We’re finally going to start seeing some warmer temperatures and the ice boom started coming out on Tuesday (April 10) – a sure sign that spring is on the way … really.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Last week’s severe wind storm may not have broken the ice boom as what was initially reported, but it sure brought a tremendous amount of ice into the river. In fact, since there is less than 100 square miles of ice left in the lake, the official word was that the boom removal started Tuesday. Until that ice is gone, look for the focus to continue in the tributaries. According to Drew Nisbet, fishing manager with The Orvis Shop in Williamsville, the smaller tributaries like Eighteenmile, Walnut, Canadaway and Chautauqua creeks have been fishing well, although somewhat low and clear right now. That will change if we get any of the forecasted rain in the next week. Lower Cattaraugus Creek was still high and muddy with no signs of letting up any time soon. Speaking of the Catt, you might want to check out the next meeting of the Lake Erie Chapter of Fly Fishers International. Geoff Hintz with the Army Corps of Engineers will be giving a talk on the Scoby Dam project in Springville, giving an update on that plan moving forward. The meeting will be on April 19 at the American Legion Post No. 735, Legion Drive in West Seneca starting at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.
Not much fishing going on with all of the ice that’s been in the river system. As of Tuesday, the river below Niagara Falls was slowly turning to green and it should be fishable by Wednesday. Trout are still hanging out in the river – steelhead, lake trout and browns. Minnows, egg sacs, or wobbling baits like Kwikfish and MagLips are tops for taking trout. Shore casters can still toss spoons, jigs and spinners, too. Hold off doing anything with the New York Power Authority’s Fishing Platform as it was still closed as of our last contact due to ice and high water. As mentioned, with less than 100 square miles of ice in Lake Erie, the boom removal was scheduled to begin Tuesday. Hopefully it won’t impact fishing too much if at all. Wind direction is the key there. No word on smelt in the river, but the Niagara River Anglers did send out a reminder that the Lewiston Smelt Festival is set for May 4, once again at Lewiston Landing starting at 5 p.m.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Ice that was flowing north out of the Niagara River after last week’s wind storm encountered some strong northwesterly winds in the lake that ended up pushing ice into Wilson and Olcott. It was a mess for boaters and pier casters. With some warmer temperatures on the way, and rain in the forecast again, it could be the catalyst for that final big run of spawning steelhead. According to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott, the LOTSA pen rearing project received fish from DEC on Monday and that operation is underway. There hasn’t been much fishing going on but if the southwest wind blows the ice into the lake, shoreline trolling with stickbaits should resume, as well as spoon-chuckers off the piers. Ron Bierstine at the Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge sends word that the main river was slightly high and stained with about 1 to 2 feet of visibility. Smaller streams were offering up medium flows with limited visibility. There has not been a lot of fishing pressure and those that are going out are catching a few fish.
We need some warmer temperatures to really turn things on and that could happen this week with temps into the 50s. Perch and crappie were being caught in some of the canals and around docks – more perch than crappie. Best crappie spot has been in Ashville Bay, according to Hogan’s Hut in Stow. Emerald shiners, Mini Mites and small tubes under a float according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. There continues to be some skim ice from time to time, but it usually burns off later in the day.
Nisbet also reported that many inland streams are in great fishable shape after high water events last week. If we don’t receive too much rain, they should continue to be productive. Many waters have received spring stockings so there are plenty of fish around. Check out the Randolph Fish Hatchery stocking hotline at 358-2050 for updates. Some of the better creeks we’ve heard about include Clear, Conewango and Elm, but there are still plenty out there we haven’t heard about.
Wilson Bullhead contest results
Last weekend, the Wilson Conservation Club held its fifth annual Wilson Bullhead Contest and some 43 adults and five youths participated in the spring kick-off event. In the Adult Division, the best two fish bullhead weight and overall winner was Francis Holly IV of Wilson with a 4.23-pound total. He was using cider worms at dusk to catch his bigger fish in 12 Mile Creek. Second place was Tyler Morrison of Appleton with 3.70 pounds of bullhead. He was fishing during the day in the west branch of 12 Mile Creek using shrimp. Third place went to John Pittsley of Lockport with 3.46 pounds using shrimp both day and night. Fourth place was Jeff Budziszewski of Newfane using shrimp both day and night. Fifth place went to Cameron McKee with 3.11 pounds of bullhead. In the Youth Division, it was Trever Wilson winning with a weight of .95 pounds.