Ice holds in most areas open to anglers last week, but boat trips have increased well above those taken last year at this time.
Nearby, open, aerated waters keep fish on the move and feeding in places usually seeing a mid-February slow-up in the ice bite.
Fish like it is late December or late March this coming week.
> Lake Erie
Browns, rather than steelies, are the big draw at Dunkirk Harbor. Casters working the city pier and the power plant outlet fishing platform have seen good runs of those trout with the big dots.
Trout numbers have picked up in the lower stretches of Cattaraugus Creek in fishable areas of New York State waters. Meat (nightcrawlers, egg sacks and minnows) have worked better in stained waters than spoons and spinners.
Seneca Nation of Indians regulations changed this year. Trout fishing in SNI waters closed at the start of the calendar year and will reopen March 1. Once open, the creel limit-formerly five trout-will drop to three, matching the New York State daily limit.
> Niagara River
Waters looked clear and fishable last Friday prior to the Niagara River Anglers Association's annual Steelhead Contest. But early Saturday morning contestants in boats and along shore fished waters heavily stained by high winds and waves stirring Lake Erie waters that Friday.
Despite the lack of water clarity, anglers fared well Saturday on steelies and brown trout. A detailed report on the NRAA tourney will appear on the Sunday Outdoors Page.
Boaters early this week caught several steelies that would have won the NRAA contest. Minnows and egg sacks do most of the damage along river drifts; minnows take all out on the Niagara Bar right now.
Shore casters dropping either live minnows or minnow-like artificials also have been doing well on a mix of lakers, steelies and brown trout.
> Lake Ontario
Ice is far from nice along most of the Lake Ontario shoreline. Boaters have headed out of the Oak Orchard Creek earlier this week. Even better boater reports come from Sodus Bay where shoreline trollers have been hitting into brown trout in good sizes and numbers.
Bays and ponds hold ice around some areas and have opened at several access sites for boaters. Long Pond has gotten the most mention for open-water perch prospects this past week.
Stream fishing successes vary day to day. In areas where skim ice has melted off, both steelies and browns come around. At Oak Orchard, minnows had been a killer around the archery club last week, but the bite has been off early this week.
> Ice options
Silver Lake: Ice access at either side of the south end holds, and the better bite moves side-to-side like a windshield wiper. One day the better sizes and numbers come from the state launch on the southwest corner; the next day a better count, including a few extra crappies, goes to walkers out of Mack's up to just below the high pines. Smallest plastics and grub baits get 'gills; minnows improve odds for perch and crappie.
Honeoye Lake: So something is up, in fact, at Honeoye. But all of the ice action is at the extreme south end, with the main section along the middle and north end mostly open water.
Bass season is open on Honeoye until March 15, and many a tip-up setter and jigging-rod minder has had a largemouth bite their bait. Crappie schools move through fast; walleye show at times; perch and bluegill appear in mixed sizes. Improvements to the launch site at the southeast corner of the lake will impress boaters trailering to Honeoye this spring.
Chautauqua Lake: Deep waters along the North Basin remain open and walkers can get out to a few places along the shoreline. But edge ice can be thin in places and unstable. Long Point is surrounded with ice, but open waters are visible from the nearby crossing bridge (Route 86).
South Basin ice offers better options. Burtis Bay has the best ice surfaces and the most catch reports. Walkers on the move get over bigger schools of both perch and bluegills. Joe Ras of West Falls has had fair numbers and sizes of both perch and 'gills at Burtis. Tuesday morning, he was moving around and hitting into nice panfish on ice measuring at least five inches.
Lake Simcoe: Ice anglers seeing the lack of hard hardwater on Western New York waters are missing a good perch fishery along the northeast shoreline of Simcoe. Inside the islands, surfaces average 15 inches of solid ice.