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FISHING LINE

Niagara River/Lake Ontario

The lower river smelt run has begun, and boom ice has not been a factor in smelt dipping at night or steelhead drifting during day.

Smelt have been showing in the bellies of trout caught, and dippers just started connecting at Lewiston on Tuesday night.

Steelie drifters do best at Devils Hole, bumping live minnows or egg sacks along bottom. Perch have started showing around Lewiston Landing.

Boaters have had mixed successes with lake trout on the Niagara Bar. When strong northeast winds subside, live minnows have worked best on lakers. Explorers have had no luck checking Canadian waters for first signs of an eastward movement of king salmon.

Inland Lakes

Chautauqua Lake -- Ice melted off by Monday morning, but boaters have been working around ice masses at midlake to get to South Basin crappie prospects. Burtis Bay has shown a few good 'gills but crappie schooling has shown better at Ashville and Lakewood, according to Lonnie Stebbins at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle. North Basin crappie activity has been best at Prendergast Point. At all sites, schools move in and out. A hot spot today could be a cold corner this weekend. Small minnows and light-colored ( 1/1 6th- or 1/3 2nd-ounce) tube, hair and vinyl jigs connect.

Honeoye Lake -- Warm south-end shallows drew crappie schools to depths of 6 to 8 feet. Perch show slightly deeper. Both hit fathead minnows and waxworms. "Boaters can expect a crappie run this weekend along the northeast shoreline as waters warm at the north end of the lake," said Dan Sharp at Honeoye Bait & Tackle.

Seneca Lake -- Oak leaf grubs have been main entree on the perch menu along the western shoreline around Glass Factory Bay and south to Dresden. "Minnows work too, but the (oak leaf) grubs do better right now," said Larry Japp at Roy's Marina. For latest perch hot spot, check with Japp at (315) 789-3094.

Trout streams

Inland streams got a break from rain and snow-melt runoff this week, and trout anglers are finally seeing fish-worthy stream levels and water clarity suited for either bait, artificial or fly offerings. Pennsylvania inland trout stream season opens Friday.

e-mail: wille@pce.net