Fishing Beat: Look toward Lake Erie for walleye (2024)

Bill Hilts Jr.

The Erie Canal is full of water now, and navigation with lift bridges and locks begins Friday.

Lake Erie walleye fishing is still best at night, and Lake Ontario salmon are becoming a bit more scattered for some big tournaments coming up. It was a 25-pound king that won the $15,000 Grand Prize in the LOC Derby.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Fishing at night for walleye has been good to great lately, according to Capt. Dave Adrian with AquaTech Charters. The best time to start has been from just before dark to well into the night, with good-sized walleye taken in from Buffalo to Dunkirk. The best lures for Adrian have been Scatter Raps in Clown, Firetiger and Hot Steel trolled in 9 feet to 16 feet of water over structure at 1.7 mph to 2 mph. Initial action starts as early as 8:30 p.m. with a flurry between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Once you find the fish, as always, the challenge is to stay on them. Adrian says to avoid the packs of boats.

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Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla put his boat on search mode on Mother’s Day and found he was the only boat that launched out of Cattaraugus Creek. Most people could have been honoring Mom, out hunting turkeys or chasing walleyes at night. Brzuszkiewicz ran to his usual 52-foot spot, but only caught a few fish. He went searching out to 70 feet of water, but could only manage a few more perch. All of the fish he caught were post-spawn.

Williamsville’s Mike Erdt went fishing for bass off Buffalo and for the first time caught big perch, as well as walleye, on the bass humps. Lewiston’s Matt Wilson hit the lake over the weekend, but fishing was off due to a recent cold front. Rather than fish shallower, he moved deeper and did better hooking up. It took slow-moving baits such as Ned rigs and tubes to make the difference. His best spot was around Donnelly’s Wall. Wilson insists to keep working to find holding areas when fishing is slow to find spots for your next trip.

Shub Stevens with Catt. Creek Bait and Tackle reports that some perch were being caught in 45 feet to 55 feet of water off the Catt, and the walleye bite has been slow during the day. Try bouncing bottom with a worm harness in 20 feet to 30 feet of water. The best night bait has been a Rapala Scatter Rap. Catfish action in the Catt has been good, with plenty of big catfish caught at night on crawlers or cut bait. Final details for Stevens’ catfish tournament, with a tentative date of June 8, are being worked out.

Niagara River

There are still a few trout hanging around in the lower Niagara River, but it won’t be long before they are gone as the water temperature warms up.

Both steelhead and lake trout were caught the past week in Devil’s Hole, according to Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston. They can be found throughout the system to Lake Ontario as they migrate back to the lake. The combination of emerald shiners and MagLips has worked best for trout. To target trout, move and seek out active fish in drifts, but be aware that what might work one day may not work the next.

Bass and walleye have been more cooperative of late, Campbell said. For bass, use Ned rigs, jerkbaits, and swimbaits. You must use artificial lures when targeting bass during the catch-and-release season, except for Lake Erie. For walleye, blade baits and minnows have been working the best.

On the Niagara Bar, there is a mixed bag available, including king salmon, Coho salmon, brown trout, and lake trout. Overall numbers are scattered due to some east wind events, but when the bait returns, so will the fish.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls hit the Artpark area from shore Sunday and managed to hook four different species of fish using an ultralight fly rod with 4-pound test line while tossing small jigs. He caught smallmouth bass, steelhead, lake trout and sheepshead.

Lewiston’s Wilson hit the lower river Sunday and used his Garmin Fish Eye 3D to identify fish-holding areas. Jerkbaits and blade baits worked best. He had Shane Stark on the Boat with C-Head jigs and blades. Stark caught four fish between 5 and 6 pounds in the river on one drift and many more below the 5-pound mark. They caught all of these fish inside the river, and at the end of the day, they went in front of the fort and found many more bass and brown trout mixed in. The bait of the day was a Flicker Shad in black and silver and a 3-inch Keitech perch pattern swimbait.

Lake Ontario

The Lake Ontario Counties Trout, Salmon and Walleye Derby ended with some excitement on Sunday when George Prentice of Smicksburg, Pa., boated a 25-pound salmon in the final 90 minutes of the derby to win the $15,000 Grand Prize. Read Sunday’s outdoor column to find out how he did it.

Jeff Wawrzasrek of Rochester topped the brown trout division with a 19-pound, 5-ounce fish near Irondequoit, and Salvatore Cappuccetti of Theresa reeled in a 27-pound, 5-ounce lake trout to top that division. Michael Stange of Athol, Mass., took top walleye honors with a 10-pound, 5-ounce Oswego River fish he also caught the final day of the derby.

Collecting intel on the fishing for the next week or two is difficult with all of the fishing contests scheduled. The spring action seems to be slowly transitioning into a summer program. Fish have scattered, according to Capt. Joe Oakes of Salmonboy Charters. There are pockets of fish scattered east and west of Wilson between 120 feet and 350 feet of water. It has mostly been a spoon program, 30 feet to 85 feet below the surface.

Chautauqua Lake

Crappie fishing is good with plenty of fish in 6 feet to 8 feet of water, according to Capt. Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. There are lots of 9-inch to 10-inch black crappies around.

Finding keeper-sized fish over 10 inches requires moving around and fishing the same spots at different times of the day. Transition areas of weeds to gravel are where the majority of the fish are hanging around beds. Walleye fishing is good for those fishing after dark, says Sperry. Casting floating Rapalas, Challengers and other 3 to 5-inch stick baits will work. Trolling in shallow water with the same lures is working, as well.

Finger Lakes

Cayuga Lake: Lake trout fishing has ranged from slow to very good over the past week, depending on the day, according to Capt. John Gaulke with Finger Lakes Angling Zone. Fish are widely scattered, with decent numbers from 50 feet to 80 feet of water and then out to around 120 feet. Bass fishing is decent on the lake’s northern parts, but pickerel fishing is slow. The southern portions of the lake provide good perch action, a few smallmouth bass and some salmonids.

Seneca Lake: Lake trout action is fair to good around Geneva, according to Gaulke. Sampson and south has been slower. The big National Lake Trout Derby is set for May 25-27. For more information, go to

Skaneateles Lake: Gaulke insists that perch are just about done spawning. Smallmouth bass fishing nearshore is very good – try tube jigs, hair jigs and Ned rigs. Rock bass are plentiful. Lake trout can be had in 20 feet to 40 feet of water, with some fish out deeper.

Otisco Lake: Bass fishing is reportedly good, insists Gaulke. A few tiger muskies are being taken. Nighttime walleye fishing should be ongoing. A few warm days and nights should help.

Owasco Lake: Some lake trout are being taken on the north end from around 50 feet to 100 feet of water, according to Gaulke. Perch fishing is still decent in around 15 feet to 30 feet of water.



  • Trout
  • Fishing Bait
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Angling
  • Fishing Techniques And Methods
  • Fish
  • Outdoor Recreation Techniques
  • Fishing
  • Fish And Humans
  • Fisheries Science
  • Ichthyology
  • Primary Sector Of The Economy
  • Recreational Fishing
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Blood Sports
  • Trolling (fishing)
  • Walleye
  • Crappie

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Bill Hilts Jr.

Fishing Beat: Look toward Lake Erie for walleye (2024)


Where is the best walleye fishing on Lake Erie right now? ›

The walleye are easier to find and are abundant around certain areas. The best time of year to hook a walleye is May and June along the shallow waters of Lake Erie after the walleye are done spawning. The leading hot spots are Monroe, Sterling State Park, Bolles Harbor and Luna Pier.

What is the best bait for walleye on Lake Erie? ›

If you're new to Walleye fishing or just want to put fish in the boat, live bait is always your best bet. Lures are fun, but they can't compete with the real thing without a lot of practice. Walleye feed on a lot of different things, but three go-to live baits are minnows, leeches, and worms.

When's the best time to fish for walleye in Lake Erie? ›

July Walleye

No doubt the best month for catching a limit catch of walleye in the western basin of Lake Erie. The Ohio Division of Natural Resources has proven that the catch rate per angler is best during this month. July walleye fishing is Lake Erie's best-kept secret.

What is the best depth for walleye in Lake Erie? ›

Anglers usually target walleye in 60 to 80 feet of water using lead core line, downriggers, Dipsy Divers, Jet Divers or other devices that can get your offering down to the desired depths. Walleye are not always on the bottom so it's a good idea to vary the depth of your lures until you start getting into fish.


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