Another round of cool/cold weather has kept ice surfaces firm and fishable. A few sites have slush coverings and nasty pressure ridges, but the popular western Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Ontario shoreline ponds all offer good places to fish and some fair catches.
It might take some movement and extra hole chopping or drilling to get to them, but the perch have schooled in deeper waters and crappie schools have shown a better bite along shallows in the Finger Lakes more so than around Chautauqua Lake.
Western Finger Lakes
Solid established ice and frozen surface slush has rendered many lakes accessible out to deeper waters at Silver, Conesus and Honeoye lakes. Silver has shown a fair run of bluegills and spotty crappie action. The better ’gill bite has been near the middle of the south embayment along weed edges at 6 to 8-foot depths. Conesus now vies with Honeoye as the bull bluegill destination.
For years, the weed flats off Vitale Park in Lakeville at the very north end had been overrun with “silver dollar” dinks, bluegill that measured less than five inches. The smaller ’gills still abound, but many a hole hopper willing to move and work suspended mini jigs has hit into Honeoye-sized ’gill schools. Honeoye showed a great start for perch schools at 15- to 20-foot depths along drop-offs south of California Ranch on the west shore and Log Cabin Point to the east. The bass bite shows in spurts, with a rare walleye bite coming on tip-up rigs.
Frozen slush and solid base ice along the Pefferlaw/Port Bolster shore has given perch prospectors better access to greater sized ringbacks for the past two weeks. Smaller perch still prevail, but many anglers have gotten over depths of 30 feet or more for some bigger stock.
Anglers have a good mix of open water stream fishing and ice outings on bays and ponds. Johnson’s Creek and Oak Orchard Creek have seen fresh arrivals of steelies and browns all winter. Waders and bank walkers have scored with every popular version of live and salted baits all winter. Smaller spinners, flies, spoons and jigs take their share of feeder-stream trout, but the single-egg offering has gotten major mention each week. Ice anglers have seen better perch numbers in relatively shallow waters at Braddock Bay and the deeper drop-offs around Irondequoit Bay.
The steelhead trout run has been steady, even on cold days. Capt. John DeLorenzo had at least three clients pull steelies that passed the 15-pound mark. Water clarity has been steady and ice floes minimal. Winds affect rig setups. Northerly winds have kept most boaters off the Niagara Bar, but the river bite has been good up current.
Most of the excitement has come from the Devil’s Hole and Artpark drifts for boaters and the shoreline for casters. A live minnow/shiner might increase the odds for brown trout moving in the same currents with steelies. Egg sacks and Kwikfish with a metallic finish have shown better numbers on steelies and lakers.
The WNY Sport and Travel Expo will open at noon on Thursday for four days of access to five exhibitor-packed buildings at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg.
Local experts with Southtowns Walleye Association and charter captains Don Ruppert and Larry Jones will present seminars each day during the Expo. Rupert will discuss trolling techniques for Lake Erie walleye; Jones will focus on fishing for area muskies, at Chautauqua Lake in particular. Southtowns experts will cover “Fishing WNY Lakes and Streams” during seminars at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
For the seminar schedule and attractions, go to sportandtravelexpo.com and click on “WNY”.