By Chris Kenyon
The prominent ice fishing location along the Seaway Trail is Sodus Bay, located in Wayne County. Anglers have driven two hours from Buffalo to bore holes in this 3,200 acre body of water. That’s a fairly long drive. One would have to set the alarm for 4 a.m. for a decent day on the ice.
Sodus is a large bay, and therefore a little intimidating to first time anglers; nevertheless, ice fishing should be a fun-filled adventure, not a daunting task, so let’s look at some tried and true hot areas. Of course, one of the essential requirements for ice fishing is to have those 3,200 acres of water freeze. Sometimes Sodus gets safe ice by Christmas…lucky for us. However, there have been a few winter seasons without any ice.
Historically, the first ice on Sodus Bay appears on the east side of LeRoy Island. LeRoy is one of the bay’s three islands, all located at the north end of the embayment. Parking is limited; however, you should be able to find a spot at the end of LeRoy Island Road, which is off of Lake Bluff Road.
Trophy-sized pike always swim around LeRoy, and ice anglers will set tip-ups in large patterns; running shiners at the bottom, 12 to 18 feet. Bluegill will also appear early in the season. This location is a hot spot; however, ice thickness varies greatly because of a slight current, and the wise angler carries a spud during early ice fishing in Sodus Bay.
Just south of LeRoy Island is another early-ice haven, especially for perch and bluegills. Straight out from Connelly’s Cove Restaurant, anglers will find tons of these fine pan-tasting fish. The water is four to five feet deep, and if you dangle a chartreuse teardrop jig at the bottom, you’ll connect. Try a spike on the end of the jig, then switch to perch eyes.
As the ice season progresses, the quarry that you are seeking tends to move around. The schooling perch that were initially in shallow water tend to go deep. Pike will also move, though they will remain at the weed lines. Fish the weeds, catch the pike. Go deep, catch the perch.
During seasons past, anglers were catching some nice perch in the cove north of the Waypoint Restaurant. The fish actually remained in that area for the entire winter. They were hitting in 18 to 20 feet of water. The bait remained the ‘ole standby jig, however, some anglers like the excitement of tip-down action, and were using perch minnows under their holes, rigged near the bottom. When the perch are hitting tip-downs, there is plenty of slipping and sliding on the ice as anglers check their set-ups.
Late February and early March is walleye time under Sodus Bay ice. The action is at the south end of the bay near Third Creek, which flows into Sodus at Shaker Heights Road. The walleye are at Third Creek, and you need to go deep. To fish these 30-foot depths requires quite a hike from shore. Many anglers bring their “machines” to find walleye hide outs.
For bait, the minnows work fine, but you can do just as well with Kastmasters, Swedish Pimples, or other heavy jigging spoons. Rigging big also attracts jumbo perch in this area of the bay.
If you are using minnows with your tip-ups, be prepared to pay $9 per dozen. At that price, those little fish become a rare commodity; an investment that requires tender loving care. Lose a minnow while rigging and $.75 swims away.
From the first ice at LeRoy Island until the last remaining safe ice near the south end, Sodus Bay consistently produces phenomenal fishing. Whether you target a specific species, or just want to enjoy whatever comes up through the hole, this bay will not disappoint you.
Word gets out fast within the ice fishing community. As the fish move, the shanties appear at different locations. If you are new to ice fishing, just follow the shanties. Usually if it’s crowded, the action is fast.
For weekly ice conditions, log onto www.waynecountytourism.com, and go to “Fishing Update”, or call Davenport Marina at (315) 587-4434, or Bay Bridge Sport Shop at (315) 587-9508. Davenports and Bay Bridge are full-service bait shops, located at the south end of Sodus Bay on Ridge Road.
At the north end of Sodus Bay, in the village of Sodus Point, there is the Sodus Point Bait Shop, another full-service establishment. Troy, Dawn, and Kayci Warren are always available for expert advice about ice fishing in Sodus Bay, and they have all the equipment needed for some productive hours on the ice. They are located at 8487 Greig St. Sodus Point, New York 14555. Call (315) 483-2183, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
All these bait shops are open the entire year. If you are traveling quite a distance, the last thing you want to see is a closed sign…that will not happen at Sodus Bay.
Chris Kenyon is an Outdoor Columnist for the Sodus Record-Sun and the Finger Lakes Times and freelances for several outdoor publications. He is a member of New York State Outdoor Writers’ Association and the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. He is also the Outdoor Recreational Coordinator for Wayne County Tourism.