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Rod, Gun & Game: Local anglers: Get ready for Lake Erie walleye action

SPRINGVILLE — Seasoned anglers know that fish may strike at any moment. If you want to be successful, you must stay focused, especially when fishing for walleyes in Lake Erie.

Before heading out to fish in the nearby lake, familiarize yourself with baitfish forage options, lures and stealth presentation tactics.

Walleye completed their spawning activities a week or two ago. The male fish are more aggressive, but, in the next seven – 10 days, the females will join in the annual, pre-summer feeding event, as the migrating western basin walleye arrive in Lake Erie.

More than 1,000 anglers will register, to compete for the heaviest walleye, in the Southtowns Walleye Association annual fishing contest that will begin at midnight on June 8.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reported that the near-shore walleye bite heated up, during the last few days of May. Shore temperatures are now registering at 56 degrees, along the New York shoreline.

The fish are finished spawning and are beginning to school up and search for forage.

Anglers troll at night, over shallow rock shoals, with minnow-style stickbaits and worm harnesses, in 8 – 15 feet of water.

Anglers fishing off Hoak’s Restaurant in Hamburg, along the mouth of Eighteenmile Creek, have reported some good catches. The fish are also biting on Lake Erie State Park and Shorewood shoal, near Dunkirk.

Look for walleye, where the wind and lake currents forge schools of emerald shiners to gather, day or night. Don’t forget about the mouth of Smokes Creek and outside the Buffalo Harbor outer break-wall areas.

One year, I was fishing with my cousins, Tom and Don Warda, off Smokes Creek. No matter which way we turned the boat, we encountered a trolling line confrontation. We reeled up our lines and headed for a dropoff, 18 – 30 feet straight out, three-eighths of a mile from the mouth of Smokes Creek.

We switched all of our lures to jigs and used the electric bow motor, to hold our position over the dropoff, as the wind slid us down the edge of the breakline structure. We tied on a three-eighths ounce lead head, painted black, and slipped on the last 6-inch section of a Mann’s black plastic worm, as bait. We applied a thin coating of anise oil to the lures.

We dropped the baits over the side, until they hit the bottom of the 20 feet of water, on the breakline. After waiting several seconds, we lifted our baits, to activate the plastic tails. My line immediately started to move off and the open-face reel drag started to sing. A few minutes later, a 6-pound walleye went into the cooler.

During the next few hours, we caught 11 more fish, by jigging with light lines and adapted bass lures that resembled anything but a minnow or emerald shiner.

When conditions tempt you to test new methods, you will never know whether or not they will work, until you try them. Know what you have in your tackle box, but don’t get pigeonholed into using the same lure, technique or fishing style, when you know something needs to change.

Many anglers favor walleye. Between now and the start of the Southtowns Walleye contest, try to become a more effective and precise walleye angler.

To view lures that typical walleye trollers use, visit a local tackle shop.

Talk to Patti, at The Big Catch on Niagara Street; Dave, at Dave Watt’s Bait and Tackle in Derby; Ricky, at Miller’s Tackle near Sunset Bay or Gerri, at Bill’s Hooks, south of Dunkirk. Lures run $5 – $7 each.

Kids fish derby
Young Western New York anglers and their parents can have fun in the great outdoors, together, this Saturday, at the East Aurora Fish and Game Club. The public is invited to a free “Teach Me To Fish” event at the club’s stocked pond.

No pre-registration is required. Visit the club, located at 1016 Luther Road in East Aurora, on Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Kids must be accompanied by adults. Sign in at the main cabin, then visit each of five learning stations, including knot tying, casting, learning how to fish, discovering where to fish and plastic bait rigging. After completing the learning stations, fishing in the pond is next, with rods, reels, bait and lessons provided, for free. The pond is stocked with crappies, bass and multiple species of trout.

As the kids finish each station, their registration cards are punched. When all of the tasks are completed, the kids are eligible to drop their process cards into a random drawing hopper, located at the main cabin. A rod and reel will be given away, to entrants.

Chairman Dave Smyczynski will have the kids line up and head to the fishing tackle treasure chest, where they will choose a prize from the lures, lines, bobbers and plastic baits. Every kid will head home with a prize, to recognize the outdoor achievements.

The event will include a free hot dog lunch, salad, chips, beverages, ice cream and treats. Volunteers will be on hand, to help.

The event is open to kids aged 15 and younger. Call Smyczynski at 652-5928, for more information.

Bird group blasts wind farm decision

The American Bird Conservancy asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to reverse a recent U.S. Bureau of Land Management Record of Decision for the Alta East Wind Project in California, which would allow a wind farm to kill an endangered California condor.

There are fewer than 250 condors left, in existence. Wind farms have inadvertently killed or harmed several bird species.

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