They started lowering the ice boom on Monday, but most of Lake Erie's ice floes had flown earlier.
Lower Niagara River drifters saw chunks of ice last week, but charter and recreational anglers had access to Devils' Hole, Lewiston and Queenston shoreline drifts Tuesday and Wednesday, with good catch numbers, said Capt. Frank Campbell.
"We've been averaging 10 fish a trip and had 15 bites yesterday," Campbell said Wednesday morning. Either live minnows or egg sacks have been mainstays for steelies and the occasional brown and lake trout.
Western New York waters opened everywhere last week, but continued cold and solid surfaces at Lake Simcoe have bucket fishermen headed out from points along the eastern shoreline.
Waters opened off Orillia and at mid-lake, but ice along the eastern shore from Sutton north to Port Bolster remained two feet thick, with many anglers taking a 50-fish limit of good-sized perch in an hour or two, according to Paul Giles at Paul's Fish Huts.
Huts had to be removed March 15, but diehards willing to sit in the open or take out a pop-up/portable tent or windbreak can still have a safe run from shore to 40-foot depths around Thorah and Georgina Islands. For an update on conditions, check with Giles at (800) 667-7335.
Steelhead trout keep finding feeder streams along Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
Oak Orchard Creek draws fresh runs of steelies and browns as open, cool waters hit ideal levels from the mouth up to Waterport Dam.
The usual fly assortment (carpet, wooly buggers, bug-eyes) all take trout. Spinning- and casting-gear gunners have had good shots at salmonids with small jigs tipped with waxworms, according to Sharon Narburgh at Narby's Superette in Kent.
Wes Walker at Slippery Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott sees similar trout treks along Eighteen Mile Creek below Burt Dam. "[Waders and shore casters] do well with small jigs and waxworms when the creek waters settle and clear," Walker said. If settling continues, he expects to see good numbers come in for pier casters in Olcott Harbor.
Perch schools move into both Olcott and Oak Orchard Creek as waters warm.
Cattaraugus Creek cleared early this week and upper-creek feeders and the Springville-Gowanda area continue to draw silver rainbow/steelies, says Rick Miller at Miller's Bait & Tackle in Irving.
"Smaller feeders have done well also," Miller said, referring to Silver, Canadaway and Chautauqua creeks.
Anglers not into fall and winter fish outings must have in hand a current New York State fishing license for the start of spring seasons, including the statewide inland trout opener April 1.
Licenses are the same color each year. Make sure it reads 2006 so you don't get hooked.