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Fishing line / By Will Elliott

Expert stream, river and pond watchers were predicting an early end to the spring trout run this season. However, given this past week of snow and cold and predictions for continued cold weather through the weekend, trout, rather than panfish, will be the main focus perhaps well into late April.

This strange season was been affected by the heat of February and early March followed with the freezing fronts of late March and early April. All this perplexes panfishing planners – and some open-water trout chasers – fishing in chilled-but-warming waters. Look for a detailed discussion of this season’s panfish-catching problems and positives on this Sunday’s Outdoors page.

Lake Erie

Boaters have been kept off deeper waters, but the last contacts with perch were a few good catches closer to shore. Some schooling had been seen at 38- to 42-foot depths between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point, not just off Evangola State Park.

Feeder streams draw every kind of lake dweller but walleyes so far. Dave Watts at Dave’s Bait & Tackle in Derby fishes Eighteen Mile and has hooked suckers, bass and gobies along with his targeted steelhead trout.

Niagara River

Smelt keep showing up in bellies of caught fish, but anglers working shoreline dip nets have yet to see a run. “One guy’s best catch so far has been six smelt,” Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait & Tackle in Lewiston said of attempts to connect with lower-river smelt schools.

Drabczyk has good reports of steelhead trout runs when water conditions are right. Clear with a light green stain has casters sending out mainly a minnow program.

Both boaters and shore-bound line minders have done best with live minnows in the absence of Ice Boom ice and warming river waters. But a few anglers, especially boat drifters, have also kept a supply of smaller egg sacs handy.

When winds subside and arrive mainly from the south and west, boaters have been heading out to the Niagara Bar.

Lake Ontario

Just one report of a king salmon has come from the flotilla of shoreline trollers from Fort Niagara east to well past Oak Orchard Point.

The coho salmon run seen last spring in the shallows off Fort Niagara has yet to appear this year. Instead, a steady schooling of lake trout surrounds the Niagara Bar where mostly a minnow menu is in order. Edge skirting can produce some nice laker numbers on Kwikfish and Mag-Lips with a metallic finish, either silver or gold.

Trollers have been mainly working shoreline shallows near creek mouths. Bait shops along the entire Ontario shoreline have been selling a good number of stickbaits in various sizes.

Silver has been the most successful body finish, with the clown colors trollers use on Erie walleye sometimes connecting. Fire Tiger and Wonder Bread dots have had major mention.

The chill has cooled the perch bite, but Wilson still provides the better odds. Farther east, Sodus Bay has some panfish action, but Irondequoit Bay sees the better perch presence along its western shallows.

Trout Stockings

Randolph Hatchery this week has stocked trout at sites around Western New York in time for fishing this weekend. All stock are yearlings unless noted as 2-year-olds.

Alleghany County: Dyke Creek (Andover), 1,470 brown trout and 200 2-year-old brown trout; Cryder Creek (Independence) 1,290 brown trout and 200 2-year-old brown trout; Black Creek (West Almond) 1,210 brown trout; Canaseraga Creek (Burns) 1,640 brown trout and 200 2-year-old brown trout; Hunt Creek (Alma) 220 brown trout; Root Creek (Bolivar) 860 brown trout; and California Brook (Bolivar) 430 brown trout.

Cattaraugus County: Elton Creek (Freedom) 1,120 brown trout and 170 2-year-old brown trout; Haskell Creek (Hinsdale) 560 brook trout; Five Mile Creek (Allegany) 2,500 brown trout; Rice Brook (Carrollton) 260 brown trout; Red House Brook (Red House) 1,690 brown trout; Science Lake (Red House) 220 brown trout; Red House Lake (Red House) 1,210 brown trout; Quaker Lake (Elko) 400 brown trout; Quaker Run (Cold Spring) 890 brown trout; New Albion Lake (New Albion) 300 brown trout; Little Conewango Creek (Conewango) 780 brown trout; and Paisley Park Pond (Randolph) 40 brook trout.

Chautauqua County: Clay Pond (Poland) 240 brook trout and 100 brown trout; Bear Lake Outlet (Stockton) 780 brook trout; Cassadaga Creek (Stockton) 260 brown trout; Canadaway Creek (Arkwright) 200 brook trout; and Mill Creek (Gerry) 640 brook trout.