Most Great Lakes feeder streams were clear of ice late last week and steelhead trout have headed up creeks and rivers.
Bigger creeks along the Lake Ontario shoreline (e.g. Oak Orchard, Eighteen Mile) were still pumping some mud on Wednesday afternoon, but smaller feeders such as Keg and Johnsons creeks drew silvery steelies this week.
All smaller Lake Erie feeders opened for trout business this past weekend, and the word is out not to let the word out. Fishing pressure on Chautauqua, Canadaway, Silver, and Eighteen Mile creeks all put a lid on outpourings of steelie news. But water conditions are good along all public-access sites, said senior aquatic biologist Jim Markham at the Lake Erie Unit in Dunkirk. Markham expects to get better stream readings after this weekend.
Cattaraugus Creek, including its larger feeder streams, opened fully to the Springville Dam. Fish can be found "Here and there," said three bait and tackle dealers as of Wednesday morning. Water height and clarity should improve trout numbers in the Catt this weekend.
All Lake Ontario feeders and the lower Niagara River offer anglers good steelie numbers. Lower-river drifters often hit double-figures on trout with either minnows, egg sacks or Kwikfish. Wind protection makes Devil's Hole inviting.
Anglers fishing anywhere along the river or lake can still enter the Niagara River Anglers Association (NRAA) Steelhead Contest until 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Lewiston Sand Dock/Landing. For entrance information, call 946-6811.
Iffy options abound. Ice conditions changed with last week's warm winds.
Lake Erie ice opened off Sturgeon Point during the weekend and a 200-by-500-yard patch of open water re-froze the past two nights. Machine runners can get around the shoves, but snow-covered thin ice makes open-area runs anxious. Perch numbers had been good, which may be an unsafe lure for anglers right now.
Chautauqua Lake offers more stable ice, and perch cooperate in the South Basin shallows and deeper waters off Mayville Bay. The walleye bite has been best just before sunset along the Long Point to Dewittville shoreline. No sign of crappie but fair numbers of good-sized 'gills have moved into Burtis Bay. Most areas support a 12-inch ice surface.
Simcoe Lake lost its hefty snow cover in last week's thaw and open areas retained at least a foot of ice. Perch numbers continue, with fair sizes seen at 28- to 32-foot depths. The whitefish run improves. Anglers are cautioned that province waters allow for limits of 15 to 25 fish, but Simcoe regulations let anglers keep only two whitefish per regular license and one on the conservation tag.
Fantastic fish photos
Anglers with good photos of great catches can have their trophy shots displayed on the Fishing Page of the News' Web site (www.buffalonews.com/fishing).
To get your photo published, e-mail it along with a brief description of the catch, including the name and home (city, town or village) of the angler, the location of the catch and how the fish was caught, to the email address listed below.