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The Fishing Beat (April 17)

The ice boom is still in place, tributary fishing had been good until the streams were blown out with rain and Lake Ontario proper is slowly turning up the action as waters continue to warm.

Lake Erie and tributaries

For the most part, all major tributaries are blown out. According to Nicholas Sagnibene of Ellicottville, some upper reaches of the inland tributaries will be fishing soon, but expect things to be high and off color into Thursday, when more rain is expected to keep them that way. He believes a real good spring cleanout is happening. If the weather picks up, the fishing will become great. Earlier in the week, Keegan Walczak and some of his fishing buddies from Hamilton, Ont., hit the streams off Erie and in two days caught and released 92 steelhead. Yes, fishing was good for trout. Bass are moving into the streams, too.

Niagara River

The ice boom is still in place. As of Tuesday morning, there was 372 square miles of ice. There needs to be 250 square miles of ice or less before the boom is pulled, perhaps next week, according to officials. Ice thickness varies from 6 inches to 28 inches. In the meantime, ice chunks have been floating through the river system. Perch have been hitting around Beaver Island State Park at the marina as well as many of the small bays around the island, according to Jeff Pippard at Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda. Just look for the Emerald shiners. He also said rainbow trout and lake trout were being caught around Gratwick Park on spinners.

Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reports good trout action in Devil’s Hole and Artpark from boat and shore in the lower river. Boat drifters are using minnows, shiners and egg sacs. Shore casters are using spinners, spoons, jigs and egg sacs or egg imitations. Some captains insist that smelt are in the river, marking large pods of bait away from the shoreline. However, none have been dipped yet at night. Some local smelt dippers insist that this could be the week. The Lewiston Smelt Festival will be in Academy Park in Lewiston on May 3 starting at 5 p.m.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

In some of the creeks, steelhead were hitting flies on the surface. Browns have been hitting eggs, so sacs and beads will do the trick, according to Drabczyk. In the lake, trolling stickbaits in shallow water is working in front of 4 Mile and Wilson to take browns. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown reports good action on a mixed bag, including six Coho salmon on Dreamweaver Super Slim “Get ’er Done” spoons and Jr. Challenger Lady Bug lures off the boards, the downriggers and flatlining off the back of the boat in relatively shallow water. Capt. Alan Sauerland of Newfane was fishing spoons and stickbaits to take lake trout, brown trout and bass. The lakers were coming from 65 to 70 feet of water in front of Wilson. A few salmon are being caught. Check out the Catches of the Week gallery.

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Coho study in Lake Ontario

If you are fishing Lake Ontario and catch some of the feisty Coho salmon, this is a reminder that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is conducting a study to help determine the success of stocking spring yearlings versus fall fingerling plants. DEC biologists are asking anglers to donate Coho salmon heads and the information of your catch, whether the fish has a tag or not.

The process is straight forward. Catch a Coho and check for an adipose fin clip. Mark all the information at a freezer site such as Fort Niagara State Park, Wilson Harbor (Bootleggers Cove and the Wilson Boat Yard) and Olcott at the Town of Newfane Marina, to name a few. Bags and labels are available in the freezer. Make sure you provide the information of where you caught the fish, whether it had a clip and total length of the fish. For more information, contact Mike Connerton of DEC at 315-654-2147.

Chautauqua Lake

Cold weather seems to have moved the crappies out of the canals, according to Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. The bite was decent last week until Sunday. It was a very light bite. Small 1/32- and 1/64-ounce jigs were working with a small rubber trailer like the Soco Baits Mini Ski. The water temperature is still in the 40s.

There are lots of walleyes in the creeks this year. Hopefully it will be another successful spawn. If you see them spawning, leave them alone. Walleye season opens May 4. Perch are spawning, so perch fishing is a little slow according to Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut. Bluegill fishing has only been fair. The next warmup should bring good fishing. Chautauqua Lake Bassmasters will hold a Walleye tournament May 5 out of Long Point State Park. Cost is $100 per two-person team. Call Matt Fish at 720-2388 for more information.

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