It’s a free fishing weekend in New York! Feb. 16 and 17 are designated Free Fishing Days in the state, originally approved to help promote ice fishing in the state. It looks like there will be plenty of that going on, but thanks to some untimely warm ups, make sure you check your ice thickness, especially around the shoreline. While you don’t need a fishing license, you do need to abide by the regulations for the body of water you intend to fish. Check out the DEC website at dec.ny.gov for more info. The only hardwater action going on is Wilson Harbor in Tuscarora Bay. Steelhead, pike and panfish are the types of fish being caught. Soft water action in the lower Niagara River has been on fire. At least when you can get out there. Heavy winds last week pushed lots of ice into the river and created problems for a few days around the launch ramps. When the ice was gone, though, it was game on. And it’s blowing again right now! Capt. Matt Yablonsky has been doing well on trout and walleye using a mix of minnows, egg sacs and plugs like MagLips or Kwikfish. These are all fished off three-way rigs. All the main drifts are holding fish and they are eating everything. Incidentally, the daily limit on walleye is 1 fish in the lower river. Shore anglers in the gorge are also catching some fish on No. 4 spinners, jigs and egg sacs but caution is advised due to the icy shoreline. Above Niagara Falls, walleye action has been good for jiggers in some of the deeper holes. Denis Kreze of Fort Erie even caught an Atlantic salmon this past week, a very rare catch indeed for this stretch of river. The Niagara River Anglers have rescheduled its Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead contest for the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario tributaries. The date is March 2nd and the hours are sunrise to 2 p.m. with awards to follow at Lewiston No. 1 Fire Hall. You must be a member of the club to compete. Call Paul Jackson at 998-8910 for more info. Also on March 2 is the Antique Fishing Tackle Ice Breaker show at the Elk’s Lodge on North Canal Road in Gasport from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring your old fishing tackle in. Lake Ontario tributaries are tough to fish right now with the ice and cold temperatures. Look for open water near dams like Burt. The WNY Boat Show is coming up next week, set for Feb. 20 to 24 at the Adpro Center at One Bills Drive in Orchard Park. Admission is free on Wednesday and Thursday. Check out www.wnyboatshow.com for details. Happy Valentine’s Day!