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The Fishing Beat (Feb. 20)

The days are getting longer, and fishing action is still strong on both hard water and soft water when the weather cooperates.

If weather makes it difficult to go fishing, the WNY Boat Show is going on at the Adpro Complex, One Bills Drive, Orchard Park, through Sunday. Check out for details.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Open water in the tributaries are producing a few steelhead. You may have to do a bit of exploring to find the right spot with active fish, but with rain in the forecast, it could open some more areas. In Buffalo Harbor at Safe Harbor Marina, Keith Pease reported that there were 50 huts on the ice Tuesday. Plenty of perch were being caught, but you had to weed through the small ones. Only about a quarter of the fish coming through the holes are 8- to 10-inch keepers. Small jigs with spikes are working. There are loads of emerald shiners around, according to harbor fishermen.

Niagara River

Fishing in the lower Niagara River has been great for diehard guides and customers taking advantage of the open water. Capt. John “Troutman” Oravec of Kent had some great days over the weekend with a mix of walleye, steelhead and browns. He was using emerald shiners fished off three-way rigs. His leader material was 8-pound Sufix fluorocarbon line. Later in the day, it was fresh steelhead eggs. Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls did extremely well on Tuesday with steelhead and browns. He found that pink egg sacs worked best on steelhead throughout the river, minnows were the ticket on browns downriver from Stella.

Remember that DEC is still holding a comment period for proposed regulations changes until Feb. 28. Included in the proposals is an extended lake trout season by one month in the lower river and Lake Ontario, a two-fish limit in the river and lake for steelhead (down from 3), a one-fish limit on brown trout in the tributaries (down from 3), and a 25-inch minimum size in the tributaries for steelhead (up from 21 inches).

No report on the upper river, but something worthy of comment. Denis Kreze of Fort Ontario nabbed that “Catch of the Week” Atlantic salmon in the upper river. It was discovered that the fish had an adipose clip that identified it as a St. Mary’s River fish from Lake Superior. That’s a long swim.

The Niagara River Anglers Association will hold its Roger Tobey Memorial steelhead contest on March 2 out of Lewiston Landing from sunrise to 2 p.m. Sign up at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston or the Slippery Sinker in Olcott. You also can sign up at Lewiston Landing the morning of the contest. For more information, call Paul Jackson at 998-8910.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Wade Rowcliffe of Rochester has been hitting some of the western tributaries and picking up some decent steelhead and a few quality brown trout. Rowcliffe will fish a variety of ways. On Sunday, he tossed stickbaits in the lower stretches of streams to catch trout. On Sunday, he was using jigs fished under a float. There is a new pike leader in the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors contest. A 39-1/8-inch fish from Wilson Harbor was caught through the ice using a jig tipped with a minnow on 6-pound test line.

Good reports are still coming out of Sodus Bay in Wayne County, east of Rochester. Many fish are in the 10- to 12-inch class. Hot spots, according to Chris Kenyon of Ontario, are the Trestle, Third Creek and the east side of the bay in 20 to 30 feet of water. A bit further to the east in Chaumont Bay, anglers have been doing well on perch, walleye and lake trout.

Chautauqua Lake

Fishermen are still slamming the walleyes pretty good on the north basin, according to Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Best lures have been No. 7 and No. 9 jigging Rapalas and Thundermist Sting Nose jigs. Best action has been in 15 to 35 feet of water depending on the time of day. Shallow water is best early in the morning and late evening. Perch are abundant with most coming on a jig and minnow or wax worm combo. Sperry also is hearing of some bluegill catches in Mayville and Bemus. Spikes and wax worms seem to be the most popular bait. Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut reports that there are a few safety issues on the lake.

There is still some bad ice in front of Dewittville Creek. Some of the boat ramps are bad for machines. Some wide pressure cracks have started to form, and recent snowfall has covered it. All and all, though, the fishing has been rather good. A good walleye bite is coming at dark, according to Bianco. Daytime fishing has been in deeper water. The perch are filling with eggs and are starting to feed. Not much word on calico or crappie, but that’s still a little early for the lake.

Overall, the lake is good. Take precautions like spudding in and out. If you catch a musky through ice, don’t keep it out of the water for any length of time, especially in cold temperatures. Get it right back into the water. The sooner you get it into the water, the better its chances for survival.

Scattershots (Feb. 20)

Lake Simcoe

The last couple of weeks have in some ways been the epitome of the midwinter blahs for Lake Simcoe ice anglers, according to local expert Wil Wegman. “Slow fishing days for perch and whitefish, as well as downright poor action for lake trout have been the case for some locals and visitors alike. However, it appears that those anglers willing to put in the extra effort by being mobile and fish extra hard, have still been well rewarded.”

It took over 13 pounds for 12 perch to win the Lake Simcoe Ice Fishing Championship and the $10,000 cash prize. Wegman fished the event and didn’t fare nearly as well on competition day, but found close to winning-sized perch in pre-fish the day before. As is common though midwinter, the “here today, gone tomorrow" phenomenon reared its ugly head and there was nothing but dinks in our area on tournament day. Now it’s time to pre-fish for the Perchin for MS event on March 2 out of Sibbald Point Provincial Park. Go to for details.

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