Fishing /By Will Elliott, Buffalo News Outdoor
Fishing walleye in Lake Erie ~
Dunkirk Harbor Area ~
Charter boats go deep at Dunkirk
Walleye, walleye everywhere — but not a drop in the
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
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