Seasons closed for walleye, northern pike, chain pickerel and tiger muskies last Saturday, huts had to be removed from New York State and Ontario ice last Saturday, spring officially arrives Thursday and the inland trout season opens April 1.
Daylight Savings Time affords anglers more evening hours to pursue Great Lakes trout and panfish on open waters and ice surfaces in late March. Prospects look good for a lingering ice-fishing season. Look for a detailed column about late-season ice angling on the Sunday Outdoors Page.
Ice Derby Results
Entrants in the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Ice Fishing Derby brought in sizeable fish species for the five divisions open in this derby. The contest ended March 10 and good ice everywhere afforded opportunities for competitors to weigh in catches until the last day at 10295 Main St. in Clarence.
Prizes went to the top two entries by weight in divisions for walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, crappie/bluegil and rudd. Anglers could win multiple prizes in each division. Two divisions were won by individual anglers with the top two entries.
In the Walleye Division, Dave Fisher of Cheektowaga weighed in two ’eyes on the last day of the contest. Both were caught in a Lake Ontario bay near Thousand Islands, an 11.48-pound and an 11.08-pound fish took both places.
The Northern Pike Division winner was Tom Pearce of Grand Island. Pearce caught his 12.54-pound pike in a West Batavia pond. A.J. Schmidt of Lockport fished Braddock Bay to hook his second-place, 34.5-inch pike on a dead smelt on the last day of the derby.
Barry Ball of Alden used a glow jig and minnow on Lake Erie to take first place in the Perch Division with a 1.71-pound entry. Wade Winch of North Tonawanda was a close second with a big Erie ringback weighing 1.69 pounds.
The Crappie/Bluegill Division included both species and drew impressive sizes for both ’gills and “calicos.” John Van Hoff of Tonawanda fished a private pond and caught a 1.74-pound crappie measuring 14 inches to take first place.
Denziel Malcolm of Perry hooked a bluegill in Cuba Lake early in the contest and that 1.55-pound entry measuring 12 inches remained in the money throughout the contest.
With all the warm-weather reports of rudd, an invasive species, caught in area waters, Steve Hawkins at Capt. Bob’s Outdoors expected to see an abundance of entries for this nuisance fish. Not so.
It took a while before a rudd entry was posted. Finally, later in the season, Robert Szalanski of Lockport brought in a 1.27-pound rudd taken at Wilson Harbor with a jig and waxworm. Szalanski used the same combination to take the second-place entry, a one-pounder. Hawkins noted, “These were the only two rudd weighed into the contest.”
Portable huts or not, anglers are still working Lake Erie ice on either side of the International Line for schools of sizeable perch in fair to good numbers. Some nice catches are coming in closer to shore, but the best buckets still come from depths a foot or two either side of 58 feet.
Tuesday afternoon travelers reported openings in the ice out deeper. Check before heading out today and after the predicted rainfall.
Inland, ice remains solid, with many feeder streams showing along western Finger Lakes and along the Southern Tier.
Honeoye still offers a fair ’gill presence. The crappie bite has yet to start.
At Chautauqua, Lakewood Bar and Burtis Bay have been fair for good-sized bluegills and crappie. The better-sized yellow perch have begun moving, but white perch are still deep, says Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut.
Lower Niagara River waters are ideal for egg-sack drifting both at Artpark and Devils Hole; the bite is mainly steelhead. Boaters had done well on the Niagara Bar, but mainly north winds killed access recently.
Dunkirk Harbor has seen less ice covering than last year, and the city pier has drawn good schools of rainbow trout.
The ’bow run at Cattaraugus Creek got off to a good start as soon as waters opened near the mouth. Casters walking the breakwater at Irving have been killing them, according to Ricky Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle.
Department of Environmental Conservation Region 8 fishery personnel will be doing shocking studies at Naples Creek Thursday morning, starting at the Route 245 Bridge north of the village. Dress for the weather, especially with good walking gear.
The 53rd Annual Naples Creek Rainbow Trout Derby marks the inland trout season opener April 1. Anglers can register at Sutton’s Sporting Goods on Main Street during business hours and at derby headquarters in Naples Fire Hall Friday evening and Tuesday before sunrise the day of the derby. For more details, call (585) 274-2782.