No fooling. Inland trout season opened Tuesday on streams, ponds and lakes where anglers can find rainbows, steelies, browns and brookies.
Some of those trout waters are still coated with ice thick and strong enough for anglers to access, poke holes and fish.
Nightly freezes helped retain solid ice surfaces, but increased daylight with many hours of direct sunlight often soften or melt offshore edges and soft spots over air pockets at open-area depths.
The late ice-season panfish bite has matched up to its usual high, but conditions could be risky. Be cautious out there. Better still, wait for the melt and look for that spurt usually seen right after the thermal inversion turnover that pushes pre-spawning panfish into a brief feeding frenzy.
For now, the inland trout opener affords anglers a good variety of catch prospects at various sites around Western New York.
Randolph Hatchery personnel have been stocking streams in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Wyoming Counties with yearling and 2-year old brown trout, brook trout and rainbow trout.
Here is a list of sites by county, location, species and numbers that have been stocked in time for fishing this weekend.
Allegany County: Dodge Creek (Clarksville), 2,550 brook trout and 200 two-year-old brown trout; Little Genesee Creek (Bolivar), 2,200 yearling and 200 two-year-old brown trout; Genesee River (Wellsville), 2,200 yearling and 750 two-year-old brown trout, 2,200 rainbow trout; Genesee River (Amity) 5,580 yearling and 750 two-year-old brown trout; Cryder Creek (Independence), 1,320 yearling and 200 two-year-old brown trout; Dyke Creek (Andover) 1,490 yearling and 200 two-year-old brown trout; and Caneadea Creek (Rushford) 1,140 yearling brown trout.
Cattaraugus County: Great Valley Creek (Great Valley), 2,370 yearling brown trout; Forks Creek (Great Valley), 1,410 yearling brown trout; Wrights Creek (Humphrey), 750 yearling brown trout; Cattaraugus Creek South Branch (East Otto), 1,050 yearling brown trout; Mansfield Creek (Mansfield), 440 yearling brown trout, 100 two-year-old brown trout; Beaver Meadow Creek (Ellicottville), 350 yearling brown trout; Great Valley Creek
(Ellicottville), 400 yearling brown trout; Connoisarauley Creek (Ashford), 400 brook trout; Guernsey Run (South Valley), 180 yearling brown trout; North Branch Sawmill Run (South Valley), 130 yearling brown trout; Bone Run (South Valley), 300 yearling brown trout; Little Conewango Creek (Conewango), 1,540 yearling brown trout; Bay State Brook (Red House), 480 yearling brown trout; Quaker Run (Cold Spring), 1,560 yearling brown trout; and Red House Brook (Red House), 1,050 yearling brown trout.
Chautauqua County: Goose Creek (N. Harmony, Harmony), 920 yearling brown trout, 300 two-year-old brown trout and 1,050 brook trout.
Wyoming County: Buffalo Creek (Java), 1,140 yearling brown trout, 200 two-year-old brown trout; Beaver Meadow Creek (Java), 400 brook trout; Cattaraugus Creek (Java), 2,110 yearling brown trout, 600 two-year-old brown trout; Little Tonawanda Creek (Middlebury), 620 yearling brown trout; Tonawanda Creek (Orangeville), 1,200 yearling brown trout, 200 two-year-old brown trout; and East Koy Creek (Gainesville), 3,520 yearling brown trout, 650 two-year-old brown trout.
The Dunkirk Pier looks like the opening on inland trout season most days. A steady run of rainbow and brown trout draw casters at all hours of the day.
Spinners and spoons connect, but hefty schools of shad often get in the way. The better bite comes with a modified panfish rig – a bobber/float above a jig and wax worm or minnow.
Snow and melting runoff has stained Lake Erie and Lake Ontario feeder streams early this week, but regulars along both shorelines look for more settled waters in smaller streams later this week. Ricky Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving looks for a better return in the lower stretches of Cattaraugus Creek a bit later.
Upper Catt waters had been clearing earlier. Every inland stream and Great Lakes feeder shows different water clarity daily, sometimes hourly depending on runoff. A quick check and continued runs to upper areas of the bigger feeders could up the odds for trout stream successes.
Both the lower Niagara River and Niagara Bar have been good for lakers and browns taking smaller live bait.
Anglers could be seen off Sturgeon Point on Monday morning and others were walking on more than 12-inch thick Chautauqua Lake ice that afternoon and evening. Erie’s perch fishery has been bountiful this past winter, but winds and warm weather should end ice fishing this season. Most ringback runners are now planning their first boat run.
A few stragglers chased crappies on Silver Lake Monday. By Tuesday, Dave Washburn at his bait shop on East Lake Road above Honeoye Lake said the north shore edges were open water. Washburn’s stock is mainly trout-opener baits.
Chautauqua crappie schooling is solid along the shoreline between Sherman’s Bay and Burtis Bay. Wax worms small jigs, emerald shiners all have done well early mornings and later afternoons. The next crappie/calico report may come from boat outings.