NY: First ice action of the year up north; others waiting Issue: 1
Western New York
Lake Ontario and tributaries: Some good reports were coming in from fishermen working the waters of Eighteen Mile Creek below Burt Dam and the Oak Orchard River to the east. Both of those waters have a mix of brown trout and steelhead, with best baits being beads and jigs tipped with wax worms, according to local guide Dan Evans of Wilson. To the west, places like Twelve Mile Creek and Four Mile Creek will be holding fish and they should be fishable as waters begin to recede. If you are looking for perch, try at Two Bridges in Orleans County or Irondequoit Bay in Monroe County.
Lake Erie and tributaries: Egg sacs or egg imitations are the bait of choice, along with Woolly Buggers, egg-sucking leeches and streamers. With the water temperatures starting to drop, look for midday action to increase as fish become more active with the warmer outside temperatures after the sun has had a chance to work its magic. Dunkirk harbor action has slowed a bit but some trout are still available around the warmwater discharge.
Upper Niagara River: Not too much to report because of the murky water conditions. Some shoreline casters have been scoring on rainbows with egg sacs or spoons around the upper rapids, Squaw Island and Bird Island Pier.
Lower Niagara River: Action is good, although slightly stained at last check from winds and runoff. Steelhead, brown trout and lake trout were all being reported in the river and on the Bar area off the mouth. Kwikfish, egg sacs and minnows were the best baits for boaters; eggs, spoons and spinners for shore casters. Best shore fishing spots have been Artpark, Devil's Hole and the Whirlpool. Lake trout season opened in New York waters on Jan. 1.
Chautauqua Lake: If you want some big black crappie, head to the white wall in the Southern Basin of the lake. Target eight feet of water with a bobber and minnow rig. Some are using small tubes tipped with a minnow, also under a float. Perch were hitting on the Stow side of the narrows near the bridge. Smallmouth bass were hitting at the end of Lakewood Bar in 10-12 feet of water. The bigger fish were hitting brown and blue jig and pig baits, according to local guide Craig Robbins. For numbers of fish, use a white or silver three-inch tube.
Orleans County: Be aware of ice forming; at last check it wasn't deemed safe for fishing. With the stained water being prevalent, egg patterns in orange and chartreuse were safe bets to produce fish. Trout beads, night crawlers and wax worms were also being used with great success on all of the Orleans County tribs, especially the Oak and Johnson Creek, when weather and conditions permitted. Good numbers of steelhead/rainbow trout were being taken, with an above normal number of brown trout also being reported.
Central New York
Lake Ontario: Maxwell Creek and Bear Creek continued to produce brown trout and steelhead. Pink egg sacs and small (1⁄32-ounce) jigs fished under floats have been working well.
Oneida Lake: Due to the wind and cold temperatures few anglers were out, so no fishing information to report.
Oswego River: Brown trout and steelhead were still being taken from the bridge to the dam, especially for anglers getting out in drift boats. Estaz eggs, egg sacs, trout beads and Wooly Buggers were all working for the browns and steelhead. As always, keep an eye on water flows before heading out.
Salmon River: There were steelhead being caught throughout the river, with most of the angling pressure from Pineville to Altmar. With the higher water, fishing the pools or slack water areas has been more consistent. Good baits continued to be trout beads (10mm), egg sacs (blue, pink and chartreuse mesh), pink PowerBait trout worms, streamers, stonefly nymphs and egg-imitating flies.
Sandy Pond: No fishing information to report.
Sodus Bay: No safe ice to report. Perch fishing continued to be good for anglers getting out in boats. Fishing around the islands, or around docks with fathead minnows was working for some jumbo perch.
Irondequoit Bay: Yellow perch fishing has been good for anglers getting out in boats. The bigger perch were coming from 20 to 30 feet of water on minnows. A few steelhead were being taken in the river.
Genesee River: High water at last check made fishing a challenge.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Lake trout and Atlantic salmon were still being taken around Taughannock by anglers trolling with spoons, or flashers and flies. Just a reminder that Finger Lakes tributary fishing ended at sunset on Dec 31. There are a few exceptions, however, so please review Finger Lakes and tributary regulations.
Seneca Lake: Yellow perch fishing has been good in 20 to 30 feet of water around Painted Rock and also off the pier at Watkins Glen. Small minnows and grubs have been working. Brown trout and Atlantic salmon were being taken on the surface for anglers trolling, or casting, with streamers and stick baits. Weather is always the key factor in the ability to get out at this time of year.
Keuka Lake: No fishing information to report.
Waneta and Lamoka lakes: Nothing to report.
Owasco Lake: No fishing information to report.
Otisco Lake: No fishing information to report.
Canandaigua Lake: Nothing to report right now. Not enough happening to get a feel for the fishing.
Skaneateles Lake: Shore fishing with marshmallow and worm rigs has been working for rainbow trout. One dock has been removed; the launch will remain open as weather permits.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: No fishing information to report.
Whitney Point Reservoir: No fishing information to report.
Ice fishing season has officially kicked off on some North Country waters - even on King's Bay at the north end of Lake Champlain, where the perch pullers were out in full force as of last week. Lake Colby outside Saranac Lake, traditionally an early hard-water hot spot, was yielding some brown trout and perch, while those out on parts of Lake Pleasant were reporting good pickerel action. Other reports of safe ice were coming in from Blue Mountain Lake, Lake Durant and Lincoln Pond, and given the cold snap of late it's likely more safe ice can be found in the region. A great resource for up-to-date reports, not only for the Adirondacks but across New York, is the message board/forum www.iceshanty.com .
The sea bass season closed on Jan. 1, with impressive 5- to 6-pound fish being caught, along with a good mix of cod and ling. In general, the bottom fishing has been fantastic, with the best fishing occurring off Montauk Point and around Ambrose Channel.
Off the South Shore excellent sea bass fishing was found on the 20- to 30-fathom wrecks and hard spots. At times anglers needed to fight through the dogfish to get their bait to the bottom. Clams and diamond jigs were the top producers at all locations.
Most anglers fishing aboard the charter and party boats out of any of the ports limited out on sea bass, so the captains typically were splitting trips to target cod, ling and pollock. Most of the codfish were just legal size to the occasional 15-pounder, while the pollock ran to 20 pounds. Anglers aboard did very well on porgies off Montauk Point, and good elsewhere until the closing of the season on Dec. 25.
The water remains relatively warm, with the occasional bluefish and striped bass being caught. The striped bass season is closed.
Herring continued to be caught at the mouth of Montauk Harbor, off the inlet jetties, on the Captree Piers, the Oak Beach Pier, the 69th Street and Coney Island piers and on the Sheepshead Bay Walk Bridge. The best fishing continued to be on Sabiki rigs, with the best action occurring during moving water on both sides of high tide.
The duck season continued to remain generally slow due to the relatively warm weather. The brant and sea duck action continued to be good.
The deer season was excellent for bowhunters on the east end as well as the Rocky Point state land. The bow season closed on Dec. 31, as did the pheasant seasons, which was less productive than in past years. The squirrel and cottontail rabbit seasons remain open through Feb. 29.
Some early ice fishing action, or at least the availability of safe ice, was being reported last week on parts of Sacandaga Lake, as well as Lake Luzerne, where northern pike were cooperating. Other than that, at last check most anglers were playing the waiting game, with waters like Tomhannock Reservoir, Saratoga Lake and a few others not offering safe ice at last check. For updated conditions, which can change quickly this time of year, go online to www.iceshanty.com .
Southeastern New York
The region's anglers were generally playing a waiting game at last check, with some skim ice and even some thin ice on some waters, but not enough that we could recommend heading out at this point. Conditions can change quickly, however, so it's probably worth a check with your local bait and tackle shop, such as Bob's Sport and Tackle (914-232-4085) in Katonah for updated ice conditions.
Nothing to report right now, given the winter conditions. We haven't heard of any safe ice in the region as of last week, but that could change with a couple cold days.
St. Lawrence River: There were reports of anglers on the ice at Eel Bay last week. More and more ice options should soon become available, as well.
Black Lake: Ice anglers were playing the waiting game as the new year began, but the weather report looked favorable. It's probably worth checking with Chapman's Sports (315-324-5265) in Hammond for the most up-to-date ice conditions.