They call it a “transition period,” but many a shore caster has a good shot as both panfish and trout catching successes during this early spring thaw.
Stocked trout in impressive sizes are present in inland streams and ponds throughout Western New York. The thaw has given hatchery delivery tanker trucks access to pond areas as well as streams.
For anglers not yet set up for that first open-water foray, a fisheries meeting Thursday evening might be a nice warm-up for Lake Erie outings.
Lake Erie meeting
Fishery officials gather at the Southtowns Walleye Association Clubhouse at 5895 Southwestern Blvd. in Hamburg for informative sessions from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday.
For details, call either Helen Domske at 645-3610 or the clubhouse at 649-8202 or go to southtownswalleye.org.
Trout from hatcheries at Randolph and Caledonia have been stocked at these sites in time for fishing this weekend:
Allegany County: Black Creek (West Almond), 1,230 yearling brown trout; Canaseraga Creek (Burns), 1,670 yearling and 200 two-year-old brown trout; California Highway Brook (Bolivar), 440 yearling brown trout; Hunt Creek (Alma), 220 yearling brown trout; and Root Creek (Bolivar), 880 yearling brown trout.
Cattaraugus County: Elton Creek (Freedom), 1,320 yearling and 180 two-year-old brown trout; Haskell Creek (Hinsdale), 700 brook trout; Five Mile Creek (Allegany), 2,550 yearling brown trout; Lake Favia (Dayton), 2,000 brook trout; and Perrysburg Conservation Club Pond (Dayton), 100 brook trout.
Chautauqua County: Bear Lake Outlet (Stockton), 790 yearling brown trout; Cassadaga Creek (Stockton), 260 yearling and 100 two-year-old brown trout; Conewango Creek W. Branch (Villenova), 570 yearling brown trout; Farrington Highway Brook (Cherry Creek), 260 yearling brown trout; Mill Creek (Gerry), 800 brook trout and 100 two-year-old brown trout; and Canadaway Creek (Arkwright), 200 yearling and 50 two-year-old brown trout.
Wyoming County: Oatka Creek (Warsaw), 1,700 brook trout.
Open waters/inland lakes
Many a shore angler keeps watch for ice melt and good shoreline prospects.
Earlier this week a few ice anglers ventured onto Small Boat Harbor ice. By the weekend fishermen in small boats will probably be fishing the same areas on open water.
Same goes for Chautauqua Lake. Ice surfaces moved away from shore far enough to draw some fish into channels and around piers in the South Basin. Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoor Guide & Tackle in Lakewood has minnows for shore anglers just off the ice and working channel docks and piers from Ashford Bay to well past Lakewood.
“The calico bite has been slow but is picking up,” Sperry said Monday evening just before the start of the Chautauqua County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs Harry Probst Memorial Dinner at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club. Look for award recipients and other details on this banquet on the Outdoors Page this Sunday.
The crappie run has just showed early signs of starting and could include nice numbers of good-sized bluegills ice anglers and boaters last fall got into along the Tom’s Point to Burtis Bay shoreline.
Ice just moved off Silver, Conesus and Honeoye lakes enough this past week to allow for some bullhead exploration. Shallow, black-bottomed flats work best, but bullhead can show anywhere during early-spring warm-ups.
Bays along Lake Ontario are a big draw for bullhead as soon as shore ice melts. Back waters of harbors often turn on and Wilson Harbor will be busy this coming weekend with a popular tourney.
The Wilson Conservation Club holds its third annual Bullhead Tournament beginning at 5 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The contest is a two-fish weigh-in tourney with a 100 percent payout with prizes for all children during an awards luncheon Sunday afternoon.
For more details, check with All in the Same Boat in Newfane at 638-4158 or CMC Auto Repair in Wilson at 751-0505.
Lower Niagara and bar
Both boaters and shore anglers have a nice run of steelies and lakers along shore edges of the Lower Niagara River.
Boaters have gone with either hard baits, mainly Kwikfish, or live bait, mainly minnows and egg sacks.
Shore casters can drop drift rigs, usually with floats (bobbers) that keep baits just off bottom along shore. Longer “noodle” rods with a smooth center-pin reel allow for smoother line feeding and reach for working from shore.
Current drifters in the river and out on the Niagara Bar have a good mix of steelhead and lake trout on rigs that run tight to the bottom. Capt. Frank Campbell has done well on both trout species with either Kwikies or live bait.
River water clarity remains good, with just a mild stain. The shore fishery could hold through April. Word from Coast Guard officials peg the ice boom removal at May 1 unless a radical melt-off occurs before that date.