Ice fishing winds down; April 1 trout kickoff up next
(Ice anglers: A reminder that all shanties must be removed from the ice by March 15.)
Western New York
Lake Ontario and tributaries: The steelhead action has been slow for most anglers on the Lake Ontario tributaries. Snowmelt and rain had stream levels on the rise. The dammed streams were in the best shape at last check. Oak Orchard Creek had medium flow with a slight stain and 2-3 feet of visibility. Eighteenmile Creek had medium flow with murky conditions and a foot or less of visibility. Streams such as Twelvemile, Johnson and Sandy creeks were showing medium to higher flows and muddy conditions. Additional rain or snow could keep the creeks at higher levels. Look for steelhead to hit egg sacs, egg pattern flies, minnows and hair jigs tipped with waxworms/spikes (fished under a float). The key is to drift the bait slowly and keep it at the bottom.
Anglers were catching brown trout in Olcott Harbor. Larger shiners fished under a bobber or casting smaller spoons worked well.
Since most harbors remained ice-free, boats could get out on the open lake. A few boats were seen trolling in front of Olcott Harbor, and were likely targeting brown trout. To the east near Sodus, trollers saw excellent brown trout action inside 30 feet of water.
Lake Erie and tributaries: All of the tributaries had higher flows, with murky to muddy conditions. Some smaller streams may be fishable. Steelhead catches have been fair for darker steelhead in the upper stretches of the creeks. Small groups and individual steelhead are spread out, so moving around is a good idea. Egg sacs, egg pattern flies, trout beads or small hair jigs tipped with a wax worm/spike (fished under a float) are good baits. Cattaraugus Creek was running high at last check.
Anglers reported good brown trout catches in Dunkirk Harbor, with the occasional steelhead mixed in. A local angler reported he has been catching 3-8 trout per outing and that the best bite has been on large emerald shiners fished 4-6 feet under a float. Spoons, spinners and egg sacs are also offerings for harbor trout. Anglers can target trout from the city pier, DEC fishing platform or by boat. Keep in mind that the launch docks are pulled, so you must be able to launch your boat without a dock. Anglers can also try Barcelona Harbor for trout.
Upper Niagara River: If water conditions have improved, anglers can target yellow perch from Buffalo riverfront sites. Emerald shiners are best bait for perch. Anglers can also target trout off Squaw Island and Bird Island Pier with egg sacs, minnows or spoons.
Lower Niagara River: River anglers reported decent steelhead, brown trout and lake trout catches late last month. When conditions permit, boaters can target steelhead, brown trout and lake trout in the Devils Hole, Artpark and Upper Stella drifts. Drifting with minnows, egg sacs or Kwikfish lures fished off of a 3-way bottom-bouncing rig is the way to go. Shore anglers can target trout from Whirlpool, Devils Hole and Artpark state parks. Egg sacs, egg pattern flies, minnows, spoons, spinners and jigs with grubs fished under a float work well from shore. Exercise extreme caution when shore fishing in the lower river as slippery rocks, strong currents and water level changes make these areas hazardous. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page. The NYPA fishing platform has been closed for the winter.
The brown and lake trout action has been very good on the Niagara Bar at times. Drifting with minnows on a 3-way bottom-bouncing rig has worked well.
Chautauqua Lake: Not hearing much at this stage of what has been a frustrating ice fishing season.
Silver Lake: Ice at the very south end was holding up late last month, but that could have changed by now. Shore ice may have deteriorated. Anglers should not venture too far north since there is open water. Bluegill have become more finicky, so anglers have had to downsize their presentation. Micro jigs with a single wax worm or spike have worked well in 6-10 feet of water. Some keeper crappie have been caught as well. Tip-ups with larger minnows are a good bet for northern pike.
Orleans County: Even though most of the tributaries within Orleans County were running high and stained, very good catches were being reported on all of them. Brown trout and rainbow/steelhead were still being taken in good numbers on all tributaries, and some walleye and northern pike were being caught in the upper reaches of Oak Orchard Creek. A wide variety of flies, wax worms and mousies seemed to be the favorite baits. Several small boats have been seen working the area around the mouth of Oak Orchard and were catching brown trout in fairly decent numbers. The number of perch being caught at the bridges on The Oak was increasing for those willing to put in the time.
Central New York
Lake Ontario: Steelhead fishing continued, to be good in the tributaries, with Maxwell Creek producing some nice fish. Small egg sacs, single eggs, nymphs and small, white jigs fished under floats were all still working.
Oneida Lake: Use caution and your own good judgment if heading out. Yellow perch and walleye fishing has been good when and if ice conditions permit.
Oswego River: Anglers getting out in drift boats were getting into good numbers of steelhead. With the lower water levels at last look, areas along the West River Walk were fishable. Steelhead and brown trout were still hitting egg sacs, trout beads, jigs and stick baits.
Salmon River: There were steelhead being caught throughout the river when conditions permitted. Most of the pressure was taking place in the upper river from Pineville to the Lower Fly zone. Baits that were working continued to be trout beads (10mm), egg sacs (blue or white mesh), pink PowerBait trout worms, and stonefly nymphs.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Anglers trolling around Taughannock Point were getting lake trout and some Atlantic salmon. Fishing 20 feet down has been a good starting point for the salmon. Trolling on the south end of the lake was producing some brown trout, Atlantic salmon and northern pike. Stick baits and spoons were working well. Anglers getting out in boats on the north end were getting some yellow perch.
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 in Watkins Glen continued to be good for smallmouth bass, yellow perch and some 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.
Keuka Lake: Not hearing anything.
Waneta and Lamoka lakes: Nothing new.
Owasco Lake: No safe ice or open water activity to report.
Otsego Lake: Nothing to report.
Otisco Lake: There was ice on the north end of the lake and anglers have been doing very well on the bluegills and a few crappies. Keep an eye on changing conditions at this time of year, however.
Canandaigua Lake: Nothing to report.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch is closed for the season. There was no safe ice to report at last check, but some anglers getting out in boats on the south and north ends were catching yellow perch.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: Some walleye were being taken by the few anglers taking advantage of the fishing.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Some keeper walleye were being caught, along with some crappies. Ice conditions change quickly at this time of year, however, so use caution. Anglers fishing at the spillway are still getting some walleye.
Chazy Lake: Not hearing much on lake trout, but some smelt have been caught.
Indian Lake: Anglers have been connecting on a mix of lakers, perch and smelt, depending on what you’re targetting.
Paradox Lake: Perch action has been decent.
Fourth Lake: Some lake trout have been caught of late.
Schroon Lake: Laker action has been hot and cold.
Lake Champlain: Still safe ice at last look, although snow make travel tougher. Perch were offering up fairly consistent action.
The weather has been mild this report period, but with the seasons for most saltwater fish being closed most anglers are staying indoors. The exceptions are those targeting codfish, mackerel and white perch.
Captain Scott Jeffery of East End Bait and Tackle reported that the recent cod reports off the South Shore have been anything but good, a far cry from the last two years, due to the warm water temps. The anglers who have been heading to the party boats have been catching the occasional cod. Many of the local oldtimers are expecting an early season this spring, which most of us would expect given the mild winter. There is plenty of bait around that seems to have never really left, with bass reported west of Shinnecock Inlet, all of which are very encouraging.
The happy exceptions to the codfishing have been off Montauk Point and in the New York Bight. Anglers have had to work hard finding codfish, but when they did the fishing was often excellent, with cod to 30 pounds being reported. There are also good numbers of ling mixed in with the cod. In fact, there has been enough ling that a few of the New York Bight and Montauk open boats have run dedicated trips targeting them.
The Starstream VII and the Captain Lou, both running out of Freeport, reported that the mackerel fishing has been excellent.
A few anglers have been scouting the western Long Island Sound for pre-season stripers in anticipation of the season opening on April 15, have accounted for up to a half-dozen stripers to 24 inches long. Most of the stripers fell to surface swimmers. Note that this is strictly a catch-and-release fishery.
Bob Rose at Bob’s Bait and Tackle reported that there were a few white perch being caught on night crawlers at Santapogue Creek, next to Taco Bell in West Babylon. The herring fishing has been slow, with the best fishing on the piers around Sheepshead Bay.
The freshwater fishing has been quiet with the exception of a few small trout reported at Argyle Lake. There have been no reports of sea-run trout any of the traditional spots.
Not a lot happening as we head into March and the waning days of what’s been the ice fishing season that wasn’t.
Southeastern New York
John Miller at Bob’s Sport and Tackle reports light fishing pressure on most of the area’s waters, but those getting out in the open water – ice fishing has been a bust this winter – were connecting on trout (Titicus and Kensico reservoirs) and some crappie (Muscoot Reservoir).
Trout had been feeding on midges during the afternoon hours during warm weather periods, but we can’t get a read on the fishing due to a lack of anglers on the water. And virtually no ice fishing has been taking place in the region.
St. Lawrence River: Pike, perch and bluegill continued to provide decent action, and sometimes very good fishing, at traditional spots like Eel Bay, Lake of the Isles and Goose Bay. Ice conditions were safe at last look but could be sloppy on top.
Black Lake: Still decent ice conditions at last check, and anglers were reporting plenty of panfish, although you might have to do some sorting and searching to find the keepers.