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The Fishing Beat (March 4, 2020)

With recent winds and rains, as well as snow melt, the inland streams and Great Lakes tributaries will be blown out. It sounds like it’s a perfect time to attend the WNY Sport and Travel Expo in Hamburg, set for Thursday through Sunday at the Erie County Fairgrounds. In the meantime, removal of the ice boom has started at the head of the river off Buffalo-Fort Erie.

Lake Erie and tributaries

All lake-run tributaries will be blown out after today, most likely until the end of the week, reports Nicholas Sagnibene of Ellicottville. He checked out things Monday and it was already tough. Inland fishing will be very hit and miss depending where you go. The main inland streams are high and off color, if not dirty already. Fishing smaller tributaries should be the ticket. They will be up and off color, but there should be some fishable sections, especially the small upper Cattaraugus tributaries that are open. All tributaries may blow out by the end of the week if rain stays in the forecast, Sagnibene says.

Niagara River

Fishing was good in the river prior to the last storm, according to Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown, but the water color changed and forced charter cancellations. Steelhead, lake trout and brown trout were being caught when conditions allowed. Some walleyes are still hanging around, too, but the season will close on March 15 (along with northern pike, pickerel and tiger musky). As of Tuesday, visibility was about 1 foot, according to Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls, an avid shore fisherman. If we don’t see any more wind or heavy rain, fishing could pick back up by the weekend. The good news is that the ice boom removal is underway, the second earliest ever.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

Lake Ontario tributary fishing was good until the meltdown and rain, according to Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga. Now, everything's going to be mud. Ron Bierstine of Oak Orchard Tackle reports rain has made everything high and dirty. Flows in the Oak consist of turbine and overflow water. Anglers are able to fish the turbine channel – it can only get so high, and the color was not muddy as of Tuesday afternoon.  Flows all around are probably going to get higher and dirtier from forecasted rains. This is the highest water they have had this season and it’s now or never for a decent push of fresh steelhead. Best fishing will be on the backside of this high water, according to Bierstine.

Chautauqua Lake

The ice fishing was decent last week for walleye and panfish, reports Capt. Mike Sperry of Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. The same program of No. 5 and 7 Jigging Raps north of Long Point and near Dewittville was the ticket for walleye. Sperry says the best bite was at dark. Mayville and Bemus Bay were producing bluegill, perch and some crappie. Jigs tipped with wax worms and spikes were working for perch and bluegill. A jig and emerald shiner were the best offering for crappie. Sperry insists the ice is becoming unsafe with rain and warmer temps. It looks like we’re going to have an early ice off this year. Time to get the boats ready.

Lake Simcoe

The past weekend was a busy one on Simcoe, according to hardwater guru Wil Wegman. Some isolated yet remarkable catches occurred, including a mammoth 23-pound lake trout from the north section of the lake out of Simcoe County; and a burbot from the same area. The burbot rivals the current Ontario record of just under 18 pounds held by Simcoe County angler Sebastian Roy. Speaking of which, Roy’s popular YouTube series, Sea Bass Outdoors, shows some recent remarkable whitefish and lake trout action. You can also see how he caught and registered his record burbot during the winter of 2017. Perch action picked up during the last week and the Perchin’ for MS event out of Sibbald Point Provincial Park was won with just over 10 pounds for the 10 heaviest perch. HT Ice Fishing pro staffer Dave Chong and his partner Al Russell caught the heaviest perch of the tournament, a 1.765-pound jumbo. Now that March is here, the last couple of weeks of whitefish and lake trout action should pick up before their seasons close (along with cisco and walleye) on March 15, the same day huts must be off the ice, reports Wegman. Remember, he will speak at the Southtowns Walleye Association meeting on at 7:30 pm March 19 in Hamburg.

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