All but open areas of the Great Lakes have formed fishable ice surfaces with the latest freezing.
Larger, shallower inland lakes may still have unsafe, thin ice patches at mid-lake. Deeper Finger Lakes rarely freeze over, but bays and inlets offer anglers good hard-water options.
Buffalo Harbor-Small Boat Harbor ice, solid for more than a week, produces some nice bluegills along with the run of runt and keeper-sized perch. Lake Erie's open ice areas freeze over with slush that gets broken up by high winds. Most safe ice areas exist behind at least one breakwater in the harbor.
Simcoe -- Eight-inch ice has formed across most open-water areas, but much of it is refrozen, shattered shards. Some machine runners can get out to 35-foot depths in Cooks Bay. Perch schools tighten at varying depths, from 12 feet out to the mid-30s. Minnows are a must. Jay (jack) hooks, small, S-shaped willow-leaf spoons with a bead on the hook shank, can be deadly when jigged properly.
Pefferlaw River area perch numbers remain high, but schools of smaller ringbacks have moved in with the bigger bunches. "You can still get a limit but have to catch more to get a limit now," said Steve Barber at Steve's Fish Hunts.
At Port Bolster, Randy Carleton has had about 15 huts out since Sunday, with most huts averaging 200-400 perch per day. "They're getting a mix of fish, but 90 percent are coming in with their limit (50 perch each) every day," Carleton said.
Silver Lake -- "The good ones are getting fish," said Frank Malone at Mack's Boat Livery on the southeast corner of the lake. Perch school at depths of about 25 feet and bigger bluegills and sunfish haunt weed edges and hit better during late afternoon hours. Anglers gearing up for the TrapAttack ice fishing tourney on Saturday and Sunday will be more sharing with information after the competition. For details on this contest, go to: www. www.iceteam.com.
Chautauqua Lake -- More reports on walkers going through the ice than there are on fish catches come from the Chautauqua shoreline right now. One angler went through twice, the second time attempting to retrieve tackle after the first breakthrough the day before, notes Lisa Green at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle in Ashville.
A fresh coating of 6-8 inches of snow fell Tuesday night, which adds to the uncertainty of ice conditions. Check with Brian or Lisa Green (763-5815) before planning an ice outing at Chautauqua this weekend.
Honeoye -- The walleye bite began well, as soon as anglers could get on south-end ice. Early mornings runs worked best. A few 'eyes came in on a jig and minnow, but tip-ups topped all takes of yellow pike. Now, an afternoon run might be more rewarding, with perch schooling at depths of 15 feet or more and bluegills working weed edges and pockets.
Afternoon 'gill runs -- at either the north or south ends -- prove more productive, with waxworms the best bug bait for panfish.