Chilling winds, the search for antlered animals and Christmas gift hunting have combined to keep many anglers off lakes and streams this week.
Major tributaries are settling and stream conditions for the weekend look better than those on most open-water areas of lakes.
Chautauqua Lake waters remain open and continue to draw good numbers of boats in the Long Point area.
With the full moon past and a gradual warming trend predicted for the next few days, warm-water fisheries (perch and walleye) may pick up for fishermen working lakes or streams.
Cattaraugus Creek is the only open access area on Lake Erie between Buffalo and Dunkirk, and the perch run is a long one. Few fish could be seen and found in waters directly off the creek mouth. The better schools of perch are holding along structures west of Sturgeon Point, which is closed to access, and west to Point Breeze.
Tributary news is nil, with more reports on how to hint for appropriate Christmas gift tackle items than where to find and use egg sacks. Both Eighteen Mile and Cattaraugus Creeks have cleared, and the steelhead seem more numerous than browns. When fish move up or downstream, egg sacks seem to work better than spoons or spinners.
Muddy water flowing in the lower river gorge canceled fishing again this week. Neither shore casters nor drifting boaters were able to connect with the few steelhead that were still holding in the heavily stained water. Guide Jeff Tedesco projects poor fishing conditions to continue well past the weekend.
Upper river waters are roiled, but trollers can still do well evenings and after dark around Donnelly's Wall when waves subside. Most trollers head out just before dark and know before 9 p.m. whether or not walleyes will be chasing bait into the shallows near the wall. Size 13 Rapalas and other magnum-sized floating stickbaits draw these bigger walleye up for the strike. When good shoreline schooling occurs, half the catch exceeds the five-pound mark.
Steelhead movement around Oak Orchard Piers has been good due to reduced boat traffic. Most of the activity is along the east pier.
Oak Orchard Creek's brown trout run is slowing as the waters clear and become cooler.
Northern basin access for boaters using trailers is confined to either Long Point or Prendergast Point. Bemus Point remains closed due to construction. Long Point is open but all docks have been removed and launching at that site may require a pair of waders. Despite snowfall in the Southern Tier, both shore accesses remain free of ice.
Limit catches of walleye have been taken at all hours of the day, but heavy concentration of hits come just after sunrise. Both bait and walleye movements are more clearly visible on sonar, and most of the larger fish move up to chase suspended bait fish.
Fishermen and nature lovers interested in knowing what to look for in a good stream can develop better monitoring techniques by viewing a 28-minute video offered through the Save Our Streams program. Karen Firehock, national coordinator for SOS, gives a workshop in which she shows simple and enjoyable ways to "keep tabs on the state of our waterways." For a VHS copy of the SOS video, send a check for $15 to: Save Our Streams Video; Izaak Walton League of America; 1401 Wilson Blvd., Level B; Arlington, Va. 22209.