New York Outdoor News Fishing & Hunting Report – Feb. 8, 2019
(We’re well into the ice fishing season now, but be aware of constantly changing conditions across the state. Heavy snowfall can make for sketchy, or at least sloppy ice conditions, and one quick warmup between the time we go to press and the time NYON gets into your hands can also change things quickly. Always, and we mean always, use caution when you head out.)
Western New York
Lake Erie and tributaries: A deep freeze locked up the tribs at last check, but a warmup was on the horizon. Productive wintertime steelhead offerings include egg sacs, egg flies, trout beads and small jigs tipped with a grub (fished under a float). Drift baits and flies slow and low.
Niagara River: In the upper Niagara River, we have to mention the huge lake trout caught by Denis Kreze of Fort Erie when he reeled in a 30-plus pound fish last month. Anglers should still be wary of slippery conditions when fishing from shore. Shore anglers have caught a mix of steelhead, lake trout and brown trout. Boaters catch the same mix, along with some bonus walleye.
Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: The sections below the dams on Oak Orchard and Eighteenmile creeks were mostly open, but running high and stained at last check. They will offer some fishing opportunity as levels drop.
Ice fishing: Hard-water anglers have been fishing on good ice at Redhouse Lake, Quaker Lake, Cuba Lake, Case Lake, Harwood Lake, Bear Lake, Loon Lake, many other small lakes in the region. But keep an eye on changing conditions and always use caution.
Buffalo Boat Harbor: The inner harbor had up to 8 inches of ice. Ice was a little iffy right at base of the ramp at last check. Harbor anglers typically catch smaller yellow perch and sunfish, with the occasional keeper.
Chautauqua Lake: The lake level has come up, leaving open gaps along the shore in sections of the lake. Other hazards include thin and open areas off creek inlets and some significant pressure cracks have opened up. Keep an eye on changing conditions.
Silver Lake: The south end is a popular spot to set tip-ups for northern pike and to jig for bluegill. Deeper sections of the lake are a better bet for yellow perch, and anglers have recently been catching fair numbers of 8- to 9.5-inch perch.
Central New York
Oswego River: Not hearing much of late with heavy snows and cold temps. There were still some steelhead and brown trout being taken by hardy anglers.
Salmon River: High water of late. For anglers braving the elements, some steelhead were still being taken in the deeper holes on egg sacs (blue or pink mesh), pink trout worms, beads and egg-imitating flies.
Oneida Lake: Anglers were getting out around much of the lake but ice thickness is varying greatly, so use extreme caution if venturing out. We’re not sure how the heavy snows have impacted access and fishing.
Note: The new parking regulations at the Lewis Point Ice Fishing Access Site are apparently creating angler conflicts. The changes were made to stop the free-for-all parking that has existed in the past. If the lot is full when you arrive, please accept that fact and go to an alternate access spot such as Verona Beach State Park or the DEC South Shore Boat Launch. The Lewis Point site is through a cooperative agreement with the landowner. If parking issues continue the agreement may not continue and that access will be lost.
Sandy Pond: Anglers were getting but ice thickness reports vary so use caution if venturing out.
Sodus Bay and Irondequoit bays: Some good perch action was reported on Sodus, with plenty – and we mean plenty – of shelters on the bay. Keep an eye on changing conditions, such as heavy snow or a quick warmup.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Otisco Lake: Anglers were fishing on the north end, with 4 to 5 inches of ice being reported at last check.
Cayuga Lake: Anglers fishing from shore around Taughannock were getting the occasional lake trout.
Honeoye Lake: Deeper sections of the lake are typically good for yellow perch. Shallow weedy areas are best for bluegill, chain pickerel and largemouth bass. The bonus walleye catch is possible in both shallow and deep water.
Conesus Lake: The extreme north and south ends had good ice at last report, but ice starts to get thinner as you approach deeper water. Stay away from the outlet in the northwest corner of lake. The north end off Vitale Park is a good spot for bluegill. Tip-ups with shiners can produce decent to good catches of northern pike, along with the bonus tiger muskie.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Anglers were fishing the reservoir at last check, but ice thickness reports vary so use caution if venturing out.
At last check the Crappie Derby was still on for Feb. 16. Go online to www.crappiederby.com for updates.
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: Not much happening.
Seneca Lake: The Sampson State Park boat launch is closed as it will be worked on over the winter.
Lake Champlain: Plenty of ice, with some sloppy conditions depending on where you’re fishing. Perch action was slow at times, better at others.
Brant Lake: Some decent perch action has been reported, along with the occasional brown trout.
Piseco Lake: Can be fun for lake trout, albeit plenty of shorts.
There were enough good weather days during this report period for boats to head offshore searching for cod, pollock, hake, haddock, ling and mackerel. The fish have settled into their typical winter pattern, where there are more mackerel, ling and hake mixed in with the codfish in New York Bight and areas west of Jones Inlet. Pollock were more common east of Jones Inlet and there was a good amount of haddock caught off Montauk Point.
The open and charter boats typically run these winter trips as either regular cod trips, where they fish the wrecks local to their homeports, typically in 90 to 120 feet of water, or as special or extended trips where they run to the less-fished wrecks and bottom structure located in 180 feet of water and deeper. On all trips, anglers are reporting excellent mixed-bag fishing, with days were the current is running hard a bit more challenger than others. Reservations are recommended for all trips, so plan accordingly. A call ahead to the boat’s captain will square you up with what to bring and what to leave home. Pool fish are typically cod averaging about 15 pounds on the regular trips and 25 pounds or more on the extended trips. Fresh skimmer clam is the typical bait, but whole squid as well as well as Viking-type jigs with a red or white tube and 6-inch white or pink curly tail as a teaser were also good choices. Your top producer boils down to what you’re most comfortable fishing with.
There were no reports of golden tilefish, herring or white perch as of late.
On the freshwater scene, there has been an on and off skim of ice on the smaller ponds and lakes, but less than during the last report period. Anglers targeting winter trout were reporting catching mostly brown trout, with a few rainbows, with a fish or two, sometimes a couple more, reported per outing. These fish are falling to small streamers cast on a fly rod, and small spinners, trout worms and PowerBaits fished on a light spinning rod. The first and second warm day after a cold snap have yielded the best fishing as the slightly warmer water, even a degree or two, is putting the fish on the feed. The Carlls, Carman and the Nissequogue rivers have all produced trout this report period.
Lake George: Ice anglers were on some locations of the lake, notably at Bolton Landing at Harris Bay. Most of the news has focused on ice conditions and thickness; we’re not hearing much on the fishing itself.
Saratoga Lake: Safe ice, with some very windy days on the hard water and fishing generally slow.
Sacandaga Lake: We’re not sure how the snow has impacted travel on the ice, but this is a lake where you always have to be aware of pressure ridges.
Southeastern New York
The hard-water crowd received a setback when warmer weather arrived. We’re not hearing much in the way of safe ice these days.
Not much happening on the region’s trout waters that are still open. It’s a good time for fly-fishers and other anglers to perhaps tie some flies and get some gear in order for the April 1 trout opener.
St. Lawrence River: Most of the bays are offering safe ice, with fishing ranging from slow to plenty of small perch to some decent ringbacks and the occasional northern pike.
Black Lake: Richard at Chapman’s Sport Shop and Marina reports ice anglers are running all over the lake with snowmobiles and 4-wheelers, with up to 15 inches of ice in some spots. Northern pike have been hitting with some consistency, while crappie action has slowed down and bluegills have been hit and miss.