Local yellow perch fishing has been good lately
Sportsmen dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is a lot like dealing with the weather in Western New York. You have to expect changes all the time.
Earlier in the week, the fishing for yellow perch offshore was great. Anglers were reporting near limit catches, with the majority of the perch being large females. While it is great that the anglers are finding active perch, that little voice called the “conservation conscience” might bother some anglers about removing all these spawn-laden future fish frys. Last year, when we had a similar situation, I voiced my concerns to members of the scientific fishing community and was assured that the sheer numbers of fish (perch) in the Lake Erie food chain would not be severely impacted by the removal of these fish during the traditional ice out fishing spree.
The concern now is social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ideally, all persons are to keep a distance of 6 feet from one another to prevent the spread of the virus. Visualize the length of an average spinning rod to gauge 6 feet. Typically this time of year, most of our boat launch sites are not up and running. The COVID-19 situation will delay that prospect even more. If you read the notice on the third page of the Friday OBSERVER, marinas are deemed non-essential and the time frame for them opening this year is unknown. Boat launches may be barricaded or access may be denied entirely.
In the meantime, until such action goes into effect, anglers will have to show some restraint. Avoid congregating at fishing sites. If you do launch, use your head while parking your vehicle and trailer. Obey all posted notices, so we can continue at least limited fishing opportunities. Don’t litter! Do not park on restricted areas. Earlier in the week, there were reports of anglers tearing up the lawn at some sites. Use your head.
It looks like the pandemic will impact us at least until the end of April. It’s not the end of the world, and hopefully we can look forward to walleye fishing in May. There were lots of success stories about perch fishing by Sturgeon Point. The problem is you cannot launch a boat at Sturgeon because it’s too shallow. Launching further east involves a long run in open water. With limited access that creates a funnel and concentration of anglers. That in turn will prompt action/re-action from those in authority. Have a back-up plan. Remain cool.
As of Friday afternoon, all boat launches at Chautauqua Lake remain open. Earlier in the week, shore line fishing for crappie was best at the south end including Smith Boys and Ashville Marina. For boaters, the area near the mouth of Mud Creek was active. Once the water levels straighten out, look for trout action to continue in all area streams. Anglers have also reported catfish and lots of bass in Cattaraugus Creek. Expect the bullhead bite to continue once the warm weather returns.
Looking for something to do? Go hunting for shed deer antlers and clear out your shooting lanes near your tree stand locations. Break out the lanterns and try some night time angling. If you spy these nocturnal beacons, and decide to approach, be friendly but keep your (safe) distance.
Calendar: Southtowns Walleye Association remains optimistic and has sent word that they as a group will adhere to safety protocols and will be following all federal, state and local mandated regulations. Members and potential members can still renew their memberships, sign up for their walleye derby, register the kids for the Kid’s Day event, register for the perch fishing contest (mid May), or volunteer for working a weigh-station spot all by going to their website at www.southtownswalleye.com. You can also keep in touch with the club by calling (716) 649-8202 and leave a message. The SWA club sends word that they have secured all of their corporate day sponsors for 2020, so once the virus threat is over, they can hit the ground running. For more details go to Facebook at www.facebook.com/SouthtownsWalleyeAssociationOfWnyInc/