Days on the Water: 7
Who we fished with: friends/clients
What we caught: coho salmon, king salmon, smallmouth bass, walleye
Tactics: neds, jigs, flies, jerk baits, crank baits, blade baits; trolling spoons and stick baits
Commentary for the Week of 05/16/2022 – 05/22/2022
It was a week of spring weather – rain, wind, some cold, some heat, and some sunshine. The water warmed up rapidly due to all the 80+ degree days. That heat turned the bass toward the spawn and pushed the kings all over the place. In short, we’re past peak but there are still some great days to be had over the next week or so.
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Daily Conditions Analysis
Monday – Tough day. Wind, rain, and a big drop in temperature. Most folks would opt to reschedule their trip facing those conditions. The guys that fished with me Monday (and Tuesday) have been fishing with me for years. Rain, sleet, hail, snow, they’re down for the adventure. We made it work/fish were caught.
Tuesday – At least it was sunny…but the wind was a bit intense. The Upper Niagara had 2-3′ standing waves throughout the day. Opted to power fish/throw crankbaits all day. It worked…VERY well.
Wednesday – Perfect conditions all around – mild temps, small breeze, partly cloudy. Fished Lake Erie – numbers were OK but the size was incredible. Picked up a walleye in the mix too.
Thursday – Fished the bar in the morning for cohos. Picked up a few and saw a few busting bait. Not a ton around anymore but they’re there if you want a great meal. Transitioned to the Upper for a short crankbait session.
Friday – half day trip. Spent it in the harbor bassing. Nice day until the rain showed up.
Saturday – sunny and warm but big winds out of the SSW. Had a last minute cancellation but was able to fill the date with one of my friends/clients that’s been dying to catch a king so we pushed through waves onto Ontario. Mission accomplished…and then some.
Sunday – Fished Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara. Forecast turned out far worse than projected. Fog, rain, and extreme wind made it tough. We had a small window in the morning where we had a steady bite then things got tough.
Seasonal Assessment/General Observations
Water temperatures in the river are in the mid 50s now. The last time it was this warm this early was 2012. That’s crazy considering how behind things were only 2 weeks ago. The water temperature increased 10 degrees in 10 days due to all the 80+ degree temperatures we’ve been experiencing – it’s a little unsettling watching the rapid climb. Things chilled out a little bit this past week and flattened the curve but the rise continued nonetheless.
Throughout the system, smallmouth bass are starting to get on beds. Not a shocker considering they to convert to spawning when the water temps hit the mid 50s. They’ll be in full spawn mode within days – in the river that is – the Lake Erie spawn seems to be spread out a little more – probably because of the deeper/colder water. You’ll notice from the pics that although we’re still getting great numbers in the river, the size isn’t what it was a week or so ago. Biggies are still coming out of the lake but the catch rates have been a little lower lately.
It’s an interesting pattern I see year after year both with smallmouth bass and steelhead – the biggest/oldest/most mature fish show up to the spawning grounds first, followed by their younger peers. It makes me wonder where the biggies go when the younger fish arrive. Figuring that out is always on my mind but it’s hard to do recon with clients in the heart of the season. Stated differently, there’s always a little experimentation going on but my priority is to keep rods bent unless someone requests something different (like monster hunting).
I only spent a couple days fishing Lake Ontario this past week. Cohos are still available on the bar – it’s wild watching them blast bait on the surface. The Niagara is still dumping emeralds into Ontario so although the coho bite is waning, you can still pick up a limit with a little bit of work. Over the past few outings, we’ve seen numerous kings and cohos smash bait right next to the boat…like…I looked down off the side of my boat, and watched fish come up, eat, and swim back down…awesome. Because the Niagara is running fairly warm now, pursuing king salmon action in the river plume isn’t a reliable play. The fish are spread out a little more so covering water is key.
Looking Forward to the Week of 05/23/2022 – 05/29/2022
Fishing Conditions Looking Forward
This upcoming week is looking OK. The beginning looks great. The middle looks dicey with a lot of rain and wind. Memorial Day weekend looks promising. We’re booked daily. I’ll likely spend the bulk of the week bassing before things get SUPER SLOW due to the spawn.
As I mentioned above, bass are on beds or getting really close. Do yourself a favor and preserve the next generations of smalljaws by leaving those bedding fish alone. Unfortunately, some of the fish I’ve seen on beds already have hook marks on their lips – look for the white dot/gash/loose flesh. I’ve preached enough about this in the past, so I’ll leave it at that.
I’ll like try for kings at least once this upcoming week. I was surprised how many were around when I went after them on Saturday so I’m curious if I’ll be able to make the same thing happen on another trip. My confidence starts to wane when the water starts to get this warm but the only way to build it up is to get after it.
Stay healthy my friends – mentally and physically,
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