Wind puts damper on ice fishing

There is plenty of safe ice around, but lately it has been too windy for ice fishermen to enjoy their sport.

I talked with Rick Miller in Irving, who reports it has been rough going out of Sturgeon Point. The ice shoves are so severe, anglers would find it hazardous to walk in and four-wheelers are unwilling to risk their machines on the treacherous surface. A few fishermen did try over the past weekend with mixed results, with most anglers returning empty handed. The Buffalo Small Boat Harbor also has been hit or miss with panfish and perch usually the target species. Smelt fishermen who frequent the Cattaraugus Creek area report 10 inches of ice on the creek, but the smelt numbers so far have been only a few.

My contacts on Chautauqua Lake report the ice fishing has been slow lately primarily due to the extreme temperatures and wind. Some areas have 15 inches of ice or more. Walleye have been reported from around the north end of the lake starting around Long Point. Start checking at about 22 feet and work out as far as 30-40 foot depths. Calico catches have included bigger sized fish at both ends of the lake, with some bragging sized blue gills to boot. Smaller sized yellow perch seem to roam the entire lake. Jigging rapalas in blk/gold, blk/silver, fire tiger and the new parrot color scheme, in sizes 7 or 9 seem to be the best bets for luring walleye. Beaded spoons work well on panfish.

A few anglers have been trying their luck through the ice at Barcelona Harbor. Expect lots of gizzard shad. The DEC expects a large shad die-off due to the extreme cold conditions we have experienced this year.

The Dunkirk Harbor has often been iced-in during the recent cold snap with a halo of ice usually surrounding the pier. Observers who have been touring the pier will notice there is open water surrounding the Dunkirk-based Department of Environmental Conservation Fisheries research vessel the “Argo.” The reason the water is open in that area is because there are several electric “bubblers” located underneath the vessel to protect it. A number of waterfowl seemed to be enjoying the open water around it on Wednesday afternoon. I spied golden eye, hooded mergansers, bluebills, butterballs and at least one redhead in that area. Bird watchers have also commented on the large flock of scaup that have been harboring in our area. Cool.

If you venture by the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club during daylight hours you may spy a couple of large white waterfowl which I believe are Mute swans. Mute swans are considered an invasive species which were brought to North America from Eurasia for ornamental purposes back in the 1800’s. The DEC would like to eliminate free-ranging mute swans from N.Y. by 2025, while allowing responsible ownership of these birds in captivity. For more information on the subject, email fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us and type in Swan Plan in the subject line.

Calendar:

The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club will host their annual fishing/deer hunting contest awards party Saturday Feb. 1 at the club. The event will start around 5-5:30 p.m. Anyone who was entered in the year long fishing contest or the deer contest is invited free. Guests are also invited for a small fee. Members are asked to bring a dish to pass if they so choose.

The “Con Club “annual Chicken Barbecue fundraiser for the “Take-A-Kid-Fishing program will be on Sunday, Feb. 23.

The Monday night Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Fly Tyers will meet Monday evenings at 6 p.m., weather permitting. The event is open to the public free of charge.

Raw fur pickup schedule: North American Fur Auctions (NAFA) location is Lucky Lanes bowling alley on Route 60, in Fredonia. Time is 4:30 p.m., on March 9 and April 28. The agent is Ernest Mosher and he can be reached by calling 315-868-6275. Note: The fur must be put up and dried. No green pelts will be accepted. First auction dates are Feb. 17-23.

Fur Harvesters Auction pick-ups will be at the old Tops Market parking lot off I -90. Take exit 59. Time of the pickup is 6-6:30 a.m. Pick-up dates will be, March 23. The agent is Toby Edwards. He can be contacted by calling his cellphone at 518-848-0217. Only dried pelts will be accepted. The first auction date is Jan. 7, while the second dates are March 13 and March 14.

If your club is hosting a shooting event, or training course (turkey shoot, etc.), drop a line and I will be glad to place an announcement in the calendar.

The Federation of Sportsmen from Sullivan County are hosting a three-day Coyote hunt from Feb. 7-9. They offer a $2,000 grand prize for the heaviest coyote weighed-in for the three-day hunt, a $200 daily prize for the heaviest coyote in each of the three days of the hunt, a $100 prize for the heaviest coyote taken by a youth (12-15 years old) and a $100 prize for the heaviest coyote taken by a female hunter during the three-day event. $100 will be awarded for all other coyotes weighed in during the three-day event. Early registration, post marked by Jan. 27, will be $30 per hunter, which will include the three-day hunt, a weigh-in dinner held at the White Sulphur Springs Fire House, located on Route 52 (exit 100 off Route 17). After Jan. 27, the entry fee is $40 with the deadline of 7 p.m. sharp on Feb. 3. For details, visit the website at www.sullivancountysportsmensfederationny.com.

A recent email announced the Harrisburg Pa. Sportsman’s Show is back with the backing of the National Rifle Association. The Harrisburg show schedule is Feb. 1-10 with Country Western star Trace Adkins performing Feb. 8.

Gun Shows: The Sportsman’s Show at the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, which is located off I-86 at Exit 20, 777 Seneca Allegany Blvd., Salamanca, will be Feb. 22-23. Call 569-6810 or log on to www.yorkpennshows.com.

Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to sports@observertoday.com.