Topsy turvy weather stalls ice fishing in most of state
Western New York
Lake Ontario and tributaries: There was no hard-water action going
on locally at last check, and the Second Annual Wilson Ice Fishing
Derby was postponed until next year. As far as streams flowing into
Lake Ontario, Eighteen Mile Creek is still your best bet. There was
good water flow and the color has been stained, but fishermen have
been catching trout by using brightly-colored baits like orange,
chartreuse and pink with their egg sacs or jigs tipped with wax
worms. Smaller streams will have a tendency to clear first, so
creeks like Keg or Four Mile are good ones to take a look at if the
bigger ones appear high and muddy. Local guide Dan Evans reports
that Twelve Mile is holding fish, too; Keg was clear and Four Mile
has been good. You might be able to make a few casts off the piers,
too, if the conditions aren’t too icy. Conditions have remained
fair and piers were still an option if you like to cast hardware
like spoons and spinners.
Lake Erie and tributaries: Tributary levels have been coming down
and best bets look to be Chautauqua and Canadaway creeks. Egg sacs,
egg imitations or jigs tipped with wax worms or spikes and fished
under a float are your best approach for trout. Dunkirk Harbor is a
good bet for trout at the warmwater discharge.
Upper Niagara River: Water was murky at last look. When things
clear, look for trout off Squaw Island on spoons or egg sacs.
Lower Niagara River: This crazy winter weather this year is
creating some unsettling conditions in the Niagara River, not to
mention ice fishing action around western New York. For lower
Niagara River trout fishermen, it’s been a hit or miss type thing
with water clarity. Local guides have not been able to determine
what storms will do to the water conditions so sometimes it’s a
best guess type scenario. For example, Eric Graves of Buffalo hit
the lower river last month and did extremely well, finding active
steelhead in the Devil’s Hole area, as well as hungry lake trout
and brown trout at the mouth of the river on the Niagara Bar. Best
baits were minnows and egg sacs. Water was too turbid later in the
month for any fishing after wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour
hit. Keep your fingers crossed for decent fishing conditions. Shore
anglers just need to find some clear water near shore – a more
likely scenario – to get a trout to hit. The Niagara River Anglers
Association steelhead contest is Feb. 18.
Chautauqua Lake: No safe ice and no open-water fishing at last
check, according to Craig Robbins.
Orleans County: Most of the tributaries were running high and dirty
at last check. Look for Johnson, Sandy and Marsh creeks to become
fishable before The Oak due to volumes of water. Steelhead/rainbow
trout, brown trout and Atlantic salmon should still be in the
tributaries when conditions improve and the tributaries become
Central New York
Lake Ontario: Steelhead fishing continued to be good in the
tributaries. Small egg sacs, single eggs, nymphs and small white
1⁄32-ounce jigs fished under floats have all been working
Oneida Lake: There were reports of 2-5 inches of ice on Big Bay
late last month. With the rain and warm weather that seemed to
appear this winter, that might change very quickly. Use your own
good judgment and common sense if deciding to venture out. There
was no safe ice to report on the main lake as of last week.
Oswego River: Brown trout and steelhead were still being taken,
especially by anglers getting out in drift boats. Good spots for
shore anglers have been behind the hotels, Lock 7 and the Kiddie
Pool. Estaz eggs, egg sacs, trout beads, and woolly buggers were
all working for the browns and steelhead.
Salmon River: There were steelhead being caught in the upper river,
from Pineville to the Lower Fly Zone. 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
Sandy Pond: Anglers were fishing the pond last month at times, with
ice thickness varying from 3-5 inches. But conditions can change
quickly, so keep an eye on the weather and use extreme caution if
you’re heading out. Most of the focus has been on ice thickness; we
haven’t heard how the fishing has been.
Sodus Bay: Not hearing a thing, except the ice was coming and
Irondequoit Bay: Nothing to report, and the weather was keeping it
Genesee River: High water at last look made fishing extremely
difficult so there is no new activity to report.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Nothing to report.
Seneca Lake: Yellow perch fishing has been good in the Watkins Glen
area, in 25 to 30 feet of water, with spikes and fathead minnows.
Fishing from the pier continued to be good for smallmouth bass,
yellow perch and some very large bluegills. Trolling from the
surface down to about 45 feet, over 70 feet of water has been
producing a mixed bag of Atlantic salmon, brown trout, and lake
trout. Streamer flies and small spoons have been working
Keuka Lake: Nothing to report.
Waneta and Lamoka lakes: Not enough fishing activity to generate a
report, although there were some anglers on the ice late last
Owasco Lake: Ice was very iffy at last look.
Otsego Lake: No ice at last check. Open water or even shore fishing
may be an option.
Otisco Lake: Not fishable for the ice crowd at last check.
Canandaigua Lake: No safe ice, and the clock is ticking on the
Skaneateles Lake: Rainbows from shore on the standard marshmallow
and worm rig.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: Not hearing
enough to accurately offer up a report, probably because few
anglers are hitting the water. But, typically, this is a great time
of year to go after walleye. It’s probably an open-water game right
now, given the roller coaster ride the weather has offered this
Whitney Point Reservoir: There was 5-7 inches of ice being reported
on parts of the reservoir last month. That may have changed,
however, with the regular temperature warmups we’ve been seeing
this winter. Anglers were getting some yellow perch, an occasional
walleye and some good-sized rock bass.
As always, check the depth of ice before crossing and avoid inlets,
outlets and ice on or near running water. Ice that holds snow may
not hold the weight of a person.
As for the fishing, most waters had decent ice, although sloppy
conditions may exist during warming trends. Lake Champlain anglers
were scoring well on perch in Bulwagga Bay, while South Bay was
yielding perch of various sizes as well as some pickerel. On
Schroon Lake, lake trout were offering most of the action, but
there was a report of a big (20-pound) pike taken last month. Keep
an eye on changing ice conditions, and for up-to-date fishing
reports the website www.iceshanty.com is always a great resources.
Lincoln Pond has been yielding some decent perch.
Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported that the cod
bite off the South Shore is improving and seems to be the better
option over the Montauk Point boats at the moment, which has turned
spotty, but that could change overnight. The bait reports have been
good on the cod grounds, but the water temperatures need to drop a
bit more for the dogfish to move off to allow the cod a shot at
your baits. Jigs have been a good choice when the dogfish are
The offshore wrecks from Shinnecock Inlet to Jones Inlet produced
cod to 15 pounds, with the occasional 20-pound plus fish, as well
as large blackfish that were released. There are a fair number of
large ling mixed in with the codfish. Also, a few bluefish and even
a couple of striped bass have been coming over the rails on the
inshore cod grounds, conformation that the water temperatures are
above normal for this time of year.
The best herring fishing has been on the west end. The Coney Island
Pier was the hot spot, reported Frank at Bernie’s Bait and Tackle.
A few mackerel were reportedly coming over the rails during the
night tides. Herring were also reported at the Sheepshead Bay Walk
Bridge, the Canarsie Pier and the 69th Street Pier. Herring have
also been reported in Shinnecock Bay west of the Ponquogue
Top of the incoming tide remained the best choice for herring.
Quite a few herring have been caught on the western South Shore
beaches at night. The best action at all spots was on green or pink
Sabiki rigs. In general, the herring have been on the smaller size,
in the 5- to 7-inch range. Also, a few striped bass have been
caught and released off Breezy Point and at the Verrazano Bridge
when the herring were around. The herring action on the North Shore
The duck season remained generally slow due to the unseasonably
warm weather. The brant and sea duck action, however, continued to
Round Lake: Use caution; shore ice was very sketchy late last
month. Anglers were picking up a mixed bag of perch, bluegill and
Saratoga Lake: Ice was very iffy and we weren’t hearing a lot of
reports on the fishing itself.
Lake George: Anglers continued to be frustrated by the lack of safe
ice as of late last week. It’s now clearly a later freeze than
Southeastern New York
Ice conditions remained iffy to nonexistent at last check, so
there’s not a lot happening right now.
Not hearing a thing on the fishing front, but keep in mind the
extended small-game hunting seasons offer a great opportunity to
get out for grouse, pheasants, rabbits and squirrels.
St. Lawrence River: Pike and perch have been providing decent – and
occasionally very good – action all along the river, notably the
popular spots like Chippewa, Eel and Goose bays, as well as Lake of
Black Lake: The good news is the ice conditions were safe, albeit
sloppy in some areas. Anglers were hitting Rollaway Bay and
connecting on crappie, bluegills and northerns.