Skip the ice gear and keep the boat on hold.
Ice fishing arrived late for Lake Erie anglers last year; this early-winter season is better for stream waders than ice chopping on Erie and larger inland lakes.
Boaters had little chance at perch off Cattaraugus Creek for the past two weeks, but last time out the perch were still schooling slightly east of the creek mouth in deep waters.
Waders and shore casters could work the shallows of Cattaraugus Creek from the mouth up to the Springville Dam, with mixed water clarity but fair fishing most days.
"They're using everything," Rick Miller, of Miller's Bait & Tackle, said of the many bait choices for steelies at the Catt. Egg sacks topped the list, but nightcrawlers and wax worms get many mentions.
Flies have caught on with creek anglers. Miller has been selling a good number of wet flies along with the usual lot of live and egg baits popular for winter steelies.
Smaller feeders have been attractive also, says Bill Beiger at Bill's Hooks. Beiger looks for bigger steelies to show once ice begins forming on the banks of Canadaway and Chautauqua creeks. But even with these mild, sunny days, rainbow/steelhead trout have been arriving daily in search of bait and forage up larger and smaller feeder streams.
Dunkirk Harbor steelies arrive early for breakfast each morning. Anglers get onto the fishing platform at the power plant as early as 2 a.m. for trout moving into outlet currents. Artificial baits -- minnow- or egg-type -- work well in the moving water. The hits continue until about mid-morning. Afternoon outings have been less rewarding this season.
Lwr. Niagara River / Lake Ontario
Lake trout season reopened in New York State waters Monday and boaters have found a fair number of lakers holding around the Niagara Bar at the mouth of the river. Live minnows on long leaders work best around the bar.
Best shot at trout in numbers comes from Devil's Hole waters, with steelhead dominating that section of the lower river.
Boat traffic can be heavy in the hole, but drifters have also begun seeing good runs at Artpark and drifts down current below Lewiston.
Boaters should be sure to have a Province of Ontario 2007 license when working the Queenston back drift and the more popular drifts below Queenston. Ontario licenses renew Jan. 1 each year.
Burt Dam in Eighteen Mile Creek above Olcott Harbor has drawn all kinds of trout and salmon, said Wes Walker at Slipper Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott.
Steelies dominate, but anglers with light tackle are still seeing some browns and a few lingering coho salmon, Walker noted of casters mainly using bobber/floats with jigs, wax worms and spikes -- small grub baits.
Perch schooling at Wilson, Olcott and Oak Orchard slowed with recent middied waters, but bigger ringbacks could return to bank and pier edges with continued above-average water temperatures and increased water clarity.