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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

January 18 to January 26, 2019

Lake Erie & Tributaries

The Lake Erie tributaries are pretty much locked up with ice, with a pile of snow on the way this weekend. Fishing will certainly be challenging. Best bets for open holes is on Cattaraugus Creek at the dam and near Gowanda, and the upper sections of Buffalo and Cayuga Creeks. Productive wintertime steelhead offerings include egg sacs, egg flies, trout beads and small jigs tipped with a grub (fished under a float). Drift baits and flies slow and low. For those new to steelhead fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.

Niagara River

Trout fishing has slowed on the lower river recently. Steelhead and brown trout are reportedly spread out from Devils Hole to the mouth, with no consistent hot spots. A three-way bottom bouncing rig with egg sacs, Kwikfish lures or trout beads works well for boaters. Shore anglers can target trout by drifting egg sacs, egg pattern flies, shiners or jigs under a float, or by casting medium-sized spoons and spinners. Lake trout season opened on the lower river on January 1st. Also on January 1st, the daily limit for walleye dropped from 3 to 1. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) Fishing Platform is closed for winter season. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario & Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

The freestone streams in Niagara and Orleans Counties are mostly frozen over. Oak Orchard Creek is the best option as it remains mostly free of ice and has moderate flow with around 2 feet of visibility. Fishing pressure has been light at the Oak. Anglers have recently been catching modest numbers of steelhead, including some fresh fish. See the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries page for more information.

Ice Fishing

Many of the regional lakes and ponds now have safe ice for ice fishing. In addition to the specific reports below, ice anglers are also fishing on Redhouse Lake, Cuba Lake, Case Lake, Harwood Lake, Bear Lake, Loon Lake and many other small lakes in the southern tier. However, 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.

Buffalo Boat Harbor

The inner harbor had solid ice around 3 inches on Tuesday. However, winds broke up much of the harbor's ice on Wednesday. Currently, harbor ice is thinner than the DEC's safe recommendation of 4 inches.

Chautauqua Lake

Chautauqua Lake is completely locked up with ice, and anglers are reporting that most parts of the lake have between 4 and 6 inches of solid, clear ice. Ice may be thinner off Mayville, near the Bell Tower and near stream inlets. Anglers generally catch lots of yellow perch, but expect many throwbacks for every keeper. There is also good opportunity to catch walleye, as population levels are up. See the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Silver Lake

Ice is reportedly between 4 and 6 inches lake-wide, and is a mix of clear and white ice. The south end is a popular spot to set tip-ups for northern pike and to jig for bluegill. Deep sections of the lake are a better bet for yellow perch.

Honeoye Lake

Anglers report 4 inches of solid ice over most of the lake. Expect thinner ice near stream inlets and in spots near the northwest corner. Deeper sections of the lake are typically good for yellow perch. Shallow weedy areas are best for bluegill, chain pickerel and largemouth bass. The bonus walleye catch is possible in shallow and deep water. Fish have been finicky according to early reports.

Conesus Lake

The north and south ends have 4 inches of solid ice, but ice starts to get thinner approaching deeper water. The north end off Vitale Park is a good spot for bluegill. Tip-ups and shiners can produce decent to good catches of northern pike, along with the bonus tiger muskellunge.

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; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

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