Cold fronts continue and along with lower winds have formed even better surfaces on ice-fishing hot spots this past week.
Fresh snow atop broken ice at Simcoe Lake has hut operators and machine runners moving cautiosly across open bay and mid-lake areas. Police warned anglers Wednesday about running road vehicles (cars and trucks) on open areas of Cooks Bay.
Most open areas had formed 18-inch ice before the snow storm. Access sites north of Jackson Point northward to Beaverton all can be used. Hut operators move around and deeper to catch up with perch schools. Depths of 30 to 36 feet get most mention off Pefferlaw and Port Bolster.
Catch numbers vary. The perch bite has dropped off during sunny mid-day hours. Mornings have been best and evenings can be good. Minnows top the live bait list.
Lake Erie ice refroze over areas opened during high winds. Walkers can get out from either side of Cattaraugus Creek, but ice in the main creek was unsafe as of Wednesday.
Machine runners made a nice path off Sturgeon Point this past week. Ringback numbers rise at depths of 50 feet or more. Some fair catches have come in from 42-48 feet, but -- much like warm-weather fishing -- the deeper spots are hot for bigger perch.
Emerald shiners work best as live bait, but area dealers' supplies are running thin. "We may have to switch to golden (shiners) when emeralds run out," said Rick Miller at Miller's Bait & Tackle in Irving.
Small Boat Harbor continues its smaller panfish pattern. Northern pike, most under the 22-inch legal length limit, have shown more than rainbow trout. The smelt run has not begun. Runners out of Pinehurst catch the occasional rainbow smelt in 40-foot depths.
Chautauqua Lake perch prospects prevail. Bigger ringback runs have been best in deeper waters (30-40) between Mayville and Dewittville Point, but fair sizes can be found lake wide.
The bluegill bite at Burtis Bay improves close to shore. Walleyes, still out in depths of more than 30 feet, hit evenings along the Long Point-Maples Springs areas.