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Will Elliott’s Fishing Line for April 20

Warm days have heated up fisheries.

The lower Niagara River smelt run looks good, inland panfish production is surfacing, stocked streams, ponds and lakes are busy and the big lakes continue to draw game fish closer to shore.

Spring fishing hypes many an avid angler and warm days offer all kinds of angling promise, but water temperatures remain chilling, a fall into the water could result in a quick onset of hyperventilation.

A New York State law requires all boaters, except those aboard a commercial vessel, wear a securely fastened PFD (personal flotation device) while afloat until May 1. Having a PFD in place ensures greater buoyancy and a quicker recovery from the cold waters.

Lake Erie

Launches will be a bit more open at Dunkirk Harbor and Cattaraugus Creek later this spring. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is currently dredging at Dunkirk and is scheduled to then do the waterway at the Catt.

Perch schools move daily, but the bite has been good both off Buffalo Harbor and along Sturgeon Point to Cattaraugus Creek deeper waters.

Niagara River

Lower-river boaters and shore casters have to work at times for the trout bite, but the good news is that minnows and live smelt are effective baits. The “live smelt” bait source kicked in later last week with dippers seeing some good numbers at the Lewiston Sand Docks and at the Artpark landing.

The annual Greater Lewiston Smelt Festival is set for May 6, which might see waters too warm for dipping live smelt. But planners always have a good supply to fry during the Friday evening Smelt Fry the Niagara River Anglers Association conducts each year.

May 6 also marks the start of the Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Derby, which also includes a Walleye Division. Entrants are reminded that walleye season starts later this year (May 7), so entries will be accepted that Saturday until the derby end on May 15.

Lake Ontario

King salmon action looks better off the Oak Orchard Point to Wilson Harbor area. Around the Niagara Bar, better odds have been seen westward in Canadian waters off the Welland Canal and Port Dalhousie.

Perch school where there are fewer big fish (trout, pike and salmon) moving into bays and harbors.

Chautauqua Lake

Crappies dominate the Chautauqua fishery, but finding and catching good numbers of decent sizes can be challenging.

So often when Lake Erie is blowing up, winds are calm or serene over the shoreline Allegany hills. Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut Bait & Tackle in Stow pointed out that many boaters missed out on good crappie numbers during plate-of-glass water-surface days seen in recent days.

With water temperatures remaining in the high 40s, these high-backed, mainly black crappies move near the surface. A bobber rig set too deeply misses those suspended crappie, resulting in the odd bluegill or perch bite. Canal activity has dropped off.

The perch bite has been lakewide, but Bianco gets better crappie reports from Dewittville Bay and Magnolia Bay in the north basin, Bemus Bay at mid-lake and Shore Acres in the South Basin.

Orvis seminars

The Orvis Store at Eastern Hills Mall is offering three seminars on Saturday. The Orvis Days program begins with an Adam Schroeder “WNY Trout Fishing” talk from noon to 1:30. Andrew Steel Nisbet presents two seminars: “Hatches of WNY” at 2:30 to 3:30 and an “Angling Photography Workshop” at 4 to 5 p.m.

The seminars are free, but registration should be made with a call to the store at 276-7200.

Trout stockings

The Randolph Caledonia Hatcheries this week have stocked trout at sites around Western New York in time for fishing this weekend. All stockings are yearling unless noted as 2-year-olds.

Erie County: Cazenovia Creek - East Branch (Aurora/Holland) 430 brown trout; Sprague Brook Park - Foote Road Pond (Concord) 100 rainbow trout and 50 2-year-old brown trout; Sprague Brook Park – A&B Pond (Concord) 200 rainbow trout and 80 2-year-old brown trout; Sprague Brook Park - Vets Pond (Concord) 200 rainbow trout and 80 2-year-old brown trout.

Allegany County: Genesee River (Amity), 3,150 brown trout and 350 2-year-old brown trout; Genesee River (Wellsville) 650 brown trout, 450 2-year-old brown trout and 1,000 rainbow trout.

Cattaraugus County: Ischua Creek (Franklinville) 1,210 brown trout and 690 2-year-old brown trout; and Olean Creek (Town of Olean) 170 brown 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.

Wyoming County: Cattaraugus Creek (Java) 1,120 brown trout and 400 2-year-old brown trout; East Koy Creek (Gainesville) 690 brown trout and 550 2-year-old brown trout.

All stocking are subject to change due to water conditions.