Report from the Dock
It’s now early spring and any ice fishing going on in late March is usually courtesy of an unseasonal cold spell and a long, cold winter. We’ve had the cold this past winter, but not for any real duration. Therefore, other than at higher elevations, such as some Adirondack waters, ice fishing should be an afterthought for most anglers by now. But Friday, April 1 is the trout season opener and across New York anglers, DEC and county fish hatcheries will be ready. It’s not uncommon for a few waters to have some early season trout stocking, especially those popular with families and young people.
1000 Islands Region
Michael Bell, of Chapman’s Sport Shop, reports runoff had slowed but a warming trend will cause some good runoff. The crappie and bluegill bite had slowed down at Black Lake Marine Cottages but some fish are being caught on tungsten jigs with plastics or tipped with minnows or grubs for live bait. Slowly and methodically jigging the bait has been yielding good results with dead sticking a minnow or soft plastic minnow representation also producing bites.
Lake of the Isles was still producing consistent crappie catches under the ice. Chippewa, Eel and Goose bays still had ice as of mid-March.
Frank Kohlbach, of Pondskipper Fishing Adventures, reports this is a time of year where fishing is exceptionally good but can be very hazardous. Ice is getting thinner, cracks are getting wider, auger holes are expanding in spots and the ice is beginning to honeycomb and get brittle. The good news is fish are moving to shallow areas and access to these areas isn’t too far from shore, making foot travel is relatively short. At this point in the season safety is crucial, bring throw ropes, wear float suits, spud your way onto the ice and fish with a partner. Perch fishing is great right now as the perch are stagging for their annual spawning run.
The Eastern Basin is starting to make it’s change from winter to spring. With the temperature’s rising and dropping we are starting to see rivers and creeks flowing at steady rates. Most of the tributaries are experiencing high run-off from the recent warming trend diminishing water clarity in those areas making the bite next to impossible. Adjacent areas out of the heavy flow with clearer water continue to produce perch with most coming out of the 10- to 20-foot zone.
Captain Burnie Haney, New York Fishing Adventures, burniehaney.com
Adirondacks, Capital District/Upper Hudson Valley
Ice on a few ponds was still hanging in there around mid-March, but use common sense if you head out on the ice. That said, it could be some time before full ice-out, a time when trout anglers prefer to be on the water. Seldom does it happen for the trout opener. Snow was melting steadily so we’ll see what the April 1 trout opener brings to stream-banks.
April 1 means striped bass season in the Hudson Valley. It also means trout season. The only question is what the conditions will be for both openers.
Central New York
Anglers are getting out around the lake. Perch fishing continues to be good.
The flow was still up following rainstorms and snow-melt. This can make fishing difficult for shore anglers. For steelhead and brown trout try egg sacs, beads, or pink worms, either bottom bounced or fished under a float.
Steelhead are being caught throughout the river but most of the effort continues to be in the deeper holes. Try egg sacs, beads, or pink worms fished under a float or bottom bounced, if fly fishing try egg imitating fly patterns or nymphs.
With the high water and cold run-off the fish have been off the bite lately. With the spawn beginning, they’re spreading out as well.
Overall, concentrate your efforts anywhere are you find slow water. Fish the inside edges and the belly of the pool. As fish are getting into spawn mode start fishing above and below known spawning areas. Fish that are finished or yet to start spawning hold here and are typically more aggressive.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
DEC is always looking for new participants in the Angler Diary Cooperator Program for the Finger Lakes. Numbers have dropped in recent years. If you fish Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Otisco Lake or any of their tributaries and want to learn more about this program and how to sign up, please contact the Region 7 Fisheries office at 607- 753-3095 ext. 213, or on-line at email@example.com.
If you fish Canadice Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Honeoye Lake, Keuka Lake or Seneca Lake and want to learn more about this program and how to sign up, please contact the Region 8 Fisheries office at 585-226-5343, or on-line at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 585-226-5343.
Maxwell Creek had a great flow and there are some steelhead in the pools. Use fresh egg sacs. Bay Bridge Sport Shop on the south end of Sodus Bay has bait. This is the time of year when the steelhead enter Lake Ontario, however a few are in the smaller streams in Wayne County.
In the bays, there is no safe ice anywhere, period. Don’t try to fish the middle of the bays because you need to walk on and off and the shoreline ice is breaking up. The Port Bay channel is open to the lake and in the bay there is open water south to Graves Point. As soon as the ice has melted the perch fishing will be great. Perch fishing from the boat will also be excellent after ice-out. In the Erie Canal,m nothing was happening, however the ice at Widewaters should be gone and crappie fishing under the Port Gibson Bridge will be the place to be.
Chris Kenyon, waynecountytourism.com
Freshwater anglers were rewarded with cooperative yellow perch, largemouth bass, and chain pickerel during the warmer days between cold snaps. Perch responded to minnows and worms, with the largemouth bass targeted to slowly retried plugs, and plastic worms. The water is still a bit cold to put the largemouths on a consistent feed, but for those anglers who put their time in, they were catchable. Chain pickerel preferred minnows, but small swimming plugs were also effective. Anglers fishing kayaks had the edge as they could cover more water.
The most effective areas for largemouths were where shallows that were warmed by the sun were adjacent to drop-offs, with the best action accruing at towards sunset. The yellow perch preferred the deeper parts of the lakes, while the chain pickerel patrolled the grass beds in 7-feet of water or less. Fly-rodders also reported decent catches of yellow perch, largemouths and a few pickerel casting small streamers and retrieving slowly. A few black crappies were reported caught on the East End lakes on marabou jigs.
White perch were reported on the East End. Grass shrimp and worms were productive baits. Small spoons and plastic baits were also effective to locate schools of white perch. Once the schools were located, switching to bait was the most productive method. The fishing for white perch is slowing as the fish are moving out of the brackish water after spawning.
Anglers fishing Fort Pond and Lake Ronkonkoma after dark or in low-light conditions reported catching walleye. Minnows, spoons, and plugs were all effective. The Connetquot River remained productive for rainbow and brown trout.
A few small holdover stripers were caught in the bays around the Island, but the fishing was generally spotty. These fish will become more active in the upcoming weeks and will be joined by stripers migrating northward as the water warms. Bunker are around so there is plenty of bait to hold the migrating stripers in our area.
Cod, haddock, pollock, and ling continue to be caught on the open boats. Expect an up-tick in the ground fishing as the bottom temps warm throughout the month.
Guy Zummo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Western New York
Shore ice has deteriorated and is unsafe. Shoreline fishing is available in some canals and areas where shore ice has retreated.
Lake Erie and tributaries
The region-wide blowout cleared all ice out of the creeks and stream levels have been dropping back. The Chautauqua County streams were at prime to slightly high levels at report time. The Erie County streams remained a bit high. Cattaraugus Creek was high and will not be an option for some time. Look for some fresh steelhead to have moved into the streams. .
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Some fish are starting to show up in the tributaries, but overall guide Scott Feltrinelli, of Ontario Fly Outfitters, has been disappointed in the numbers of fish. Dark colors on cloudy days work best as they silhouette against the sky well when a fish looks up at the moving object. Also, baitfish (all fish) reflect light. On a low light day (cloudy), baitfish look darker in color due to less reflected light. Dark flies on dark days; Light flies on lighter/sunny days insists Feltrinelli. Lake casters should start to see some action at the piers soon, too. Wilson, Olcott and the Oak are all good spots to cast a spoon or a spinner. Other smaller tributaries are at medium and slightly stained. Steelhead should be spread through the waterways and reports of a few browns are coming in.
The steelhead bite has gotten better than it has been all winter reports Capt. Connor Cinelli, of Grand Island. It has been more of a minnow bite than an egg bite, and best spots have been Artpark and Devil’s Hole. The Niagara Bar has been picky but decent whenever anglers can get out there. Capt. Ryan Shea, of Brookdog Fishing Company, has been picking off some steelhead using live minnows and orange 10mm beads. Water conditions have been good for boaters. Tyler Cane, of Randolph had the surprise of his life when he caught a big brown trout – his first ever – fishing with his brother and Capt. Frank Campbell on the Niagara Bar. Meanwhile, shore casters have been struggling a bit according to Mike Ziehm, of Niagara Falls. Steelhead numbers seem to be down. Water clarity below the NYPA power plant was 3 feet and 5 feet plus above the power plant upriver.
Frank Campbell, email@example.com