New York Outdoor News Fishing Report — Feb. 24, 2017

Western New York

(The regional fishing hotline can be heard at (716) 855-FISH.)

Niagara Fishing Report: A great way gauge the fishing is to follow the results of area fishing contests. For example, the Niagara River Anglers Association held its annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest on the lower river and in Lake Ontario tributaries earlier this month during some pretty adverse weather conditions. Despite cold temperatures, stained water and gusty winds, some fish were caught during the friendly competition. At the top of the list at the end of the day was Ed Waller of Lewiston, who hauled in a 9.62-pound steelhead from Devil’s Hole while fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. He was drifting an emerald shiner on a three-way rig with a chartreuse bead above it. Second place was an 8.08-pound steelhead reeled in by Norm Deitrich of Haverford, Pa., caught on a minnow. He was using Waller’s boat along Artpark at 1:50 p.m. when the fish hit. Third place was Fran Szovati of Cold Springs, Ky., with a 7.88-pound steelhead. He caught it on an emerald shiner-trout bead combination, fishing with Capt. Ted Kessler of Grand Island – also in Devil’s Hole. Down on Eighteen Mile Creek near Burt Dam, a few brown trout were caught. Bob Rustowicz of Cheektowaga hauled in a couple nice trout, including a fish that was around 9 pounds. However, he thought that it would never place in the money so he released it. The only fish he brought to the scales was a 5.82-pound brown trout for the special brown division. He missed by .02 pounds to place in the money. Winning brown was a 5.84-pound trout reeled in by Capt. Tyler Morrison of Barker. He was using a jig tipped with a waxworm and fished under a float.

Niagara River: Water was starting to clear up after being stained. Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston caught eight steelhead earlier this month, all on egg sacs upriver. However, as the day progressed, it was getting muddier and Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown could only muster walleye for customers as visibility dropped to less than a foot.

In Eighteen Mile Creek, Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker in Olcott reports stained water with a flow of about 150 cfs. The creek was open at last check and you have the option of being able to catch a trout, but you do have to work for them. The smaller creeks were low and clear.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, there will be the annual rack scoring day with official scorers Dave Muir and Don Haseley at Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda. They will be scoring from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Whether it’s a buck you shot last fall, one you found or just an old rack that’s been laying around the garage and you always wanted to know what it scored, stop down and share your story. If you are looking for a fishing boat, check out the Western New York Boat Show Feb. 22-26 at the Adpro Sports Fieldhouse, located at 1 Bills Drive in Orchard Park. Talk with a wide variety of marinas and boating-related vendors. To find out more information go online to www.buffaloboating.com.

Lake Erie tributaries: Rain and snowmelt blew out all of the streams last weekend. Levels were falling rapidly, however, and the smaller streams could be in fishable shape now. All streams except Cattaraugus Creek could be options. Anglers have seen fair steelhead action lately, with fresh fish showing after high-water events. Egg sacs, egg flies, nymph patterns, trout beads and small jigs tipped with a waxworm (fished under a float) are good offerings.

Upper Niagara River: Fishing in the upper river was on hold due to floating ice packed along most shoreline sites. There was no safe ice to report in the upper river harbors.

Chautauqua Lake: Reports indicate dangerous ice conditions and plenty of open water areas. Some open canals may offer limited fishing opportunities.

Lake Ontario tributaries, harbors and piers: Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard  creeks were the top steelhead options. Flows were moderate to slightly high with a very slight stain at last check. Muddy water from rain and snowmelt had not impacted these dammed streams at last look. There has been relatively light fishing pressure lately. Anglers reported fair catches of steelhead with the occasional brown trout. Eighteenmile anglers also reported yellow perch catches all the way up to the dam. Ice had been flushed out. Egg sacs, egg flies, trout beads and grub-tipped marabou jigs are good trout offerings.

Lower Niagara River: Bouts of muddy water and chunk ice made for tough fishing. River waters are murky but improving at last check. When conditions permit, boaters are catching lighter numbers of steelhead and lake trout, with the rare brown trout or walleye mixed in. Drifters were running three-way rigs with egg sacs, Kwikfish lures or emerald shiners to entice bites. Floating chunk ice packed along the shoreline leaves limited fishable slots for shore anglers. The New York Power Authority fishing platform is closed for the winter season.

(Regulation notes: Lake trout season is open on the lower river as of Jan. 1. Also starting on Jan. 1, the daily walleye limit decreased to one, with minimum length of 18 inches.)

Silver Lake: Reports put ice thicknesses of north and south ends at around 4 inches, but no new ice report for mid-lake was available. Shore ice was a little thinner but holding. South end anglers have seen decent northern pike action on tip-ups with large shiners, with some pike over 30 inches. Jigging has produced light numbers of smaller yellow perch, with the occasional keeper over 8 inches. The perch bite has been better in the northern half of the lake. Some crappie have shown at the north end as well. Use extreme caution if you head out. The lake may or may not be safe to fish.

 Orleans County: The areas tributaries were open at last report, with some slush reported in Johnson, Marsh and Sandy creeks. The best report came from Oak Orchard Creek, where flows were at moderate levels with 2-3 feet of visibility and some steelhead, including several big chromers, being taken up near the dam.

Lake Alice was not at ice fishing option at last look.

Central New York

A reminder that from Nov. 1 to May 1, all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet must wear a PFD while in motion.

A number of county web sites offer good information on fishing in the region, including bait shops, guides, etc. Among them: Onondaga County (fishonondagacounty.com); Oswego County (visitoswegocounty.com); and Wayne County (waynecountytourism.com). Oswego and Wayne counties also have a weekly fishing hotline on their web page as well.

Lake Ontario: There were brown trout and steelhead being taken in some of the tributaries, and most streams had a decent flow of water after the rain and snow. Egg sacs or egg-imitating plastics are usually good bait choices.

Oswego River: High flows and jheavy snows made shore fishing difficult. Anglers fishing behind the hotels or from driftboats were hooking into some brown trout and steelhead.

Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.

Salmon River: Steelhead fishing has been slow over the last few weeks but some fish were being caught on egg sacs with blue mesh, either bottom-bounced or fished under a float. Beads, nymphs and pink trout worms are also working at times.

Oneida Lake, Sandy Pond, Otisco Lake: With the recent rain and above average temperatures that have been taking place on and off over the last few weeks, ice conditions have deteriorated greatly on most waters. Hopefully some cold weather will return to help improve ice conditions.

Whitney Point Reservoir: The big news was the cancellation again this year of the annual Crappie Derby due to poor ice conditions. That said, the reservoir may indeed be fishable; it just didn’t have enough ice to hold the hordes that descend on the reservoir for the derby.

Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: Recent rain and snowmelt events have the rivers running high and turbid.

Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Iice conditions have deteriorated greatly on most waters. Some cold weather is needed to help improve ice conditions.

Finger Lakes/Southern Tier

(DEC Region 7 fisheries staff is always looking for new participants in the Angler Diary Cooperator Program for their Finger Lakes data collecting efforts. Diary participation numbers have dropped in recent years, and they need new cooperators now more than ever. If you fish Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Otisco Lake or any of their tributaries and want to learn more about this program and how to sign up, contact the Region 7 fisheries office at (607) 753-3095 ext. 213, or by email at fwfish7@dec.ny.gov. If you fish Canadice Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Honeoye Lake, Keuka Lake or Seneca Lake and want to learn more about the program and how to sign up, contact the Region 8 Fisheries office at (585) 226-5343, or via email at fwfish8@dec.ny.gov.)

Ice fishing update: Remember, a minimum of 4 inches of solid black or clear ice (not white) is the general rule for safety. Five inches of solid ice is better for groups fishing together. Be aware that ice thickness can vary greatly on the same body of water. Drilling holes or tapping with a spud bar to check ice thickness is recommended on your way out, or when moving around. Safety ice picks, boot cleats, throw rope and a floatation devise are recommended safety supplies. Use good judgment and fish with a friend when possible. It hasn’t been a good year for ice anglers and things aren’t looking better as we head toward the end of a frustrating hard water season.

Conesus Lake: Ice fishing activity was isolated to the very northern tip at last check, where ice was reportedly 4 to 5 inches thick out to about 8 feet of water. Anglers reported a good bluegill bite on jigs and grubs. Fair numbers of northern pike and largemouth bass have been caught on tip-ups with golden shiners or suckers. Be aware of changing conditions.

Honeoye Lake: Ice at the very south end of Honeoye Lake in 10 feet of water or less, was near the safe minimum of 4 inches. Ice over the remainder of the lake was thinner and unsafe at last report. The bluegill bite has been slow. Tip-ups with shiners producex the occasional largemouth bass or pickerel.

Cayuga Lake: Shore anglers continued to get some Atlantic salmon. When anglers can make it out in boats, they are also getting some salmon as well as lake trout when trolling.

Keuka, Canandaigua, and Seneca lakes: No safe ice and no new information.

Skaneateles Lake: The launch is closed for the season. Some rainbow trout were being taken by shore anglers fishing the marshmallow and worm rig.

Owasco Lake: No new information to report.

Whitney Point Reservoir: The big news was the cancellation again this year of the annual Crappie Derby due to poor ice conditions. That said, the reservoir may indeed be fishable; it just didn’t have enough ice to hold the hordes that descend on the reservoir for the derby.

Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: Recent rain and snowmelt events have the rivers running high and turbid.

Adirondacks

Lake Champlain: Pike, perch and the occasional salmon were being caught, but ice conditions could be better. Use caution when you head out.

Schroon Lake: Most of the hard water activity has taken place off the town beach access spot. Some good lakers have been taken, most on hunt minnows, either alone or with a jig combination.

Brant Lake: Brown trout and some decent perch were being taken, usually in areas where smelt were located.

Not hearing many reports elsewhere, although the Adirondack region has been offering the most consistently safe ice conditions. That said, things can change quickly so use caution if you head out.

Long Island/NYC

With the exception of the nor’easter during the latter part of this report period, the weather remained cooperative, allowing anglers to head offshore for codfish and ling.  Overall the codfish fishing remained consistent, but there was a general lack of larger fish. Most cod were in the mid-single digits, with pool fish in many areas less than 10 pounds. Anglers codfish fishing off Montauk Point typically reported pool fish around the 15-pound mark.  The average catch was between three and five cod per angler on most open and charter boat trips, with high hook anglers closer to 10 fish.

There were no reports of mackerel or pollock during this report period. I largely attribute this to the lack of reports, not a lack of fish, as many anglers are home in the cold weather after loading up their freezers earlier in the season with cod.

In all areas the boats had to work hard to put together a decent catch of cod, often moving several times per day. But when fish were found, double headers of cod were not uncommon. Drifting fresh skimmer clams was the most productive method this report period, with the best fishing when the tide was slow. Anglers who targeted the wrecks in 120 feet of water and deeper added several jumbo ling to their catch.

The herring fishing from the North Shore beaches continued this report period, but showed signs of slowing with the dropping water temperatures. Herring were also caught at the usual spots, including the Canarsie, 69th Street and Magnolia piers on Sabiki rigs.

There were no reports of white perch this report period.

The smaller ponds and lakes are iced over and the large lakes have ice adjacent to the shoreline. There have been no freshwater reports of late.

Guy Zummo 

flyfishguy@optonline.net

Capital District

Lake George: It’s not the best ice conditions, but some spots were available for fishing and perch and lake trout were cooperating.

Great Sacandaga Lake: Not hearing a lot, which is a bit surprising because ice conditions have been better here than on most waters.

Saratoga Lake: Safe ice, but use caution. Walleye and panfish action can be good if you hit it right.

Southeastern New York

Not hearing much on the ice fishing front, except for reports of sketchy conditions that led to the cancellation of some local tournaments.

Catskills

Anglers really haven’t been out plying the region’s trout waters that remain open to fishing. It appears at this point most are now awaiting the ceremonial April 1 trout opener.

www.catskillflies.com

Thousand Islands

St. Lawrence River: Hearing perch and pike reports from Goose Bay, Eel Bay and Lake of the Isles. You might have to sort through the perch to find a few keepers.

Black Lake: The folks at Chapman’s are advising hard water anglers not to drive ATVs or snowmobiles on the ice; that notice is out there simply because too many people don’t know the lake and are going places where ice thickness is always sketchy. There was quite a bit of snow on the ice at last check, but anglers getting out on the lake were scoring on pike and panfish, as well as the occasional walleye by anglers in the know.

www.chapmansblacklake.com/

Chaumont Bay: At last check, the beach area wasstill in good shape and there is plenty of ice that did not break off the edge. That ice was 10 inches thick and was broken by high winds. From the Johnson shoal bouy east was very solid, averaging 10-15 inches, but the Chaumont River was picking up in flow, causing the deterioration of the boat ramp access. As always, avoid the bridge area and river channel near the beach and launch. A few walleyes were being taken near Johnson’s shoal and Sawmill Bay. Use caution; ice thickness drops notably beyond the original jam formed in January.

chaumonthardware.net

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