Temperatures soaring into the 50s could pose some problems for area anglers – both soft and hard water. Rain and wind will add to the problems, causing melting snow and ice in the tributaries and hampering ice fishing action. How much of a problem remains to be seen. If you are trying to check out ice conditions, please follow safety protocols and check the ice with a spud or drill holes to make sure you have at least 4 inches of safe ice. If you don’t want to take any chances, check out the Southtowns Walleye Association’s Outfitters Fair on Jan. 13 at the group’s clubhouse located at 5895 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or take in a fly-tying class at Orvis Buffalo the same day from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. You must be preregistered. Call 276-7200.
After a couple of weeks of terrible conditions, Capt. Jeff Draper of Grand Island was able to finally get his boat out on Monday at the Lewiston launch ramp. It took him a couple of hours to figure out where the best drifts were, but when he did, Jason Patterson and Maddy Neuman of Tonawanda were happy. They boated four steelhead and lost four others as they bottom-bounced three-way rigs using silver and gold Kwikfish lures. Chunks of ice hampered their drifts initially, but as the day went on, it became easier to fish. By Tuesday, though, fish was a bit tougher although a few steelhead and lake trout were caught. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls hasn’t been fishing since before Christmas (believe it or not) and he hit the gorge area Tuesday. Casting green and gold jigs, he hit two rainbows and six lake trout. It was important to wear ice creepers due to the slippery ice along the edges of the water. In the upper river, Dennis Kreze from Fort Erie, Ont., reports that he has caught some nice lake trout from the Canadian side up to 20 pounds the past week.
While the lake was listed as 85 percent ice cover, look to the harbors for any safe ice. That percentage will probably drop down after the warmer weather and rains hit. Keith Pease at Safe Harbor Marina was reporting 12 inches of ice in the harbor. Perch was the primary target, but lots of smaller fish are being caught before you end up with any keepers.
Harbors along the lake were producing some nice ice action. Wilson Harbor produced an impressive 44-inch pike and Olcott Harbor was giving up some nice trout according to Roy Letcher of Newfane. Further to the east, John Van Hoff and Wade Winch of North Tonawanda scored on limited catches of Irondequoit Bay over the weekend, but only through 4 inches of ice. There were also good perch reports out of Cranberry and Long ponds. Braddock Bay has had some decent pike fishing. Sodus and Port bay had 8 inches of ice according to Chris Kenyon and the perch fishing has been the best that they’ve had in 10 years. Try fishing out of Arney’s Marina in the northwest side of the bay. Jigs tipped with spikes or perch eyes are putting bigger fish in the buckets. If you are looking for open water action in the tributaries, areas are limited to below dams and falls like 18 Mile Creek, the Oak Orchard River and the lower Genesee River from Seth Green Island to the falls. Shawn West of Lockport caught an 18-pound brown trout Tuesday afternoon on a bead, so making the effort to get out can be very rewarding. It was his biggest brown trout ever. Things should open back up again after the rain and snow melt.
Capt. Bob’s Outdoor Derby
Early leaders for the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Fishing Contest out of the Clarence store include Stan Travis of Cowlesville with a 31-inch pike from Honeoye, Bob Frost of Alden with a 9-3/4-inch bluegill/sunfish from a private pond, Mike Rinallo, Sr. with a 12-inch crappie from a private pond using a tear-drop jig and Chase Kordasiewicz of Alden with a 13-1/4 inch perch caught in a private pond.
NYS Winter Classic Update
Some impressive fish have come to the scales so far for the Winter Classic Fishing Tournament according to organizer Tim Thomas. In the seven species categories, the following were leading the way as of Jan. 9: Northern pike leader is a 15-pound Chaumont Bay fish reeled in by John Largett; Jason Hamilton has weighed in the top trout (a Chaumont lake trout) at 15.45 pounds on a spoon; Cameron Hasner is the new walleye leader with a 13.7-pound eastern Lake Ontario fish taken on a shiner; James Simpson is setting the pace in the pickerel category with a 5.97 pound fish caught at Henderson Harbor; Andy Boudinot is tops in the yellow perch division so far with a 1.49-pound Keuka Lake fish caught on a jig; top crappie is a 1.72-pound fish reeled in by Brian Gonzalez caught down in the southeast part of the stat,e and the top panfish so far is a 1.01-pound bluegill caught on a jig in southeastern New York. The contest continues through Feb. 28. Check out www.nyswinterclassic.com for an up-to-date leaderboard.