Lake Ontario and tributaries: Water conditions were low and slightly stained on Eighteen Mile Creek at Burt Dam at last check and the temperature was dropping toward more winter-like readings. Small jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float is one approach; egg sacs or egg imitations like trout beads is another. Steve Hawkins of Captain Bob’s reports that another approach is to use the bead with an egg sac. Speaking of Capt. Bob’s, it will be running its ice fishing contest again from Jan. 2 through March 22 – when we get some ice. Pier casters should still be able to catch some fish in Wilson and Olcott on spoons and spinners if weather permits. Perch are also available but look for them in a bit warmer water. Lake Ontario was still hovering around 39 degrees but dropping.
Lake Erie and tributaries: Stream action for trout was good, but winter weather is back. Trout should be available in all of the Lake Erie streams. Best baits should be egg sacs, egg imitations, worms, jigs tipped with a waxworm and streamers. Spoons, spinners and stick baits will all work, too, especially at creek mouths and off piers and platforms. DEC is still looking for diary cooperators for the streams. If you’re interested give Jim Markham a call at (716) 366-0228.
Upper Niagara River: Trout and perch top the list of preferred targets, from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. Outdoor trade shows will be starting up soon, too. Jan. 23-25 are the dates for the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo and things are really starting to come together nicely. Check out www.niagarafishingexpo.com for details, including a list of speakers and exhibitors.
Lower Niagara River: Lower river trout action has been good but always keep an eye on changing conditions, notably wind, ice and water clarity. Winds rile up Lake Erie, forcing any muddy water that’s churned up into the Niagara River and over the falls. Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls did well late last month using minnows one day, Kwikfish lures the other. Steelhead and lake trout were the two primary species grabbing baits. Devil’s Hole, Artpark and the Niagara Bar have been the best three spots, but a few fish are starting to show up in the down river drifts. MagLips or egg sacs (white, yellow and pink) are still working to varying degrees, depending on the day according to Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown. Remember that lake trout season reopened for the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario on Jan. 1. Lake trout season is also open on the Canadian side of the river. A new fishing license year starts Jan. 1 in Ontario. The new statewide Winter Classic Tournament will run from Jan. 1 through Feb. 22, and local weigh stations are The Slippery Sinker in Olcott and All in the Same Boat in Newfane. This contest will be for fish caught through the ice, in open water, in the tributaries, and rivers. Categories are trout (including browns, lake trout and steelhead), pike, walleye, pickerel, crappie, yellow perch and panfish (sunfish and bluegill). Check out www.nysiceproam.com for more details or stop in to the two tackle shops. The fish cleaning station in Lewiston is back to being functional.
Chautauqua Lake: If you want to try some open water fishing, try between the bridge and the ferry in 10 feet of water for perch and panfish. But all bets are off if those spots skim over with ice.
Orleans County: With daytime highs hovering around the freezing mark and nighttime lows dipping into the teens and no significant precipitation in the near future, icing conditions should start to occur on the smaller tributaries within Orleans County. Even with the colder temperatures and lower water flows, action has been in the moderate range on The Oak, with decent numbers of both brown and steelhead/rainbow trout being taken. On Johnson, Marsh and Sandy creeks fishing was pretty much limited to the deeper pools until better water flows arrive. On the lower stretches of Oak Orchard catches of perch and northern pike have slowed somewhat, but that may change as temperatures settle into more seasonal conditions. Lake Alice fishermen were still catching some bass (catch and release) and some perch before skim ice ended that action. With the more seasonable weather ice should start forming, which should be good news for the hard water anglers.