Western New York
Lake Ontario and tributaries: It was still a bit of a hit or miss in the creeks, but fish were being caught despite brown water in Eighteen Mile. At Burt Dam, anglers were seeing active trout and steelhead at last check. Perch have been driving the trout guys nuts. Wilson was seeing some action as well. Keg Creek was clear but there was a large beaver dam between the mouth and the road. The state will be holding a free ice fishing weekend Feb. 18-19 if we get some hard water. No one will need a license that weekend. Go to the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov for more info.
Lake Erie and tributaries: Periodic precipitation over past couple of weeks has sustained flows in the Erie tribs, with levels in constant fluctuation between ideal and high. Cattaraugus Creek has remained high and muddy throughout. Creeks were in decent shape, with moderate, murky flows at last report. Anglers have reported decent fishing for a mix of dark and fresh steelhead. Egg sacs, egg flies, trout beads and small jigs tipped with a wax worm (fished under a float) are good offerings. Some bait was showing in the lower sections of the tributaries, so minnows are also a good bait option.
Upper Niagara River: Windy weather has muddied Niagara River waters at last look. Anglers were previously catching yellow perch at Beaver Island Marina on emerald shiners. Other open marinas are also worth a shot for perch. Shore fishermen will probably be the first to see some cleaner water toward shore and your best bet will be to cast spoons and spinners in bright colors. Cast something that makes some noise and draws attention to it. One of the issues before the water muddied up was a lot of bait present in the system. Small and medium-sized smelt were reported from area captains who had an issue on the catching end.
Lower Niagara River: Muddy river waters had the fishing on hold. Look for clarity to start improving when winds die down. Prior to the muddy conditions, boaters were catching mostly steelhead and lake trout, with the occasional brown trout, walleye or smallmouth bass mixed in. Fishing had gotten a bit tougher due to a large influx of baitfish. Considering the amount of bait around, drifting with a three-way rig and minnow is a good bet. Charter operators will often cure minnows with a fluorescent-colored dye product such as Pautzke to make them stand out. Egg sacs and flatfish-style lures are also good offerings. Shore anglers can target trout along Artpark, Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool state parks. Egg sacs, egg pattern flies, shiners and jigs with plastics fished under a float, or casting medium-sized spoons and Vibrax spinners are good trout offerings. The New York Power Authority fishing platform is closed for the winter season.
Regulation notes: Lake trout season is open on the lower river as of Jan 1. Also starting on Jan. 1st, the daily walleye daily decreased to one fish with minimum length of 18 inches.
Chautauqua Lake: No safe ice to report at last check, and there was a large section of open water near the bridge. The canals were ice-free, offering some fishing opportunity.
Orleans County: Shore ice was forming along the banks of all of the tributaries within Orleans County, so caution should be taken when entering any of the streams. There were some fresh steelhead being taken, along with the resident fish. The smaller tributaries should begin to ice over but then may reopen with the forecasted warm up. For the ice fishermen, it’s just one disappointment after another this year. On the lower portions of Oak Orchard Creek conditions were not good for small boats, but that can change. On Lake Alice, open water was starting to ice over again but conditions remained very sketchy.
Central New York
Lake Ontario: There were brown trout and steelhead being taken in some of the tributaries, most streams have a decent flow of water at this time after the rain and snow melt. Egg sacs or egg-imitating plastics are usually good bait choices.
Oneida Lake: Anglers were patiently awaiting safe ice at last check. The impatient ones were heading to the Adirondacks. Check the Bartel Road Bait and Tackle Facebook site for updated conditions.
Oswego River: High flows and snow made shore fishing difficult. Anglers fishing behind the hotels or from drift boats were hooking into some brown trout and steelhead.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Steelhead fishing had been slow but some fish are being caught on egg sacs with blue mesh, either bottom-bounced or fished under a float. Beads, nymphs and pink trout worms are also working at times.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Ice conditions may be improving, but we’re not hearing a lot.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Shore anglers are still getting some Atlantic salmon, as are anglers getting out in boats and trolling.
Seneca Lake: Nothing to report.
Canandaigua Lake: No report.
Otisco Lake: Not hearing anything given the sketchy ice conditions.
Skaneateles Lake: The launch is closed for the season. Some rainbow trout were being taken by shore anglers fishing the marshmallow and worm rig.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: Recent rain and snow melt events have the rivers running high and turbid. No new fishing information to report for these waters.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Not hearing a lot beyond ice conditions, which were around 8 inches at the end of the month. At last report the popular crappie derby was still scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18. Go online to www.crappiederby.com for updates.
Schroon Lake: Safe ice and decent fishing for lakers, a few salmon and perch.
Lake Champlain: North Country waters are your best option right now for safe ice, but even there use caution if you head out. Not hearing much on the fishing front; most of the attention remains focused on ice conditions. That said, the big lake’s numerous bays typically yield perch.
Indian Lake: Was yielding some perch; not hearing anything on the lakers.
Piseco Lake: Plenty of ice, plenty of lakers, many of which are small.
The weather this report period cooperated for anglers heading offshore for codfish, pollock and ling. The codfish fishing has improved for anglers drifting calms and open bottom in 120 and more feet of water, on the offshore reefs and around the fringes of the deep-water wrecks. White, pink and red plastic Twister Tail teasers placed 18 inches above the hook often out-fished the clams.
When schools of sand eels were recorded, anglers who switched to diamond jigs reported the best action. Anglers anchored over the wrecks reported a good amount of ling as well as pollock. When the pollock showed up, anglers reported better action on diamond and Viking jigs. Most of the pollock and codfish were reported to be around keeper sized, with pool fish between 12 and 15 pounds and the occasional 20-pound cod.
The most consistent bottom fishing was reported by the anglers fishing off Montauk Point in Block Island Sound, with the best days resulting in limits for all anglers aboard. Some days the action was slow, with only a few codfish reported, but in general the fishing was good to excellent. The open boats fishing out of Captree and Freeport reported good action on the wrecks in 90-feet of water and deeper. The open boats fishing in New York Bight reported excellent ling fishing and good codfish fishing, as well as the occasional mackerel when schools were intercepted. Anglers fishing south of Jones Inlet reported days of excellent mackerel fishing with up to 100 mackerel being caught by anglers fishing Sabiki rigs and small tubes. The key was to use small lures on your rig.
The herring fishing showed improvement, with anglers casting herring rigs off the central North Shore beaches reporting good fishing, as well by anglers fishing the docks and jetties. The key was to move from beach to beach until the fish were found. On the South Shore, herring were caught off Canarsie, 69th Street and Magnolia piers.
The white perch fishing remained steady at the pool at Argyle Lake, in the Carlls River, in the Carmen’s River and in Santapogue Creek. Grass shrimp remained the top bait, with night crawlers a good second bait.
The creeks and ponds have remained largely ice-free, but there have been no freshwater reports of late.
Lake George: Still playing the waiting game for safe ice. Snow last week didn’t help.
Saratoga Lake: Use caution, but anglers have been out fishing. Check with Saratoga Tackle’s Facebook site for updates on conditions.
Cossayuna Lake: Has seen some fishing action, which may tell you that things are heating up. Safe ice at last check.
Moreau Lake: Ice was safe at last check and weather was looking better for ice making, as long as we don’t get much snow.
Southeastern New York
Things were looking better weather-wise for ice formation, but we’re not hearing a lot of late as anglers await better conditions – i.e., safe ice.
Not much happening on the region’s trout waters (a few remain open for fishing) and it might stay that way for a while, given the weather conditions.
St. Lawrence River: Most of the typical spots, such as Lake of the Isles and Chippewa Bay, were offering safe ice. And lots of small perch.
Black Lake: Not the greatest of ice conditions, but fishable on Milearm and Rollaway. Pike and panfish action was decent at last check.
Chaumont Bay: Ice conditions are dangerous for inexperienced anglers using the bay’s east side. Sketchy ice conditions have prompted organizers of the Lyme derby to push the event back to March 4-5, and the IPA event has been pushed back to Feb. 25.