Fish are like turkeys, it’s gobble-gobble time locally

The “Ageless Walleye Wonder,” Joe Fischer, is pictured with a 30-inch Chautauqua Lake walleye giant caught this past week. Submitted Photo

The nighttime Lake Erie walleye fishing started slow for the May 1 opener; the water was still pretty cold but it has turned on in the last few days (er, nights).

In between wind and weather, Captain John Forbes of Time-Two Charters shared that Jack Forbes and Matt Tinstman of the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club used Storm Thundersticks to take their limit of 12 nice walleye near Dunkirk Harbor earlier this week.

The giant smallmouth bass are in their pre-spawn stage at this time too. Bass Classic champs Rick Clunn and Kevin Van Dam would be licking their chops right now to catch giant smallmouth like the colossal bass that are currently staging around and in Dunkirk Harbor.

Chautauqua Lake has also been a hot spot for walleye fishing. Shore casters and electric-motor boat trollers are working the nearshore shallows in 3-10 feet of water these first few weeks of the walleye season. The “ageless walleye angler,” Joe Fischer, had a triumphant moment, landing a giant 30-inch Chautauqua Lake walleye this past week, a true Chautauqua Lake monster. Chautauqua Lake fishing guide, Dillan LaBarbera has been limiting out (five fish per day) during early nighttime fishing stints. Contact LaBarbera at 716-499-7545 for an educational and affordable charter fishing trip.

The crappie bite is picking back up with warming lake temperatures. At Chautauqua Lake, Cassadaga and Findley Lake, crappie are in the shallow canals and can often be found near the docks and in the open lake, especially where there is weed structure in 4-8 feet of water. Mike Todd, DEC biologist, advises that traditional crappie spots include weed structure areas in Ashville Bay, Burtis Bay, Cheney Point, Lakewood Bar, Rock Island, Grass Island, Bemus Bay, Whitney Bay, Dewittville Bay and the flats off Mayville. Small jigs tipped with a small minnow, 1- or 2-inch tube, or other small plastic twister tails, the supple kind, are all excellent crappie offerings.

Fishing after dark, Jack Forbes and Matt Tinstman took home their Lake Erie walleye limit earlier this week. Submitted Photo

In the old days, Ma Peterson at the old Bait Pond Bait & tackle Store said that if you have kids, forget about the crappie. Go look for bullhead along the lake, especially in the canals, as the sun sets. She told me to take the kids to fish the Vukote canals just when darkness sets in. I asked her what to use. She said, “There is only one sure way to catch bullheads in spring there. You gotta use burnt hot dogs for bait. Cut ’em up, set ’em 3 feet below a bobber, so the kids can watch it.” So, I did that. We were renting a cottage nearby. I sliced up the burnt skin hot dogs into half-inch pieces and slid a piece onto a size 2 wide-shank bait-keeper hook. Added a bobber a few feet above. We cast out the line, and it didn’t take 30 seconds. The bobber went down, and my daughter set the hook. It was “Fish On!”

We caught at least 10 bullheads in the next 45 minutes, some of them up to 2 pounds. They fought hard, so it was the best time to be a kid. We released all of them, and the kids got to learn about the importance of being careful with the stickback bones of a bullhead that can puncture your fingers. They hurt like heck. Teaching careful responsibility at a young age … works all the time. I went back the next day to thank Ma Peterson. Little secrets that work make for fun times on the water when shared with others. These bullheads are biting right now. A word to the wise.


May 18: NY State Archery Shooters Association Federation qualifier, 10 a.m. start, Bear Lake Rod/Gun Club, 4392 Stockton-Cassadaga Road, Stockton, $25 adult, $15 youth. Info: Rudy Abersold, 716-397-9717

May 23: Chautauqua Lake Musky Outreach Meeting, 6:30 p.m. start at Chautauqua Lake Fishing Association, Celeron. Info: Jim Markham, Region 9 Fishery Manager, james.markham@dec.ny.gov.

May 25: Memorial Day Sporting Clay Shoot, Hanover Rod & Gun, 780 Overhiser Road, Forestville, 9 a.m. shooting start, 8 a.m. registration start. Info: Bill Scott, 716-480-2022, or visit www.hanoverclays.com.

June 1: Opening Day, NYS inland lakes musky season, 40-inch minimum length, one fish per day.

June 1: Take-A-Kid Fishing Day, Dunkirk Yacht Club, Memorial Park, Dunkirk, 9 a.m. start. Hosted by the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club — free fishing tackle for use. Sign up at the club (Mullet Street).

June 2: Kids Fishing Clinic, Dunkirk Walleye Festival, Dunkirk City Pier, 10 a.m. start with walleye pro champion, Craig Sleeman, free. Info: Josh Larsen, 716-490-4226.

NOTE: Submit Calendar items to forrestfisher35@yahoo.com.


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