Western New York
Lake Erie tributaries: Extreme cold had the streams pretty much iced over. The smaller creeks were completely locked up and open water was very limited on the mid to larger streams. The upper section of Cattaraugus Creek might be your best bet for finding open water.
Niagara River: Floating ice was accumulating along upper river shorelines, limiting shore fishing opportunities. Most harbors were iced over, but no safe ice reported.When conditions have permitted, the trout bite has been good from Devils Hole to the mouth of the lower river. Walleye were available, as well. Controlled drifting with a three-way rig and egg sac, flatfish style lure or live shiner is the standard boating technique. The NYPA platform is closed for the winter.
Lake trout season reopened Jan. 1, and the daily walleye limit dipped from three down to one, with a minimum size of 18 inches. Also in the lower river, the daily limit is three salmon and trout. No more than two can be lake trout. One fish must be between 25 and 30 inches in length, the second can be any size if you’re going to keep one for the frying pan.
And if you fish in Canadian waters at all, take note that the license year for the Province of Ontario is a regular calendar year. You need a new license when the new year begins – and it has.
Lake Ontario tributaries: Ice was a huge issue.
Ice fishing: The New York State Winter Classic Fishing Tournament began Jan. 1and runs through Feb. 28. Check out www.nyswinterclassic.com for details. At the same time, Capt. Bob’s Outdoors in Clarence has a derby going on Jan. 2 through March 15. You will need to stop down to the Main Street store to register.
Buffalo Harbor: Plenty of anglers fishing were inner harbor today on a good ice of 5-6 inches. There is no dock access but anglers can access the ice from boat launches.
Chautauqua Lake: Anglers have been working safe ice on the south end of the big lake, especially Burtis Bay. Traveling on the ice might be difficult due to snow. And there hasn’t been a lot of fishing activity due to the brutally cold weather, so we haven’t heard much on catches.
Silver Lake: Ice fishing has been limited to south end at last check.
New Albion, Case and Harwood lakes: These Cattaraugus County lakes had between 4-6 inches of ice, with varying amounts of snow on top at last report. Fishing was generally fair for a mix of panfish, but anglers also have chance to catch large trout. Each lake was generously stocked with surplus breeder trout in fall.
Central New York
Oneida Lake: Not hearing of a lot of fishing activity at press time, but there were anglers out in some spots and things should continue to improve. Bartel Road Bait & Tackle is a good source for updated info, as is www.iceshanty.com.
Oswego River: The region continued to be affected by the lake-effect snow, along with bone-chilling temperatures, so there is no new fishing information to report.
Salmon River: Heavy snows, cold weather and not much happening.
Sandy Pond: The area has received a lot of lake-effect snow, which made ice conditions difficult with deep snow and slush.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Ice anglers were out in several areas of the lake, catching a few perch and many more pickerel.
Finger Lakes tributary fishing ended at sunset on Dec. 31, with the exception of a section of Fall Creek.
Honeoye Lake: Ice anglers have been fishing the south end off the state boat launch. The bite has been fair for sunfish, yellow perch and largemouth bass.
Conesus Lake: Safe ice at the north end, and some decent bluegill were being pulled.
Lamoka/Waneta lakes: Anglers were taking advantage of early ice and scoring on decent numbers of bluegills.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Some smallish walleye and a few decent perch were being taken. But the big news is the early ice: is this the year the Crappie Derby returns?
Lake Champlain: Anglers were walking on Bulwagga Bay as well as areas south of the Crown Point Bridge and the Ticonderoga area. Some small perch were being caught, and a few lakes south of the bridge. Not hearing anything from up north but there should be some ice options in spots like Kings Bay and Point au Roche.
Schroon Lake: Ice conditions were improving, notably at the north end. Beyond that we haven’t heard much.
Lake Eaton: Snow-covered ice, with some smelt being caught and the occasional rainbow.
Indian Lake: Safe, albeit sloppy and snow-covered ice.
Piseco Lake: Safe ice and plenty of lake trout, many of them small (some real small).
Anglers struggled during most of this report period with high winds and extreme cold, which kept many boats tied to the dock and shore anglers indoors. Those who did make it offshore reported catching a mixed bag of cod, pollock, ling, sea bass, whiting, porgies and a few mackerel. In general, there were more cod, pollock and porgies on the East End, with more ling and mackerel caught toward New York Bight. Pool-winning cod were typically around the 12-pound mark, with sea bass up to 5 pounds reported caught on most boats. Fresh skimmer clams and diamond jigs/teaser combos were the top producers.
With the closing of the sea bass and porgy seasons on Dec. 31, most open and charter boats concentrated on putting their anglers onto the last shot of jumbo porgies and sea bass, targeting the offshore wrecks in 90 to 150 feet of water off central Long Island and in Block Island Sound. Some of the boats have switched their 2018 schedules to target cod, pollock, ling and whiting. A few will be targeting winter mackerel in New York Bight.
Anglers fishing the 69th Street Pier and the Coney Island Pier reported catching hake and herring. Herring were also caught along the South Shore surf and jetties on small tins and herring rigs.
There were no freshwater reports as of late.
There are no changes to the fishing seasons for 2018, but anglers fishing for sharks will be required to use circle hooks.
Lake George: Ice has arrived early, and the forecast remained promising. Anglers were fishing Harris and Huddle bays, with more options likely forthcoming.
Great Sacandaga Lake: Generally safe ice, but use caution. Some walleye action was decent toward dark.
Saratoga Lake: Some safe ice, notably at the south end. Plenty of perch and the occasional walleye were reported.
Southeastern New York
We haven’t heard a lot from the region, but we do know there has been some safe ice reported at East Branch (Sodom) Reservoir as well as White Pond, with plenty of anglers taking advantage of the hard water.
The weather has pretty much stalled fishing on the region’s trout streams that are still open for fishing. Most fly-fishers are awaiting the big Fly Fishing Show, no longer held in Somerset, N.J., but instead moved to the Garden State Convention Center in Edison, N.J., Jan. 26-28.
St. Lawrence River: Anglers were on traditional spots like Eel Bay and Lake of the Isles, but dealing with snow-covered ice. A few perch may or may not have been worth the slog.
Black Lake: Richard at Chapman’s Sports in Hammond reports Rollaway Bay was the hottest hard-water spot, where anglers were connecting on bluegill and crappie. If you’re looking for perch, out in front of Chapman’s is a good place to start. Use caution; ice conditions are decent but snow is covering the ice.
Chaumont Bay: Chaumont Hardware reports some nice northerns were taken on the bay, and some perch were active as well amid the snow and cold weather. Use caution as ice thickness varies and some iffy locations existed, even though anglers were out on snow machines.