A green jig might have fish dancing on St. Patrick's Day, but take along an assortment of colors and baits as we approach the first day of spring on Saturday and seasonal changes call for a variety of lure colors and live-bait choices.
Seasons for keeping walleye, chain pickerel and northern pike closed Monday, but that ice-out panfish push and feeder-stream openings offer anglers more options than opportunities afford.
The bullhead bite marks the start of a shoreline panfish run, and whisker lips have moved in along open shore edges on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Bullies began showing at the Dunkirk Pier this past week. Their best showing along the Ontario shore edges has been at Wilson Harbor and Irondequoit Bay this past weekend.
Crappie anglers fished past dark on ice at Chautauqua Lake's north basin near Mayville and Silver Lake's south end. Continued heat sponged ice around these popular crappie/calico haunts. Canals around Chautauqua are ice free and boaters at the state launch at the southwest corner of Silver Lake could at least get into some open water Tuesday morning.
Boaters headed out onto Irondequoit Bay waters Tuesday and worked the 40-foot depths so productive through the ice two weeks ago. Live minnows have had the most mention so far.
Sodus Bay ice went out fast and the last-hour ice addicts saw a run of smaller panfish and an influx of northern pike before waters were open to boating.
Cranberry, Long Pond, and Braddock Bay all saw open-water starts for panfish runs. Early morning, as soon as rod tips become visible, has been best for perch, crappie and panfish along these bays and ponds.
Lake Erie perch patrollers will have to hold off a week or so. All three launch ramps near the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek and the ramp at Sturgeon Point are ice free, but shore ice blocks exits and re-entries for now. Solid north and east winds moved ice from the New York shoreline this past week, but boaters will have to keep an ear and eye on ice reports and movements before hitting the open water that was so productive through ice two to four weeks ago.
>Great Lakes feeders
All feeder streams in New York, from Chautauqua Creek at Barcelona to the Genesee River in Rochester have open flow waters and minimal to no ice blockage at their mouths.
Chautauqua Creek has been good throughout the winter; Canadaway east of Chautauqua has also been productive. Smaller streams either side of Cattaraugus Creek have opened and steelies put on a show virtually each day.
The Catt remains muddied, but melting and minimal rainfall upstream could have the entire creek open to rainbow runs. Eighteen Mile Creek showed green waters in both branches; lower riffles still held stain Tuesday afternoon, but Dave Watts at Dave's Bait & Tackle in Derby sees most streams smaller than Cattaraugus Creek fishable by this weekend.
Wes Walker at Slippery Sinker Bait & Tackle in Olcott Harbor has similar reads for Ontario feeders from the Niagara River to Oak Orchard Creek.
Browns have been more numerous than rainbow/steelhead as streams begin to warm. Oak Orchard Creek saw its first presence of fair perch numbers after the weekend winds and rain, said Sharon Narburgh at Narby's Superette in Kent.
Staining slowed but could not stop the steelie run in the river. A few browns showed on the Niagara Bar, but lake trout have been slow to show around the bar. Rainbow smelt have begun showing in fish caught this past week.
>Safe boating class
A U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Safe Boating Class and Jet Ski Requirement Class will be offered at McKinley Mall in Blasdell, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., on Saturday. For registration details, call Bob Moscato (681-3889).
>Fabulous fish photos
Anglers with good shots of great fishing catches -- on open water or on ice -- can have their trophy photos displayed on the Fishing Page of The Buffalo News Web site (www.buffalonews.com/fishing).
New photos will be added as they are received. 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 e-mail address listed below.