Inland trout season officially opens at midnight and conditions look bright -- even at night.
A full moon will be setting in the west just before sunrise as trout trekkers take to ponds and streams Thursday morning. Solar-Lunar Tables forecast peak fishing activity near sunrise for the opener and better to best times for bites at and after sunrise this weekend.
Ice has disappeared from most area ponds, streams and rivers taken up with trout. DEC hatchery personnel had a good run for stocked fish. Water temperature readings at most stocking sites came close to temperatures at the Randolph and Caledonia Hatcheries, somewhere in the lower 40s.
Fishing for stocked and native trout species should be good on opening day and well into the spring season.
Feeder streams along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario all have seen nice steelhead presence for over-wintering and incoming trout. Heavy rains earlier have flushed and steelies can be found in the smallest and biggest of Great Lakes feeders right now.
The inland lakes' ice-off panfish parade is off to its usual March. Some areas saw a quick influx of 'gills, sunnies and crappie, but you had to be there when they moved in to check shoreline weeds and bottom feed. Some lakes held ice coatings in bay and embayment areas. Chautauqua Lake's north basin remains ice covered, with not enough edge melt to float a boat.
Wherever you hop to this week, have a happy Easter filling a fish basket.
> Naples rainbow run ready
Fishing looks radiant for entrants in the 49th Annual Naples Creek Rainbow Trout Derby Thursday, with weather predictions for a warm, sunny day.
DEC Region 8 fisheries personnel electro-shocked the creek late last week and found a healthy variety of rainbows moving into the Naples area of the creek.
Anglers can register at derby headquarters, Naples Fire Hall on Vine Street, 5-10 p.m. today and 4-7 a.m. Thursday. All you need is a fishing license, some trout gear and a good spot along the creek somewhere over the rainbows.
> Berkley making trout scents
Berkley has added a line of trout attractants in both its Gulp! Series and odors in its PowerBait selections. The Gulp! Chunky Chart (chartreuse) has a natural salmon egg scent; the Chunky Cheese trout aroma uses a natural garlic base.
Garlic also adds to the yellow PowerBait aroma. Other PowerBait scents include salmon egg red, green pumpkin, and hatchery pellet, which actually smells like hatchery fish food.
As stream waters warm, scent presence could be a factor in trout takes this season. Check out the new trout odors at area bait shops and outdoors stores.
> Lake Erie
One boater headed out of Cattaraugus Creek on Monday in search of perch. No solid read there yet, but access is available. The Town of Hanover ramp needs clearing. Hidden Harbor and the state launch both are open without side docks in place.
The Sturgeon Point Marina has the middle ramp open and boaters have gotten out to check the 50-foot depths off the point. "Best perch catch so far has been 30," said Dave Watts at Dave's Bait & Tackle in Derby.
Smaller streams work best for rainbow runs, but the Catt could be good by the weekend. Right now, a chunk of bait (worms, grubs, leeches) rolled along bottom will tease trout.
> Lake Ontario
Panfish and the night bullhead bite keep shoreline casters busy, but the near-shore troll takes control. Boaters out of Wilson, Olcott, Oak Orchard and sites well east are seeing a brown trout blast. East and northeast winds slow the trout influx. The Niagara Bar has been so-so for browns and the occasional laker this past week.
But a flat line or side planer with mid-sized minnow-type baits trolled in less than 15-foot depths has been a killer for browns. A No. 9 Rapala (stick or jointed), trolled at 3 mph or slightly faster, can get chewed up in no time.
All feeder streams hold trout; most bays hold at least some perch worth a search.
> Lower Niagara
Steelies drifts vary -- nothing one day and a dozen the next. Egg sacks hitting bottom get the hits. Smelt dippers keep checking nightly, but the shoreline run has not begun.
> Fabulous fish photos
Anglers with good shots of great fishing catches, especially trout for the beginning of the inland water season, 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 email address listed below.