Good ice has yet to form on major area waterways and cold breezes make any fishing venture a challenge right now.
Boaters still can get out at some launch sites. Waders have a stream or two to try before the next freeze-over. Ice anglers got a start over Braddock Bay shallows last week. Hardwater anglers may not see similar conditions this coming week.
Access site closings
The New York Power Authority has closed the public-access fishing pier at the base of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. The pier will remain closed until ice conditions clear in the spring. Once reopened, the site will be impacted by continuing road work that will be completed later in the year.
The Lewiston Reservoir public fishing pier near the Upper Mountain Fire Company is also closed for the winter season.
Anglers also report that the stairway at Artpark has been removed for repairs and replacement. No completion date has been set for restoring that access to lower Niagara River fishing.
For an update on the reopening of Power Authority fishing piers, call 796-0135 (ext. 45).
“You should have been there last weekend” is the general commentary from charter captains and recreational anglers working the lower river’s trout schools.
Water entering the head of the upper river was stained heavily after high winds Monday and Tuesday. Before that, the steelhead run was iron-like in the river and brown trout were golden on the Niagara Bar.
Most successes were the result of drifting egg sacks, live minnows or Kwikfish/. Skein had yet to enter the scene.
Diehard stream waders are connecting with steelies and brown trout at most feeder streams. Shore ice has yet to be a problem. Waders from the Genesee River to the Niagara River have had good water flow and fairly productive responses from trout.
Oak Orchard Creek, around the archery club below Waterport Dam, has been the most active area for stream waders. Baits vary from live items to the smallest of flies and ice-fishing jigs and grubs.
One notable exception to open access along the Ontario shoreline is Four Mile Creek east of Fort Niagara.
Avid angler Chuck Booker noticed beavers constructing a dam this past summer. They completed their project and now Four Mile Creek is inaccessible to waders wanting to walk the creek’s shoreline.
Boaters could paddle a canoe up from the mouth of the creek and fish, but the shoreline is heavy cattails and unfishable for shore anglers below the beaver dam.
Booker added that DEC officials told him the 1,200 steelhead trout previously allotted for Four Mile Creek are now being stocked elsewhere.
For a brief spate last week, walkers got out on 3-inch ice surfaces at Braddock Bay and hit into nice-sized perch. Ice is just starting to form again on Braddock and could be solid on Long Pond, Cranberry Pond and other small bays and ponds soon.
Boaters continue to hit into bigger perch in Irondequoit Bay at depths of 15 to 30 feet. This ringback run could continue until ice forms on the bay.
Cattaraugus Creek, in general, has been much more productive than the fall run last year, says Ricky Miller at Miller’s Bait & Tackle in Irving. “They have been using the bigger minnows on the trout,” Miller said of rainbow/steelhead trout showing in mixed sizes on all waters of the Catt.
Smaller streams have had better water levels throughout the fall, but fish pressure has been light and slight. With larger steelies showing among the smaller, trout numbers in Lake Erie had to be good during previous years. The few anglers working streams right now are hitting into the bigger fish more regularly.
We took a swan-song perch trip on Lake Erie last Wednesday.
The Solar-Lunar Table showed a peak feeding period for that afternoon, the lake was pond calm when I met Ken ”Mach” Maciejewski and Herb Schultz at the Sturgeon Point Marina launch ramp. All looked good.
We also met up with Erie County Sheriff Capt. Kevin Caffery on patrol around the marina. He issued that classic Hill Street Blues line “Be safe out there” as we departed for what should have been a cooler full of perch to fillet. Not so.
We hit three of five previously productive waypoints on the GPS screen. Days after the closing of bass season, smallmouth bass were hitting at 42-foot depths like schooling perch. At one point Mach reeled in a double header of 3- to 4-pound smallies. But perch were not biting that day. Next time we get out onto these hot spots, we will probably be on ice or sometime next spring.