While some hard water anglers will hit the frozen surfaces on area lakes, most anglers will head to the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls Friday through Sunday for the 6th Annual Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo. With more than 200 seminars, nearly 100 speakers and more than 170 vendor booths, this is the show to learn about all aspects of fishing. Visit www.niagarafishingexpo.com and don’t forget to print out a $5 voucher for parking.
Lake Erie and tributaries
The cold weather has continued, hampering open water access for the stream fishermen. There is still some open water if you look around, like the upper portions of Buffalo and Cayuga creeks, but it may be difficult to find open water in the tributaries after this weekend. Fish are slow with the cold water conditions.
Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield reports that the bite was slower than expected from shore recently while casting the gorge area of the lower Niagara River. Water had good visibility, but he couldn’t get the reaction strikes he wanted with spoons and spinners so he switched to a gulp minnow on a jig head. With the move, he managed three steelies by bouncing the jig off the bottom very slowly.
Learning how to read the water and fish your baits accordingly is part of Davila’s seminars this weekend at the Fishing Expo in Niagara Falls. Be sure to check them out at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday to learn how to fish from shore there. Boaters are still plying the waters of the lower river, too.
Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane reports that the water was clear on Tuesday and fish seemed to be spread throughout the river. Egg sacs were working for steelhead. They couldn’t fish downriver due to wind. Remember that the Niagara River Anglers Association will hold its Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest on Feb. 2 out of Lewiston Landing. Sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle or the Slippery Sinker in Olcott.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Most creeks are frozen partially or fully according to Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters. Finding open spaces to place your bait or fly is going to be a challenge now. Fish the faster water at the top of big pools where things don’t freeze as much. Feltrinelli managed to find some open water in some Lake Ontario tributaries, and he needed to fish it low-and-slow to take brown trout due to the cold water temperatures. Many of the embayments along the lake are showing 4 to 6 inches of ice such as Irondequoit Bay and Sodus Bay.
According to Chris Kenyon of Wayne County, Sodus usually has safe ice between LeRoy Island and along the northeast side of the bay. As of Monday, there were 4 inches of ice near Skipper’s Landing on the east side.
Ice fishing at Long Point State Park has been very good according to Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut. Some nice sized walleyes have been caught over the past few days. Ice can be anywhere from 3 to 5 inches thick. It should be better by the weekend as long as the cold temperatures hold. The south end is solid black ice and the north end has chunks but is frozen solid which holds better than black ice according to Bianco.
Mayville is still too thin, but the weekend prospect is looking good. Prendergast has had some anglers, but they are staying close to shore, most likely meaning they are perch fishing. Early ice is good for crappie fishing.
Ice fishing update
Reports are now flying around the state and beyond regarding safe ice and cooperative fish. Caution is still advised because not all ice is uniform.
Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga hit the Bay of Quinte last weekend and reported 6 to 8 inches of ice. A half mile away, two anglers fell through due to current beneath the ice causing unsafe conditions. Both survived. Exercise caution.
There are some Ice Masters Elite contests Saturday on Loon Lake and Sunday on Waneta Lake. Check out the Facebook page for more information. Ice anglers have been hitting both lakes along with Conesus and Honeoye lakes.
Stay safe out there.