Use caution while ice fishing as the lake warms up

It is great to see sunshine and warm temperatures finally arrive in Western New York!

Even though the temperature will cool off for the rest of the week, the weatherman predicts warm temperatures will return during the early part of next week. Ice fishermen may not be as happy to see this occurrence, but the warming trend has already started to open up parts of Lake Erie, as well as smaller inland lakes.

This columnist took a road trip to East Aurora and back recently and noticed many of the creeks in that area were running high and fast with the recent snow melt. Closer to home, Cattaraugus Creek was high and dirty, and will most likely remain that way for a while, especially if we get some precipitation. Some of the smaller, hard-bottom creeks did look fishable Wednesday. Canadaway Creek was also running fast and high. With the creeks starting to flow, you can probably expect a shift in location for the trout with the activity on the City of Dunkirk Pier being sporadic. Anglers can probably shift their attention to bullheads after a good warm rainfall to two.

Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut reports there is already open water on Chautauqua Lake at Celoron, and other areas with anglers already resorting to using planks to cross the soggy, if not open areas, to gain access to firm ice. One angler reportedly fell through the ice earlier in the week when he hit one of the pressure cracks in the ice. Look for the channels and bays to start opening up with the continued warming trend. Skip also noted he has expanded his line of tackle for panfish and walleye, so stop in.

Mike Sperry, reporting from his bait and tackle store located at 165 W. Fairmount, Lakewood, reports anglers were still getting crappie at the south end of the lake as well as Prendergast and Mayville. Goose Creek, which was stocked recently, is open year round and has been the target of many anglers from around that area.

Lee Weber in Derby reports ice fishing on Lake Erie has slowed down recently. There were reports of an icebreaker going through the shipping lanes earlier this week with two ships following, so the end is coming soon. Some ice safety tips to keep in mind if you do consider venturing out: Go with a partner, take a cell phone and leave word with family members where you are going and what time you intend to return. Carry ice spikes or hand grippers so you can pull yourself out if you do fall through. Walk with a spud – sometimes refered to as a poke pole – to help gauge the quality of ice in front of you. And remember, no fish is worth your life! Not even the monster walleye that was recently taken by John Grubenhoff, while fishing the Columbia River in the state of Washington.

An article from the In-Fisherman publication, reports Grubenhoff was using a J-13 blk/silver Rapala presented on a two-ounce bottom sinker, with a six-foot long ,17-pound test monofiliment leader and line, trolling upstream in the current. Grubenhoff knew he was in trophy fish water and had started the day off with a 14 pounder. The Grubenhoff monster reportedly was taken Feb. 28 and weighed 20.32 pounds, with a length of 35 1/2 inches and a girth of 23 inches. Wow!

Calendar:

The DEC is looking for waterfowl hunters’ recommendations to regional Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces for the dates of the fall 2014 duck seasons. Waterfowl hunters are invited to submit their suggestions in the season setting process to any task force members by the April 4 deadline, by going to the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42364.html. The members are listed in alphabetical order. You can also contact the DEC Bureau of Wildlife by email at fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Hanover Fish & Game will host a 10-week trap league, starting March 30. Cost for the league is $20 plus $5 per week for shooting. Shooters must have four weeks shot by April 27. Shooting will be Sundays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., and Thursdays from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. For more information, contact Mike Nasal at 679-6059 or Mark at 713-2776.

The next meeting of the Great Lakes Experience Planning Board will be in April at 12:30 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. This event is going to be a lot of fun, so make plans for you and your friends to attend.

New York Sea Grant’s annual “State of Lake Erie Meeting” will be held on Thursday, April 10 from 7- 9 p.m. at the Southtowns Walleye Association Club House located at 5895 Southwestern Boulevard, Hamburg. Guest speakers and topics will be: Status of Lake Erie fish community by NYSDEC Don Einhouse, Lake Erie sturgeon by Dr. Dimitry Gorsky, Microplastics in Lake Erie and fish health by Dr. Sherri Mason and an update on Lake Erie toxic algae blooms by Helen Domske. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Southtowns walleye will also feature a one day yellow perch contest on May 17 for $10 per entry. Cash prizes, free perch dinner and lots of fun. Must be a member ($35). Southtown Walleye’s annual walleye tournament is June 7 through 14. Must be a member and $35 entry per contestant.

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 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.

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.