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The Fishing Beat (Dec. 12)

Some area waters are slowly starting to transform into safe ice. Make sure you take the necessary safety precautions. Bring along a fresh change of clothes, a PFD, a set of ice picks, a length of rope and a blanket.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Danny Colville reports that the creeks are all fishing well. DEC released smolts on creeks earlier this fall and these little buggers have been causing mayhem for fishermen ... it's hard to fish if they are around. You need to go up further in the creeks to get away from them. “All the creeks have had good pushes of nice fish,” says Colville. Canadaway, Buffalo, Cayuga, 18 Mile and Chautauqua creeks are excellent if you bounce around a bit. Look for active fish.

Niagara River

Rich Pisa of Kenmore decided to grab his boat and hit the upper Niagara River on Monday. He was rewarded with 10 walleyes, three lake trout and three silver bass as he bounced jigs along the bottom. One lake trout, caught by Rich’s dad, Richard of Tonawanda, tipped the scales at 16 pounds. All fish were released to fight another day. The new Rudd Division leader came to the boat over the weekend in the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Fishing Contest. Jay Brudz of Amherst was also using a jig in the upper river when he hit a 16-inch, 3.2 pound rudd.

Musky season continues in the lower river and Lake Ontario until Dec. 15. Guys are still using the same colors to take steelhead and browns – chartreuse, orange, pink. Same lures, too, such as beads, sacks, and spinners from shore. The boat guys are using sacs, beads and MagLips or Kwikfish. Jigs and bright colored plastics like twisters are working, too. They’ve been picking up some nice walleyes in the lower river, too. Just ask Matt Gerhart of Spring Mills, Pa. He caught and released an 11 pound ‘eye on Monday while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island.

Incidentally, the Fishing 411 TV Show on the World Fishing Network came in last week to film a lower river episode. Mark and Jake Romanack showed up in town last Monday to try and put a show together on the lower Niagara. The water was stained, but definitely fishable. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls met up with them and they fished the afternoon using 3.0 MagLips in Double Trouble and Green Machine colors. In two hours of actual fishing time they boated nine browns on nine hits, enough for a show. The next day the water was dirty. After four hours, not a single hit, but the crew was able to take some drone footage and film some tech tips before the headed back to Michigan. Water conditions are good right now going into the weekend.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Tributary action has been hit or miss depending on who you talk to. Not a lot of pressure going on right now, but conditions have been decent. Brown trout are available along with some steelhead. Egg sacs, egg imitations, jigs (tipped with wax worms or spikes), woolly buggers, nymphs and other patterns should catch you fish. Don’t be afraid to move around or try some stream section that are off the beaten path.

Chautauqua Lake

The ice on the south end is just about ready to fish on according to Skip Bianco of Hogan’s Hut. The stretch of water from Long Point to Mayville has skim ice only. Shore fishing for walleyes at night has been good but the skim ice will make it very difficult. Make sure to use caution on the south end of the lake if anyone is going out. According to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, 4 inches or more is considered safe for walking in it to fish. Remember that thickness can vary from water body to water body. Stay away from any moving water or where you may see open water. Test ice thickness with an auger or ice spud.

Scott Brauer of Gasport, New York’s Ice Team Pro, insists it’s still a bit early and with the slightly warmer weather showing up this weekend, it’s probably best to show some patience and wait until it’s solid. We’re almost there. Bianco also checked Red House and Quaker lakes last week and the ice was forming quite well down there. Quaker Lake could be touchy. Here’s hoping for cold weather to thicken the ice. If you have a report you’d like to share, drop me a note at

Lake Simcoe in Ontario

Ice fishing pro Wil Wegman of Bradford, Ont., reports there is no ice really at Simcoe yet … although Couchiching to the north has some safe ice and guys are tenderly walking on 4-5 inches. They will have warm weather for the next few days, too. First Ice almost always means just yellow perch and some pike according to Wegman. Perch can still be in shallow not far from shore where they were late last fall. Places like Cooks Bay, out from Gilford, Duclos Point, the Virginia basin up to Georgina Island, Pefferlaw and Port Bolster are some of the early spots to try before the rest of the lake freezes reports Wegman. Incidentally, he will be a featured speaker during the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo Jan. 18-20 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. Check out for details.

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