New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – Jan. 26, 2018
(Editor’s note: Remember, ice thickness can vary greatly and conditions can change rapidly, even on the same water, so use extreme caution and your own good judgment if deciding to venture out. Some safety measures to follow are: use a spud or auger to check ice thickness as you venture out; fish with a friend; bring a rope and ice safety picks (two handles with spike points).
Western New York
Lower Niagara River: The lower Niagara River was back in business for boaters and shoreline casters during the January thaw, but conditions keep changing. The gorge area had been producing lake trout, steelhead and walleye for casters using jigs in green and white. Lake trout to 13 pounds and steelhead to 12 have been reported. Wear ice creepers when walking the shoreline. Kwikfish and MagLip lures fished off three-way rigs have been the most effective. Beads and egg sacs will catch fish, too. Be careful of any chunk ice floating down. Fish can be found from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar. Before conditions went south, Shawn West of Lockport caught his personal best brown trout, an 18-pound bruiser that hit a bead. Jigs will also work, tipped with wax worms and fished under a float.
The Niagara River Anglers Association will hold its annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest on Saturday, Feb. 3 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. out of Lewiston Landing (at the launch ramp). Eligible waters are all waters of Lake Ontario and the tributaries, as well as the Lower Niagara River; awards and dinner to follow at the Lewiston #1 Fire Hall on 6th Street, Lewiston. Sign-ups will be taken at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston, The Slippery Sinker in Olcott or at the dock on that Saturday morning. For more information call Paul at 716-998-8910.
Lake Erie tributaries & harbors: All Lake Erie tributaries were high and muddy with ice jams in lower sections of some streams. Look for steelhead action to return as creek levels drop back to fishable levels. Ice jams may limit influx of fresh fish, but there were good numbers around before creeks froze over.
Anglers were catching some steelhead through the ice at Barcelona Harbor before the warm up. Casting spoons and spinners is now an option.
Upper Niagara River: Pack ice that had lined the upper river shorelines and clogged boat launches has melted away. River waters are currently murky and gray.
Lake Ontario tributaries: The warm up and blowout left sections below the dams on Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard creeks wide open, but the current flow was high and muddy. Smaller creeks had opened up as well, but ice jams on lower ends of some. Before conditions went south, Shawn West of Lockport caught his personal best brown trout, an 18-pound bruiser that hit a bead. Jigs will also work, tipped with wax worms and fished under a float.
There was good ice in Wilson and Olcott but that may have changed. The biggest fish reported was a 44-inch northern pike hauled in by Jarame McClelland of Newfane, his biggest pike ever out of Wilson. It hit a pike chub off his tip-up. Keep your fingers crossed we don’t lose too much ice. And Olcott was producing some nice trout through the ice on Voodoo jigs for Roy Letcher.
Ice fishing: It’s likely all waters have lost ice thickness and now have dangerous conditions in sections or over the entire lake. Exercise extreme caution before heading back out onto the ice. Beware of bad shore ice, holes enlarged by draining of surface water, and stay far away from all stream inlets. A minimum of four inches of solid black or clear ice (not white) is the general rule for safety. Five inches of solid ice is better for groups fishing together. Drilling holes or tapping with a spud bar to check ice thickness is recommended on your way out. Safety ice picks, boot cleats, throw rope and a floatation devise are recommended safety supplies. Use good judgment and fish with a friend when possible.
Chautauqua Lake: Anglers were out in some areas, including Long Point, with reports of plenty of short walleyes and even more white perch.
Central New York
It’s been a roller coaster weather ride of late, with a cold snap followed by a warm up that included plenty of rain and snowmelt, followed by colder weather and snow. Conditions are changing quickly and it’s making it difficult to crank out an accurate fishing report. Bottom line is check conditions before you head out. The popular website iceshanty.com is a great source of up-to-date information.
Shore ice will likely have deteriorated on many waters, and some lakes/reservoirs have or will rise because of the runoff. Old holes and pressure cracks will also have gotten larger. Areas with flowing water should be avoided, which include streams, culverts, etc. Lower temperatures should help to lock things back up. But snow will make it tough to determine ice conditions, so use caution.
Oswego River: Rain and snow melt rose river levels greatly so there is no new fishing information to report.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Nothing new to report with conditions changing rapidly and not much fishing happening.
Oneida Lake: Prior to the snowmelt and rain, anglers were getting out around the lake, with ice thickness reports ranging from 8 to 12 inches. Watch out for areas of running water and for enlarged pressure cracks if deciding to venture out. Check before you head out; Bartel Road Bait & Tackle’s Facebook page is a good source of up-to-date information.
Sandy Pond: Prior to the melt and rain, anglers were getting out, with ice thickness reports ranging from 12 to 14 inches.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Prior to the warm up and rain anglers were on both bays, and perch fishing was red hot on Sodus.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Warmwater (bass, pike, etc.) angler diary cooperators are needed for Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Hemlock and Canadice lakes. If interested contact DEC Region 8 fisheries at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 518-226-5343.)
Seneca, Keuka and Canandaigua lakes: No new information to report.
Otisco Lake: Prior to the warm up and rain, anglers were getting out on the north end, with ice thickness reports ranging from 8 to 9 inches.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch has been closed for the season. No safe ice to report.
Conesus Lake: Shore ice conditions were sketchy, but anglers were out and using caution. A few bluegills were being pulled.
Honeoye Lake: Bad shore ice conditions had things on hold.
Canadice Lake: Safe ice, but murky water as a result of the warm up and rain.
Whitney Point Reservoir: The warm up and rain changed things dramatically. Anglers were out on the ice and the annual Crappie Derby remains scheduled for Feb. 17 at this point. Go to crappiederby.com for updates on the status of the event, which has been canceled in recent years due to a lack of ice. Colder weather returned following the warm spell, and that should help greatly. This year’s derby is scheduled to be held during New York state’s Free Fishing Weekend, when no license is required.
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: The rain and warm weather blew out the ice and sent water levels roaring, so nothing to report until things settle down.
Schroon Lake: Anglers were drilling holes but we haven’t heard much beyond that.
Lake Champlain: Surprisingly, we’re not hearing much. But at last check anglers were fishing Bulwagga Bay and other spots, with reports of plenty of perch, many on the small side. Not hearing much on smelt again this year.
Tupper Lake: Ice conditions were very sloppy on the heels of the warm up and snow.
Anglers continued struggling during most of this report period with high winds, snow and extreme cold, which kept many boats tied to the dock and shore anglers indoors. All offshore reports this period were from open and charter boats. Several boats reported canceling their long-range trips due to the inclement weather.
The Montauk boats reported that there was more bait moving into the area off the Point, but to put together a decent catch, the boats had to move from spot to spot picking up a few cod each time. Most of the cod were under 10 pounds, and there were quite a few shorts reported. There were cunners around the 3-pound mark and ling mixed in with the cod, but not in great numbers. The bait of choice was fresh clams.
The open and charter boats fishing in 120 to 180 feet of water between Shinnecock and Jones inlets reported cod, ling and red hake, along with a few mackerel on the open bottom and wrecks. Anglers fishing New York Bight reported catching ling, herring, and large amounts of mackerel. A few dogfish were reported in all locations, with the largest number in the deeper water as the shallower water is very cold.
As of late there were no reports of herring from the piers or jetties as there was a skim of ice covering most accessible areas.
Most of the lakes and ponds were frozen over, restricting anglers to fishing the inflow and outflow areas where the water was open. A few brown and rainbow trout were reported on worms or Gulp! trout baits, but the fishing was very slow.
Lake George: Anglers were out on Harris Bay and at Million Dollar Beach, but keep an eye on changing conditions and be aware of bubblers around docks.
Brant Lake: All we have right now is that anglers are fishing it and are out on snow machines. Not hearing anything about catching.
Ballston Lake: Safe ice, a few perch and the occasional largemouth.
Saratoga Lake: Safe ice and a pretty good bluegill bite at last check.
Southeastern New York
Ice conditions on the east-of-Hudson reservoirs were sketchy, although a few anglers were out on Cross River Reservoir. Keep an eye on changing conditions; warmer weather would be a major setback and it was in the forecast at press time.
Things have been quiet in the region, with little in the way of safe ice following the warm up and fly anglers staying home until things warm up, maybe until the April 1 trout opener.
St. Lawrence River: Deep snow as well as some slushy conditions have made it a tough go for anglers. But they have been out there, notably on Chippewa and Eel bays and Lake of the Isles. Some perch and walleye have been reported.
Black Lake: Rollaway Bay was yielding bluegill and crappie. Perch fishing out in front of Chapman’s may be worth a look as well. Use caution; ice conditions were decent but there’s usually snow and sometimes slush to contend with.
Chaumont Bay: Use caution if you head out, but generally anglers have been running around the bay on ATVs and snow machines and the jumbo perch bite has been solid since first ice and remains that way.