Once breezes subside, area ice anglers — and a few diehard stream runners — could be in for a good start of the New Year.
Small Boat Harbor has been big for ice anglers. Fishing folk headed to Ontario or Seneca Nation of Indians outings must remember to renew their non-resident license that comes due each year on January 1.
High winds have kept most anglers off ice surfaces and away from open stream waters. Lower Niagara River waters were wall-to-wall, river-wide ice floes as Lake Erie ice jams its way from the head of the river and down the gorge.
Most Great Lakes feeder streams have been locked up with ice, but an open pool existed below Burt Dam on Eighteen Mile Creek and Waterport Dam on Oak Orchard Creek. The Burt Dam pool produced both steelies and browns. Conditions could improve, if the weekend thaw melts more shore ice without a heavy mud runoff.
Dunkirk Harbor was open this past week and a few trout had moved in to feed on hefty minnow schools. This is yet another place dependent on a favorable thaw without subsequent staining of waters.
Virtually every area lake void of deep mid-water pools such as Seneca and Cayuga in the Finger Lakes has at least an icy coating.
From Lake Simcoe north of Toronto to Oneida Lake north of Syracuse, walkers have made it out to at least good panfishing places, with a few nice walleye and northern pike bites recorded this past week.
At Oneida, ice depths reached six inches in the last week and snow machines have been heading out from Bridgeport to the south and from Cleveland to the north. Perch catches have been good in the shallows and walleye chasers have connected somewhat deeper.
Snowmobile runners have been able to get out and work around Shackleton Shoals at mid lake for walleye. Panfish pursuers have done well at Big Bay in the western shallows.
Hut operators at Lake Simcoe are just getting set up. Heavier snows fell up north and Simcoe got a dose of drifts from Cooks Bay to well past Port Bolster. Most operators look for better access with the promised weekend thaw.
Good ice, thick enough for relatively safe walking access, formed more than a week ago, but check with any contacts before heading to Simcoe this coming week.
Chautauqua Lake froze and re-froze nicely on both sides of Long Point. Walkers had been on thin ice at Burtis Bay in the South Basin more than a week ago while the North Basin was open water.
Now, both ends of Chautauqua, the lake Native Americans named “bag tied in the middle” support enough of an ice surface to afford access. One other interpretation of Seneca language deems Chautauqua “fish taken out.” Some have.
The perch and bluegill bite at Burtis has been solid. Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoor in Lakewood said: “We sold out of both waxworm and spikes yesterday after a good weekend on the ice.”
Sperry has gotten reports of some anglers connecting with crappie schools along with the ’gills and perch. He also heard that the North Basin perch fishery was good and a few walleye were showing in the mix. Many of the ’eyes were undersized, less than 18 inchers.
Walkers might do some checking before heading onto Chautauqua’’s far north areas. Heavy snows arrived before the embayment had frozen over solidly.
Lake Ontario shoreline bays and ponds are mainly solid. Irondequoit Bay anglers are mostly setting up along the south shore, said Rick Reagan at Jay-Vee Fishing Tackle. Reagan’s ice anglers note Braddock Bay perch and pike slowed. Bays from Irondequoit to Sodus have varying depths of snow drifts.
Silver, Conesus and Honeoye Lakes, the unofficial “pinky” Finger Lakes, have good ice. Silver and Conesus have bluegills along shoreline shallows, Honeoye has a perch run at 20-foot depths.
The Small Boat Harbor produced some panfish surprises. The harbor is famous for a run of runt ringbacks. This early season ice drillers have hooked into some jumbo schools of perch.
Not every hole is hot; not every day is productive. But when the bite is on, some impressive buckets of panfish and some pike and trout have come off harbor ice.
Both weekly entries in the Capt. Bob’s Ice Fishing Derby for perch and crappie came from the Small Boat Harbor.
Dillon Adamczyk, 13, of Clarence, topped the Perch Division with a 12-inch, .6-pound entry that went for a rosy red minnow. In the Crappie Division, Mike Szalanski of Lockport weighed in a 1.3-pound “calico” that measured 12.25 inches. Szalanski’s prize bit on a jig and waxworm. For details on the ongoing ice derby, check with Steve Hawkins at 407-3021.