BY BILL HILTS
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries
While fishing was pretty much shut down for any reports for this week because of the weather, we can still dream about fishing by making plans to attend Bass University and the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Show in Niagara Falls the weekend of Jan. 24-26, 2014.
The headliner for both events will be the bass magic man, Mike Iaconelli. Other professional bass fishermen who will be in town giving instruction include Pete Gluszek, another co-founder of the Bass University concept, John Murray, Bernie Schultz, Chris Zaldain and Ott DeFoe – a pretty impressive lineup of great fishermen. Check out thebassuniversity.com or the show website at niagarafishingexpo.com.
Tributaries should be starting to settle back down after all the rain and snowmelt last weekend, but with the cold weather ice cover could pose an additional problem. Your best bet will be Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek if you want any chance for success, according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Water was still high and stained as of this report, but it was fishable – steelhead and browns. There was concern over some downed trees that were posing some additional problems there. With the off-color conditions, use brightly colored jigs tipped with a wax worm or meal worm and fish it under a float. Trout beads will also work.
It appeared that Keg Creek was finally blown out at the mouth and that could bring some fish into that tributary. No reports on ice yet in places like Wilson Harbor. The Oak was reporting steelhead and browns, too.
2. Lower Niagara River
Water conditions were greatly affected by the rain and runoff of snow melt, but that was already starting to improve at mid-week. From boat, the Lewiston launch ramp was in good shape and gravel supplied by the Village of Lewiston is on hand to assist with any icy conditions. As soon as the fish can see your bait, you’ll be able to catch steelhead, lake trout and the occasional brown trout. A few walleye were also being reported the last time there were fishermen on the water. Minnows and Kwikfish lures were the top two baits, but egg sacs should also be an option, too.
Remember that lake trout season opens up on Jan. 1, 2014 in the lower river and Lake Ontario on the New York side. The Province of Ontario side is already open. And speaking of the Canadian side, the new license year starts up on Jan. 1, 2014.
On the New York side, the sporting license website is still shut down so you are out of luck if you need a license until after the first of the year. No exact date has been announced as to when it will be up and running again.
Shore fishermen can do well this time of year, but caution is advised due to ice and slippery conditions. Remember that the stairs at Artpark are out of commission.
3. Upper Niagara River
The conditions in the upper river have been muddy and no reports have come in since the storm last weekend. As waters clear, look for perch action to pick back up around Broderick Park, with an occasional trout being caught on spoons and egg sacs.
4. Lake Erie and tributaries
No reports on the ice in the Buffalo Boat Harbor as of now, but with continued cold temperatures in the forecast, that could change by the weekend. Caution is advised as always. Tributary action is a no-go with the rains and snow melt – all are blown out. When things do settle back down, look for a fresh run of fish to show up.
5. Chautauqua Lake
No safe ice was being reported since the storms last weekend.
6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters
There were no reports of any safe ice after the storm last weekend, according to Ted Decker at Ted’s Tackle in Lakeville. That could change by the weekend. Feel free to give Decker a call for current conditions of western Finger Lakes sites 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.