Report from the Dock
New York’s first free fishing days of 2022 are Feb. 19-20, which are the Saturday and Sunday of President’s Day weekend. When it comes to ice fishing, free fishing days are the perfect opportunity for experienced anglers to introduce someone new to fishing, particularly ice fishing. And speaking of the ice, it is happening across much of the state, thanks to a continued weather pattern that has featured plenty of sub-freezeing, and also sub-zero temperatures. Reports of ice thickness change daily, so be sure to monitor them locally before heading out.
1000 Islands Region
Michael Bell, of Chapman’s Sport Shop, reports the water level has dropped since the start of the ice fishing season, making the bite a little finicky in some areas. Anglers are doing well catching northern pike on tip-ups rigged with large shiners in Rollaway Bay and Conger Island. Best catches occur with the bait sitting 12 to 18 inches above the bottom. Crappies and bluegills are being caught on jigs and spoons in the deeper sections of Rollaway Bay and Mile Arm Bay using small jigs and spoons tipped with minnows or spikes and the 13 Fishing Micro Magic Man tipped a half of minnow for scent. Anglers report 10 to 14 inches of ice on the lake with a decent amount of snow on the ice, making foot travel challenging, but snowmobiles are out on the ice, just use caution and watch for wet spots and/or pressure ridges.
Brad Paradis, of Gajo Baits, reports that ice fishing has heated up on the St. Lawrence River. Perch are being caught just about everywhere. In shallow bays they are moving in droves around remaining vegetation under the ice. Small jigs and light line are the key. Perch are also being caught in deeper water, 20 to 35 feet, but are constantly on the move, making them much harder to target. Pike are very active on the flats of the bays. Focus your tip-ups or jigging raps in the shallows near the first drop off. Walleyes are being caught, with the best times early in the morning or later in the evening. Spoons tipped with minnows and jigging raps in that 12- to 18-foot zone are producing best.
Frank Kohlbach, of Pond Skipper Fishing Adventures, reports perch fishing has heated up across the Eastern Basin. Look for jumbo perch in depths 10- to 30 feet, with the Caty Jig being the top producer along with a slab spoon tipped with minnows. Anglers are finding on average 10-inches of good ice with snowmobiles out on most areas. The Chaumont Bay walleye fishing has been exceptionally good with gold being a great color for lures on the sunny days. The night bite’s been productive as well, targeting the 26- to 30-foot zone produced a solid 29.25-inch walleye that weighed 12 pounds 5 ounces on a Walleye Nation Creation Rip-N-Glide.
Captain Burnie Haney, New York Fishing Adventures, burniehaney.com
Adirondacks, Capital District/Upper Hudson Valley
Continued cold weather equals good ice fishing action. The interior of the Adirondacks such as the areas around Inlet, Raquette Lake, Indian Lake, Lake Eaton, Tupper Lake and Cranberry Lake continue to be good bets, as are lakes further north that are open to ice fishing such as Chazy Lake. In the eastern Adirondacks Schroon Lake, Paradox Lake, Lake, George and Lake Champlain continue to be go-to waters, as is Great Sacandaga Lake to the south.
As previously reported, lakes at higher elevations, like Thompsons Lake are good bets. Further north, Saratoga and Cossayuna lakes are seeing plenty of action, as is Glen Lake in Warren County. If fishing Glen, note there is limited parking.
Central New York
Anglers were getting out around the lake. Some areas have more snow on the ice then others.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
The Route 34B bridge over Salmon Creek remains under construction. No access is allowed.
The freshwater fishing slowed as the shallower as many of the lakes and ponds have had an on and off skim of ice that anglers had to contend with. When open water was found, small largemouth bass and stocked trout responded to jigs and flies fished near the bottom and retrieved slowly. The trout fishing in the Connetquot River remained good, with rainbow trout and a few brown and brook trout caught on flies. When anglers found safe ice, they reported a good mix largemouths, smallmouths, yellow perch, pickerel, and crappies.
White perch were caught in the tidal waters throughout the area, with the best fishing reported on the East End. A few holdover small striped bass were reported by anglers targeting white perch. Worms and grass shrimp were the top baits. Grass shrimp can be caught in a small-mesh dip net run along the canal bulkheads and kept in an aerated bucket.
The open and charter boats continued to focus on cod, pollock, haddock, and ling. Many of the boat basins are full of ice, so call ahead to ensure that your favorite boats are running. When conditions permitted, most of the boats rain to the offshore wrecks. The fishing was generally good with some days better then others depending on tide and sea conditions. Overall, the better pollock and haddock fishing remained east of Shinnecock inlet, with ling more prevalent in New York Bight. Both skimmer clams and jigs were productive.
Guy Zummo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Western New York
Buffalo Boat Harbor
Ice anglers are catching plenty of smaller yellow perch and sunfish with a few keepers mixed in. Crappies, northern pike and smelt are other available species. Anglers should access ice from the boat launch. Walking on, or any other use of slip docks is not permitted.
Yellow perch catches are very good lake-wide in 5 to 20 feet of water. Most anglers are weeding through dozens of small perch for a handful of keepers. Sunfish are available around weed beds. Walleye fishing started off a bit slow, but is starting to pick up now. Walleyes scan be found near weed edges lake-wide and around deeper flats of 25-40 feet of water in the north basin. Jigging with jigging rapalas (or similar) and vertical spoons tipped with a minnow is a good active technique. Tip-ups with “bass” golden shiners catch the occasional walleye as well. Walleye catches are typically better the few hours before sunrise and the few after sunset. White perch are plentiful in the north basin’s deep holes, at depths over 30 feet.
Panfish catches typically include bluegill, crappies and yellow perch. Visit the Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area page for more information.
Anglers report a decent bluegill bite at the north end out of Vitale Park on jigs and grubs. In the same area, northern pike action is typically fair on tip-ups with large shiners.
Shallower areas offer fishing for sunfish and yellow perch. Lake trout are available in deep waters. Jigging with spoons or tip-ups with large shiners are good bets for lakers. After dark, anglers equipped with a lantern often catch smelt just under the ice.
Jigging for sunfish and yellow perch around the south end shallows has been fair. Tip-ups with shiners set in weedy areas mostly catch largemouth bass, chain pickerel and yellow perch. Yellow perch are the predominant catch at depths over 20 feet. Catch numbers are modest, but most are quality fish, including some jumbos. The bonus walleye catch is possible in both shallow and deeper areas.
Reports indicate slower yellow perch fishing so far.
Shallow weedy areas typically produce fair catches of bluegills with some yellow perch mixed in. Shallower areas are also a good bet for northern pike on tip-ups with shiners. Yellow perch catch numbers are better in deeper areas of 20 to 34 feet of water, though they tend to run small. Deeper zones also produce the occasional keeper crappie and suspended northern pike.
Southern Tier Lakes
Case, Harwood, New Albion, Allen, Red House and Quaker Lakes all bee providing fishing opportunities for a variety of warm-water fish. Anglers also have the chance to catch large broodstock trout (14 to 28 inches), as each lake was stocked with broodstock trout in the fall. Some holdover spring stockies are also available.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Cattaraugus Creek had limited open water in the swifter areas upstream of Gowanda. All other Lake Erie steelhead tributaries were pretty well iced over. It is best to keep drifted offerings slow and deep. It is also good to concentrate efforts during the warmest part of the day.
Brian Foster, of Lockport, and his son Riley, were ice fishing near Olcott where Riley out-muscled an 18-pound king salmon through the ice. Very unusual for sure. Meanwhile over in Wilson Matt Vogt, of Newfane, was catching some northern pike and large perch.
DEC reports there is limited open water below the dams on Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks. Flows are low and clear. All other streams are locked up with ice.
Things are looking up for the trout action in the lower river. Lake Erie was nearly completely ice covered, which will mean you won’t have to worry about muddy conditions any time soon. Hopefully, the recent big storm will not have an adverse effect on those conditions.
Fishing for trout from boats has been good. Capt. Frank Campbell, of Lewiston, reports that fishing was good earlier this week for steelhead. Egg sacs have been the best attraction, fished off three-way rigs from boats. One issue was ice at the Lewiston Launch Ramp, but Public Works with the village have brought in some sand and salt to help the cause. Pautzke Outdoors was in town filming recently and caught over 20 fish, with a mix of lake trout, steelhead, and brown trout. They used MagLips, minnows and egg sacs to take all of their fish. Capt. Ryan O’Neill, of Orchard Park, hit some big walleyes using shiners. Kevin Fischer of West Seneca hit an 11.48-pound ‘eye, as well as a 10.01-pound ‘eye bottom bouncing. They also caught steelhead and brown trout using the live bait approach. From shore, the Mike and Mike show was back in action – Mike Ziehm and Mike Rzucidlo – both of Niagara Falls, tag-teamed for some shoreline casting in the gorge recently. The dynamic angling duo hit a half-dozen steelies and a nice brown trout using jigs and No. 5 spinners. Rzucidlo noted they did the best with spinners sporting silver blades on a green body and the best jig colors were orange and white. Ice floes coming down through the river was a bit of a problem for shore and boat guys. Water visibility was about 4 feet. .
Frank Campbell, email@example.com