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The Fishing Beat

Extreme cold has put the local fishing scene on ice – quite literally. Ice fishing is starting to take off and should only improve moving forward as more cold weather will be arriving this weekend.

Lake Ontario and tributaries 

There is still a bit of open water below dam areas such as 18 Mile Creek and the Oak Orchard River. Shawn West of Lockport had some good success using black marabou jigs tipped with a wax worm as well as using a bead. An orange bead produced at 12-pound brown trout on Tuesday despite the frigid conditions. Meanwhile Greg Schloerb of Amherst has been hitting the Oak and picking up some steelhead. There are still come kings hanging around, too. His homemade black or white jigs have been working to take fish. Water was clear and the flow was low but steady. The amount of open water was limited.

Scott Brauer of Gasport, Ice Team Pro Staffer for Clam Outdoors, reports that all of the bays along Lake Ontario  are pretty much locked up and fishable. However, caution is still advised. Spud or drill your way out as you move over deeper water. Stay away from any running water. Mostly it’s been a mix of perch and panfish with an occasional trout being caught.

Over in Sodus Bay in Wayne County, ice is a solid 8 inches thick. Port Bay is the same and Blind Sodus is thicker yet according to outdoor writer Chris Kenyon, who lives in the county. In Sodus, the southeast corner has been good for perch in 18 foot depths. Pike have been hitting between LeRoy Island and the east shoreline of the bay.

Across the lake in the Bay of Quinte, Bob Rustowicz reports some good walleye action in the late afternoon. The group of anglers he went up with caught over 50 walleyes for a day and a half using Swedish pimples and gold spoons tipped with mud minnows.

Niagara River

Some boats made it out on the lower river water on Tuesday but fishing was slow with stained conditions. Lots of ice chunks floating around, causing a little bit of a problem with a drift and with launching. Buffalo Harbor has people ice fishing inside the breakwalls.

Lake Erie

The lake is 40 percent ice covered and with the extreme cold temperature, the amount of ice cover is expanding considerably.  No reports from any of the tributaries. Open water is limited and the further south you go from Buffalo, the more snow you find.

Chautauqua Lake

The south end of the lake is open for business according to Rich Davenport of Tonawanda. There was 5 inches of good ice in Burtis Bay that appeared to extend to Ashville Bay. The middle to the north end of the lake was questionable. Off Maple Springs, a quick check by Davenport showed more slush than ice. There was 2 to 3 inches of ice, but thickness varied so safety was an issue. With continued cold weather in place, the ice should be better by this weekend. Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors says that perch action has been good in the south end. Some walleyes were being taken near Long Point under some questionable ice conditions. Be safe out there. Ice thickness varied off Long Point according to reports ranging from 2 to 5 inches.

Inland Lakes

Honeoye Lake is producing some good panfish in the shallows. As ice thickness improves, Brauer reports they’ve been able to get out to deeper water and catch more of a mixed bag. However, caution is still advised regarding ice thickness. Check thickness with a spud or by drilling holes.  He also reported some ice action at Conesus Lake but no specifics. Local bait shops have been carrying live bait and they are a good source of information on the fishing as well as on ice thickness. There are a few ice fishing contests going on that started up the beginning of the month including the New York State Winter Classic ( and Capt. Bob’s Outdoors located on Main Street in Clarence. Silver Lake had some inconsistent ice conditions. Don’t take any unnecessary chances.



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