New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – Feb. 23, 2018
Western New York
Greg Schloerb of Amherst reported that fishing improved once the slush off the top of the water was gone at Eighteen Mile Creek at Burt Dam. He caught some dandy steelhead using his homemade olive-colored jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float. He caught steelhead to 12 pounds. In the lower Niagara River, action has been a bit more difficult with ice floes coming down through the system. If you can find areas that offer a better drift, take them. Gary Hall of Niagara Falls and Gary Fiori of Lewiston both hit the water and caught some nice steelhead before they got too cold. Dress accordingly.
The Niagara River Anglers Association held its annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead out of Lewiston Landing along the Niagara River, a celebration that’s been going on for a quarter of a century. Despite frigid temperatures that saw wind chills dip to below zero, some 32 brave fishermen fought high winds and heavy ice floes to compete for the biggest trout – with a focus on steelhead and browns. When the scales closed at 2 p.m., Dan Spangler of Ohio was the top dog with a 10.26-pound steelhead. He caught the fish on a MagLip lure, fishing with Capt. Mark McGranahan of Sparky’s Charters. Second place was 9.74 pounds, reeled in by Justin Graham of Washington while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. Third place went Jack Taylor of Batavia with an 8.34-pound steelie. He was fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters. Taylor also reeled in the big brown trout, a 3.74-pound fish – one of only two browns caught in the contest. Conditions were tough and hats off to the victors, as well as all of the hardy folks who competed.
Lake Erie tributaries: Steelhead fishing picked up and has been good to excellent, including some fresh fish. Productive reports have come from Chautauqua, Canadaway, Silver and Eighteenmile creeks. The creeks were mostly open, but expect slush and shelf ice to return with any extended frigid temperatures.
Niagara River: Boaters have seen very good action. Three-way rigs with flatfish lures and egg sacs have produced a mix of rainbow, brown and lake trout from Devils Hole, down to the mouth. Three-way rigs with shiners produce a decent mix of walleye and trout. Shore fishing was hazardous in sections due to accumulating shelf ice.
Lake Ontario tributaries: Oak Orchard Creek was in great shape at last check, with moderate flow and about two feet of visibility. Anglers at the Oak and Eighteenmile creeks were catching some steelhead, along with the occasional brown trout. The smaller creeks were in good shape but keep an eye on changing conditions.
Chautauqua Lake: Most of the main ice sheets were reportedly 9-12 inches thick, half clear and half white. However, there were thinner spots out there, especially near stream inlets. Shore ice was also poor at some access points, especially at Prendergast. Walleye fishing has been slow. Previously, walleye fishing was decent in 30-35 feet of water near drops, deeper holes and off stream inlets. Jigging Rapalas and vertical jigging spoons tipped with a small minnow or grub are good walleye offerings. Anglers continued to catch plenty of smaller yellow perch lakewide, with very few keepers. The flats off Mayville is a better bet for keeper-sized sunfish and perch.
Lake Erie harbors: When ice conditions have been safe at Barcelona Harbor, anglers were catching some steelhead. Be sure that there is at least four inches of clear ice before heading out and keep an eye on changing conditions. There was over a foot of ice at the inner Buffalo Harbor. As usual, anglers were catching mostly smaller sunfish and yellow perch, with the occasional keeper.
Silver Lake: Anglers were catching plenty of yellow perch in deeper waters of 30-35 feet. Jigs with grubs or Maki plastics produced decent numbers of 8- to 9.5-inch perch. There were decent numbers of sunfish around the weedy south end, but fish were tight-lipped. Downsizing to a small jig and single spike has been productive. Tip-ups with shiners produce the occasional northern pike.
Central New York
Oswego River: Not hearing much with high flows.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: When weather, flows and conditions permitted anglers were getting steelhead in the mid to upper river on beads, nymphs or egg sacs.
Oneida Lake: Walleye were still being taken around the lake, with a lot of short fish being caught. Jigging Rapalas tipped with a minnow head have been working. The yellow perch bite has also been good at times.
Sandy Pond: Yellow perch and northern pike were being caught. Keep an eye on changing conditions.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Anglers are getting out on both waters at last check. Sodus had reports of 8 to 10 inches of ice. Yellow perch fishing remained good on Sodus, though fish were being taken in deeper water – 30 or more feet. Some northern pike were also being caught. No ice thickness reports for Irondequoit but fishing has been slow, with a lot of gizzard shad seen by anglers using underwater cameras.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Shore anglers have been getting some lake trout and Atlantic salmon.
Keuka Lake: Safe ice may be in jeopardy due to the recent warmup. We haven’t heard whether it survived. Lake trout have been caught when anglers have been out, as well as some solid bluegill.
Otisco Lake: Anglers have been out on the north end, with 6 to 8 inches of ice being reported. Though bluegill were still being caught the bite has been slower over the last few weeks. A few anglers have been on the main lake as well, with 7 inches of ice being reported in spots. But conditions may change rapidly so use caution if you head out.
Conesus Lake: Anglers can target northern pike and tiger muskellunge in shallower areas with tip-ups and shiners. The bluegill fishing is generally best at the north end off Vitale Park. Anglers will likely weed through smaller bluegill for decent numbers of keepers.
Honeoye Lake: The fishing has been a little slow, with panfish anglers reporting very light biters. Sunfish and yellow perch are available from the shallows out to depths of 25 feet plus. Over deeper water, panfish have been very tight to the bottom. Tip-ups with shiners in 8-25 feet of water yield catches of chain pickerel and largemouth bass. The odd walleye catch is also possible.
Canadice Lake: Keep a close eye on ice conditions and, as always, use caution. Lake trout were available over deeper water. Jigging with spoons is a good tactic. Anglers will also catch smelt in the mid to upper water column after dark. Target suspended smelt schools with small glow jigs tipped with single spike or wax worm.
Canandaigua Lake: Anglers were out on the south end but fishing was reportedly slow at last check.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch has been closed for the season and we’re not hearing anything on any safe ice.
Owasco Lake: The recent warmup really crippled ice formation. Some anglers were getting out on the south end but that may have changed by now.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: It has been a tough year for anglers who like to get out on the ice on these rivers. Warmups have boosted flows and wiped out whatever safe ice may have been forming.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Anglers were getting out on the reservoir ahead of the big warmup and just before the scheduled crappie derby. Some legal walleye have been taken, but like Oneida, a lot of short fish were also being caught.
Tupper Lake: Anglers are out, as usual, with slushy ice conditions, as usual. Safe, but slushy due to snowfall.
Schroon Lake: Not hearing a lot lately, but anglers will once again pour onto the ice early next month for the annual Schroon Lake Ice Fishing Derby.
This winds and seas were more favorable for boats to head offshore for the usual winter fair of codfish, ling, pollock, conger eels and the occasional haddock, but in general anglers found few fish. Bernie’s Bait and Tackle echoed the same, with few fish ground fish reported from New York Bight and that most customers were heading to Montauk Point for cod. There were no reports of mackerel, but Bernie’s did report that there were some herring caught from the 69th Street Pier and off the Coney Island Beach.
The better cod fishing was off Montauk Point and south of Shinnecock and Moriches inlets. Most of the cod were just keeper sized, along with the occasional pollock and conger eel. Many boats reported catching only a handful of fish per outing. The fishing should improve when the bottom water temperatures warm a few degrees. Fresh skimmer clams caught most of the fish, along with a few fish caught on diamond jigs and teasers.
Mike at Saltwaters Bait and Tackle reported that the cod fishing from the central South Shore, that is the area fished from Fire Island and Jones inlets, was slow. He noted that a few herring were caught from Magnolia Pier in Long Beach, but the action was hit and miss and was slower this report period compared to others.
Mike did report that freshwater anglers caught a few trout and some perch in both the brackish water areas as well as in the lakes there the warmer weather created a significant amount of open water. The trout and panfish responded trout worms, grubs, small spinners, as well as small streamers. Anglers targeting white perch did better using grass shrimp than worms or artificials.
Lake George: Use caution if you go; some spots on the lake are seeing better ice conditions than others. Some good perch were taken at Vets Park, as well as the occasional laker.
Saratoga Lake: Safe ice, but keep an eye on changing conditions. We’ve heard anglers complaining about lots of “dink” perch.
Southeastern New York
The recent warmup really hit the region’s reservoirs – which had been offering safe ice – hard. There’s no guarantee things will tighten back up this season.
Pretty quiet now, with most of the focus on the reservoir capacities heading into the open water season and April 1 trout kickoff.
St. Lawrence River: Lake of the Isles has been seeing good action for pike, bluegill and perch, with crappie available as well if you can locate them.
Black Lake: Anglers continue to take to the ice, but traveling conditions out there have been tough of late following fresh snow. That may have changed by now.
Chaumont Bay: Heavy snows hampered mobility on the ice, but some hefty walleye continued to be iced by anglers getting out there.