Winter arrived Sunday, Santa gets here Thursday and area anglers could be singing “I’m screaming from a wet Christmas.”
Steelhead trout trekkers along Great Lakes feeders wish for a warm start to winter so the steelies will keep stealing their way up Lake Erie and Lake Ontario streams in fairly clear water.
Ice anglers would like to see ice depths similar to northern Minnesota and Wisconsin so they can check out hard-water toys Santa delivers Thursday, but rains will soften hard-water happenings.
Both anxious anglers may have to put things on hold until after New Year’s Day. Too much rainfall could muddy streams; temperatures at and above 50 degrees on Tuesday and Christmas Eve will slow ice formations on even the smallest of inland lakes and public-access ponds.
For now, anglers can plan to get on streams in a few days or on some safe ice possibly in time to enter an ice fishing derby that starts Jan. 2. Lake Erie
Streams are in good shape and trout runs include darker residents and lighter (sliver) new arrivals in both Eighteen Mile Creek and Cattaraugus Creek, says Dave Watts at Dave’s Bait & Tackle in Derby. Watts goes with a grub on a small jig for incoming steelies.
Smaller feeders have good water clarity and levels. In general, waders are doing better upstream with a jig and grub, minnow or egg sack.
Warm weather and waters have slowed the freezing process, and Watts reports a number of boaters headed out from Sturgeon Point in search of perch earlier this week. No accounts of action, depth or catch counts, but warming weather and gentle breezes have put a few boats on Erie after the official start of winter. Niagara River
Upper river activity has been mainly from shore, with a boat or two working drifts around the Peace Bridge. Shore casters must make the mile march to water access at the foot of Ferry Street, but the walk is often worthwhile.
Water clarity has been good this past week, with most of the action coming from trout, but a few perch have begun schooling along the wall at the foot of Ontario Street. “Certified emerald shiners are what is getting them,” said Pat Van Camp at Big Catch Bait & Tackle on Niagara.
Clear waters in the lower river have accounted for some nice trout catches, according to Capt. Jim Rores of Big Greek Niagara River Charters. Rores has switched from Kwikfish to egg sacks for most of his steelie and brown trout catches. Kwikies can still stick steelies, but trout have been more receptive to sacks of late, with a green bead in somewhat stained waters and a pink bead when waters clear.
When waters clear, savvy shore casters have been sending out smaller jig heads affixed with a waxworm for trout of all sizes; the smaller, ice-angling terminal tackle has taken a few more trout this past week. Predicted rainfall and runoff could change water clarity, but for now the fishery is small-item trout offerings. Lake Ontario
Boaters have been drifting the Niagara Bar mainly for catch-and-release lake trout catching, but a good number of brown trout have shown also. For weeks the program had been a metallic Kwikfish or Mag Lip offering, which still catches fish, but lately a golden shiner on a long, fluorocarbon leader has improved catch numbers.
Dredging continues at the Town of Newfane launch site in Olcott Harbor, but water clarity upstream in Eighteen Mile Creek is ideal for trout fishing below Burt Dam. Water levels are up and good in most Ontario feeders, and smaller egg sacks and jigs with grubs have been effective.
Shore casters at both Wilson Harbor and Oak Orchard Creek have seen some numbers of respectable ringbacks. Capt. Bob’s ice derby
Much depends on the weather between now and Jan. 2, but Capt. Bob’s 2015 Ice Derby is set to open that Friday and continue to March 22 with more than $2,000 in prize money for the top two entries in seven separate divisions: walleye, perch, northern pike, rudd, bluegill, crappie and whitefish. This year, bluegill and crappie are designated as separate divisions, and whitefish has been added to accommodate Lake Erie and Lake Simcoe anglers.
Anglers can enter 24 hours after registering for the derby; entrants can weigh in one fish per division daily in all seven divisions. Entry fee of $15 and each fish weighed in includes an entry in a drawing for ice fishing prizes. Ties by weight will be broken by length measurements.
All weigh-ins will be done at Capt. Bob’s Outdoors, 10295 Main St., Clarence, on a certified digital scale. For complete details, call 407-3021.