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Lake Erie Fishing Hotline

January 23 to January 30, 2015

Lake Erie Tributaries

Two yellow perch caught while ice fishing.
Ice fishing is in full swing in western New York.

Most of the Lake Erie tributaries remain locked up with ice. There are some open spots on Cattaraugus Creek at the Springville Dam and in Gowanda, but that is about it. Productive wintertime steelhead baits include egg sacs, egg pattern flies, trout beads and hair jigs tipped with a waxworm (fished under a float). In cold water conditions, it is best to keep drifted offerings slow and deep, as steelhead are more lethargic and hugging the bottom. It is also good to concentrate efforts during the warmest part of the day when chasing winter steelhead. For those new to steelhead fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page for information on steelhead fishing equipment, locations and links to stream maps.

Lake Erie Harbors

The majority of Dunkirk Harbor is iced over, with only a small open area near the DEC fishing platform. Anglers can target trout from the platform with live minnows, spoons, spinners and egg sacs.

Ice Fishing

Thanks to the extended cold spell, most lakes in western New York have good solid ice. Ice anglers should still keep in mind that ice thickness can vary greatly on the same body of water, especially if there are springs, stream inlets or heavy snow cover. Before you head out on the ice this winter, remember that a minimum of 3 to 4 inches of solid ice (blue or black, not white) is the general rule for safety, for individuals on foot. Five inches of solid ice is more suitable for small groups fishing together. Drilling holes or tapping with a spud bar to check ice thickness is recommended on your way out, or when moving around. Safety ice picks, boot cleats, throw rope and a floatation device are recommended safety supplies. Use good judgment and fish with a friend when possible. Those new to ice fishing can check the Ice Fishing Basics page for more information. See the Lake Contour Maps page for maps organized by county.

Buffalo Small Boat Harbor

The harbor has thick ice of about 8-9 inches. Anglers have been catching many small yellow perch and sunfish, with a few keepers mixed in. Tip-ups with shiners produce the occasional northern pike.

Chautauqua Lake

The south basin has plenty of ice, while the north basin has varying thickness of 5 and 8 inches. Anglers out of Mayville have reported good action in the shallows of 5 to 10 feet. Small jigs with grubs are producing many bluegill and perch with some nice keepers mixed in. Mayville is a great place for kids of all ages to fish. The bays of the south basin are also producing some nice sunfish catches. Crappie have also shown during low light periods off Mayville and in the south basin. Seasoned anglers are picking up some walleye. Depths of 20 feet plus off Long Point, Dewittville or Prendergast are good starting points. Anglers generally target walleye during low light periods with jigging Rapalas or spoons tipped with minnow piece or grubs, as well as tip-ups with shiners. Yellow perch can be found from 4 feet of water out to the deepest holes, but finding good numbers of keeper-sized perch is a challenge. Jigs with grubs work great, but when you are catching nothing but dinks, consider using larger jigs or a slender spoon with a minnow.

Cattaraugus County Lakes

A number of small lakes in Cattaraugus County have good ice and offer a variety of ice fishing opportunities. Case, Harwood, Allen, New Albion and Redhouse Lakes offer fishing for smaller yellow perch and a variety of sunfish. However, there is also an opportunity to catch large breeder trout that were stocked in the fall by the Randolph Fish Hatchery. Quaker Lake offers decent sunfish and northern pike fishing and was also stocked with breeder trout in fall.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; michael.todd@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.