Openers are on tap for walleye, northern pike and tiger muskellunge on Saturday.
Also, that special "Trophy" bass season opens Saturday (at midnight Friday) for Lake Erie and its tributary waters. Anglers may keep one bass measuring 20 inches or more taken from the lake or tributary waters up to the first barrier impassible to fish.
Friday sees the start of the Lake Ontario Counties Derby, and Friday evening marks the start of the Lewiston Smelt Festival.
Many other area contests have set dates for the coming season and boaters will be afloat in greater numbers as fishing seasons open and the air and waters warm to more comfortable outings with increased fish activity and biting action.
The mandatory wearing of a life preserver while a vessel is in motion in New York State ended Tuesday; however, wearing personal flotation devices or at least having them in sight and known to all on board is a good idea when on the water.
> Lake Erie
Night trollers should have an early start to the walleye season at midnight Friday. Surface waters heated well above 40 degrees in March could have 'eyes working a post-spawn feed near ports from Buffalo to Barcelona.
The perch bite continues strong. Near Buffalo, the most mentioned depth has been 46 feet. Off Cattaraugus Creek, a 52-foot reading has been most productive.
Winds affect both access and perch activity. Anglers, those checking in with Rick Miller at Irving and Dave Watts at Dave's Bait & Tackle in Derby, report either short or limit catches on the same day in the same general area.
Creeks remain muddied, but, when somewhat settled, casters hook up with a mix of steelies and bass. The best bite has been catfish at the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek. A plain nightcrawler can take some nice "cats" in the 8- to 12-pound range.
> Niagara River
Shore casters in the upper river are seeing perch runs similar to the boaters headed to 40-foot depths in Lake Erie.
Lower river drifters see more bass than trout right now. The smelt run has tailed off.
> Lake Ontario
Creeks have seen a stain in recent days and could be muddied through the weekend, but the bite continues for a nice mix of steelies and an assortment of warm-water species-bass, northern pike and perch. Pike have been pushing perch schools away from docks, piers and breakwaters early this season and could show in good numbers for the Saturday opener.
Brown trout schools have been solid along the entire Ontario shoreline, but the biggest near-shore bite has been a run of coho salmon around the Niagara Bar. Drifters can bump a metallic-based Kwikfish along bottom on a dropper rig for nice numbers and sizes of these scrappy salmon.
Lake trollers can set up over less than 150-foot depths and run rigs at 30- to 40-foot depths for a king (Chinook) salmon at sites off the Niagara Bar, Wilson Harbor, Olcott Harbor, Oak Orchard Creek and points eastward. Most of the action peaks at less than a mile from shore.
> Seneca Lake
"They're all doing well," said Rozalyn Japp at Roy's Marina on Route 14 on the west shore of Seneca Lake, about both the shoreline panfish run and lake trout treks into deeper water.
Big bluegills and sunfish often school in the same shallows as packs of perch in and either side of Glass Factory Bay. The trout bite has been good on morning and evening outings. Check with Larry or Rozalyn Japp at (315) 789-3094 for an update.
The 48th Annual National Lake Trout Derby is set for May 26-28 on all waters of Seneca Lake. For info, go to laketroutderby.org.
> Trout stocking
The Randolph Hatchery has stocked these sites:
Cattaraugus County: Harwood Lake (Farmersville) 2,400 brook trout; Bone Run (South Valley) 290 brook trout; and New Albion Lake (New Albion) 2,480 brown trout.
Chautauqua County: Cassadaga Creek (Stockton) 440 brown trout; and Goose Creek (North Harmony/Harmony) 440 yearling brown trout and 100 2-year-old brown trout.