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WALLEYE! ~ Tips for you on how the pros do it!

Fishing /By Will Elliott, Buffalo News Outdoor Writer

Fishing walleye in Lake Erie ~ Dunkirk Harbor Area ~

Charter boats go deep at Dunkirk

Walleye, walleye everywhere — but not a drop in the bucket.

A few of the best Lake Erie walleye charter captains got with Erie and Chautauqua County leaders to hold an outing to promote the fabulous fishing found in, around and just off Dunkirk Harbor.

The fishing is great. Boaters head out of Dunkirk to points near and far for bass, walleye, perch and assorted trout species. A Masters Walleye Circuit contest on Aug. 23-24 showed the sizes and numbers of walleye available to anglers at Dunkirk.

But when the first cameo outing was scheduled two weeks earlier, a vicious northwest wind had 5- foot waves breaking over the harbor’s outer breakwater. By 7 a. m., Capt. Dan Dietzen knew we were not going to get out that day — conditions that boaters have seen too often this otherwise nice summer season.

Captains Lance and Joann Ehrhardt, aboard Sassafras Charters and Dietzen, agreed to reschedule the promo outing to Aug. 30.

Skies that early Saturday morning looked somewhat similar to the previously planned day, but forecasts had things clearing and a somewhat stiff north/northwest wind had us rocking but not too much rolling.

Dietzen and Ehrhardt held an unspoken competition on this day. Each had had good fishing in general, with some nice, limit-numbered catches throughout the summer.

For decades, I’ve been connecting with Dietzen for fishing updates and hunting and fishing gear inquiries, so I opted to head out with him and his partner, Ron Bergler, of the City of Tonawanda, aboard their 26-foot Parker. Dietzen retained the chartering name Sea Cin, which has been an active guide service on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario for more than three decades.

Dietzen deserves credit for being the first charter boater to regularly apply Lake Ontario suspended-level fishing in Lake Erie waters. While some anglers knew walleye feed on bait schools moving well off bottom back in the 1950s and 1960s, it was Dietzen’s downrigs and side planers off Dunkirk Harbor that triggered the profusion of planer boards, lead core, and side divers so popular with walleye trollers today.

Dietzen steadily upgrades his presentations. After years of Dipsy Diver domination, he switched to Slide Divers for a controlled side-planning device.

“You can run a long leader off these Slide Divers and aren’t confined to a rod-length lead needed with Dipsys,” he explained while setting out lines.

For terminal tackle, he has had great results this season with Joe Renosky’s new Chatter Stick baits. This bait has a detached (not fixed) metal lip that gives the lure “unbelievable erratic action” when trolling. Bergler and Dietzen doctor their Chatter Sticks with a larger back treble hook and no middle hook, just a split-ring for balance.

It works. Three of the four walleyes boated went for the new Renosky lure. “He’s [Renosky] constantly working on lure designs and has come up with a real winner with this one,” Dietzen said.

A good lure can make or break a fishing trip, and this season has been a busy one for fish finding and catching for Dietzen and other charter boaters. The bite off Buffalo Harbor and at the head of the Niagara River has been consistent; Barcelona Harbor saw an early and late run of big Ohio ’eyes.

But the Sturgeon Point to Dunkirk Harbor area has been hit or miss for walleye numbers and sizes. That new Renosky-and an abundance of ’03-class ’eyes-has made it another good season for Dietzen.

“Everything’s been at 70 feet,” he said after two boated walleye. But even Babe Ruth struck out [sometimes] and the Yankees don’t always make the playoffs. In the contest with the Ehrhardt, our four ’03-class fish came in second to seven hogs, most above the ’03-class size and at least three over five pounds.

A walleye fillet cook-out at Point Gratoit Park, just west of Dunkirk, ended a beautiful day on and along the water.

Even a so-so day turned out to be a great outing. “We’re set up to fish until at least late September,” the Ehrhardts said of the Dunkirk fishery. They, Dietzen, Phil Swiatkowsi of Take Five Charters, Bud Marsh of Alibi Charters and many others provide good fishing every day Lake Erie allows boating access.

For a listing of all the charter boaters at the east end of Lake Erie, go to:www.great-lakes.org/ny/elecbaand click on “Members.” More walleye winners

When the 2008 Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC) closed its competition at Dunkirk Harbor on Aug. 24, two-angler teams finished with spectacular scores.

The winning team of Nate Capton Jr. of Niagara Falls and Dave Waldeck of Sanborn averaged nearly six pounds per fish for their two-day entry of 10 ’eyes. Their total weight of 58.99 pounds topped the second- place team by more than two pounds.

Other Western New York teams did well in this MWC competition. Robert Hollingsworth of Kenmore and Jim Navis of Grand Island took eight places with 4.32 pounds. Angola anglers Dennis Alguire and Gene Strianese weighed in 46.83 pounds to finish ninth among the 63 teams entered.

MWC competitors fished from directly off Dunkirk Harbor to Pennsylvania state line and International border waters.


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