BY BILL HILTS
Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
Jamie Stanley at All in the Same Boat reports that tributary action is drawing mixed reviews. Her husband Greg was fishing Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek on Wednesday and he managed to produce a few browns on jigs and minnows but found the water very stained. It should start to clear up by the weekend.
Keg Creek was too high and muddy to fish and Johnson Creek to the east also had turbid conditions and fishing was slow. When things start to clear those trout should be hungry.
Wilson Harbor was still sporting up to eight inches of ice but caution is advised after the recent warm snap that brought temperatures into the 50s and some rain. Some trout were being reported along with the traditional perch, bluegills and crappie. Use ice jigs tipped with minnows, wax worms and spikes. Pike minnows are being used, too.
2. Lower Niagara River
Action was starting to pick back up again at mid-week, but high winds on Wednesday could rile things back up again. We’ll have to play that by ear. Trout were hitting wherever you could find a bit cleaner water.
Devil’s Hole and some of the mid-river drifts were producing some steelhead, browns and lake trout. The Niagara Bar and the mouth of the river was too muddy to fish but that could change by the weekend. Trout have been hitting minnows and egg sacks consistently. Kwikfish lures will also work if the wind conditions are right.
3. Upper Niagara River
Not too much to report. We’re only a week away from the first annual Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo, set for Jan. 24 thru 26 at the Conference and Events Center in Niagara Falls – in the shadow of the Seneca Niagara Casino in downtown Niagara Falls. Parking is for free in the casino parking areas for this show, including the lot right across the street from the conference center.
The speaker schedule is now finalized and it looks like it’s a good one if you want to learn about fish and fishing – from bass, walleye and musky to salmon and trout. The Expo has put together an excellent lineup of top name fishing experts like Mike Iaconelli, Pete Gluszek, Bernie Schultz, Ott DaFoe, John Murray and Chris Zaldain on the bass front; Capt. Pete Alex and Capt. Brian Garrett on the Lake Ontario salmon and trout front; Capt. Frank Campbell on the Niagara River; Lance Valentine giving a Walleye 101 instruction for beginners; Nick Lange, a Salmon River fishing guide, will give a talk on bead fishing; Jeff Snyder will be talking ice fishing tactics; Chuck Booker will be talking about stream fishing in the local tributaries; and there will also be seminars on the history of hunting and fishing from Fort Niagara; the different species of fish available locally from the Aquarium of Niagara Falls; and Helen Domske of Seagrant will discuss invasive species.
There will also be kids’ fishing seminars and beginning and intermediate salmon trolling instructions by the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association.
Go to www.lotsa.org to find out when some of these things are going on; log on to www.niagarafishingexpo.com for the complete seminar schedule. If you want to improve your fishing skills, there really is something for everyone at this expo. See you there!
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
When streams start to settle down again, there should be a few trout fishing opportunities if you can find some open water. Keep in mind that the water is cold, so fish slow and deep. Wait until the warmest part of the day to try and initiate a fish strike or two. Egg sacs, egg imitations flies, trout beads and small jigs tipped with a wax worm or spike and fished under a float are all tried and true offerings this time of year.
The Small Boat Harbor is still a good spot for hard water angling, but caution is advised with the recent warm spell. Bluegills and yellow perch are the top catches. Use small ice jigs tipped with a grub or minnow. Some crappie and northern pike have been caught, too.
5. Chautauqua Lake
After the warm spell last weekend, caution is advised around the lake. The southern basin of the lake had thicker ice than the northern section.
Don’t forget that the New York Pro-Am Ice Fishing Tournament Series will be starting up this weekend. To find out more information, check out www.nysiceproam.com. As a result of the contest, not too many anglers have been sharing hard water information.
6. Finger Lakes – Inland Waters
Oneida Lake – Niagara County angler Bill Rutland headed east to Oneida Lake and took up residence off the Cleveland area of the lake on the north shore. Use white Swedish pimples and tipped with a minnow, Rutland worked his magic in 30 feet of water. He caught more than a dozen walleyes, settling in on keeping three fish in the 18-20 inch range. He also landed a dandy jumbo perch. Big Bay has been producing a nice mix of perch and panfish. For perch numbers, try near Lewis Point.
Silver Lake – Another ice fishing contest on Silver Lake, this one being part of the North East Ice Fishing Circuit. A free kids’ contest will be held on the lake Jan. 18; the adult competition will be on Sunday, Jan. 19. Contact Jeff Snyder at 585-322-0063 for more info. The website is www.northeasticefishingcircuit.com.
There is some ice at the south end of the lake that is in excess of 7 inches. However, fishing has been tough – at least according to some reports we’ve heard. Then again, there is a tournament this weekend.
Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at email@example.com.