New York Outdoor News Fishing & Hunting Report – Feb. 22, 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
We’re not sure what the weather is offering right now, but the Niagara River was busy from both boat and shore earlier this month and trout and walleye dominated the catching scene. We heard about walleyes up to 12 pounds. Steelhead, brown trout and lake trout were all being caught by casters and boat drifters. Boaters were pulling Kwikfish and MagLips off three-way rigs to catch fish. Minnows were also working. From shore, spinners and jigs were both catching some fish. Eighteen Mile Creek in Newfane saw some things open up again, and jigs tipped with a wax worm or egg sacs were working under a float. The Back Bay in Wilson was still producing perch, crappie and the occasional trout in Tuscarora Bay through the ice.
The Western New York Boat Show runs through Feb. 24 at the Adpro Center in Orchard Park. Check out www.wnyboatshow.com for details. And the Niagara River Anglers have announced that it has rescheduled its Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest for March 2 in the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario tributaries. The contest, for NRAA members, runs from sunrise to 2 p.m. with the awards to follow at Lewiston No. 1 Fire Hall in the village. Call Paul Jackson for more details at 716-998-8910.
DEC has also announced new regulations proposals for Lake Ontario and the Niagara River. Go on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov to find out what they are and pass along your comments.
Lake Erie and tributaries: At last check the tribs were running high and off-color. 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: Before high winds, charter boats reported very good action for a mix of steelhead, brown trout, lake trout and walleye. That mix of fish was available from Devil’s Hole down to the mouth of the river. Emerald shiners and golden shiners were working well. Egg sacs, trout beads and Mag Lip lures will catch fish also, all combined with a 3-way bottom-bouncing rig. Shore anglers at the state parks were catching mostly steelhead. Be aware that shoreline ice buildup was limiting angling in some spots and is a hazard to be wary of. Remember, the daily limit for walleye is now one fish. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) Fishing Platform is closed for winter season.
Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: Tribs were blown out at last look but that may have changed by now.
Chautauqua Lake: It hasn’t been a banner year for the hard-water crowd, with ice conditions varying from one week to the next. At last check anglers were on most of the lake, picking up some perch and the occasional walleye. Use caution wherever you go.
Ice fishing: Not hearing a lot of late, and always be aware of changing conditions. Watch out for thin ice near shore and near stream inlets. Pressure cracks are other hazards.
Central New York
Remember, ice thickness can vary greatly, even on the same water, so use extreme caution and your own good judgment if deciding to venture out.
Also, there are several fishing hotline/reports available for the region. A few of the websites are: Wayne County Tourism, Visit Oswego County, and Oneida Lake Fishing Report.
Oswego River: They received heavy lake-effect snow which make fishing conditions difficult. Not hearing much as a result
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Heavy lake-effect snow, and with the cold weather plenty of shelf ice and slush in the river. Not hearing much on the fishing front.
There is a new water level flow page provided by Brookfield Renewable Energy for the Salmon River that can be found online at safewaters.com/facility/42.
Oneida Lake: Anglers were getting out on the lake and pulling good numbers of perch and some walleye was well. Panfish were being taken in Big Bay. Walleye and yellow perch were being taken around the lake, with the perch action being a little better on the north shore and walleye on the south.
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 out and were getting some yellow perch and pike.
Sodus Bay and Irondequoit bays: Anglers are getting out on most of Sodus Bay and were getting yellow perch and a few pike. Sodus, in fact, was seeing plenty of pressure from ice anglers and they all seemed to be pulling good numbers of perch at last check.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
A reminder that until May 1, all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet must wear a PFD while in motion. It’s a common-sense safety regulation during the time when waters are ice cold.
Seneca Lake: The Sampson State Park boat launch is closed for work during the winter.
Canandaigua and Keuka lakes: Not hearing anything lately.
Otisco Lake: Anglers are fishing on the north end at last check and were getting bluegills and a few tiger muskies.
Cayuga Lake: Anglers were hitting the north end, but ice thickness varies greatly in that area so use extreme caution if heading out. Some yellow perch were being caught, along with decent numbers of chain pickerel. Anglers fishing from shore around Taughannock were picking up some lake trout.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch is closed for the season. No word on safe ice, either. But this is also the time of year when shore anglers target rainbow trout.
Owasco Lake: Not hearing anything.
Whitney Point Reservoir: There was still ice, but not enough to allow for the Almost-Annual Crappie Derby, which was canceled again this year.
Chenango, Tioughnioga, Chemung and Susquehanna rivers: The warmup and rain earlier this month blew out the rivers.
Anglers needed for diary effort
Warm water (bass, pike, etc.) angler diary cooperators are needed for Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Hemlock and Canadice lakes. If interested please contact Region 8 fisheries at email@example.com or by calling 518-226-5343.
Lake Champlain: Perch pullers were out in full force and doing well with a little searching.
Brant Lake: Still a good option, with safe ice and perch and brown trout possibilities.
Schroon Lake: Offering good ice (vehicles were on the north end at last look), with landlocked salmon, lake trout, smelt and perch in the mix. Best bet for the trout and salmon is to be set up right at dawn.
In Hamilton County, several options exist for hole drilling, including Lake Eaton, Durant Lake and Lake Pleasant.
Despite a few above-average air temperature days, the water temperatures dropped a few degrees this report period, shutting down the white perch and herring fishing. There is normally a lull in these fisheries this time of year, but when the water temperatures warm steadily later this month and into early March the fishing picks back up.
The freshwater fishing remained slow. There were not a lot of anglers on the water since there was ice to contend with on many of the lakes and ponds. During the few warmer and sunny days, the fish moved into the shallows, resulting in a few yellow perch and sunfish being caught on trout worms. The winter trout fishing was slow.
The saltwater fishing was dominated by the open and charter boats running offshore searching for cod, pollock, hake, haddock, ling and mackerel. The fishing was slower than during the past few weeks due to the colder bottom temperatures. The inshore fishing, those areas less than 120 feet deep, slowed more than the deeper water where the water temperature is slower to change.
While the groundfish have settled into their winter pattern of mixed bag fishing with cod the predominant catch, most of the fish were on the smaller side, with large fish less common. This will likely change as we approach and enter the month of March when the water warms and the sand eels and other baits become more active.
Despite the cold water, there were still enough cod, haddock, ling and pollock to make the long runs offshore worthwhile. Pool fish were typically cod or pollock averaging about 12 pounds on the inshore trips and 20 pounds or more on the long-range trips. Fresh skimmer clam is the typical bait. Viking-type jigs with a red or white tube and 6-inch white or pink curly tail as a teaser were also good choices. There were no reports of golden tilefish as of late.
Lake George anglers were running and gunning for perch and lake trout, but be careful in the deeper water areas where ice conditions may be sketchy. Perch pulling was generally good, although at times you had to sort through many small ones. And remember the 23-inch size minimum if you plan to keep a laker. Vets Park was seeing plenty of activity.
Ballston Lake: Not hearing a lot other than anglers were on it lately.
Saratoga Lake: Still offering safe ice at last look, but be aware of changing conditions. Snow may also impact travel on the ice.
Southeastern New York
Most of the reports we’re heading from ice anglers have focused on conditions, which have alternately been acceptable and downright dangerous on most of the NYC reservoirs. Anglers at times have been out on Diverting, East Branch and West Branch reservoirs, but things can change quickly with one warmup.
While some of the region’s trout streams are open to fishing now, not much is happening. Most anglers are awaiting the April 1 opener.
The region’s fly-fishers are mourning the loss of Catskill Flies founder Dennis Skarka, who passed away suddenly on Feb. 4. Skarka founded the business 22 years ago and was an angler, author, innovative fly-tyer and longtime supporter of the fly-fishing community and fishery. A memorial service will take place in early April. Catskill Flies, in honor of Skarka’s legacy, will be closed until March 16.
Black Lake: Not hearing a lot beyond ice reports, which at last check were decent. Be aware of changing conditions and the possibility that snow may make travel on the ice difficult. Travel may also be difficult unless you’re on an ATV or snowmobile.
St. Lawrence River: Snow may hamper travel on the ice and impact ice conditions, but anglers were generally out in all the usual spots and picking up pike and perch. Use caution, especially in areas where there’s current.
Chaumont Bay: The big bay had good ice and was yielding walleye, including some big fish. It’s not a bad idea to release the big ones; they’re the breeders for the future of the fishery.