Deer hunters bemoan the lack of cold and snow and ice-fishing fans and fanatics can do little more than plan to hit the hardwater.
Rivers, creeks and streams continue to show a fair number of trout; lakes and bays have seen a yellow perch presence. But ice may arrive sometime after Santa’s sleigh.
Seasons and license renewals change at this time of year. The statewide season for musky and bass ended Nov. 30 and the lake trout season will not open until Jan. 1 for the Great Lakes. A New York State fishing license must be renewed each year on Oct. 1, but licenses for the Province of Ontario and Seneca Nation of Indians must be renewed on Jan. 1. Lake trout season will be open in Ontario waters once ice forms on popular, nearby Canadian lakes, but the season for all trout species in Seneca Nation waters is closed from Jan. 1 to March 1.
With above-average cool temperatures, boaters can get out for trout and perch, shore casters can work piers, docks and stream banks for a variety of salmonids and possibly some late-season perch action.
Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters saw a fair season for fall trout treks along the Catt. The fishery has not come back to anything close to the trout and salmon runs of more than a decade ago, but quality outings still exit along this largest feeder stream along Lake Erie’s New York State shoreline and some fair numbers and sizes of steelies can be found from the mouth at Irving through Gowanda up to the dam at Springville. Another two weeks remains open for fishing Seneca Nation waters; mild weather with modest amounts of rainfall might make this a go-to destination before the New Year’s ball drops.
A small but dedicated contingent of perch anglers continue to keep the boat at ready for another “last-time” outing for ringbacks in deeper waters off Cattaraugus Creek.
Alden angler Barry Ball has his Starcraft ready for runs. “Last time out we got at least one over 15 inches,” Ball said of the bite directly off the creek mouth over a 64-foot depth.
Snow has been scarce and rainfall can be annoying, but high winds too often cancel another run to deeper waters. Last year, our last run was a mild mid-December outing at 72 feet between the Evans-Angola Bar and Point Breeze. Perch schools seem to be moving out deep again this late fall season. So much depends on what breezes bring, but forecasts that include above-freezing temperatures are tempting. When the wind speeds are at 5-10 mph, and actually remain below 10 mph, plans for a maiden ice voyage may be redirected to rounding up Erie ringbacks.
Upper river shore casters can still connect with perch. The trout run is only so-so and the walleye bite is slight and mostly at night. But table worthy perch in fair numbers show up at and around the Ontario St. access ramp.
Lower river trout fishing picks up with each passing week. The steelie run now approaches “on fire” status.
Both boaters and shore casters are doing well with casting spoons and Kwikfish, said charter captain Chris Cinelli of the past week’s fishing. So many bait fish now crowd the river that a minnow-like offering will get a steady hit.
Little Cleos get the major mention for casting spoons; any metallic-finished Kwikfish can get their attention.
A few brown trout move around in the river and lake trout linger in places, but rainbow/steelhead trout dominate the current edges in Devils Hole.
Trout anglers face extremes of low waters in feeder streams but muddied waters during spurts of rainfall.
Larger feeders (Oak Orchard and Eighteen Mile) have seen drops in water levels; smaller feeders have gone to either levels below fish passage or darkly stained runoff rushes.
Between all, the bite can be good with the smallest of terminal tackle. Trout trekkers from Four Mile Creek to Sodus Bay talk about tackle typical for ice outings. Bait dealers along the New York shoreline are selling spikes and other small grub baits, along with an array of small flies that simulate either big bugs or single eggs.
The perch run at Irondequoit Bay continues, but few boaters are getting onto the bay. Minnows continue as the main menu and, like Lake Erie waters, the bigger fish come from deeper waters. The last good buck of “slobs” came from 50-foot depths at the north end of the bay close to Lake Ontario. Sodus Bay perch packs gather somewhat closer to the shoreline and call for some movement to find their scatter points. If/when found, the bite can be good.