The recent warmup was just what the doctor ordered to get anglers active, even if it’s cooling down again. While ice is still safe in some areas, approach all waters with caution. Spud your way in and out. There recently was a drowning on Skaneateles Lake and, while most of the lake was safe, he was fishing on just three inches of ice. Don’t take chances.
Lake Erie and tributaries
With all the ice, cold temperatures and deep snow from last week, the recent warmup created high and turbid conditions with some tributaries at flood stage. If we don’t see too much rain before Saturday, some streams may be fishable by the weekend.
The lower stretch of the river was the place to be from Devil’s Hole to Lake Ontario. Boat guys were hitting trout consistently – browns, steelhead and lakers. Top baits included MagLips and Kwikfish, minnows, egg sacs and beads. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown reported some banner days on a mix of steelhead, lake trout and brown trout. Three-way rigs were employed with a mix of plugs and live bait.
Make sure you are getting action on your plugs. Mid-river, Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reported good action on steelhead and walleye using silver Kwikfish, also off three-way rigs. Shore casters like Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was hitting steelhead in the gorge while tossing No. 4 spinners and jigs. He emphasized caution along the shoreline due to unstable ice chunks along the rocks. Niagara River Anglers announced that the Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest has been rescheduled for March 2.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
There are mixed reports on the Lake Ontario tributaries. Danny Jankowiak of Buffalo initially found clear conditions with good flow and minimal debris, but with the increased runoff and snow melt, there was some staining when water was released at some of the dams. Fresh fish are moving into some of those streams. Egg patterns, streamers and Janky jigs were working well, Jankowiak said. Wade Rowcliffe reported similar success in tributaries west of Rochester. He enjoys tossing stickbaits and does very well using Yo-Zuri, Challenger and Smithwick Rogue lures. What he uses depends on depth, current and water clarity. When that doesn’t work, he switches to a jig tipped with a 3-inch Gulp minnow. On one stickbait this week, he caught two browns and two steelhead.
A snow-free surface has some ice fishing options available, but caution is advised to make sure ice thickness is at least 4 inches. Last weekend, perch action was consistent around the weeds in the shallows and to 30-foot depths according to Hogan’s Hut in Stow. Finding keepers was tough. Walleye fishing has been good from Long Point to Dewittville. Depths range from 12 to 40 feet. Jigging Rapalas were being used to take ’eyes. Jigs tipped with minnows also were working. With the warmup this week, caution is advised. Treat this like first ice and spud your way in and out.
Ice fishing updates
Almost all area waters took a hit this week, with shore ice in many areas where water flows being iffy at best, according to Ice Team Pro Scott Brauer of Gasport. Please exercise extreme caution. We are back to first ice protocol – spud your way every step. Ice machines are not safe. Patience is key as we have another lock-up coming.
Oneida Lake, all the bays and finger lakes have been very good the past few weeks, according to Brauer. Crappie and perch are the Silver Lake take, ’gills and pike on Conesus, great mixed bag on Honeoye. Sodus has been a great perch bite. And Oneida has given up great limits of ’eyes and a few dozen perch all over the lake. Big Bay (at Oneida) has good mixed panfish as always. Chautauqua was giving up good ’eyes and crappie with keeper perch being a little harder to find.
Sodus Bay: Chris Kenyon with Wayne County Tourism reports that ice fishing was not affected much by the warmer temperatures earlier in the week. Good perch action is still being reported, with some parts of the bay producing bigger fish than others.
Lake Simcoe: The ice fishing season continues to produce some tremendous whitefish and perch catches with some nice lake trout thrown in according to ice fishing expert Wil Wegman. Ice conditions remain stable despite the recent warming trend. Major puddling is expected to refreeze in time for the weekend and may smooth out some bad rough spots. Anglers visiting the lake should still call local hut operators for conditions in the part of the lake you would like to fish.