Bitter cold and shifting ice fields over waters with only slight ice formations has put off most outings except for certain areas in Southern Ontario.
Expansion cracks and pressure ridges have formed even on lakes with heavy ice cover. Conservation officer Don Malmrose warns of at least a half dozen cracks which have formed on Chautauqua Lake. Malmrose suggests using caution when heading out on all ice surfaces this weekend because of openings caused by high wind.
Two notable exceptions, Lake Simcoe and Bay of Quinte, (both in Canada) maintain 10- to 12-inch, unbroken ice with good catch reports.
Lower Niagara River waters, slightly stained and darkening, look poor for weekend prospects.
Bay of Quinte
Solid ice coats all areas inside the bay from Belleville to Telegraph Point.
Terry Maracle at Terry's Tee Pee weighed in Cheektowagan Dave Bianchi's two biggest walleye this past week: a 9- and an 11-pound, 31.5-inch monster. Check with Maracle (613-962-4456) for ice conditions before making the drive up to this trophy walleye ice area.
Perch, and a respectable number of bigger whitefish, have come in from 35-foot depths some three miles off the north shore of Simcoe, reports Randy Carlton at Randy's Fish Huts. Carlton has placed 28 huts on ice areas with thicknesses of a foot or more.
Catches of 100-200 perch have been common for many huts, with most fish running 8-10 inches. Whitefish sometimes pass the 10-pound mark. Check with Carlton (705-437-2989) before making this drive north of Toronto.
Many lakes benefited from severe cold and a few remain uncertain and unsafe. Oneida Lake, for example, was the cite of a fatality Thursday afternoon. Frank Tripp, 64, long-time owner of Spruce Grove Marina and well known to many Western New York fishermen, drown while running a snowmobile across an open section of the lake to check on ice conditions.
Capt. Kevin Caffery, always a reliable source for ice fishing tips and safe approaches to and on the ice, cautioned listeners Thursday evening at the Southtowns Walleye Association's meeting of another potentially dangerous fishing area for anglers: the low water dam.
Dubbed "drowning machine" by rescue personnel, these undercurrents created below dams often appear harmless but, when a person falls into the water and gets caught in the backwash, victims can't escape current, Caffery says. He cited five recent deaths caused by low water dams in Buffalo Creek alone. Five of these dams span the river and several more are scattered around Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.
While casualties at these dams so far have not been fishermen, low water dams hold a fatal potential for careless stream walkers.
Ice fishing and winter steelhead, two timely topics of interest to area anglers, form the agenda for a Winter Fishing School taught by Dave "Forrest Fisher" Barus and Ted Depczynski at Frontier High School beginning Tuesday from 6:30 until 9:30 p.m.
One highlight of this three-week sequence of classes will be a field trip to either an ice-fishing site or steelhead stream, depending on participant interests.
Class topics to be covered range from fishing regulations and how to stay warm to local hot spots and what to use when fishing them.
For registration information, call 649-6001 (ext. 336).
Bass Fishing Techniques '92, a thorough two-day, accelerated course in bass fishing strategies, will be offered at Monroe Community College the weekend of March 7-8.
Champion national and regional experts conduct the sessions. Larry Nixon, 12-time Bassmaster Classic finalist, and Joe Thomas, the guy who took first place (a $100,000 prize) in the Red Man/All-American tourney at Buffalo in 1990, are but two of the instructors who will offer tips worthwhile to anglers at all levels of interest and proficiency. Basic beginners learn approaches and equipment needs; experts further develop refinements in flippin', pitchin', shakin', and many of the other new/advanced bass techniques.
For further information and phone registrations, call Monroe Community College, 292-2000 (ext. 3050).