It looks like anglers are transitioning from the tributary streams to hard water action, unless you fish the Niagara River. There’s still plenty of fishing in these frigid temperatures and remember to mark Feb. 2 on your calendar for the Niagara River Anglers steelhead contest.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Not much going on right now in any of the tributaries off Lake Erie due to the extreme cold. Whether or not any water will open following Wednesday’s rain remains to be seen. If something does open, it won’t be around for long because of another polar blast over the weekend.
In the lower Niagara River, the shore guys are catching some trout by casting spinners, according to Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Pink, purple and chartreuse are the hot colors of late. Larger minnows are working well, too. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls hit the gorge with jigs recently to take some trout. Orange jigs worked for lake trout, while white-pearl colored jigs did well on steelhead. Be careful walking the shoreline. Boaters who want to brave the elements should run minnows, egg sacs (pink was hot last week), or plugs like MagLips and Kwikfish. Run all those baits off three-way rigs to maintain bottom contact.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
It’s a repeat performance for most streams like we mentioned on Lake Erie. If you can find open water, you have a chance at catching fish, such as on the Oak Orchard River and 18 Mile Creek near the dams. A better option might be ice fishing in any of the embayments along the lake such as at Wilson Harbor, Cranberry Pond, Long Pond and Irondequoit Bay for perch. Yellow perch have been snapping at Sodus Bay. Last weekend, there were several hundred shanties on the bay, according to Chris Kenyon with Wayne County Tourism.
The conditions of the ice have varied due to high winds and heavy snow, according to Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut. He reports that the bite has been good on Chautauqua. Most anglers have targeted walleye, but there have been some fair reports on perch fishing. Best spots for perch have been Long Point in front of the bath house, just north of Prendergast boat launch in the weed line, and Mayville in front of the park in 6 feet of water. For walleye, try your luck at Long Point, Dewittville Bay, Magnolia, and in front of Prendergast boat launch. Anglers must watch for pressure cracks and spring holes throughout the lake, mainly the north basin. An angler fell in Monday at the Bell Tower and another just north of Midway State Park a few days back. Anglers must use caution and spud their way out as well as back in.
Finger Lakes ice fishing update
The word from the Finger Lakes is that people are fishing on safe ice, but precautions need to be taken, according to Gary Metz with Finger Lakes Bait and Tackle. Metz is taking over for Ted Decker (the old Ted’s Tackle location) in Lakeville and he will help with the Conesus Lake Frostbite Derby Feb. 16-17 (which is also a free fishing weekend in the state). Call him at 585-414-5586 to sign up or if you have questions. According to Metz, there are five inches of solid ice on Conesus, but most anglers are staying on the north half of the lake or in the extreme south end. There is some open water in the southern end of the lake. Pike action has been good with pike shiners. Walleye and perch have been hitting fatheads. Honeoye has 6 inches of ice, but it’s been hit or miss on fish. Silver Lake has been getting some decent reports, too, with 5 to 6 inches of ice being reported.
NYS Winter Classic Tournament
Some new leaders in the Winter Classic this week including Louis Pagnotti of West Pittston, Pa., with a 12.02-pound walleye from Chaumont Bay on Lake Ontario, Jack Mings of Amherst in the Trout Division with a 10.59-pound lower Niagara River laker, and Brenndan Taft of Beaver Dams with a 2.58-pound crappie caught from Big Flats Pond in Chemung County.
Wil Wegman of Canada reports that there was a scary situation late last week at the north end of the lake when a few anglers walked on more than 4 inches of ice, only to become stranded when 50 meters of water opened due to high winds. Fortunately, a local resident knew the anglers were there and called 911. Local fire and rescue crews used an airboat and rescued the stranded anglers. That entire area has since refrozen and, due to exceptionally cold temperatures, should be ready by the weekend for those on foot. By and large, the entire lake is frozen solid and ice fishing is in full force for all the perch grounds and almost there for whitefish and lake trout. Laker fishing has been fair, but some large specimens have been caught, according to Wegman. Whitefish, by all accounts, has been off the charts with some guides reporting entire parties of 4-10 clients coming off the ice with their two-fish limit. Bottom bouncing baits like the Bad Boyz tipped with a small tube jig have been productive. Perch fishing has been good, especially for those willing to remain mobile, and search out those jumbos Lake Simcoe is famous for.
Capt. Bob’s Outdoors contest update
Steve “Hawk” Hawkins reports that the current steelhead leader is a 32-inch lower Niagara River fish caught by Jack Mings of Amherst. For walleye, Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga is in first place with a 23.25-inch Bay of Quinte fish that he caught on a Jigging Rap. Crappie leader is Chris Nogle of Lockport with an 11-inch fish caught on a waxworm. Mings is also leading the bluegill division with a 9.75-inch fish on a waxie. Stan Travis is heading the pike category with a 35-inch fish, caught on a chub, from Quaker Lake. California Joe Pavalonis of Buffalo still leads for the rudd division after measuring in an 18-inch upper Niagara River fish. He caught it on a crappie tube. The contest continues through March 15 out of the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors shop on Main Street in Clarence.