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Anglers eager for season opening

FINGER LAKES--With the start of trout and salmon season Wednesday, April 1, anglers have been preparing for opening day before hitting the lakes and streams. In response, area bait and tackle store owners have been working to provide fishers with what they need to be successful this spring.
"They are buying single hooks, [and] mostly fishing line because many already have their rods and reels, and people are calling about getting night crawlers, so I got some of them in," said Gerald Pease, owner of Fishy Business bait shop located at 3737 Pepper Road in Keuka Park. "[...] Most of my people are fishing the lake." He said since there is still ice out on the lake, some anglers will be using ice fishing equipment opening day.
Pease said most people have been fishing for lake trout, but with April first opening day, they will also begin fishing for rainbow trout and landlocked salmon that can be found in Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. He said many people will be trolling for them once the ice goes away on Keuka Lake.
"[The most popular fishing spots] are in Penn Yan for perch, pickerel and bass, over by the Keuka Lake State Park for lake trout, perch are scattered all over," Pease said. "The main three places on this lake are by the state park, Penn Yan and down by Hammondsport. That is where a majority of people will be fishing."
Pease said the main trout fishing is in Naples and Millport. He said the best times for fishing are first thing in the morning until 10 a.m. and then 4 p.m. until dark. Pease said on the lake, the fish are most active in May and June, along with September, October and November.
"There is too much boat traffic up here during the summer, and the lakes are all warm," Pease said. "I generally won't fish at all during the months of July and August because there is so much boat traffic out there."
In Schuyler County, those looking to fish this season have been stocking up on different kinds of bait.
"For the most part [people are buying] the same stuff [they] use every year ... salmon eggs and egg sacs," said Shawn Hourihan, owner of Catherine Valley Outfitters at 1602 Route 14 in Millport. "Those are pretty popular. And then there are other things like trout worms, salted minnows, rubber eggs, trout baits."
Hourihan said where he is located, the artificial bait tends to work just as well as the real thing.
"A lot of artificial stuff works just as well out here as the real stuff," Hourihan said. "I guess with a lot of newer products on the market, they look and smell exactly like the real thing. It is easier to put a single rubber egg on a hook than it is to put a single real salmon egg on a hook. That way you can float an egg down the stream or down the creek and it looks like a real egg and smells like a real egg. When you use real salmon eggs, typically they are tied in netting so you don't have the true real look of an egg floating down the stream."
Hourihan said since he is located right by Catharine Creek, most people are looking to catch rainbow trout, adding he anticipates a good year to catch them.
"Down here we have a pretty solid rainbow trout run," Hourihan said. "Actually the fish are just starting to run now within the last week or two and push into the next couple of weeks. It looks like it is going to be an excellent year for trout season."
Hourihan said he is about 10 minutes south of Watkins Glen, adding the perch fishing is also getting better. He said many people are buying gear for perch fishing on Seneca Lake as well as for trout, although he added this time of year there will be more people fishing along the creek than on Seneca Lake.
"It is a pretty big time of year," Hourihan said. "The creek will be loaded with people shoulder-to-shoulder up here Wednesday, April 1."
Hourihan said Seneca Lake can offer a "huge variety of fish," including rainbow trout, brown trout, land locked salmon, perch and bass. He said the fishing in the area will see a peak from now through the month of April along the streams, adding May will pick up along the lake. Hourihan said each month has its advantages and disadvantages depending on what a person is fishing for, adding early morning when the sun is coming up and evening when the sun is going down are the most productive fishing times.

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