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Fishing Line

Lake Erie

Shoreline anglers without waders have the best access to fish at the public pier at Dunkirk.

Casters do best before and just after sunrise most mornings, with a lure assortment to stock a small tackle shop. Berkley Power Bait bits, minnow-type body baits and live bait all do well on steelies that move in to feed in outflow waters from the power plant.

Water levels remain low and Dunkirk Pier anglers have yet to see the mid-winter run normally seen at the start of the New Year. An early start at the power plant platform offers wind protection along with better fishing prospects.

Cattaraugus Creek waters cleared earlier this week, and waders enjoy access to nice water levels and clarity. Rainbow/steelhead trout show throughout the main water body and even better in feeder streams entering below Springville Dam.

Gowanda-area waters can be productive for both eggs and bug-type flies around riffles and rock stickups that hold bigger steelies feeding on anything that bumps around boulders.

Smaller feeders see similar steelie runs. Canadaway and Eighteen Mile creeks both call for some walking to nice pockets of trout. Green flies and jig bodies might be a good start in clearing waters.

Earlier this week, boaters -- not RV runners -- were still heading out of ports in the western basin. In areas off Port Clinton and Sandusky -- best known for ice angling at this time of year -- reports point to walleye and perch drifts off shore in places that normally are dotted with ice shacks.

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Lower Niagara River / Lake Ontario

North winds have blown boaters south and off the Niagara Bar, but river drifters have a steady run of steelies along the New York State side of Devils' Hole. Most rig up with egg sacks in the hole, but when winds allow, metallic Kwikfish can hammer steelhead on these drifts.

Waters began clearing and ramp accesses at Fort Niagara and Lewiston opened for launching at both sites by Tuesday.

As with Erie anglers, boaters have been heading out to scout Lake Ontario waters. Two boats left Oak Orchard Creek at Point Breeze before waders began heading up to Waterport Dam for trout.

Trib traffic gets heavier at Burt Dam with anglers working Eighteen Mile Creek waters below the dam. The smaller the better for all trout species below Burt.

Minnows, nightcrawler segments, single-egg imitations and wax worms all do well when strung on light line and gently drifted along shore edges.

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Inland Lakes

Ice has yet to form on any public-access inland lake; as with Great Lakes ports, boaters have had all kinds of options on inland lakes until early this week.

Silver Lake, which is usually the first to freeze at the west end of the Finger Lakes region, showed turn-over conditions for boaters over the weekend -- temperatures close to freezing and low fish activity. In short, no bites.

Boaters were still heading out from South Basin accesses on Chautauqua Lake and pier casters could reach perch and a few bluegills, according to Lisa Green at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle. Ice could form by the weekend, but check for condition reports before heading out with ice gear.

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