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The Fishing Beat (March 13)

After yet another round of high winds, soft-water anglers hope that spring is here and that the ice will start to dissipate in the lakes and streams. Hard-water diehards hope the ice will hang on as long as possible. Whatever your preference, though, stay safe out there. Friday is the final day for walleye, Northern pike, pickerel and inland tiger musky seasons, as well as Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Fishing Contest.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga and Tom Brunn of South Wales managed to hit the ice on Lake Erie off Hamburg last Friday, but they had to pick their spots to get through to the water. Once they located their target areas (around the 40-foot mark), they managed to pull some hefty walleye through the ice, albeit a little late in the season. The ice held up well here and many were out in force Tuesday to chase Lake Erie fish on the hard water.

In the Western Basin of the lake, the combination of wind and warmer temperatures stranded dozens of fishermen that needed to be rescued. Please take precautions if you are trying to get on the big lake. In the tributaries, ice was still a problem in most streams. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reported that Cattaraugus Creek was fishable last weekend. Slush ice was moving in and out, posing a bit of a challenge. The smaller streams are opening, and warmer temperatures should clear some more areas.

Niagara River

Capt. John Oravec of Kent sent word that lower-river action continues to be good for a mixed bag of trout, as well as walleye. Emerald shiners were working very well on three-way rigs, producing browns and steelhead over the weekend. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown was using MagLip plugs to take his fish – steelhead, browns and walleye, also fished off three-way rigs.

Shore fishing was starting to open a bit more, too. There was only a foot or two of shelf ice along Artpark, according to Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls, and he managed to catch some nice steelhead using jigs his last time out.

Up further in the gorge, shelf ice was more of a problem. Make sure you are wearing some sort of ice creeper or cleats to maneuver. Spinners also were an option as is egg sacs or egg imitations fished under a float.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Greg Schloerb of Amherst reported he’s been picking up a few fish (steelhead and browns) in the streams. All fish were caught on his hand-tied jigs. There was no particular color they seemed to prefer. Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters reported that he took a couple of steelhead Monday on a small tributary with a white woolly bugger using a 7 weight fly rod. The ice was out in some of the smaller tributaries, but the bigger creeks were jammed.

Ice fishing action was still good in Sodus Bay in Wayne County.

Chautauqua Lake

Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla said the best action has been at 10 feet of water off the back side of Long Point.  Saturday was a perfect day. He fished with buddy Tom Baskerville of Marilla and each caught a good 50 perch but only kept about a dozen of the biggest. All the fish cleaned were females. They could not connect with any walleye out to 25 feet.

Hogan’s Hut in Stow reported that the ice conditions are still in pretty good shape after the recent rain and winds. Stay away from creek mouths and spud your way out and in along the shoreline. Up to 10 inches of ice was still being reported. Try Bemus Bay for perch and bluegill. For walleyes, drill your holes at Prendergast, Long Point and Dewittville.

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Inland waters

The annual Finger Lakes spring sampling will be taking place in Naples and Cold Brook creeks on March 21 and 22. The Naples Creek sampling will be starting at 9 a.m. at Route 245 bridge just north of the Village of Naples. The Cold Brook sampling will be at 10 a.m. in the Hamlet of Pleasant Valley along County Route 88. The stocking schedule for the Randolph Fish Hatchery is available. Call the Randolph Fish Stocking Hotline at 358-2050 for updates. The inland season kicks off April 1.

State of Skaneateles Lake is rescheduled

The State of Skaneateles Lake meeting that was postponed because of inclement weather has been rescheduled to 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on March 20. The meeting will be held at the Homer Intermediate School Auditorium, 58 Clinton St., Homer. For more information, call 607-753-3095, ext. 213.

NYS Winter Classic Awards set for Saturday

The New York State Winter Classic Fishing Tournament will hold its grand finale Saturday at Batavia Downs. Things kick off with a Sportsman’s Show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $10. That will be followed by a classic buffet dinner from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The evening will close with the awards ceremony. Visit for details.

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