Angling marches on.
Cold holds good ice surfaces on most lakes; warm spells open larger feeder streams. That annual inland lakes late-winter walleye schooling near shore has yet to start, but fish are staging for that foray. Solar-lunar tables indicate the week's best times near sunrise and sunset for the next three days.
Looks like March angling could come in like a lion.
Go big for big steelies.
Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga, best known for chartering Lake Erie anglers to big walleye, had all the big fish he could handle early Friday morning when a big steelhead chomped onto a egg sack sent out on a noodle rod with six-pound-test line.
"It took me 15 minutes to bring in this steelie, which weighed in at 20 pounds, 5 ounces," he said. This steelie has monster dimensions, measuring 36 inches, with a 22-inch girth.
That morning he counted 18 steelies that took sacks during early hours. Fishing Oak Orchard Creek below Waterport dam gets the same results, with a surprise brown trout sneaking in among the steelies. When currents settle, the smallest of flies and grubs mainly used when ice fishing draw steady strikes.
Both Ontario and Lake Erie's smaller streams open and close with cold snaps. All small feeders froze quickly after the weekend thaw, but Cattaraugus Creek pushes a volume of water that keeps many pools and riffles open.
Erie anglers not willing to wade chilled waters often find hot activity in Dunkirk Harbor at the public pier and off the power plant platform. Sacks and Berkley Power Baits floated just off bottom can start up steelies.
Many lakes still have good ice surfaces, but late-winter conditions -- stream runoffs, hole meltouts and honeycombing -- call for cautious approaches to accesses and untapped ice areas not recently crossed.
Chautauqua -- County Sheriff officials recommend snow machiners stay off the ice, but solid ice, often more than a foot thick, holds over open areas of the north basin. Perch activity has been slow and walleye are still spotty. Jiggers can pick off a couple of keeper 'eyes near sunset along 10- to 15-foot dropoffs along the Magnolia/Prendergast shoreline, but the late-season on-shore run has not begun.
Conesus/Honeoye -- Both lakes have good ice at their north and south embayments, with iffy ice at mid-lake. Conesus activity mainly shows out of Lake-ville at the north end. Bigger bluegills show on the outer weed edges and drops. Honeoye south basin 'gills quit, but walleyes have moved down from mid lake to feed along 18-foot depths north of the state launch. Carefully enter and leave there. Small feeder creeks enter at both sides of the launch.
Simcoe -- Simcoe shows the best ice surfaces for anglers working within three hours of Buffalo, but perch schools have been picky. Cooks Bay and Orillia anglers head out to open water for their better catches. Huts and open-area anglers around the islands off Pifferlaw and Port Bolster hold over 36-foot depths, with mixed results. Four guys heading up from Western New York did well Saturday, but they found the right holes.
Tom Chesboro of Eldred, Pa., Dick Lang of Kenmore, Joe Shramowski of the City of Tonawanda and Adam Ott of Louisville, Ky., took a limit of 50 perch each while nearby anglers were getting mixed numbers. "We worked mousies (grubs) well off the bottom rather than minnows most of the time," Chesboro said. With a jig rig set high, he also brought in a two-fish limit of whitefish.