1. Lake Ontario and tributaries

The topsy-turvy weather patterns have kept anglers guessing as to what to expect on any given day along lake tributaries or hard water angling in harbors, embayments and ponds. Down below Burt Dam, Ken Jackson of Sanborn had to battle icy conditions on Tuesday to take one steelhead on his standard jig tipped with a wax worm and fished under a float. Egg sacks or egg pattern flies will also work for you. The pool below the dam was almost frozen over and the water was still a bit high and stained, but very fishable if you can locate some open water. It’s supposed to be cold again this weekend, posing another ice problem for waders. However, if you’re fishing the Niagara River Anglers’ steelhead contest on Saturday, this could be a sleeper spot should the river continue to be too muddy to fish. Over in Wilson, there was some ice fishing going on according to Terry Swann, but he hasn’t seen very much catching. The occasional northern pike has been coming through the ice by using tip-ups. Braddocks Bay, Cranberry Pond and the northeast corner of Irondequoit Bay are all good hard water spots producing perch right now. Over at Oak Orchard, Ron Bierstine at Orleans Outdoor reports that not too many fishermen have been braving the cold of late, but conditions are decent as far as water and fish numbers. He caught a few trout the other day using egg pattern flies. Don’t forget the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s Fishing Expo and Flea market set for Feb. 24 at the 4-H Building of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Lockport from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit www.lotsa.org for more details.

2. Lower Niagara River

Capt. Bruce Blakelock of Lewiston reports that water conditions are still too murky to fish as of Wednesday. With any luck, the water should be clear enough to catch fish by Saturday — the start of the Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest sponsored by the Niagara River Anglers Association. If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so at the Lewiston Landing launch starting at sunrise. Cost is $20 for members; $35 for nonmembers, but that includes an annual membership into the NRAA. If the boaters are doing well, don’t rule out some shore fishing in the gorge along Artpark, Devil’s Hole or Whirlpool for steelhead. Fishing the shoreline with spoons, spinners, egg sacks or egg imitations are all good baits to hook a fish with.

3. Upper Niagara River

Lots of ice to deal with, along with muddy conditions. Not too much to report until things clear up.

4. Lake Erie and tributaries

Not too much to report the past week with little fishing pressure due to the terrible weather. Cold weather arrived back on the scene and most of the holes are frozen over again. Add in the fact that we received more snow and you can see the problem. If you want to wet a line, your best bet might be the warm water discharge at Dunkirk near the fishing platform.

5. Chautauqua Lake

Ice fishing is going on right now according to Craig Robbins. Spot producing fish have been in Burtis Bay, off Grass Island and inside the buoys in that particular area around the weed lines. Perch, smallmouth bass and walleye are all being caught on salted minnows in eight feet or less right on top of the weeds. Walleye are also hitting at the northern section of Dewittville

Bay in front of the campground in 12 to 18 feet of water, right in front of the beach. Jigging spoons tipped with minnows or grubs will work, as will straight salted minnows.

6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters

Honeoye Lake — Ice fishing is still going strong on the lake according to Dan Sharp at Honeoye Bait and Tackle. Crappie fishing has been best in the late afternoon and into the early evening on Oak leaf bugs and fathead minnows. The bigger ones have been taken a little further north of he lake from the extreme south end, where much of the fishing has been taking place. Seek out the weed lines. Walleye are also being taken on a consistent basis, with anglers usng bass or pike shiners under a tip-up.

Conesus Lake — The north end of the has been the place to be due to excessive mud run off in the south turning the fish off. The north end is sporting 6-8 inches of ice. Northern pike are being caught on tip-ups rigged with big pike minnows. A mixed bag of perch, crappie and bluegills are also being reported.

Canadice Lake — There was 4-5 inches of ice earlier in the week with anglers using tip-ups to take trout and pickerel. Some anglers are jigging up a few perch with Oak leaf bugs or mousies.

Seneca Lake — The pier at Watkins Glen has been the place to catch some perch from shore. If you want to venture out with your boat, 30 feet of water has been the magic depth. Minnows are the bait of choice. If you want to catch some pike, try using minnows inside the breakwall by Captain Bill’s in Watkins Glen.

Bill Hilts Jr. is the outdoor sports specialist with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at bhiltsjr69@cs.com.

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