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Fishing Line

Neither chill nor rain, nor sleet, nor snow could dampen or deter the serious trout trekkers setting up for the inland season opener at midnight Thursday.

Trout stockings are on schedule, stream levels have settled into mainly fishable form and the continued cold could hold inland stocked fish in place and retain a good rainbow/steelhead run in Great Lakes feeder streams.

Two fishing contests heighten the enjoyment of April Fools Day.

> Naples staples

No April Fools prank here. Water levels settled out on many inland creeks and streams. Naples Creek supports a nice flow with mild staining and almost ideal spawning movement in time for the 50th Anniversary of the Naples Creek Rainbow Trout Derby.

Entrants can sign up in town at Sutton's Sporting Goods during business hours or at derby headquarters in the Maxfield Fire House 5-10 p.m. Thursday, and 4-6:30 a.m. Friday before entering the contest.

Jane Schenk, contest coordinator, will have extra hats and entrance badges to mark the half-century this fun derby has been held. Prizes will be awarded after 5 p.m. at derby headquarters.

All proceeds benefit Naples Rotary Club community service efforts. For more details, call (585) 374-2608.

> Bullhead contest

No bull about it; A Spring 2011 Bullhead Contest is on for all Niagara County waters from 6 p.m. Friday until noon on Saturday.

Officials suggest fishing with a partner during this 18-hour contest. Entrants can fish all night and each angler can weigh in his or her two largest fish before noon at Wilson Conservation Club.

Entries must be brown or yellow bullhead species, not catfish. Best ID would be to look for a rounded, notched tail.

Two persons can sign up for $15; individual entries are $10. Money prizes, based on a 100 percent payback, go to the top three entries by weight.

Anglers can sign up at Feather & Fur Bait Shop, 3627 Wilson-Cambria Road or at outdoorsniagara.com. For more details, call 866-8662.

> Niagara River

Shore casters often get into the hit parade better than drifting boaters fishing gin-clear lower river waters.

"When a few boats line up for drifts in Devils Hole, the fish shut off," said Capt. Frank Campbell, after a week of working clear water. "Last trip I could see bottom down to 17 feet in the hole," Campbell added. He has been moving around to find fish.

Casters run bobber rigs for shoreline-edge fish, mainly lake trout in Devils Hole. Elsewhere, boaters have done as well with egg sacks as live minnows. When winds move down current, the Kwikfish can be a consistent hit source.

Boaters had been doing well on lakers out on the Niagara Bar, but on-shore winds have kept most charter and recreational anglers off the bar lately.

With Lake Erie still showing twice the ice-floe presence needed to pull the Ice Boom, only some serious rainfall and run-off could gain enough stain to get boaters back into double-figures on salmonid sprees.

> Perch/panfish prospects

This persistent chill has slowed the ice-out perch run, but only somewhat. Larger bays have yet to see schooling runs of ringbacks, but the shallower ponds and bays have produced some respectable yellow perch.

Rick Reagan at Jay-Ve Fishing Tackle in Rochester has some good reports of big perch taken at Long Pond, Cranberry Pond, and Braddock Bay. A few boaters had been working Braddock waters before the renewed freeze.

A minnow held close to bottom works best for perch at all depths. As shoreline shallows warm, northern pike -- not open for catching until May 7 -- come up and strike suspended jigs and minnow-type lures.

At Irondequoit Bay, the bullhead run began early at the south-end shallows. Many live and stink-based baits work, but a lively leech has worked best so far.

If you're headed to Chautauqua, take rainbow/steelhead gear and leave the panfish poles at home. Ice coats most of the lake and popular creeks and channels open by mid afternoon and coat over with skim ice each cold night. Shore casters have seen a few perch, but the crappie run has not begun.

> Great Lakes feeders

Smaller streams freeze over, water levels drop to good levels for larger feeders, but shallow, upper stretches of some streams offer better fishing access during afternoon and early-evening hours.

All streams hold fish. Keg, Johnsons, and even Four Mile Creek along Lake Ontario all hold steelies. Even the upper arms of Eighteen Mile Creek on Lake Erie will see a freeze some mornings.

Nonetheless, waders below Waterport Dam on Oak Orchard Creek, Burt Dam on Eighteen Mile Creek above Olcott, and all Lake Erie feeders hold some trout. Cattaraugus Creek had not received a fresh run of steelies since the recent chill.

e-mail: odrswill@gmail.com

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