The wind storm that ripped through Western New York certainly changed the fishing front. The ice boom buckled (but did not break according to NYPA), the river filled with ice and hopefully things will settle down before the Niagara River Anglers host the Roger Tobey Memorial steelhead contest in the lower river out of Lewiston on Saturday. The event is still a go as of this report. Creek Road is a sign-up location, as is the launch ramp the morning of the contest. Call Paul Jackson at 998-8910 for more information.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Many of the streams opened up a bit following heavy rains last weekend, but they were still high and muddy for the most part. Some anglers did well just prior to the rain and the increased flow could be the trigger to bring some fresh steelhead into the system. Smaller streams likely will be your best bet this weekend. Ice fishing is a viable option. One of the best continues to be Sodus Bay, where Chris Kenyon is reporting variable ice thicknesses from 4 to 12 inches of hard water. Perch action continues to be good. Try close to Shaker Heights Road near Third Creek and on the east side near Skipper’s Landing Restaurant. The State of Lake Ontario meetings will take place Monday at Rochester Institute of Technology and March 7 at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara in Lockport. Read Scattershots for details.
With the tremendous wind storm, the river against filled with ice, shutting down much of the fishing. Lower Niagara River guides are planning to hit the water Thursday, according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Water color appears to be good. Water flow is up. If things continue where they left off, egg sacs, emerald shiners, Kwikfish, and MagLips were producing steelhead, brown trout, lake trout and walleye. Fishing was very good before the storm.
Lake Erie and tributaries
There was some open water in area streams prior to the storm, but things need to settle down before the fishing returns. The increased flow should pull more steelhead into the creeks, too. It could happen again this weekend. Snow up to eight inches in some areas was forecast for Wednesday. Ice could be a problem around the creek mouths. Buffalo harbor at Safe Harbor was still an option this week. According to Keith Pease with Safe Harbor Marina, perch were hitting jigs tipped with a minnow and ice thickness was about a foot. The State of Lake Erie meeting is set for April 11.
Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the fishing on the lake was phenomenal, according to Skip Bianco of Hogan’s Hut in Stow. There were good numbers of walleyes coming out of Mission Meadows, Maple Springs, Warners Bay, Long Point, and Prendergast, all producing good sizes. The evening bite is coming very late towards dark on the weed line in 10- t0 15-feet of water. The best morning bite has been deep, from 20 to 40 feet. Perch, calico, bluegill were very good at the north end of Bemus Bay and Mayville directly in front of the park. Perch are in transition now, says Bianco. Big fish are being caught from the weed line to 35 feet. Small shiners have been working best. White perch and white bass are deep in the holes from 40 to 50 feet on the north end, but action has been slower. The lake at this time is on the rise, the creeks are up, and have been opened at least 100 yards at some outlets. Stay away from those spots. The shore ice may start to get funky, so caution is advised. Most ice is 7 to 10 inches. Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors reports some nice walleye were landed Tuesday morning, including a 10-pound lunker. Most fishermen are hitting the drop offs on the upper basin in 12 to 35 feet of water using No. 5, 7 and 9 jigging Rapalas. Parrot, clown, chrome perch and purple have been the hottest colors. The ¼- ounce and ½-ounce Thundermist spoons are working, too. Perch are hitting on fish eye jigs and Some Day Isle Tackle jigs tipped with a wax worm or Minnow. For bluegills, jigs tipped with a spike is best.
Not much changed from last week according to local expert Wil Wegman. The mid-winter blahs continue for some and not for others, with many factors contributing to success or the lack thereof. Overall perch fishing has been fair to good. Some excellent whitefish catches continue according to reports from Steve Rowbothum of Fatal Force Outfitters. Lake trout action remains slow. High winds pushing over 60 mph on Sunday kept most anglers off the lake. Several ice huts became sails and, with rain prior smoothing the surface, those huts went for an unexpected tour of the lake. Saturday is the Perchin’ For MS event, a fun and challenging perch derby for all skill levels at Sibbald Point Provincial Park in Sutton.
Winter Classic Derby
The NYS Winter Classic will wrap up Thursday. Just prior to the wind storm last weekend, Mother Nature provided fantastic weather and very good fishing in multiple locations around the state. Cameron Hasner of Three Mile Bay took the lead for the Walleye Division with a 12.07-pounder from Chaumont Bay (see the Catches of the Week gallery), Dan White of Penn Yan took over the Weekly Perch Category with a 2.07-pounder taken from the open water, and Tom Allen of Oswego weighed in the first Burbot at 4.26 pounds from Oneida Lake. The Winter Classic Sportsman Show, awards dinner, and awards ceremony are set for March 16 and are open to the public. The show has a $5 admission but is offset with $5 in free play at the casino. The dinner is $28 per person, and the awards ceremony is free. All NYS Winter Classic anglers in attendance will be eligible for the door prizes, and everyone in attendance is eligible for raffles. The Sportsman's Show will be held at Batavia Downs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with the awards to follow. Register for the dinner at www.nyswinterclassic.com.
Sagnibene at Orvis March 1
Nicholas Sagnibene with Adventure Bound on the Fly out of Ellicottville is next on the Orvis Buffalo Speaker Series. He will give a talk on streamer fishing for inland trout on Friday at 6 p.m. Sign up for the free presentation at 276-7200 or www.orvis.com/buffalo. The inland trout opener is one month away from the presentation.