Niagara Gazette — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
The frigid temperatures have hampered action in the streams, but ice fishing options have been good this year. In Niagara County, the best ice action has been at Wilson Harbor where a mix of perch, panfish and the occasional trout has been reported. Use ice jigs tipped with live bait for the best success.
There is some open water fishing around Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek but you might have to move some ice around like Greg Stanley of All in the Same Boat did earlier this week. Once they opened up some water, they managed to catch a few trout – steelhead and browns – on egg sacs.
The Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is here at the Conference and Events Center in Niagara Falls – from today through Sunday. Lots of great exhibits, speakers and more. The best day to go is Sunday if you are looking for the biggest bang for your buck – when the LOTSA Marketplace will be going on in addition to the overall EXPO. Check out the LOTSA site at www.lotsa.org or the Expo site at www.niagarafishingexpo.com. A full list of seminar speakers for the weekend is on the Expo site. There are special kids fishing instruction, as well as beginner/intermediate classes for salmon and trout trolling. What a great cabin fever reliever!
And we have some more good news for those of you out there that buy a hunting or fishing license. A brand new fee structure is being put into place on February 1 that should help attract more people into sampling these popular pastimes. For starters, the new license year will change. For fishermen, an annual license will start from the day you purchase it. For hunting, the new license year will be from September 1 to August 31 instead of the current October 1 starting date. Those are both good changes.
In an effort to simplify the license structure, many of the package licenses like the Sportsman and Supersportsman options are now history. Many license fees have been reduced. For the fishing end of things, annual resident licenses will be going down from $29 to $25; nonresident from $70 to $50. The 7-day license will be reduced from $15 to $13 for residents; $35 to $31 for nonresidents – nothing substantial. A one day license will stay the same for residents at $5, but nonresident single day tags will drop from $15 to $10 – a great deal.
For hunting, residents could previously purchase a small/big game license for $29 or a small game only for $26. The only option is a single license now – both big and small game together for $22. For nonresidents, the previous options were $85 for a small game tag, $140 for a big game license and $50 for a bear tag. Those are all inclusive in a $100 single hunting license now. For bowhunting and muzzleloading, residents drop from $21 to $15; nonresidents drop from $140 to $30 for each. Turkey permits will remain at $10 for residents; nonresident tags will see a reduction of $30, dropping from $50 to $20. Deer management permits will remain at $10 for everyone, except for junior hunters and lifetime sportsman license holders. Trapping licenses drop from $21 to $20 for residents; from $310 to $275 for nonresidents.
2. Lower Niagara River
Despite the cold temperatures, a few brave souls have been venturing out into the lower river for trout. Capt. Frank Campbell reported decent success earlier this week with three customers reeling in a total of 14 steelhead – evenly dispersed at five, five and four for bragging rights for the day. The biggest fish are about nine points. Kwikfish lures fished off three-way rigs was the way to go, taking advantage of some wind that was available. Silver-green, silver-chartreuse and silver were the best colors. Each angler ran something different and you can see the results. Some trout are being caught on minnows or egg sacs. Too.
Campbell will be one of the speakers at the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo, talking about lower river trout fishing and spring fishing in the area. If it’s too cold for you to fish, warm up at the show and at least dream about fishing.
3. Upper Niagara River
Not too much to report in the upper river. Buffalo Harbor is producing a mix of perch, panfish and the occasional northern pike. In addition, a few smelt have started to show up. Use a small jig tipped with a single spike. For the perch and panfish, a jig tipped with a minnow or grub will work. Use a pike minnow if you are looking for something bigger.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
The extreme cold has hampered fishing activity in a number of ways. Streams are icing over, leaving very little open water to focus on. In addition, it’s kept many anglers in the house. Rather than stay in this weekend, check out the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo. There will be some seminars on walleye fishing for Lake Erie by Capt. Pete Alex and Lance Valentine. Some of the Bass Pros will talk about Lake Erie bass fishing, too. Check out the Conference and Events Center this weekend. For a complete list of seminars, visit www.niagarafishingexpo.com. Another spot to try if you do make it out this weekend is the warm water discharge in Dunkirk Harbor. A few trout have started to show up. Use minnows, egg sacs or casting spoons and spinners for best success.
5. Chautauqua Lake
The northern basin of the lake has been producing some decent fish – perch, panfish and a few walleye according to local fish promoter Craig Robbins. During the Pro-Am Ice Fishing Tournament last weekend, the big winners came from the flats off Mayville. Walleye have been hitting in eight feet of water by anglers using jigs off the bottom through six to 10 inches of ice.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Water
Oneida Lake – Still getting some good reports on both perch and walleye from this Central NY lake, especially off Cleveland area on the north shore; around Big Bay area; and other areas like Lewis and Godfrey points, as well as Bridgeport. Walleye seem to be coming from 20-30 foot depths. Jigs tipped with bait or jigging spoons are catching fish.
Conesus Lake – Ted Decker at Ted’s Tackle on Conesus Lake sends word that he will be holding his first annual Ice Fishing Derby starting Saturday at 9 a.m. and running through Sunday at 1 p.m. Prizes will be awarded for the top three pike and crappie, as well as for the biggest bass, walleye and tiger musky. Sign up at 5772 Big Tree Road, Lakeville or call Decker at 585-429-0587.
Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.