Local waters slowly starting to freeze

Just when you think we will have ice fishing this winter, the weather man throws a curve.

The freezing temperatures we have experienced recently have firmed up ponds, and started to extend their icy reach across Cassadaga and Chautauqua lakes. I spoke with Lisa Green at the Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle shop located in Ashville, near Chautauqua Lake, and found there is about two inches of ice on Burtis Bay, but there is still open water north of the Bridge.

The Happy Hooker has been closed for most of the fall, and Lisa plans on officially re-opening Saturday. Winter hours of operation will be from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday-Sunday. For updates on ice conditions and bait availability, call the store at 763-5815. Lisa also recommended visiting for ice fishing reports. The weather forecast for the weekend and into the early parts of next week call for temperatures in the mid-30’s, but dipping back below freezing after dark. Listen for reports on safe ice conditions as they become available.

Did you catch the news report on Channel 7 on Wednesday evening? Sheri Mason, a SUNY Fredonia professor, along with her colleagues have found microscopic plastic particles in Lake Erie waters with the largest (above normal) concentration off Dunkirk to Erie. The suspected source of the plastic particles is from skin cleansers like facial exfoliants. The particles are about the size of fish eggs.

Rich Lazarczyk, a master trapper/hunter safety training instructor/archery instructor, announced at the last meeting of the Lakeshore Longbeards, that the DEC is looking for beaver carcasses for a research project. The meat will be left to attract predators, especially fishers, to get an idea on their population density. Call the DEC Allegany office if interested at 372-0645. The split duck season (Dec. 29-Jan. 13) opened up with a bang locally with several local hunters finding a way to make it out toward open water conditions. A lot of hard work, but the results paid off for the happy hunters. Area waterfowlers who have patrolled the Dunkirk Pier area with binoculars reported never seeing quite as many mallards as there were the first few days as well as thousands of canadian geese and flocks of redheads and bluebills. Unfortunately, most of those birds have moved on since then.


On Jan. 19, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Southtowns Walleye Hall, there will be a flea market-type sale of used fishing and hunting equipment, with free parking, free entry and food and drinks available. Tables are $20, with reservations due by Jan. 17. Call 649-8202 for information.

The local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Lakeshore Longbeards, will host its next meeting on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m., at Liberty Vineyards, located on Route 20, in Sheridan. Topic of discussion will include the upcoming membership banquet to be held on Feb. 9, 2013, at the Kosciuszko Club, in Dunkirk. Also on the agenda will be scholarship submissions. All local high school seniors are invited to participate. For more information, find the National Wild Turkey Federation online, and look for scholarship information. The deadline for scholarship submission to be eligible for statewide and national awards is Jan. 15, 2013.

Announcing the NYS Ice Pro-Am Tournament Series: There are three Main Tournament Events scheduled (If the ice co-operates) The first is on Tupper Lake, from Jan. 4-6. The second is on Chautauqua Lake, and is scheduled for Feb. 15, 16, and 17. The final event is on Sodus Bay, from Feb. 22-24. There are three divisions: Professional (1-2 anglers per team). The entry fee is $160 per team. There will also be an Amateur Division, which will be for singles or pairs. The entry fee is at $90 per team. The Open Division, which is for single anglers, is the final division. The entry fee is $40. Check the official tournament website at The official Tournament email address is info@FK

The SAREP Youth Fly Fishing Program will continue its 14th season of free fly tying and fly fishing classes on Monday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m., at the Fredonia Middle School Cafeteria. Field trips will occur shortly afterwards. Classes are free and are open to children and community members. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. The classes will continue to meet every Monday until early summer.

There will be a Fur Handling Seminar on Saturday, Jan. 5 at the Collins Conservation Club located on Conger Road, Collins. This FREE event will run from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Learn better ways of preparing your pelts. There will be kids games, prizes, raffles and the kitchen is open. There will be a fur buyer available after the event. Call Hoot at 532-2457, or Patti at 337-2556 for information. This event is sponsored by the Erie County Fur Trappers Association.

The Northern Chautauqua Beagle Club will host its annual rabbit hunt on Sunday, Jan. 13. The hunt is open to all area hunters. You can enter the day of the event at the club house located 8455 Fredonia Stockton Road in Fredonia from 6-8 a.m. Entry fee is $5. Awards and hot food available at the club around 3 p.m. For information, call Pete Criscione at 366-8989, Liz Dorman at 595- 3993 and John Depew at 789-5522.

For those of you interested in taking a NYS Pistol Permit Class, there will be one held locally on Jan. 26 from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. For information, call Gary Dudek at 366-3397.

The Jamestown Rifle club will hold pistol classes on Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 24 and April 28. You must be 21 years of age and a resident of Chautauqua County. All classes begin at 1 p.m. and last around four hours. Call Pat Hayes at 484-9301 for information.

Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to