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Lake Erie Fishing Hotline

February 5 to February 12, 2016

Free Ice Fishing Weekend: President's Day weekend (February 13-14, 2016) will be a free ice fishing weekend to encourage more New Yorkers to try Ice fishing while many are on winter recess. Residents and visitors age 16 and older will be able to fish the waters of New York State without a license, providing a great opportunity for people to learn about this popular sport.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Two yellow perch caught while ice fishing.
Yellow perch caught through the ice.

This week's warm temperatures, snowmelt and rain had all Lake Erie tributaries at raging high levels. High waters also broke up ice jams at creek mouths, leaving them open for steelhead entry. Cattaraugus Creek is still running high and muddy. There are still plenty of steelhead fishing options for the weekend, as all other creeks have dropped back to fishable levels. Productive wintertime steelhead baits include egg sacs, egg pattern flies, trout bead and small 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. For those new to steelhead fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page for information on steelhead fishing equipment, fishing locations and links to stream maps.

The damaged fish passage at the Westfield Water Works dam on Chautauqua Creek has been repaired. This fish passage gives migrating steelhead access to an additional 10 miles of stream that runs through a deep, wooded gorge. There are about 7 miles of public fishing rights easements (PFR) over that stretch of stream.

Upper Niagara River

Upper river waters are in decent fishing shape, with no floating ice. Recently, spoons and spinners have caught a few trout at Broderick Park. Keep in mind the Ferry Street Bridge remains closed, access to the island is at the bridge on north end.

Ice Fishing

Due to warm temperatures and rain, ice coverings have deteriorated on all waters. There is currently no safe ice in the region. Always remember 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 onto 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.

New ice fishing regulations are in effect. Anglers are now allowed a total of 7 "ice fishing lines" for ice fishing, in any combination. An "ice fishing line" means any device used for fishing through the ice, including but not limited to jigging rod, hand line, tip-up, tip-down, etc. Name and address no longer required on ice fishing devices.

Chautauqua Lake

No safe ice at present. Shore ice is gone in most places.

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.