Ready or not, spring is finally on its way

Ready or not, here comes the spring!

Whatever the weather may be outdoors, the fish and wildlife are getting ready for their annual spring rituals. Both of my contacts on Chautauqua Lake, Skip Bianco, from Hogan’s Hut in Stow, and Mike Sperry in Lakewood, report the crappie fishing turned on, especially on Wednesday.

Lakewood, and Burtis Bay are two recent hotspots for both crappie and bluegills. If you are looking for yellow perch, move close to shore into the 8- to 12-foot range. The crappie off Lakewood are also in shallow waters, especially near inlets. The ice is still reportedly 15 inches, but with the advent of warmer weather and precipitation, use caution.

Lee Weber of Webers Bait & Tackle, reports that the ice fishing for yellow perch out of Sturgeon Point continues to be good, but most anglers chose to avoid venturing out far on Wednesday due to the wind and weather.

Trout fishing in the Dunkirk harbor has been improving with many anglers hooking up with steelhead in the 2- to 5-pound range and brown trout that have been in the double-digit range. Some anglers have been able to hook up casting spoons, but treble hooks have a tendency to attach to the numerous shad that are packed into the harbor. On Tuesday, the anglers were almost elbow to elbow on the pier. On Sunday, I watched an angler battle a nice brown trout caught on a white maribou crappie jig presented under a bobber. The angler, Tom Luczkowiak of Brocton, reported getting into the bows on Saturday despite the brutal cold and driving wind. The fish preferred the west side of the pier which had clear water compared to the turbid water on the east side.

The inland trout stocking program reports that brown trout and rainbow trout will be stocked in Goose Creek in North Harmony on March 28, and Clay Pond in the Town of Poland will be stocked with rainbow trout and two-year-old brown trout on the same day.

Bay State Brook at Red House, Quaker Run at Cold Spring, Red House Brook and Science Lake at Red House will all be stocked with brown trout on March 31. On March 26, Cattaraugus Creek in the Town of Yorkshire will be stocked with brown trout. The Randolph Hatchery Stocking hotline is (716) 358-4950. This report is for Allegheny, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Wyoming Counties only. The hotline is updated weekly.

Calendar:

The next meeting of the Great Lakes Experience Planning Board will be on Wednesday, March 26 at 1:30 p.m. at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator, which is located on Central Avenue in Dunkirk. Plans are being made for the GLE to take place at Dunkirk’s Memorial Park on June 21. This event should be a great time and everyone interested in attending should mark the date on their calendars.

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

The Westfield Fish and Game Club located on Ogden Road in Westfield will be conducting a gun safety training course starting on Monday, March 25, from 7-10 p.m. The class will then resume on Saturday, March 29, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Students must attend both days and be at least 12 years old. For more information, call 326-3218. They will also offer a trapping course on September 17 and 18 from 6-10 p.m. Limit 30 students.

The Falconer Rod & Gun Club will host a trapping course on Sept. 24 and 26 from 5:30-10 p.m. each day. Register the first day.

There will be gun safety courses at the Bear Lake Rod & Gun Club located on Route 310 Cassadaga-Stockton Road on April 10 and 11 from 5-10 p.m. Must attend both days and pre-register by calling Rich at 595-3917. There will also be another course on July 10 and 11, which will use the same time frame. The archery course at the Bear Lake club will be on Aug. 20 and 21 from 6 until 10 p.m. Two-day attendance is required as well as pre-registration. Their trapping course will be on Oct. 16 and 17 from 6-10 p.m. both days. Limit of 35 students.

There will be a gun safety course at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club on April 16 and 17 from 5-10 p.m. Two-day attendance mandatory. Call Gary at 366-3397. There will be another two-day course given on August 27 and 28. Note these classes are limited to 35 students.

Another two-day course will be on September 24 and 25. Same time frame.

There will be one date for the archery course at the “Con Club” on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. There is a class limit of 60 students. Bring a lunch. Pre-register by calling Gary at 366-3397.

The trapping course at the “Con Club” will be on Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Limit 60 students.

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 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.

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. 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.

Gun Shows:

The Sportsmen’s Show at the Little Valley Volunteer Fire Dept. will be on April 5 and 6. Admission will be $5 with kids under the age of 12 admitted free. For information on directions, or to be a vendor, call Jim Miller at 938-6928.

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