Heavy rains, along with strong warm winds, have Lake Erie’s ice covering below a square-mile count enough for ice boom removal. Observers Tuesday afternoon had most of Erie’s ice floes flowing onto the Ontario shoreline in powerful southeast winds.
Stream waders have seen good water and nice steelhead trout movement along Great Lakes feeders and stocked inland streams. A late chill could hold a few steelies and some brown trout in the feeders in early May.
Seasons open for walleye, northern pike, chain pickerel, and the special Lake Erie bass fishery on Saturday. Prolonged cold has pushed spawning cycles back somewhat but look for a good start to post-spawn for walleye and pike and for a nice run of pre-spawn panfish in the bass (sunfish) family for the next week and well into early May.
The May derby/tourney circuit begins with the Lake Ontario Counties Derby on Friday and a Rudd Derby Saturday.
Feeder stream lure options vary, but minnows have seen more attraction and action recently, according to Rick Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving.
All launch sites are ice free and the latest round of near-gale-force winds have most of the ice on the Canadian side of the lake, but the only catch reports coming in now are for Cattaraugus Creek and smaller streams either side of the Catt.
Clarity counts. In clear water the minnow has been major. When staining and muddied waters are moving, night crawlers and spinners have been more effective.
Shoreline casters and trollers have had bonanza times with browns, cohos and even a fair number of lake trout moving close to shore at depths of less than 20 feet. Shore casters at Wilson, Olcott and Oak Orchard have worked harbor piers and breakwaters for a nice mix of browns, steelies and coho. Cool waters have kept good numbers of steelies and some browns upstream at both Oak Orchard and Eighteen Mile Creek.
The crappie bite has been episodic in Honeoye, Conesus, Silver and smaller western Finger Lakes. Tight schools of “calicos” have boaters running and gunning to find feeding and pre-spawning runs along shoreline shallows.
Better numbers have shown from the north end of Silver Lake, the midsection of Conesus Lake and either the north or south embayments of Honeoye Lake.
For perch, Honeoye has shown some schooling, but Seneca and Canandaigua Lakes have been much more productive. The west shoreline above and below the Sampson launch is solid at Seneca. The south ramp at Canandaigua is close to good ringback runs.
Randolph Hatchery trucks have delivered trout species this past week to these locations in time for weekend outings:
Allegany County – Genesee River (Amity) 3,210 brown trout and 350 2-year-old brown trout; Genesee River (Wellsville) 660 brown trout, 450 2-year-old brown trout and 790 brook trout; Bone Run (South Valley) 300 brook trout; New Albion Lake (New Albion) 2,400 brown trout; and Allen Lake (Allen) 2,800 brook trout.
Cattaraugus County – Ischua Creek (Franklinville) 1,230 brown trout; Olean Creek (Town of Olean) 790 brown trout; Case Lake (Franklinville) 1,550 brown trout.
Chautauqua County – Cassadaga Creek (Stockton) 430 brown trout; and Goose Creek (North Harmony/Harmony) 430 brown trout and 100 2-year-old brown trout.
Wyoming County – East Koy Creek (Gainesville) 700 brown trout and 550 2-year-old brown trout.
Many fishing tourneys, derbies and contests are slated for May.
• The Lake Ontario Counties Derby begins Friday and goes to May 11 on all lake waters and its major tributaries. For details, go to loc.org.
• Wilson Invitational, a salmon contest, at Wilson Harbor will be May 10. For info, go to wilsonharborinvitational.com.
• Southtowns Walleye Association Perch Derby is set for May 17 on Lake Erie and the upper Niagara River. For entry details, go to southtownswalleye.org.
• Lake Ontario Pro-Am Series for salmon have both divisions competing in Niagara County May 24-25 and May 31-June 1. For details visit http://www.lakeontarioproam.net.
Spring turkey season opens Thursday in upstate New York for gun and bow hunters, but the season is not open for use of crossbows, which became legal on April 1. Final details of fall-seasons regulations will be available in late June.