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Fishing Line /

Season's change

Walleye, northern pike and pickerel season closed at midnight Wednesday, and will reopen on the first Saturday in May.

Warm-weather anglers 16 and older must renew their New York State fishing license before getting out for trout, a season that opens on inland streams April 1.

A change initiated last year limits the 5-fish creel limit to two trout over 12 inches for all waters not covered under special regulations in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Wyoming counties. Check the NYS 2004-2006 Fishing Regulations guidebook for details.

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Northern ice

Ice huts had to be removed from Lake Simcoe by midnight Wednesday, but walkers and RV runners can cross smooth ice surfaces with depths averaging a foot and a half at Cooks Bay, Sutton, Pefferlaw and Port Bolster.

Cooks Bay perch schools move in and out, with best results for bigger fish at 25-foot depths. The Pefferlaw/Port Bolster bunch works 40-foot drop-offs off Thorah and Georgina islands for bigger ringbacks. Michigan wigglers (aquatic bugs) pick up a few extra big boys, but live minnows have been the mainstay through the late-season perch run.

No lakes, bays or public-access ponds in Western New York have safe, passable ice surfaces for fishing.

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Early panfishing

Chautauqua Lake canals and bays around Silver and Honeoye lakes have either cleared of ice or hold last remnants of ice cover. Typically, crappie begin showing a week or two after ice out, according to Lonnie Stebbins at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle in Ashville.

Dan Sharp at Honeoye Bait & Tackle sees similar starts for an early crappie run at both Honeoye and Silver Lakes. Honeoye typically begins along the northeast shoreline and Silver is a north-end shallows run each year.

Rochester area boaters have access to good perch schools just off shore around the north end of Irondequoit Bay. Shore anglers have to cast distances, but schools hold close to shore for anchored boaters.

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Feeder streams

Most are muddied and high, but good steelhead numbers continue at Oak Orchard, Eighteen Mile (Lake Erie and Lake Ontario) and Cattaraugus creeks -- when waters settle to fishable levels.

Perch have begun showing at creek mouths in Oak Orchard, Olcott, and Wilson and in Niagara River bays with each above-freezing front. Check for permission to access the various bays around Grand Island and along the shoreline before heading to perch spots along the river.

Lower Niagara River waters were muddy and chocked with ice floes Wednesday. Good steelie action showed before high winds sent Lake Erie ice and stained water down current.

e-mail: wille@pce.net

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