The ice is semi-nice.
Walkers have headed out onto many area ice sites; most reports of accessible ice are of a thickness either side of three inches. As always, caution and good gear should be in hand when venturing onto “green” ice.
Lisa Green, at Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle on Chautauqua Lake in Ashville advises ice anglers, particularly at the start and close of the hardwater fishing season, to have a spud (an ice chopping bar) in hand. She also suggests carrying a pair of ice “picks,” those hand grips with small spikes that can be used to get back onto solid ice should an angler break through a weak ice surface.
Surfaces vary. Ice formed well along the Chautauqua shore and some walkers have been heading out at Burtis Bay. “But you have to remember that this was all open water on Christmas Day,” Green said of what little ice has been seen from Mayville to Jamestown. Venturous walkers have been on Burtis ice since mid week.
Wilson Harbor perhaps received first-foray honors. Walkers were on harbor shallows Tuesday, with open water seen less than 100 yards from their fishing sites.
Walkers have gotten onto ponds and bays east of Wilson Harbor. At Irondequoit Bay, the northeast corner is solid enough to support ice anglers. Edges around Long Pond, Braddock Bay and Cranberry Pond all saw angler activity later this past week.
Loon Lake might take top ice-depth accolades for New York State fishermen. Walkers measured up to 6-inch depths on this small inland lake near Canandaigua Lake, not the one in the Adirondacks.
Both Silver Lake and Honeoye Lake developed enough ice at the southern-most end to allow for anglers afoot. At least 20 walkers made their way out from the state launch at the southeast corner of Honeoye on Thursday; high winds on Friday kept most off Honeoye ice.
The Silver Lake bucket brigade, walkers doing more ice checking than fish finding, had to ease their way around snow drifts to get over good ice thickness. At last report, better ice has formed at the southwest corner around the state launch than off Mack’s Boat Livery on Silver’s southeast shore. But the shallows around the entire south embayment can be good for bigger bluegills and nice crappie schools when ice first forms.
For now, the only reports coming ashore, or shown on Web Cams, have been of accessible ice areas for the western Finger Lakes and those popular lakes and ponds along the Southern Tier.
Jerry Kucharchuk, at the Peninsula Resort and Pefferlaw Ice Huts on Lake Simcoe in Ontario, sees surfaces around the Pefferlaw area measuring from three to six inches in places.
“It looks good out there and some outfitters are setting up now, but I’m waiting until after the weekend before we head out,” Kucharchuk said on Friday. High winds made things iffy for moving gear with snow machines.
Winds had not moved ice surfaces along the Virginia Beach to Port Bolster inside the islands on Simcoe.
Ice bait sources
Call before heading to any bait shop or store. Hours and openings vary.
Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle reopened this past week. Both Art’s Bait Shop near Conesus Lake and Honeoye Bait & Tackle are permanently closed.
Most bait shops along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario have good stocks of either fathead, rosy red or emerald shiner minnows.
One stinking lure
Ice anglers for decades have doused all kinds of artificial lures with everything from anise oil to secret formulas that bring on the best bite.
Experts vary in their reliance on attractant scents, but, as with deer hunters’ odor applications, the smell might be a lure or at least a masking of the angler’s odor.
Berkley Pure Fishing markets the greatest variety of fish-attracting lures and either spray or liquid goo/goop to put on lures.
TomBob Outdoors has just begun producing a spoon-like casting lure that is impregnated with “Scent Fusion,” a process that retains its odor through many a warm-water casting session.
The one-eighth-ounce three-lure “Fusion Pack” looks promising as a vertical jigging device on ice. Planned trips later this week will allow for testing out this lure. Check it out at tomboblure.com.