Unpredictable winter weather has been causing some problems on the local fishing scene. If you are still thinking about ice fishing this weekend for the Free Fishing Weekend, take some extra precautions. Last weekend there were seven ice fishing fatalities around the northeast – all involving snowmobiles on the ice. Be careful out there!
Lake Erie and tributaries
According to Danny Colville at Colville Outfitters in Hamburg, there are some chrome immature spring steelhead moving in the lower ends of the rivers looking for the incoming emerald shiners. There are some larger pre-spawn fish mixed in with the incoming immature fish. Many of these fish are just becoming loose and some are spitting eggs so the egg bite is starting to turn on. Some big Manistee strain strays from Ohio are showing up, too, according to Colville. These are typically larger fish that have more length to them. The medium tributaries west of
Cattaraugus Creek are also getting some fresh fish as well. The lower stretches tend to be producing the best numbers. The mid-sections offer chances at the larger pre-spawn and post-spawn fish. White streamers and jigs are producing well in long purple and black patterns. Soft and hard plastic beads along with eggs seem to be the ticket for the fresh fish though. Salted minnows are also a good option. With the higher flows and stained water centerpin gear will be the most effective, but if you can slow down your float and slow the bait down to the subsurface current speed, any gear will work. After the recent rains, conditions will slowly improve this week. It should be good for the weekend.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Congratulations are in order for Saith J Shine of Sanborn who was the winner of "Nerds Month at the Dump" garbage contest. A challenge was put further by Greg Schloerb of Amherst to try and help clean up some of the trash that had been laying around. A great gesture for a worthy cause. Conditions at Burt Dam were improving according to Schloerb, but with the rain and recent melt off the creek was muddy as of the weekend with only about 4 to 6 inches of visibility. The flow is around 100 CFS but the levels seem to be stabilizing a little bit, staying at a more fishable level. The fishing seems to have slowed down a bit but there are still a few nice fresh fish being caught with a mix of steelhead, browns and Coho salmon still. The perch have also been very abundant at Burt. Schloerb caught 20 last weekend. He has also seen a few
suckers in the mix which is unusual for this time of year. The Oak Orchard River has been producing as well and the water has been better than at Burt. He caught all his on his own jigs but he did see some fish caught on brown eggs and a bead combo. Dave Kendall of Batavia took over the lead in the Capt. Bob’s fishing derby with a 33-1/2 inch steelhead, caught and released at the Oak. He was using a white jig. Cory Nati of Lancaster was using a worm fished under a float to take some nice trout in the Oak … including a 33-incher. However, he was not in the contest.
Water continues to be stained and with high winds in the forecast, it doesn’t look like conditions will improve until the weekend – from both boat and shore. Boaters are using Kwikfish, MagLips and minnows. Occasionally an egg sac will work, fished off three-way rigs from boats. Shore casters are using spoons, spinners, eggs, beads and jigs. We should have a better report next week.
Chautauqua Lake has some good news and some bad news according to Rich Davenport of Tonawanda. The south end is a mess – high lake levels have resulted in high water currents in the shallow south end as water flowing north to south to the Chadakoin has pretty much prevented any significant ice rebuild from Bemus to Burtis according to Davenport. In the north end, there was safe ice but caution is advised. Ice thickness was 4 to 6 inches out to 20 feet of water, but then it lessened in thickness quickly. The closer you get to creeks, the thinner the ice as current flow is slowing the ice rebuild. Lots of small perch were being reported but some did well with perch up to 12 inches and walleye to 20 inches using jigging Rapalas. The warm up shouldn’t affect the fishing too much this weekend. Be careful.
NYS Winter Classic/Ice Pro-Am Updates
The Winter Classic continues to Feb. 28. As for the leader board, Tim Thomas reported that they had a new leader for the Pickerel Division - Scott Castor from Chaumont weighed in a monster 7.30-pounder at Chaumont Hardware. Ice conditions continue to fluctuate with the weather according to Thomas. Right now there are some fishable areas on Sodus Bay with a decent perch bite. Oneida Lake has good ice on the east end off of Sylvan Beach and Lewis Point, where the bite is pretty hot right now for perch and walleye; and the south end of Honeoye is fishable but it has seen a lot of pressure this season so the fishing has been slow there. Many events continue to be canceled, however the NYS Ice Pro-Am Series is holding an event on Oneida Lake this coming Sunday. Teams can register at East Shore Bait & Tackle or online at www.NYSiceproam.com. All monies will be collected at check-in on Sunday - $100/team.