Tonawanda News

January 3, 2014

FISH FORECAST: Ice fishing picking up on Lake Ontario

By Bill Hilts Jr.
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — 1. Lake Ontario and tributaries

Happy New Year!

Ice fishing in the Wilson area has taken off again with some safe ice of up to 5 inches being reported, according to Matt Wilson of North Tonawanda. There’s been a good mix of perch and panfish with the occasional trout, with one of the best baits being small chartreuse tear drop ice jigs tipped with wax worms. Fish were being caught at both Wilson Harbor in the back bay and at Roosevelt Beach.

While 18 Mile Creek was a bit muddy earlier in the week, look for conditions to improve by the weekend with the influx of cold weather for both steelhead and browns. One of the best spots has been at the dam at Lyndonville on Johnson Creek. Greg Stanley at All in the Same Boat in Newfane landed a 16-pound steelhead there earlier in the week on a black and red jig. Chartreuse will also work, clean or tipped with a wax worm. Olive-colored jigs in a 1/32-ounce size and tipped with a wax worm or meal worm will also catch trout.

It is cold out there this week, with temperatures into the single digits and wind chills below zero. There will be a slight warm up over the weekend, but it will return to cold temperatures by Monday.

There’s still been no word as to when the sporting license site will be up and running again as they switch over to a new system. If you are in need of a license before then, you are out of luck. The website will announce when it’s working again or you can contact your local license issuing agent as to operational status. 

2. Lower Niagara River

Just when things were looking for up last weekend, the dirty water finally caught up with the lower river and shut things down. And with 40-mph winds in the forecast blowing in the new year, water conditions probably won’t improve much by the weekend. Single-digit temperatures and below zero wind chills will keep people from fishing until the short warm up over the weekend. Add in the fact that access will be limited due to construction issues at the NYPA access road and Artpark, and you might be better off staying in front of the fireplace until things settle down.

Remember that the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Show is set for Jan. 24-26 at the Conference and Events Center in Niagara Falls, which also includes two days of The Bass University ( and the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association Salmon School and Marketplace ( Be sure to mark it on your calendar. A few exhibit spaces are available if you want to be an active participant. Call Chris S. at 278-2123 for more info.

3. Upper Niagara River

Water conditions are poor for upper river action in the open water, but ice fishing at the Buffalo Boat Harbor is starting to take off according to Matt Wilson of North Tonawanda. He was reporting 5-6 inches of ice earlier in the week and it’s probably thicker now. When he made it out, he did very well on perch in the 8-12-inch range using chartreuse tear drop ice jigs tipped with soft plastic Trout Magnets or an emerald shiner.

4. Lake Erie and tributaries

With temperatures into the single digits and snow over a foot expected in many of the areas south of Buffalo, look for fishing action to be put on hold – even if temperatures get back up into the 30s on the weekend. The “warm-up” will be short lived. If you really want to try and wet a line, your best bet might be the warm water discharge in Dunkirk or through the ice at the Buffalo Boat Harbor.

5. Chautauqua Lake

The New York Pro-Am Ice Fishing Tournament Series will be held Jan. 18-19, with the official weigh in to be at the Ashville Fire Hall in Stow. The Series boasts $75,000 in cash and prizes for the tournament trail. Compete in two divisions – Pro-Am Team and Open. For more info check out

Three inches of ice was being reported at mid-week in the Southern Basin of the lake so better ice should be available by the weekend.

6. Finger Lakes-Inland Waters

• Black Lake – The Northeast Ice Fishing Circuit will be holding its first event Jan. 12. If you are interested in participating, contact Jeff Snyder at 585-322-0063 or check out for details. The latest at Black Lake comes from Roll Away Bay where they are reporting 6 to 8 inches.

• Honeoye Lake/Silver Lake — Reports have come in saying that 3 inches from 40-100 feet from shore drops to 1-2 inches, and that was the beginning of the week so you should be able to fish it by the weekend, according to Jeff Snyder. That’ll be just in time for the Northeast Ice Fishing Tournament, held Jan. 19 on Silver Lake and Feb. 16 on Honeoye.

• Oneida Lake – Anglers are fishing on 4-5 inches in Big Bay.

Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at