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The Fishing Beat (Feb. 19, 2020)

Get ready for the Niagara River Anglers Association’s steelhead contest on Saturday. The Buffalo Boat Show will start next week. Check out Scattershots for details.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Danny Jankowiak of Buffalo did well on Tuesday morning. However, with water on the rise due to rain and snow melt, it wasn’t long before the streams turned brown and he was finished for the day. He managed to catch a couple of very fresh females. White and olive Janky jigs worked great for him. Meanwhile, in Chautauqua County, Alberto Rey of Fredonia reports that they had a slow fall but January and February have been going very well with fresh runs of aggressive steelhead. It is unclear whether the runs are from the fall steelhead that had not moved into the streams earlier, or if the fish are part of the spring run. If they are part of the spring run – which has happened in previous years – they might minimize the overall quantity of the spring run, according to Rey. Although they have had a few fresh steelhead moving in, many of the large runs they had in January have moved back into the lake. The “go-to” flies for Rey have been medium sized (No. 8) white streamers and weighted pink egg patterns.

Niagara River

Fishing was very good in the river until the winds and rain hit Lake Erie, causing stained water to slow things. Shore casters in the lower river have had it tough this week and Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reports visibility Tuesday was about 2 feet or fewer. Boaters also have struggled, but a few fish are being caught by using MagLips off three-way rigs or egg sacs in bright colors such as pink or chartreuse. The Niagara River Anglers Association will hold its Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest on Saturday out of the Lewiston Launch ramp. Register at sunrise at the ramp or register at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. You also can fish in the Lake Ontario tributaries for the contest. You must be a Niagara River Anglers Association member.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Lake Ontario's western tributaries were offering a mixed bag of browns and steelhead earlier in the week for Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters. “Conditions are actually very good on most creeks and this is a great time of year to get out and fish changing water conditions,” Feltrinelli says. Stonefly hatches are occurring on many creeks, so remember to "match the hatch." According to Feltrinelli, smallmouth bass will be entering our creeks around St Patrick's Day. It will be here before we know it.

Chautauqua Lake

The walleye bite has been pretty good the last couple of weeks, according to Capt. Mike Sperry with Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Mostly jigging is taking place on the north basin in 15 to 30 feet of water. Try using No. 5, 7 and 9 Jigging Rapalas in a variety of colors. Thundermist jigging spoons have been working well in a quarter- and half-ounce sizes. Live bait (medium sized golden Shiners) under a tip up is becoming more popular on the lake, too. Perch have been hitting jigs tipped with minnows or wax worms. Bluegills are biting jigs tipped with a spike. Crappie action has been hit and miss, but Sperry has been getting reports of some nice-sized fish. One that hit the scales last week was 16 inches long and weighed 2 3/4 pounds. A jig tipped with an Emerald shiner is the ticket for crappies. Ice thickness has been 4 to 6 inches in most areas. With the warm rain on Tuesday, be sure to check ice thickness wherever you go.

Finger Lakes

Gary Metz Jr. reports fishing was decent for the 6th annual Conesus Lake Frostbite Ice Fishing Derby held Feb. 15-16. In the pike division, Mayson Willis took top honors with a 12.05-pound fish. In the walleye division, only Justin Robinson weighed in with a 3.33-pound fish. Top tiger musky was Rick Redding with a 7.2-pound fish. For bass, Mike Murray led all comers with a 6-pounder. The panfish division was any combination of 10 crappie, bluegills or perch. The winner was Steven Crosson with 9.55 pounds of panfish. There were over 200 ice fishing competitors in the contest.

Lake Simcoe

Wil Wegman says the last week was very busy on Ontario’s most popular ice fishing destination. Lake Simcoe was the chosen site for thousands of experienced anglers and newbies on the Family Day long weekend when Canadian residents could fish for free without a license. Most ice hut operators were booked. The mid-winter blahs continue for perch, but those who downsize their tackle with smaller baits such as HT Tungsten Marmooska jigs tipped with one of their Ice Sentz have done okay. Whitefish action slowed from the previous week, as did lake trout catches. What the latter lacked in quantity caught was made up for in size for lake trout. Wegman is the featured speaker at the Southtowns Walleye Association meeting March 19 starting at 7:30 p.m. He will give a presentation on ice fishing on Lake Simcoe, as well as an overview of open water fishing on the lake.

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