All of Chautauqua Lake has finally locked up nicely, with between 8-12 inches of ice reported. There have been some good walleye catches, primarily around dawn and dusk. Depths around 30 feet have been productive near Long Point, Prendergast, Warner Bay and Dewittville Bay. The rims of the deeper holes are good spots to try as well. Jigging Rapalas and vertical jigging spoons tipped with a small minnow or grub are good walleye offerings. Keeper size yellow perch have been very tough to find lake-wide. However, anglers have managed some keepers off Mayville. Anglers also report fair numbers of white perch around the north basin.
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBS
At mid-week there were plenty of open water spots on popular tributaries such as Chautauqua, Canadaway and Eighteenmile Creeks. With mild temperatures on the way, expect open areas to expand. Rain added to the mix could cause another blowout. In Buffalo Harbor ice in the inner harbor is 10-12 inches thick. Anglers are catching mostly smaller sunfish and yellow perch, with the occasional keeper. Anglers are also exploring the sheltered bays and channels to the north and south of the harbor.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
Shore fishing in upper river is on hold due to pack ice along shorelines. When conditions permit, lower river boaters are seeing good trout action in the mid to upper drifts. A three-way rig with flat fish style lures like Mag Lip or Kwikfish produce a mix of steelhead, brown trout and lake trout. A three-way with a live shiner is a better bet for walleye. Not much safe shore fishing opportunities due to shelf ice along the shoreline.
LOWER NIAGARA RIVER
This past week anglers were using MagLips and fished off three-way rigs. It’s been tough fishing with the colder weather, but that should change this weekend when things will warm up into the 40s. Last Thursday when the temperatures soared into the 60s, quite a few people made it out and took advantage of the spring-like weather. Rick and Jason Henniger of Ohio reeled in a dozen nice browns and steelhead in the lower Niagara fishing with Captain Frank Campbell using MagLips and Kwikfish in gold and silver. The best fishing was downriver, away from the boating pressure on Artpark. Shore fishermen have it a bit tougher with the shoreline shelf ice and extreme caution is advised. The last warm up also produced some good walleye fishing in the lower river, according to Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. He reported better than a dozen fish caught last week using minnows and Kwikfish. Just a reminder that the walleye limit in the lower Niagara River is only one fish per person from Jan. 1 to March 15.
Off Lake Ontario, Wilson has some safe ice, but Olcott was busted up with the excessive run-off created by the warm weather and ensuing rain. Water is stained in 18 Mile Creek but it’s still fishable. Use jigs tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float to take trout and a few Coho salmon that are still hanging around. Things should open up nicely this weekend.