Days on the Water: 3
Who we fished with: friends/clients
Where we fished: Lake Erie, Upper Niagara, Lower Niagara
What we caught: smallmouth bass, freshwater drum, walleye
Tactics: neds, live bait, worm harnesses (orange, chartreuse, red devil, and pink – all worked equally)
Commentary for the Week of 07/18/2022 – 07/24/2022
Here’s our latest Buffalo NY fishing report: Tough week – lots of huge wind with some rain in the mix as well. We fished when we could – some days were tough, others were great. Bass are starting to show up in higher numbers on structure and that huge school of walleyes that was here last week…well…they left. Keep reading for more details.
Episode 19 is live. We discuss current conditions and patterns we’ve noticed here in the WNY fishery as well as the forecast for this upcoming week. Tap the link below to listen.
Daily Conditions Analysis
Monday – Did some recon on the Upper Niagara with my buddy Mike Trifiletti. Power fishing with cranks and blade baits around deeper shoals and structure was the project. We caught some nice bass, but the numbers weren’t “program worthy.” Still, it was a lot of fun – smallmouth bass smash crankbaits and blades in that fast current and the fight is awesome. It’s a niche program – for “experts” looking for a challenge when the lake is too big to fish.
Tuesday – Huge wind and rain – rescheduled the trip.
Wednesday – did an Upper Niagara/Lower Niagara combo – it was slow on both fronts. Should’ve fished Lake Erie but it was a bit wavy, and seasickness was a concern of the clients, so we put in work and quit early.
Thursday – Huge wind once again – rescheduled the trip
Friday – Worked a double. Lake Erie was big but not huge. We fished smallmouth bass using crawfish and neds and caught decent numbers along with a ton of drum. Structure was the focus – we caught fish between 20-40′.
Saturday – Fished Lake Erie for walleye. They disappeared from where they were last week. We checked out numerous zones between 40 and 60′ had only sporadic marks on the sonar. We opted to pack up the walleye gear and go bassing instead.
Sunday – Huge wind and rain – reschedule the trip.
Seasonal Assessment/General Observations
In the spirit of transparency – I’m a little beat up after this past week – lots of waves on every outing. I’ll say this much, it’s a great core/stabilizer muscle workout. Still, all that rocking around out there made it difficult to walk a straight line on land. My wife asked me if I was drunk the other day when she saw me rocking back and forth in the kitchen. Thankfully, I have an awesome boat that’s built for handling those conditions. Without the Warrior, I’m not sure I would’ve worked much over the past 7 days.
Smallmouth Bass Observations
The smallmouth bass bite has been improving with every outing. Work a lot of structure and you’ll find them. Sometimes you’ll have to cull through a ton of drum in the process but you’ll eventually find zones that hold more bass than the glorious gaspergou.
I’ve noticed this in the past and it occurred again on 2 of the outings this past week so it’s worth mentioning as a potential SUMMER pattern – if you’re moving faster than 1 mph, live bait isn’t necessary for consistent bites/artificials are more effective than live bait. Yeah, yeah, yeah – some of you are saying that live bait isn’t required at all for consistent bites. Well, my metric for consistency is likely vastly different from yours. Plus, many of the folks that fish with me are new anglers and need every edge available to put the odds in their favor.
Back to my point – when the Lake is calm, or calm”ish,” such that the waves move you less than 1 mph – live bait prevails in producing numbers and size. When moving faster than 1 mph – artificials work better than live bait in producing size and numbers. Why? My theory is that the slower you move, the more time the fish have to study what you’re presenting and will pass on an artificial when the real thing is immediately available. When you’re cruising by, the fish have less time to study the bait/feed opportunistically. A nice perk of fishing artificials vs live bait in fast water is that the artificial won’t get robbed/stripped from the hook. That’s a HUGE perk because it allows you to stay in the strike zone the whole time without having to check your hook to see if you were robbed.
Now, the following observation will really mess with you – what I described above is only a SUMMER pattern. Once the water temperature starts dipping back into the mid to low 50s, artificials almost always out-fish live bait – especially on calm days. Dragging a 4″ swim bait or even a ned on the bottom, which anyone can do as it takes very little skill, often out produces live bait by a LARGE margin. Why? I have no idea. Bottom line, these are just my observations, but I think if you’re into catching numbers and size, it’s always worthwhile to have both live bait and lures on the boat. Experiment with both at various speeds and water temperatures – I think you’ll find what I described above will pan out for you too.
I don’t have a lot to say about ‘eyes except that they’re a pain in the ass. When the huge schools come close to Buffalo, NY, we all get excited and hammer fish with relative ease. That was the past couple of weeks. Then, they leave and morale plummets. That’s where we are now. I’m guessing that school moved back toward the west and is somewhere between the Catt and Barcelona, NY. Lake Erie has been so big over the past week that I don’t think too many guys pushed SW into those zones to find them. I’ll get in touch with a few of my colleagues this upcoming week to find out.
Quick side note – prior to this year, I never caught a walleye on a crawfish. So far, I’ve boated at least 6 while bassing with crabs this year. I didn’t think they were crab eaters but apparently, they are opportunists like their bass and drum cousins. Every crawfish-eating walleye I’ve boated so far has been off of a rock pile in less than 30′. Pattern? Oh yeah, last year, the top 3 biggest walleye that I boated all came off of shallow rock piles and all of them ate neds. It’s certainly not the approach to land numbers of walleyes BUT it should make you consider fishing rock piles throughout the summer – ’cause you never know what might happen.
Looking Forward to the Week of 07/24/2022 – 07/31/2022
Fishing Conditions Looking Forward
Other than Monday (tomorrow), the forecast for this upcoming week looks great. It’ll be breezy and unsettled tomorrow after all this wind and scattered showers but beyond that, we’re looking at mostly clear skies, calm”ish” winds, and little to no precipitation. It’s going to be a good week. I’ll spend nearly all of it bassing on Lake Erie, but if the walleyes make it back toward the city, it’ll go after them too.
We take off on a family vacation to North Dakota this upcoming weekend so there won’t be a fishing report next week. However, as per usual, there will be a trip report/blog following that adventure. I’ve never set foot in that state, so it’ll all be new. I’m looking forward to checking out the scenery, fishing for walleyes in a strange place, and spending time with the family. It’s been far too long since our last trip.
Summer is more than 1/3 over. If you live pretty much anywhere else but WNY, and you have kids, your kids will be back in school in less than a month. In other words, summer is racing by/there isn’t much left. Availability is fleeting my friends. If you haven’t booked a date on the water, call us soon before the schedule gets jammed. Before long, I’ll be filling up the fall calendar (FYI – it’s never too early to book – the fall is getting full already).
Stay healthy my friends – mentally and physically,
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