Ethan Bronschidle is pictured with his catch.
The crappie bite in the canals went cold earlier this week, likely a result of near-freezing temperatures and wind but with the rise in temperatures by week’s end the shore bite is hot again. Look for crappie in the canals, near inlets and traditional open lake areas such as Ashville Bay, Burtis Bay, Cheney Point, Lakewood Bar, Rock Island, Grass Island, Bemus Bay, Whitney Bay, Dewittville Bay and the flats off Mayville. Small jigs tipped with a small minnow, 1-inch tube or other small plastic and fished under a pencil float, works well for crappie. Bullhead are biting along shorelines, especially during low light periods.
LAKE ERIE &
Most of the Lake Erie tributaries dropped back to fishable levels Friday after running high since Monday. Saturday’s rain will blow them all out again. Prior to this week there were mixed steelhead reports. Some anglers did very well while others struggled. Catches have been dominated by smaller jacks and larger drop-backs, with better numbers of steelhead in the upper sections of creeks. With warmer air temperatures and Saturday’s warmish rain, expect declining numbers of steelhead along with a slug of suckers and smallmouth bass to enter the creeks following the high water event.
Ice on Lake Erie continues to delay open-lake fishing. The harbors are open and offer fishing opportunity. Anglers at Buffalo Boat Harbor are catching good numbers of yellow perch, but throw many back for every keeper. Be aware, fishing in Buffalo Boat Harbor is permitted from the shore or boat only. No fishing on the docks. Dunkirk Harbor City Pier is currently closed due to a construction project. Anglers can cast for trout from the DEC fishing platform or from boats. Some trout often show in Barcelona Harbor in spring as well.
LAKE ONTARIO AND TRIBUTARIES
For Lake Ontario and the tributaries, steelhead were hitting flies on the surface in some of the creeks. Browns have been hitting eggs, so sacs and beads will do the trick. Pier action has been good in Wilson and Olcott according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott. Spoons, spinners and eggs work well. Out in the lake, trolling stickbaits in shallow water is working in front of Four Mile and Wilson to take browns. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown reports good action on a mixed bag, including a number of Coho salmon on Dreamweaver Super Slim ‘Get er Done’ spoons and Jr. Challenger Lady Bug lures off the boards, the downriggers and flatlining off the back of the boat in relatively shallow water. Capt. Alan Sauerland of Newfane was fishing spoons and stickbaits to take lake trout, brown trout and bass. The lakers were coming from 65 to 70 feet of water in front of Wilson. A few Chinook salmon are also being caught. Just a reminder that if you are fishing the lake and catch any Coho salmon, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is still conducting a study to help them determine the success of stocking spring yearlings versus fall fingerling plants. DEC biologists are asking anglers to donate any Coho salmon heads and the information of your catch, whether the fish has a tag or not. The process is straight forward. Catch a Coho and check for an adipose fin clip.
LOWER NIAGARA RIVER
Some ice chunks continue to come down through the Niagara River system, serving as obstacles in the upper and lower river sections. This stems from the fact that the ice boom is still in place at the head of the river between Buffalo and Fort Erie. Winds from the southwest will push ice pieces over the flexible boom. As of Tuesday morning, there were 372 square miles of ice left. There needs to be 250 square miles of ice or less before the boom is pulled. Ice thickness varies right now from 6 inches to 28 inches.
UPPER NIAGARA RIVER
Jeff Pippard at Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda reports that perch have been hitting around Beaver Island State Park at the marina and in many of the bays around the Island. Just look for the emerald shiners. A few rainbows and lake trout have been taken off Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda on spinners, too.
There has been good trout action in the lower Niagara River around Devil’s Hole and Artpark from boat and shore anglers. Boat drifters are using minnows, shiners and egg sacs. Shore casters are using spinners, spoons, jigs and egg sacs or egg imitations. Some captains insist that there are some smelt in the river, marking large pods of bait away from the shoreline. However, none have been dipped yet at night. Some local smelt dippers insist that this could be the week.