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Rod, Gun and Game: Anglers bring in big hauls in Lake Erie with these tips

WHOPPER OF A WALLEYE — Marcos Rodriguez brought in this 9-pound walleye on Captain Fred Forsythe’s Castaway Charters, last week. Photo submitted by Forrest Fisher.

BUFFALO — There are so many walleye schools located, within a 15 minute boat ride, just west of Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo. People that have never caught big walleye before are coming back to the dock with limit catches of the usually hard-to-catch fish.

What’s the secret? Being in the right place, at the right time! That’s a big part of it, but when so many fish that swam here for the summer remain in one area for more than a month, they run out of available forage and angler offerings look pretty good.

With the recent cool mornings, for the last week or so, the water temperature is dropping and the fish may be fooled into thinking autumn is on the way. The fish could start their swim back to the western basin of Lake Erie. The Lake Erie water temperature has dropped from 79 – 73, in just six days, indicating that the weather may play a big factor for anglers to find the schooled fish, for two Lake Erie walleye derbies running, this weekend.

The big boat action will be at the annual “Con Club” tournament, held with headquarters at the Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Club, at the foot of Mullet Street, in downtown Dunkirk, on the harbor. The Con Club derby starts Aug. 1, with the captain’s meeting at 6 p.m., full-day fishing on Friday and Saturday, with weigh-in starting at 3 p.m., then half-day fishing on Sunday, with weigh station starting at 1 p.m.

All activities are headquartered at the club facility, which usually attracts several hundred people, each year. The tournament is sold out to capacity, with 100 four-man teams registered, for the event. There are more than 20 teams in reserve, if a team decides to drop out. This action offers more than $25,000 in cash prizes. Call Zen Olaw at 640-2776, for more information.

With the changing weather, a walleye movement forecaster could predict that some of the Buffalo-Sturgeon point area walleye schools will swim toward the Dunkirk and Barcelona deep, making for a really big fish catch, at this tournament. On the other hand, if the big fish schools remain closer to Buffalo, it will be a fantasy of boat trailering and long boat runs, for some of the captains that are always in the money, at this contest.

The other tournament in the running this weekend is the one-day fun fishing contest, at Bison City Rod and Gun Club, which is located at 511 Ohio St. in Buffalo. This tournament is open to Bison City members only and will feature prizes for the biggest fish, across three species: walleye, bass and yellow perch. Sign-ups for members is at the club facility, with the official weigh-in at 4 p.m., followed by a fish dinner for participants.

Diving planes, downriggers and side-planers with weighted lines have all been fooling limit catches of walleye, with copper/pink the hot color offering, these last few days. Renosky and Bomber® stickbaits, and spinner-worm offerings too, have resulted in limit catches by anglers, but the hottest “other new lure,” that is quietly taking the action by storm, is the new Rapala® Scatter Rap.

This new lure offers a classic balsa body Rapala shape, but has a new scatter lip, which creates an evasive, erratic, aggressive sweeping action compared to the more normal wobble of the original floater. The Scatter Rap action is that of a baitfish fleeing a predator, triggering reactive strikes. It has a similar action to the old Hot-N-Tot® used a few decades back, but has the shape of a 4-inch minnow; it has proven to also be a deadly bait!

Lastly, getting your lure to arrive at the 35 – 45 feet from surface level, by whatever means you use, winning anglers need to know that their equipment is strong and right. Check the line for nicks and frays, especially within the last 50 feet to the leader. Check your rod guides and assure they are free of nicks and cracks, because rod guides will shred your line faster than a fish, especially when you have that 15-pounder coming to net. Replace any rusty split rings, too.

Many anglers use fluorocarbon leaders to tie up their spinner/worm rigs. This is OK for inland lakes, where walleye are smaller and never go too far above eight or 10 pounds, but on Lake Erie, experts advise to only use steel leaders, on the spinner/worm rigs.

If you need advice, call seminar speaker and walleye master mentor Ted Malota at 627-3763. He will show you how to set up for these big Lake Erie fish. Malota’s last fish trips to Lake Erie, with two other anglers, have resulted in 90 walleyes.

Assuming that your line is good, rod and guides are good, hooks and split rings are acceptable and, if you choose to run spinner/worm rigs, that these are made with steel leader material, the last thing to identify is the leader between the end of your line and the terminal tackle.

Most savvy walleye anglers use 17- or 20-pound test fluorocarbon leaders of about four – six feet in length, between the end of the line from their fishing rod and the stickbait or spinner/worm rig. Add a high-quality snap-swivel to each end and you are now set to fish, hook and land that big walleye.

With dipsy-diver rigs or similar diving planes, many anglers use 40- or 60-pound braided super line, tied directly to a high-quality snap swivel and this directly to the diving planes. Then, attach the fluorocarbon leader from the diving plane to the lure or stickbait.

Modify the Renosky stickbaits by removing the front treble hook, replacing the remaining two trebles hooks with size 4 Gamakatsu® trebles, for sure hooking action. See Gerri at Bill’s Hooks Bait and Tackle on Route 5, just south of Dunkirk, for a few packs of these. Changing these hooks allows the lure to gain a wider wobble, with more hooking power, when a half-worm is added to the middle hook. The Scatter Rap hooks seem to be working out fine, by themselves.

Outdoor calendar
Aug. 1: 3D Archery Shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 15 targets, 4 p.m. – dusk, unlimited shooting, open to the public. For more information, call 655-5030.

Aug. 2 – 4: Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Walleye Derby, Dunkirk Harbor, three fish per day, for three days. For more information, contact Zen Olaw at 640-2776.

Aug. 3: Tightline Salmon Shoot-out Fish Tournament, Bluffer’s Park Marina, Toronto, Canada. For more information, visit

Aug. 4: NYS pistol permit class, Evans Rod & Gun Club, 864 Cain Road, Evans, 9 a.m. – noon. For more information, call 549-7251.

Aug. 7: 3D Archery Shoot, East Aurora Fish & Game, 1016 Luther Road, East Aurora, 5 p.m. – dusk, unlimited shooting, target bunks, open to the public. For more information, call 982-7069.

Aug. 7: WNY Safari Club monthly meeting, 7 p.m., Michael’s Banquet Facility, 4885 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg. Call 565-1980, for more information.

Aug. 8: 3D Archery Shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 55 Bridge St., 15 targets in the hills, food in the kitchen. Event runs 4 p.m. – sunset.

Aug. 17: NYS Archery Hunter Safety Training, Southtowns Walleye Clubhouse, 5895 Southwestern Blvd, Hamburg, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.. Registration for both days is required. Pre-register at 627-0147.

Aug. 17/24: NYS Hunter Safety Training, Armor Fire Hall, 4932 Clark St., Hamburg, 9a.m. – 5 p.m. Attendance at both days is required. Pre-register at 627-0147.

Send information for the Springville Journal outdoor events calendar to Forrest Fisher Column, 10 days in advance. Submissions can be emailed to


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