Buffalo NY Fishing Report – Observations from 07/10/2023 – 07/16/2023
Here’s our latest Buffalo NY fishing report: Although Mother Nature didn’t want to make it easy by hitting us with some big wind, lightening, and torrential downpours, we managed put in a lot of time on the water this past week. Walleye fishing with a side of bass and freshwater drum was the daily program. With consistent action on nearly every outing, the walleye harvest is at it’s peak out of Buffalo, NY. Keep reading for more details.
Days on the Water: 6
Who we fished with: friends/clients
Where we fished: Lake Erie
What we caught: smallmouth bass, freshwater drum, perch, walleye
Tactics: 3-way rig with live bait, worm harnesses
Episode 59 of Two Angles on Angling is live: This week’s podcast is standard fare for us – I spent most of my time walleye fishing this past week so I talk about my observations from those sessions. Sporadic, violent weather has been a thing lately so we spend a little more time than usual discussing the upcoming week’s forecast. We get deep about travel – making it a priority, how to budget for it, the annual pattern of life and the day-to-day activities that ensure we can keep exploring.
Daily Conditions Analysis
Monday – Fished Lake Erie for walleyes. Did very well with some big fish in the mix too. Closed the day fishing current for bass and drum.
Tuesday – Had a grandfather and grandson multispecies trip. Started the day fishing Lake Erie for walleyes. We did well in big waves with more than a handful of biggies in the mix. Converted to bass fishing in current – it was a grind (other than the drum bite, which was insane)
Wednesday – Fished Lake Erie for walleye. Picky bite, but we caught at entertaining levels.
Thursday – Had a mother and 2 sons – celebrating the 17th birthday of one of the sons. It was HUGE out there – NOAA pushed a small craft advisory late the evening prior. Should’ve rescheduled, but wanted to see if I could find some action within the walls of the harbor so we could make some birthday memories. After about an hour, there were white caps inside the walls. Boat control became problematic. Called it early.
Friday – Worked a double. Fished Lake Erie for walleyes on both sessions. The morning outing was insane – best walleye bite of the season. Went back to the same zone for the evening trip and it was a grind. Not sure what happened – fish were there – not a lot of feeding going on.
Saturday – Fished Lake Erie for walleyes. Although the forecast called for calm conditions, the day started off with a BIG wind out of the SE, which kicked up a “walleye chop.” Action was grindy at first but as the wind died and the lake laid down, action picked up and we ended up having an excellent session with a few biggies in the mix.
Sunday – Day off
Seasonal Assessment/General Observations
On the Conditions
We’re in the middle of summer fishing at its finest. The regular appearance of violent weather has been the only problem lately. Wild wind and thundershowers have popped up frequently enough to keep me watching the radar throughout the day. Still, the overwhelming majority of days have been fishable and action has been consistent.
I don’t have much to report on the smallmouth bass bite as I spent nearly all my time this past week walleye fishing. When I did spend some time bass fishing, I stayed in current and caught them mixed in with the drum. Crawfish was the bait of choice.
I mentioned this briefly in my last report but it’s worth repeating: mortality is a problem this time of year if you’re not careful. The surface temperature of Lake Erie is in the upper 70s now – that’s hot. If you’re out on Lake Erie, away from current, and fishing deep water (over 30’), the bass are on the bottom where the temperatures are cool (in the upper 50s). Feel the fish when you them it – they’re cold to the touch. Pulling them up out of that comfortable stuff into the heat is IMMENSELY stressful for them. Getting the fish back into the water quickly is critical for their survival.
Although going deep is the way to go if you’re hunting big fish, if you’re looking for consistent action, hard fights, and little to no mortality, fish current. The bass that are hanging in zones with current are living in very warm water, but the flow constantly brings oxygen over their gills thereby keeping them vibrant. The action is excellent (once you find them) because they are hanging in current for one reason – to feed. All these fish need to do is hunker down behind rocks, bluffs, or similar current breaks and wait until that conveyor belt brings food to them. Swinging big swim baits or crankbaits, bouncing bottom with neds or drop shots, and dragging live bait are all productive techniques.
Remember – all my reporting for the walleye action is out of Buffalo, NY. There is still a TON of bait around and in turn, there are a lot of walleyes getting fat off it. Nearly every walleye I’ve butchered lately was engorged with smelt or shad.
If you’ve fished Lake Erie out of Buffalo, NY for walleyes lately, I’m sure you’ve noticed that there’s bait in the top 20’ of the column nearly everywhere you go. There are walleyes spread throughout the column – from hunkering on the bottom to mixed in with that bait. I’ve been running a 6-rod spread, with a minimum of 2 baits on the bottom and 2 baits about 20’ down, with the other 2 baits hanging where the action has been best.
Every day has been different – there have been days where the bites on the bottom have been few and far between with the majority the fish coming off the baits in the middle of the column. There have been other days where the bottom has produced 90% of the eats. I’ll say this though – the biggest fish boated daily ate baits suspended mid-column. Experimenting and making changes throughout the day has kept things entertaining.
As far as the baits go, I fish a worm harness program for walleyes – trolling between 1.2 – 1.7mph. I use Colorado blades spanning the color spectrum from daredevil to chartreuse to pink – it’s just gotta catch my eye ‘cause I know they’re gonna see it. If it’s bright, it’ll work. I haven’t noticed any one color works better than the others.
A Little Personal Reflection
On crowds: When us humans see a crowd, it’s natural for us to wonder what’s going on – we’re social creatures after all. Angling provides an excellent example of this phenomenon. From packed access points on trout creeks to “regattas” of boats grouped together on big water, crowds are magnetic/have their own gravity that trend toward increasing numbers. The thought, “there’s a lot of people fishing that spot, it must be good,” enters every anglers mind when we see a large group. Almost without questioning it, we join the mix – like the decision came from somewhere primordial/occurred without any consideration of alternatives.
What few anglers think about is that there wasn’t always a crowd in that spot. In fact, that likely wasn’t the case only a couple hours prior. Stated a little differently – what if one guy decided to fish in a spot, another guy saw him and thought, “there must be fish there if someone is there. This is where I’m going to set up too.” What if that guy hasn’t caught a damn thing? Maybe he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. In other words, joining the crowd is a gamble.
There is nothing I loathe more in angling than fishing in a crowd. I’m not going to vent too much about this but on a calm day on Lake Erie, anybody with a serviceable craft can fish…and they do. Boat control and etiquette are all over the spectrum – it’s immensely frustrating. If for some reason, there’s a massive concentration of fish in a tight zone, I’ll deal with it, but that’s a rare occurrence. More often than not, when I stake out my own stretch of water, away from the crowds, the vibe on the boat is wonderful as is the catch rate.
So, here’s my nugget of wisdom for the week – be mindful of those primordial urges. Sometimes they will serve you well. Other times, they’ll be detrimental. In my experience, rare are the occasions in angling when fishing in a group is the best choice. Spread out, explore, and experiment. Even if you fail, at minimum, you learned. Plus, you can always join the group.
Buffalo NY Fishing Report – Forecast for 07/17/2023 – 07/23/2023
We’re in the middle of the summer weather pattern where chances of “pop up” thunderstorms and brief but violent bouts of wind are a daily possibility. This upcoming week looks like we’ll get a dose of both throughout. Everyday will be fishable, however, you’ll have to endure some waves here and there if you want to make it out on Erie.
My plan is to spend most of my time fishing for walleyes on Lake Erie, but I’ll spend at least one day keeping tabs on bass and the bite in the river. I’m booked daily so stay tuned.
A couple final notes: If you didn’t notice it in the newsletter, here’s the link to the Adirondack trip report – Family, Friends, Fishing, and the 4th in the Adirondacks – Brookdog Fishing. Also, I know it seems like it’s way off, but start considering your angling plans for the fall. The schedule is filling up fast for some of the best action of the year – don’t miss out.
Stay healthy my friends – mentally and physically,
Tap any image below to swipe through the gallery. Quick note on walleye photos – they’re tough to take. Since I harvest nearly every walleye I catch, my default action is to kill the fish as soon as I get it in the boat to reduce suffering. That consists of a quick head stomp to subdue it then cutting its gills to bleed it out before putting it in the cooler. I bring this up because these actions don’t offer an opportunity for photos. I take a pic if the client asks me to or if the fish is over 6lbs”ish”. However, walleyes are notoriously resilient. Even after a head stomp or hammer fist to the head, it will still buck out of your hand when trying to hold it for a photo. Plus, they have teeth and spikes all over the place that’ll stick you if you’re not careful. Messes ensue, sometimes resulting in a client accidentally tossing a fish from the boat. The other photo option is a table spread prior to cleaning the fish. I’m not a fan of doing that – mainly because it selfishly takes up cleaning table space that others could be using while you are boasting about how many fish you caught. Alright – enjoy.