Another January thaw brought anglers out of house to wet a line and make a few casts in open water. Many times the fish cooperated nicely. And there was still some great ice fishing going on as well. However, cold temperatures will be returning this weekend and you will have to pick and choose your best fishing options – hard or soft. Saturday, the Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest will be going on until 2 p.m.
Lower River action was good to very good the past week as the water conditions were near perfect. While the air temperatures will be cooling down a bit this weekend, anglers will be hoping that the fishing will remain hot for the Niagara River Anglers Association’s annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest set for Feb. 3 out of Lewiston Landing at the launch ramp. You must be a member of the fishing club to compete, but you can take care of that at the launch ramp the morning of the competition or at both Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston and The Slippery Sinker in Olcott. Eligible waters include the lower Niagara as well as Lake Ontario tributaries. Call 998-8910 if you have any questions.
Capt. Mike Johannes of Ransomville enjoyed his best day ever on the Niagara River last Friday as they used minnows and egg sacs to take brown trout to 12 pounds, steelhead and lake trout while fishing with Capt. Dave Faery (out of his boat) and Billy Parkhill, also of Ransomville. Fish are available from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar and all points in-between. They also caught a few walleye to round out their mixed bag of fish. Johannes normally fishes in the big lake out of a much bigger boat from May to September so this was a nice change of pace and very enjoyable. Check out some of the photos in the Catches of the Week gallery to see some of these fish.
Lake Erie tributaries
The smaller- and medium-sized Lake Erie tributaries like Eighteenmile and Walnut Creek fished well through the weekend and through Tuesday according to Drew Nisbet, fishing manager with Orvis Buffalo. Expect fishable conditions through Thursday as another round of Polar Vortex sweeps the region Friday, likely creating slush ice conditions for the weekend. Effective flies include swinging 1.5 to 2-inch streamers in olive or white and dead-drifting stonefly patterns under an indicator. Nick Sagnibene with Adventure Bound on the Fly in Ellicottville reports things are decent right now in all the tributaries except for Cattaraugus Creek. There’s some new fish in the tributaries coming off the lake along with some drop backs. With the cold weather some nymphs in the pheasant tail/black stone variation have had success. Same goes with the inland streams. He has been hitting some bigger fish on streamers ranging from 2-4 inches but having better numbers of smaller fish by nymphing some hot head nymphs and San Juan worm variations.
Lake Ontario tributaries
There has been some action off tributaries like 18 Mile Creek and the Oak Orchard River. With the cold weather arriving again this weekend, it will be a coin toss as to how much open water there will be. Jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float is one approach, egg sacs or egg imitations are still producing and a variety of flies and nymphs will catch fish as well. Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker reports 18 inches of visibility at Burt Dam, where browns and steelhead are being caught. Ice fishermen are still enjoying good success to the east in places like Irondequoit and Sodus Bay. Sodus has been sporting the best perch fishing in years according to Chris Kenyon. Seek out some of the deeper holes in 30 to 40 feet of water near Katlynn Marine at the Sodus Point Loop and by Second Creek off Shaker Heights Road. Swedish pimples have been working. There has also been some good pike fishing around Leroy Island on minnows.
Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors reports that they are still getting good reports of walleye on the north basin from 30-foot depths and out deeper. It’s been an early morning (before light) bite and after-dark bite lately. Try using No. 7 and No. 9 jigging raps in an assortment of colors. The ice was 6 to 10 inches thick. Perch are abundant as always. Sperry did hear reports of big bluegills up on the north end last week. That’s the first reports of bluegill. Best weights and baits were 1/32 and 1/64 ounce jigs tipped with a spike.
Craig Sleeman of Victor sends word that fish were snapping at Keuka Lake over the weekend. He reports that the best is yet to come as far as perch action, but they still managed to catch 30. In addition, he and his brother Ethan caught a smallmouth that tipped the scales at 5.9 pounds. They also caught some big lake trout. Check out the Catches of the Week to see a few of these fish.
Ice fishing tidbits
Scott Brauer, Ice Team Pro from Gasport, sends word that Oneida Lake fish are starting to transition from the flats to the deeper water, so a typical midwinter shift. There are still some you're young and a mature fish left on the flats but it's going more toward a deep bite now. The fish were in 32 to 35 feet but are now going out to the channel. You can still catch perch just about everywhere and the sunfish and bluegills are fired up in the weeds in the shallows. Up north in Ontario, Lake Simcoe is on fire with most bays producing good numbers of fish. The larger fish seem to be in the deeper waters off adjacent flats.
Winter Classic has new leaders
It’s hard to believe that the NYS Winter Classic has new leading fish after some incredible specimens have already come to the scales. At the top of the list has be the Walleye Division, where Josh Allein grabbed the top slot with a 15.90-pound marble eye. It vaulted over the 14.75-pound walleye caught a few days before. Both fish were caught in Chaumont Bay through the ice. The leader was caught on a minnow. In the Northern Pike Division, it was an 18.71-pound fish jumping into the lead. It was caught by Roy Pierce, who was using a sucker to trick the fish into hitting. It was weighed in at the Thousand Islands Bait Shop. There is a new Trout Division leader, a 15.50-pound lake trout reeled in by Martha Rumlow at Chaumont again – through the ice on a shiner. The new yellow perch leader is 2.06 pounds, caught by Daniel White. The new crappie leader is a 2.24-pound fish hauled in by Greg Radford, caught on a jig tipped with a spike. Go to www.nyswinterclassic.com for an updated leaderboard or to register. The contest continues through Feb. 28.