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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

March 15 to March 22, 2019

Lake Erie & Tributaries

Creeks are wide open for the most part, although some creeks have ice jams at the mouth. Cattaraugus Creek and the Erie County streams are running high and muddy today. The Chautauqua County streams are also up, but they tend to drop back quicker than the Erie County streams. Some or perhaps all of the Chautauqua County streams could be fishable options this weekend. Anglers have been catching some fresh steelhead over the past couple weeks, and more will surely show as we transition to spring. For those new to steelhead fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.

Niagara River

The lower river is in great fishing shape for the weekend. Waters are relatively clear and there is limited floating ice chunks. Boaters continue to enjoy a very good steelhead bite, along with some brown trout mixed in. Steelhead are available in all of the drifts. Controlled drifting with three-way rigs with emerald shiners, golden shiners and egg sacs has been productive. Shore anglers can target steelhead at the State Parks. Shelf ice along the shoreline has been melting, but is still an issue up in the gorge. Be aware that walleye season closes on March 15 at end of day. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario & Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

Oak Orchard and Eighteenmile Creeks are running high and stained today. Levels appear to have peaked, but it will be at least a couple of days before they are fishable. There are no issues with ice jams limiting upstream movement of steelhead, so look for a fresh batch of fish when levels drop. The freestone streams are also a bit high and stained today, but some of the smaller streams should be an option later this weekend. See the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries page for more information.

Ice Fishing

This week's warm-up caused some ice deterioration on all waters, especially along the shores and near stream inlets. Do not assume that any water body has safe ice throughout, as ice thickness can vary greatly on the same body of water. A minimum of 4 inches of solid, clear ice is the recommended minimum for safely walking on ice. Five inches of solid ice is better for 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 floatation devise are recommended safety supplies. Use good judgment and fish with a friend when possible. Its also best to avoid areas near bubblers that protect docks from ice damage and areas near stream inlets or outlets. Those new to ice fishing can check the Ice Fishing Basics page for introductory information.

Chautauqua Lake

Ice thickness on Chautauqua Lake now varies greatly and is between 4 and 8 inches thick, depending on location. Shore ice is getting weak and there are open areas off stream inlets. Walleye season closes at midnight today.

Silver Lake

Silver Lake's main ice sheet is down to about 10 inches thick. Shore ice is generally weaker and there are some open spots along the shore. There are plenty of 8-9 inch yellow perch in depths of 20-35 feet, however they have been quite finicky. Silver Lake perch tend to show preference for jigs with grubs over small minnows. Consistently cycling through different jig/plastic/grub combinations helps turn more lookers into biters. Getting fish to rise up a few feet off bottom helps to entice a bite as well. Anglers targeting perch in north half of lake are also catching some short crappie, with the rare keeper mixed in. Northern pike are showing in the south end shallows, as well as at depths over 20 feet.

Spring Trout Stocking

DEC Hatchery staff will soon begin stocking in preparation for the traditional April 1st trout opener. However, some streams and lakes are open to trout fishing all year. Check the special regulations by county to see what streams are open for trout fishing now. All others open on April 1st. Thousands of yearling brown, brook and rainbow trout will be stocked in regional waterways. In addition, many of the popular trout waters will also receive stockings of two-year-old brown trout that are between 12-15 inches long. For County lists of stocked waters and numbers of trout to be stocked, see the Spring Trout Stocking 2019 page. Public Fishing Maps showing public access on many trout streams are available for printing.

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; Good Luck Fishing!

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