this area to another 400 feet down the wall. . Rapala floating minnows in above mentioned colors seem to work the best here. Attach a small splitshot to the front treble hook. Expect a few snags. Please be careful if venturing out on the wall,pick a calm night with a slight breeze. If a storm kicks up, waves will pound the wall and spray over top of it. Go out with a buddy. A life vest taken along is a good precaution against any problems you might encounter. If you want to fish the foot of Ferry Street heading North along the wall can net you a nice fish or two. Start at the northern end of the wall, where it stops. You will walk along the wall, up current with a Countdown Rapala minnow lure. The lure will hug alonside the wall, walleye can be found here cruising up current feeding on the minnows. Bring a long handled net!!!

One last May spot, is just down river at the foot of Ontario Street. You'll need a boat, drift fish just offshore down the shipping channel. Use a 3/4 to 1 oz white deer haired bucktail jig tipped with a minnow. Pink jigs also work. Try jigging around the head of Strawberry Island as long as your out there.

If your into Walleye Fishing, be sure to visit:

Trophy Fish You Can Catch in WNY
Father-in-law with salmon caught using a flyrod I made for him
Build Your Own Fishing Rod

If you love fishing and tackle, you may wish to try your hand at custom rod building, it's fun and enjoyable. Especially when you know you can taylor make a rod to your very own specifications. Not to mention, it will probably out perform a factory built rod, and a blast to use. I have built approx. 20 custom rods, the Fly Rods were my favorite.