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Fishing Line for April 17

So many fisheries are turning on now that you might have to clone yourself to get to a few favorites.

Season openers for walleye, the pikes and Lake Erie’s special bass season will begin May 4. But the panfish and trout possibilities are more places than can be thoroughly checked out on a weekend.

The inland-lake shoreline perch bite is fair to good; Chautauqua Lake ice finally melted Friday; the crappie bite is slowing picking up in canals and channels. Canandaigua Lake’s north end tops all sites for a shoreline perch bite. Crappies have turned on at the north end of Honeoye and Conesus. Bullheads often make a showing along warming mud flats during daylight hours.

Hefty rainfall runoff has the smaller feeder streams more productive on both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Lake Erie

The deep-water perch run has begun. After wave action, boating access is another consideration before headed out to those yellow perch hot spots between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point.

Differing wind speeds hop over the horizon each day on the water, but when boaters see an easing of seas the perch can be cooperative out deep. Launching is the next step; sand and mud buildup at sites can be challenging.

The ramps at Sturgeon Point are closed for dredging; officials there have yet to set a date for opening the marina to launching. At Cattaraugus Creek, the Town of Hanover has set side dock at the town ramp and boaters have easy launch access now. The state ramp is open, but boaters have to bring a long tether rope to launch without side docks in place as yet.

Lee Weber at Weber’s Bait & Tackle, Dave Watts at Dave’s Bait & Tackle and Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle all received good reports of nice-sized perch schooling west of the Catt. Some set up just east of Fox’s Point; others head farther east to 48-foot depths off Evangola State Park.

Boaters headed west from Buffalo and east from Cattaraugus Creek often work the drop-offs just west of Sturgeon Point, which began to show some activity just after ice-off at depths either side of 50 feet.

Now that the deep perch bite has kicked in, anglers should keep in mind that many of these perch schools are “young’ins”. During the State of Lake Erie presentations on Thursday, Don Einhouse, Lake Erie Unit Leader, showed year-class survival for Erie perch in recent years. Several years showed good perch survival, which means there are heavy schools of smaller perch out there now.

Knowing how a hefty ringback feels when reeling up from depths of 50 feet or more, it would be advisable to reel a bit slower and try to release the runts with minimal damage. A quick reeling has that swim bladder protruding from the fish’s mouth, which results in the smaller released fish becoming seagull food.

If the catch continues to be mainly smaller perch, consider pulling anchor and trying another spot. Generally but not always, bigger fish settle in under bait schools suspended just off bottom.

Another early-season perch tip: On days the winds are gentle and the wind direction pushes the boat over a wide area that could produce perch, try a slow drift, checking both the bite and the sonar readings as you move along. Sometimes the bite comes on the drift/move; sometimes fish show on the sonar screen but will not bite until the boat is anchored overhead and they do not have to chase your bait in 40-degree waters.

Boating safety class

A few slots remain for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 3-2 “8-Hour Boating and Jet Ski Safety Class,” offered at the McKinley Mall Community Room in Hamburg on April 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For registration details, call 366-0899.

Trout stocking sites

The Randolph Hatchery has stocked area streams with brown trout, brook trout and rainbow trout at various sites in area counties. Along with spring yearlings, anglers can also hook into two-year-old brown trout stock. Here is a listing of locations by county of stockings made this week in time for weekend angling:

Allegany County: Belmont Rod & Gun Club Pond (West Almond) 100 brook trout; Vandermark Creek (Scio, Ward) 870 brown trout; Chenunda Creek (Willing) 220 brown trout; and Genesee River (Wellsville) 1,090 brown trout.

Cattaraugus County: Franklinville Retention Pond (Franklinville) 400 brook trout; Ischua Creek (Franklinville) 1,800 brook trout, 1,310 brown trout and 850 2-year-old brown trout; Quaker Run (Cold Spring) 650 brown trout; Red House Brook (Red House) 1,750 brown trout; Science Lake (Red House) 180 brown trout; and Maples Club Pond (Otto) 300 brook trout.

Chautauqua County: Lake Erie (Westfield) 7,270 brown trout and Lake Erie (Sheridan) 7,270 brown trout.

Wyoming County: Cattaraugus Creek (Java) 950 brown trout and 400 2-year-old brown trout.