Ice is around 8 inches thick lakewide. Overall, good fishing is happening all around the lake. But as is the nature of fishing, some days and spots have been slow. Yellow perch are readily available and caught lakewide. However, shallower, weedy areas in 5-15 feet of water have been better for catch numbers and average size. Bluegill and pumpkinseed are available around weed beds, too. Walleye fishing has been fair, with some better action in 20-40 feet of water north of the bridge. Jigging Rapalas (or similar) or vertical spoons tipped with a minnow, and tip-ups with “bass” golden shiners or large emerald shiners are good bets. Walleye catches are typically better the few hours before sunrise and the few after sunset.
Cattaraugus Creek is the best bet for open water in swifter areas, but expect shelf ice and slush. The other steelhead tributaries are 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. Common wintertime steelhead baits include egg sacs, egg flies, trout beads and small jigs tipped with a waxworm.
Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle reports solid ice at Wilson Harbor with pike and perch both being caught, but nothing hot and heavy. Roy Letcher of Newfane reports that they’ve been doing OK at Burt Dam. Matt Keener of Sanborn was using black and gold jigs to take a half-dozen steelhead and browns the past week at the dam. Nearby Ringneck Marsh has ice in the Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area and some fish are being caught. Stay safe out there.
Cold temperatures — it was single digits at times — haven’t kept fishermen from fishing on the water, be it open or frozen. Yes, there is still some open-water fishing going on. Capt. Richard Brant of Tonawanda sends word that he had some great fishing days in the lower Niagara River over the weekend despite the cold weather. There is quite a bit of ice chunks flowing through the river system, too. Water temps were 32 degrees, and the wind has been so cold it was causing skim ice on the surface, making fishing conditions tough, according to Brant. The steelhead bite has been great with water clarity 7-9 feet of visibility. Natural soft colors such as pink, peach, and yellow egg sacs have been working best. Live bait is also working off three-way rigs, according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Bob Hubler of Niagara Falls targeted walleye over the weekend and he did catch some in the cold. Remember that the daily limit is only one fish per person through March 15. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls got some casts in from the shoreline in the gorge and managed to catch some dandy steelhead on jigs and No. 4 spinners. Water clarity was 3-4 feet of visibility. Be very careful maneuvering around the shoreline ice. Wear some type of ice cleats on your shoes or boots. Steve Hawkins of Capt. Bob’s Outdoors reports there is a new steelhead leader — Mike Dahar of Amherst boated a 30-inch steelhead on a 3/8-ounce jig tipped with a Keitech easy shiner swimbait. The derby continues until March 15.
Case, Harwood, New Albion, Allen, Red House and Quaker Lakes all have good ice and provide fishing opportunities for a variety of warmwater fish. Anglers also have a chance to catch large broodstock trout (14-28 inches), as each lake was stocked with broodstock trout in the fall. Some holdover spring stockies are also available.