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The Fishing Beat (March 11, 2020)

The first stocking reports have been released by DEC for the inland opener on April 1 (for weekly reports, call 358-2050), and spring surveys will take place March 19-20, another sure sign that spring is just around the corner. Walleye, Northern pike, tiger musky and pickerel seasons close at the end of the day on March 15.

Lake Erie and tributaries

Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga caught some beautiful steelhead in several Chautauqua County creeks, all on egg sacs. The creeks were primo on Sunday, but now with the warm weather, Rustowicz noted that there is a lot of snow melt up in the hills and all the creeks have some color. The rain on Tuesday also could cause some turbid conditions and high water. We’ll have to wait and see how it shakes out. If you were thinking about heading to the lake for some walleye action, remember that the walleye season closes after Sunday across the state and will re-open May 2.

Niagara River

Mother Nature won’t leave well enough alone, throwing anglers a mix of high winds and rain to muddy the water and make fishing difficult from both boat and shore. Shore anglers have been tossing spinners or drifting egg sacs or beads to take trout along the shoreline. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught a beautiful 12-pound brown trout along Artpark using a No. 4 spinner this week, an impressive catch for sure. Boaters have been encountering tough conditions and may have to wait a day or two before they get enough water clarity to afford more consistent fishing. Running bright baits with sound or movement, such as MagLips or Kwikfish, could be the ticket. Scent made a difference for Denis Kreze of Fort Erie, hitting a big brown off Niagara-on-the-Lake by using Venom Grab scent. Water clarity was about 2-3 feet at last report. Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston hit some lake trout on Pautzke-dyed minnows in chartreuse on Wednesday. He's been averaging about six to eight fish a trip, mostly a mixed bag, despite the stained water.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

All streams have rainbows and browns now, according to Roy Letcher of Newfane. Eggs, wax worms and crawlers are working. There was already a report of a couple of bullhead caught in the Wilson/Olcott area. Mark your calendar for April 3-5 for the eighth annual Niagara County Bullhead Tournament out of the Wilson Conservation Club. Letcher noted that boats are getting browns along the shoreline; piers are showing a few browns, too, on plugs, spoons and spinners. Live bait under a bobber also will work. Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that water levels on large- and medium-sized creeks were high with good flows and stain on Monday, but the rain on Tuesday could have an impact on those conditions. There were almost optimal creek conditions at the beginning of the week. However, numbers of fish were on the low side for many anglers on tributaries of the southern shores of Lake Ontario. The Oak has at least 2 feet visibility, according to Ron Bierstine with Oak Orchard Tackle, but then the rain hit Tuesday. It probably will stain things. Brown trout and steelhead are available. Fishing pressure has been light.

Chautauqua Lake

Not a lot going on right now, but it will change soon, according to Capt. Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. There is a bit of open water available and they are catching a few walleyes at night around Prendergast Creek. The season closes Sunday. Some perch fishing from shore and some smaller crappies are starting to move in.

Lake Simcoe

After returning from the Bassmasters Classic in Alabama, Wil Wegman found some well-traveled shorelines and access sites deteriorating rapidly following the recent rain and warm temperatures. ATVs and snowmobiles should stay shore bound for the time being to wait and see if conditions improve enough to re-freeze those access sites. Those on foot may be OK, but it is highly recommended that local ice hut operators or bait shops around the lake are contacted prior to heading out. A good freeze can rejuvenate the area, according to Wegman. This is his favorite time of winter for jumbo perch. He’ll be discussing that topic and more on Simcoe at the Southtown Walleye Association meeting March 19 starting at 7:30 p.m. in Hamburg.

Cherry wins 50th Bassmaster Classic

Hank Cherry, a 46-year-old professional bass fisherman from Lincolnton, N.C., led the prestigious angling tournament last weekend from start to finish, winning the 50th Academy Sports and Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk at Lake Guntersville, Ala. He weighed in 19½ pounds of bass on the final day to clinch the top spot and win the prestigious title with a three-day weight of 65 pounds, 5 ounces and a purse of $307,500 for first place.

South Carolina pro Todd Auten was second with 58 pounds, 10 ounces of bass. Third place went to Stetson Blaylock of Arkansas with a weight of 58 pounds, 1 ounce. Make sure you check out the next “A Sportsman’s Tale” on March 29 in the Buffalo News for a special bass treat.

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