Most of the main ice sheets are reportedly 9-12 inches thick, half clear and half white. However, there are thinner spots out there, especially near stream inlets. Shore ice is also poor at some access points, especially at Prendergast. Walleye fishing has been slow for the past few days. Previously, walleye fishing was decent in 30-35 feet of water near drops, deeper holes and off stream inlets. Jigging Rapalas and vertical jigging spoons tipped with a small minnow or grub are good walleye offerings. Anglers continue to catch plenty of smaller yellow perch lake-wide, with very few keepers. The flats off Mayville are a better bet for keeper sized sunfish and perc
LAKE ERIE AND TRIBS
When ice conditions have been safe at Barcelona Harbor, anglers were icing some steelhead. Be sure that there is at least 4 inches of clear ice before heading out. There is over a foot of ice at the inner Buffalo Harbor. As usual, anglers are catching mostly smaller sunfish and yellow perch, with the occasional keeper.
LOWER NIAGARA RIVER
Floating ice is quickly returning to the upper river and will be packed along the shoreline before long. Floating ice is lighter and manageable on the lower river, with increasing pack ice along the shoreline towards Youngstown. Boaters have seen very good action most of the past week. Three-way rigs with flatfish lures and egg sacs have produced a mix of rainbow, brown and lake trout from Devils Hole, down to the mouth. Three-way rigs with shiners produce a decent mix of walleye and trout. Shore fishing is hazardous in sections due to accumulating shelf ice.
LAKE ONTARIO AND TRIBS
Fishing action has been very good in the lower Niagara River for boaters drifting egg sacs or minnows off three-way rigs. If the winds are out of the southwest (like they are today), throw on a 2.5 or 3.0 MagLip or a K8 or K9 Kwikfish to get a trout to hit. Steelhead, browns and lake trout are all being caught with regularity. And if you are using minnows, add in walleyes. There has been good walleye fishing all week but you have to pick your spots for them. Actually you can catch trout and walleye from Devil’s Hole to the Niagara Bar. If you do catch some walleye, remember that the minimum size is 18 inches and from Jan. 1 to March 15 the daily creel is one fish per person per day. The intent there is to protect the females that are getting ready to spawn soon. While shore fishing is still an option in the gorge, caution is advised due to the shelf ice. Be careful out there. That water is 32 degrees flowing down through the river.
Stream fishermen are still picking up some trout at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek. Jigs tipped with a wax worm, egg sacs by themselves or egg imitations are still working to trick a steelhead or brown. A variety of flies and nymph patterns will also produce a trout or two, as will some streamer patterns. How long the water will remain open depends on how long the cold will grab hold. It looks like the lower temps will be hanging around for at least a week. While there is no ice left in Olcott Harbor (a few people were seen casting in the harbor earlier this week), there was a little in the Back Bay at Wilson.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
Floating ice is accumulating along upper river shorelines, limiting shore fishing opportunities. Most harbors are iced over, but no safe ice reported yet.
Silver Lake has good ice of around 12 inches. Anglers are catching plenty of yellow perch in deeper waters of 30-35 feet. Jigs with grubs or Maki plastics produce decent numbers of 8-9.5 inch perch. There are decent numbers of sunfish around the weedy south end, but fish are tight-lipped. Downsizing to a small jig and single spike has been very productive. Tip-ups with shiners produce the occasional northern pike.