The second week of gun season for deer has a few more fishermen afield, but bizarre blasts of both wind and rain have most anglers wondering where they will be walking off that ton of turkey taken in on Thursday.
Fisher folk can give thanks that the heavy snows south and east of Buffalo have melted down and that mobility has been restored in areas where trout are streaming up feeders.
Bass and musky season ends Sunday, but the popular fishing spots along the Great Lakes and Niagara River may not see clearing waters until well into next week.
Ice fishing season for smaller and shallower inland lakes could arrive early, similar to 2013. The Farmer’s Almanac had a fair prediction for last week’s lake-effect snowstorm, noting for the Great Lakes “very unsettled weather sweeps in from the west.” It did.
Predictions for late November through January have the area seeing steady snows and cold, which could replicate last winter’s ice-fishing start and buildup. If so, now might be a good time to check on ice-fishing gear – clothing, tackle, windbreaks and transport items. Ice forecasts
Lake Erie boaters at the end of the perch run saw some nice numbers but even nicer sizes come from deeper waters from Pinehurst to well past Cattaraugus Creek. Another early ice season could have walkers and machine runners headed out of Sturgeon Point shortly after Santa sleds back to the North Pole.
Ice runners had a good time directly off Sturgeon Point during first ice, but catches relatively close to shore came from 55-foot depths either side of Evangola State Park. That was where some boaters did well this fall. That might be a productive spot early this coming ice season.
Inland, Silver Lake typically firms up first among the larger western Finger Lakes, but a widespread freeze from Buffalo to Geneva had most iced over at about the same time as Silver Lake.
Walkers at Conesus and Honeoye, as well as smaller lakes such as Loon and Canadice, all offered early ice that proved productive along shoreline shallows for perch, bluegill and sunfish along with odd-and-patchy schools of crappie. Same could be said for Southern Tier waters that froze early, suffered a melt-back and then saw a solid freeze that offered first-ice like fishing conditions well into January.
Ice-fishing history rarely repeats itself exactly, but many of this season’s signs suggest similarities that prompt early preparations.
Each year sonar makers come out with upgrades of reading screens and video options, but the more successful ice anglers work on both mobility and depth presentation. A rig affixed with minnow or grub placed just off bottom can be bountiful when the fish are biting. But so often the fish are either passive or working depths well off bottom where they can spot heavier lines and unappetizing bait shapes. Now is the time to check on thin, fluorocarbon line options and light-sized jigs, grubs, spoons and flies that might increase the hit and catch counts.
A basic sonar unit can tell if fish are swimming under that hole you poked or drilled into the ice. A winning combination of line and lure could put more fish in the bag or bucket. Lake Erie
“The smaller creeks could clear up by Thanksgiving weekend, but the Catt will be stained for a while,” was the take Ricky Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving on feeder stream prospects for the coming week or so.
Both Chautauqua Creek and Canadaway Creek were high and muddy with just slim chances for trout movement and catch possibilities this weekend. “The fish in both creeks have been coming in spurts,” said Gerri Begier at Bill’s Hooks, west of Dunkirk. Generally lower water levels kept rainbow/steelhead trout numbers down, but with each rise in waters the trout fishing has been better than what had been seen in recent years. Niagara River/Lake Ontario
Lower Niagara River trout fishing was at a peak before snowmelt runoff and high winds across Lake Erie stained river waters beyond fishable clarity. Boaters had been going with either Kwikfish or egg sacks. Shore casters had done well with single-egg offerings – beads or ball-shaped flies and plastics.
Steve Hawkins at Capt. Bob’s Outdoors in Clarence had many customers connect with all-black Super Vibrax spinners cast from shore before the rain and stain.
Waters sometimes clear enough for Ontario’s trout run to turn on in the bigger feeders. When waters were low, small, ice-fishing flies and grubs did well. In higher, stained waters, Dennis at Narby’s Superette and Bait Shop suggests fly patterns such as Crystal Meth, stone flies, bead-head nymphs or a Frammus fly.
Water conditions in feeder streams change hourly rather than daily. Plan a run-and-gun to find good fish and catching prospects this weekend.