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The Fishing Beat

Ice action continues to be very good for hard water anglers, especially on Lake Erie. Lower Niagara River trout action took off over the weekend and hopefully run-off from rain and melting snow will not stain the water too much to affect fishing conditions. Bays off Lake Ontario continue to be productive.

Lake Erie

Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga reports some of the best walleye he’s seen in 50 years out on the main lake. He’s been ice fishing out of Hamburg but also reports some fishermen have been going out of Sturgeon Point (at least until some soft water opened recently) and off Cattaraugus Creek. Pay attention to the wind, too. If there’s wind out of the east, watch out. Walleyes are all over the place, from 35 to 60-foot depths. Some fish were on the bottom, some were suspended 8 feet off the bottom and fish in-between. Preferred baits have been Jigging Raps in any size tipped with minnows. Swedish pimples are also working in silver or gold. In addition to normal safety equipment like ice picks, a rope and a life vest, it’s not a bad idea to carry along a compass. One hard water angler recently encountered a heavy snow that restricted how satellites functioned – knocking out their GPS equipment. It would have been a difficult situation had not one of the guys brought his compass along to help them get back in. With warmer weather in the forecast, look for some of the streams to open a little bit. Fishing should be good once things settle back in.

Niagara River

Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reports good conditions in the lower section of the river from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar and fish are loaded up in the river right now. Most of the ice floes have dissipated and water is clear. Egg sacs and minnows were working over the weekend – sacs for steelhead, minnows for lake trout mostly. When the wind is out of the south or southwest, don’t be afraid to switch over to MagLips or Kwikfish lures off three-way rigs. There are some walleye available and brown trout are still being caught with regularity if you are in the right spots. Remember that the New York State Winter Classic runs through Feb. 28 and there’s still time to catch a big trout. Lake trout is included in the trout division and the current leader is 15.5 pounds. The biggest steelhead wins a fantastic Steve Nielsen metal fish replica that’s a super prize for that species. The current leader is 9.87 pounds caught by Tyler Morrison of Appleton.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

With temperatures warming up a bit this weekend, look for streams to start flowing a bit better for trout in places like Eighteenmile Creek and the Oak Orchard River. Public Access to the Genesee River at the Lower Falls is closed due to the  possibility of a sudden water flow. Braddock’s Bay this side of Rochester has had cooperative northern pike hitting smelt and herring through 6 to 8 inches of ice. At Irondequoit Bay, good perch fishing is near the fish and game club in about 25 feet of water. A few walleyes are also being reported. Good reports are still coming out of Sodus Bay for jumbo perch in the 12 to 14-inch range according to Wayne County fish promotion guy Chris Kenyon. Even though thickness has been up to 14 inches in some places, there was some open water near the Sodus Point Loop. Caution is advised. Best baits have been jigs on small spikes. The State of Lake Ontario meetings have been announced for March. Be sure to check out Scattershot for this week to learn the dates and locations.

Chautauqua Lake

Walleye action continues to be good around the lake according to Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Jigging raps are working best from 12 feet of water out to 40. The current leader of the Chautauqua Reel Outdoors contest is a 10.5-pound walleye reeled in by Dan Gould of Jamestown. It was over 28 inches long. There have been reports of bluegills off Mayville and crappies have been hit-or-miss when targeted. Use a small jig tipped with a wax worm for the bluegills. Lots of perch but many are smaller in size. There will be an Ice Masters Elite Tournament Trail Team Event out of Lakeside Park in Mayville on Feb. 24. For more information contact Mark Dusablon at 607-742-0343.

Oneida Lake

Not too much to report other than there was some decent walleye fishing the past week. Ice thickness varies from 10 to 15 inches. Perch were also available in good numbers. There was several inches of snow on the ice, but the actual amount was not consistent throughout the lake’s surface.

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