• Lake OntarioTrout and Salmon Fishing…, Changing Salmon Behavior

    Posted on April 10th, 2016 admin No comments

     

    A 7/18/15 catch of kings.

    When I toured states like Michigan a few winters ago giving seminars at Chip Porter’s  “Salmon Institute” I often heard Chip Say, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always catch what you always caught.”  Chip used that saying to encourage anglers to improve their techniques and resulting catch rate or success. 

     However, in my experience that saying only holds true when fishing conditions remain the same.  If you’re fishing a good program and catching lots of fish you’re good to go, right?  Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.  But…, what if conditions change?  For instance, what if the water clarity of Lake Ontario changes as a result of a massive zebra mussel infestation and visibility increases from 3-5 feet to up to 35 feet?  How are those jointed chartreuse Rapalas you’ve caught spring browns on in shallow water working out for ya now?  Not so good, eh?  Time to quit doing what you’ve always done, eh?

     Well, it’s happening again.  This time with king salmon.  Always  reliable, right, showing up on the east lake around late June, concentrating on bait and providing good offshore fishing in July, and stacking up in Mexico Bay like cordwood in August and Sept.

     Concentrating in July?  Stacking up in August and September?  In the past two years?  Seriously?  Well, if you think so, you haven’t been fishing the southeast corner of Lake Ontario.  Things have changed.  If you’re still doing what you  always did, you’re missing the boat!

     Kings are showing up earlier in the season than ever, as we saw aboard the Fish Doctor when the first two kings of the season were boated on April 18, 2015, and we averaged 5 kings per  trip in May while most other boats were fishing browns. 

     On most days in July, kings were scattered far and wide offshore, and it took a “pedal-to-the-metal” program to consistently put any numbers in the box.

     In August and early September in Mexico Bay kings and cohos were not stacked up like cordwood, especially off the mouth of the Salmon River, and to pound that area day after day was futile.  Time to look elsewhere.

     If you’re still fishing for kings like you always did on Lake Ontario, most of the time don’t count on catching what you always caught!

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Light Lining Kings

    Posted on April 9th, 2016 admin No comments

     

    Rev. Thomas James with a light lined king he caught in May, 2014.

    A few years back on a clear, sunny day in early July, the water was rough enough on eastern Lake Ontario that the Oswego Pro-Am Tournament had been cancelled.  The early morning brown trout bite was a good one, but as the northwest winds drove the thermocline deeper and deeper, the browns shut down.  My move to deeper water for kings with  a full progam of dodgers and howie Flies was not producing, even though we were seeing kings near bottom in 130 fow.   

     After two hours with nothing, my crew for the day watched me switch the port boom  rigger from a dodger fly on 30# line to a  Monkey Puke Stinger  on 8 lb. mono, 35 feet behind the weight.  One hundred fifty feet of cable put it just off bottom and slightly below and behind the nearest dodger/fly on the port  corner rigger.  The Stinger fired in about 10 minutes. 

     Three hours later, after adding another Monkey Puke on the starboard  boom rigger, the Stingers had produced 4 kings, while dodgers and flies on 7 other lines had produced only one.  On other occasions I clearly recall, when kings were really in a foul mood, every king boated on my charter boat was taken on spoons, usually Stingers or Suttons,  fished on light line

     Ultralight king salmon gear is a part of the Fish Doctor arsenal, any time of the season.  On certain days and in certain conditions, especially in gin clear water under a midday sun,  light rigs fished with spoons will put more kings in the boat than heavier gear.  However, you have to be rigged properly, or you willl  lose a bunch of gear and some nice fish. 

    Light action Fish Doctor Shortsticks, Penn 965 International reels, Berkley Big Game line in 8 or 10 lb. test, and Sampo ball bearing swivels are my choice.      

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Cone of Disturbance Revisited

    Posted on April 5th, 2016 admin No comments

     

    Do not believe the old wive's tale that browns like this will not hit close to the boat.

    Every spring I see the same thing, and I’ve written about it before.  Two anglers trolling for browns from  a small boat with planer boats 100 to 200 feet from the boat and one or more planer board lines fishing from the boards way out away from the boat.  Meanwhile, my hottest planer board rod is just 15’ from my charter boat.

     

    Planer board lines fished in stealth mode far from the boat do catch fish, but day after day, depending on the conditions, the hottest rod in the water on my boat is just outside what I call the cone of disturbance(COD).  That is the edge of the area below and alongside the boat where fish, including brown trout, are pushed away from the boat by noise and electrical charge in the water. 

     

    COD varies from boat to boat with the “quietest” boats usually properly grounded, fiberglass inboards like mine, the “Fish Doctor”, while the noisiest boats are usually I/Os and outboards, especially on aluminum boats.  4-stroke outboards may be the exception.  The COD also varies with fish species, the COD for browns being wider than the COD for cohos which sometimes seem to want to hit a lure right in the boat!

     

    Envisioning a big V-blade snow plow pushing thru the water, you can see how fish are pushed away from a boat as it passes by, concentrating fish on the edge of the COD.  It makes sense then, if you’re running planer board lines, to run one or two lines right in the sweet spot, at the edge of the COD.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Trolling Speed Ruts

    Posted on March 23rd, 2016 admin No comments

     

    May 5, 2004..., four kings at once on a rainy morning

    It was May 11, 2006, and the spring king salmon bite out of Oswego Harbor had been vicious since May 2, when the kings first moved into the area.  My  charter for the morning was 89-year old Bob Shepard, his wife, 81-year old Jeanette, and their so called “younger” cousin, Norm, the youngest of my crew.  With just a ripple on the water and no other boats in the area,  conditions were ideal for my “experienced” anglers as we trolled eastward at 2.3 – 2.5 mph.  The eastern sky was lightening over Tug Hill Plateau.

     Because of their age and the fact that action had been fast and furious just at day break every morning, I decided to abandon my 7-rod spread in favor of three rods, two riggers and a thumper rod, to keep onboard action under control.  Fifteen minutes went by and nothing.  Hmmm???  Then the digital clock on my dash said 30 minutes without a nibble.  I added two Dipsys and two copper lines to the spread, not quite as confident as a half hour earlier.  Now the sun was thinking about poking above the horizon.  I could not believe what was happening.  I continued trolling at 2.3 – 2.5 mph, my standard spring trolling speed. 

     Then I realized I was violating one of my cardinal Fish Doctor rules…, AVOID TROLLING AT THE SAME SPEED STRAIGHT AS AN ARROW(unless its working!).  As I turned the boat slightly to port, finally, the copper rod with the Casper(flasher/fly) fired, the drag on the Penn 330 GTI reel screeching.  As I sprang for the rod, Bob threw his hand up with a, “I’ve got it, Ernie!”.  I watched in agony as the aged old boy very, very slowly made his way to the rod…, backing now streaming from the reel. 

     A hefty fish, Bob could barely hang on to the rod, not to mention battling the fish.  The hand writing was on the wall.  As much as I hated to slow the boat from what I considered ideal spring trolling speed(even though it hadn’t been working so far), I dropped the port trolling bag into the water, slowing the boat to 1.8 mph.  The king kept running and I feared the old man would either fall overboard or collapse on the deck of my cockpit.  That was it.  I hit “Auto” on the Simrad and dropped the second bag in the water slowing the boat to just over 1.0 mph.

     That is when 5 other rods fired, all with kings on them, one on a spoon, two on dodger/flies and three on Caspers.  Long story short, my crew eventually landed all 6 of those kings, two on riggers, one on copper, two on dipsys, and the sixth on a thumper rod.  Although, I feared any of the three might expire right there in the cockpit, the only one with elevated blood pressure was the captain, as I eyeballed wire lines, a copper line and a mono line criss crossing behind the boat.!

     Five kings hitting at once trolling at just over 1.0 mph and the third hitting off the board on the inside a turn???  The moral of this story is do not get stuck  in a speed rut.  If kings are hitting at what you consider the optimum speed, don’t change it.  If they are not, mix it up, changing trolling direction and speed, even if it’s way slower or way faster than you normally troll.  Oh, yeah, and bring some blood pressure meds with you, just in case J

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Dodgers and Flies for Spring Kings

    Posted on March 18th, 2016 admin No comments

    It was the morning of May 14, 2014, and the south wind had changed the spring king salmon pattern. On recent light westerly winds the kings were stacked up in the plume of the Oswego River as the west to east shoreline current carried the colored river water eastward. Now, the southerly wind pushed the plume straight out into deep water. As Jerry Haqquist and his family stepped aboard the Fish Doctor, I wondered if we would find them.

    It didn’t take long to find out when the tip of the center rigger rod dove toward the water, reel screaming. Minutes later our first king, a 13-pounder came to the net, victim of a chrome dodger and home spun silver/purple Fish Doctor fly. That’s right, a dodger/fly combo, one of the deadliest spring king salmon items on my charter boat, and one seldom used by others.

    As we continued to troll our newly found honey hole in the plume of warm water jutting out straight north into the lake the salmon action was steady with fish liking our program, a combo of dodger/flies and spoons.

    As I brought the boat around to the south in a slow turn, I saw the other charter boat that had been fishing browns in shallow water heading toward us. As we continued enjoying our success, the other charter boat made a wide circle around us, and trolled back to shore. I knew the captain, a good salmon fisherman had been close enough to see the salmon coming to our net mostly on dodgers and flies, and wondered why he hadn’t stayed on the salmon we had located. After filleting 7 nice kings up to 20+ lbs., plus some lakers, and steelhead, we returned to the dock at Oswego Marina.

    After my charter for the morning left, I walked over to the mate spoke with him, commenting that the dodger/fly bite had been good for us that morning, and wondering why they had not fished the honey hole. His comment surprised me…, they had seen the dodger/fly action, but had only fished a spoon program, which produced only one small king. He also said they did not have a dodger or flasher on board, but would have the next morning.

    The moral of this story is…, do not overlook dodger/flies for spring kings on riggers, Dipsys or copper(or leadcore), especially when fished in combination with spoons in a rigger program. Because spring kings are aggressively feeding, shorten leader lengths on flies to 19 – 21 inches. Plain old chrome/silver prism dodgers and an aqua fly or silver glo dodgers with a green crinkle fly are usually all you need.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Dodgers and Flies for Spring Kings

    Posted on March 17th, 2016 admin No comments

    It was the morning of May 14, 2014, and the south wind had changed the spring king salmon pattern. On recent light westerly winds the kings were stacked up in the plume of the Oswego River as the west to east shoreline current carried the colored river water eastward. Now, the southerly wind pushed the plume straight out into deep water. As Jerry Haqquist and his family stepped aboard the Fish Doctor, I wondered if we would find them.

    It didn’t take long to find out when the tip of the center rigger rod dove toward the water, reel screaming. Minutes later our first king, a 13-pounder came to the net, victim of a chrome dodger and home spun silver/purple Fish Doctor fly. That’s right, a dodger/fly combo, one of the deadliest spring king salmon items on my charter boat, and one seldom used by others.

    As we continued to troll our newly found honey hole in the plume of warm water jutting out straight north into the lake the salmon action was steady with fish liking our program, a combo of dodger/flies and spoons.

    As I brought the boat around to the south in a slow turn, I saw the other charter boat that had been fishing browns in shallow water heading toward us. As we continued enjoying our success, the other charter boat made a wide circle around us, and trolled back to shore. I knew the captain, a good salmon fisherman had been close enough to see the salmon coming to our net mostly on dodgers and flies, and wondered why he hadn’t stayed on the salmon we had located. After filleting 7 nice kings up to 20+ lbs., plus some lakers, and steelhead, we returned to the dock at Oswego Marina.

    After my charter for the morning left, I walked over to the mate spoke with him, commenting that the dodger/fly bite had been good for us that morning, and wondering why they had not fished the honey hole. His comment surprised me…, they had seen the dodger/fly action, but had only fished a spoon program, which produced only one small king. He also said they did not have a dodger or flasher on board, but would have the next morning.

    The moral of this story is…, do not overlook dodger/flies for spring kings on riggers, Dipsys or copper(or leadcore), especially when fished in combination with spoons in a rigger program. Because spring kings are aggressively feeding, shorten leader lengths on flies to 19 – 21 inches. Plain old chrome/silver prism dodgers and an aqua fly or silver glo dodgers with a green crinkle fly are usually all you need.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Slide Divers!

    Posted on March 12th, 2016 admin No comments

     

    Another Slide Diver "victim".

    If you troll for trout and salmon, and haven’t tried the Slide Diver or the Lite Bite Slide Diver you should.  It is a real fish catcher on my chart fishing boat, the Fish Doctor, and has really been smokin’ during the fantastic April-May king salmon fishing we’ve been enjoying  in the Oswego area of  Lake Ontario the past few seasons.

     Anglers who troll for trout and salmon are familiar with directional diving planers like the Dipsy Diver.  These planers attach directly to monofilament,  braided, or wire line and take your bait or lure down to target depths. The adjustable rudder on many of these  diving planers directs them to port or starboard of the boat.   These types of planers use water pressure against the angled surface of the diver to take the diver and the attached leader and lure to depth. 

     A drawback to standard diving planers…, the length of the leader training them is limited to a maximum of about eight feet or whatever length an angler can handle when the planer is reeled to the rod tip while landing a fish.  This is where the Slide Diver parts company with all other available directional and nondirectional diving planers.

     Slide Divers differ from all other diving planers and  are a major part of my trout and salmon arsenal aboard the Fish Doctor for one reason.  They are inline planers, that is the line passes through them and can be locked in place any distance ahead of the lure.  This allows a lure to be fished at any distance behind the Slide Diver, a huge advantage when trolling for boat shy trout or salmon just below the surface.  In many cases, a trout or salmon in the top 30 feet or less of water won’t hit a lure fished on a 6’to 8’ leader behind a diving planer.  Set that lure back 20’ or more and lock your line in place in a Slide Diver, though, and you’ll catch fish. 

     The Lite Bite Slide Diver is an improved version of the Slide Diver that has a different trigger mechanism, allowing even the smallest trout or salmon to release the trigger, avoiding dragging small fish behind the planer undetected.

     The setup I use on Lake Ontario to fish Lite Bite Slide Divers is a 9’ medium heavy rod with standard guides, and an ABU Garcia 7000 Synchro line counter reel spooled with 40# test Berkley braided line. The braided line is slipped through an 8 mm. bead and attached to 6’ of 15# to 20# test fluorocarbon leader with a barrel swivel.   The rudder on the Slide Diver is adjusted to the #3.5 setting taking the diver as far away from the boat as possible.  Spoons are normally fished 20 to 40 feet behind the Slide Diver.  When any size fish hits the spoon, the trigger on the diver releases and the diver slides back to the bead ahead of the swivel, 6’ ahead of the spoon.

     You will appreciate one of the greatest  advantages of the Slide Diver when a steelhead or landlocked salmon hits and goes aerial, leaping across the surface.  Instead of dragging a solidly attached diving planer along with it, increasing the chance for the hook to pull free, the inline Slide Diver  slides freely on the line, never allowing the fish to pull directly against the diver.

     Chris Dwy and Bill Purcell will attest to the effectiveness of Slide Divers after fishing them aboard the Fish Doctor on May 7, 2012, to boat a limit of king salmon and brown trout.  With the last king of their limit thrashing in the net, three more kings hit.   Chris and Bill had a triple on, two on Slide Divers.  All three kings were released unharmed to thrill another angler another day.

     There is a bit of a learning curve involved with using Slide Divers, but they are so effective for trout and salmon, the time it takes to learn to use them is well worth it.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Finessing Spring Browns

    Posted on March 6th, 2016 admin No comments

     

    Attention to detail like leaders puts big browns in the box

    Many anglers new  to brown trout trolling in Lake Ontario travel here each year with great expectations.  Despite all the publicity, videos, and photos of monster “football” browns it’s not as easy as it might seem.   Here are a few tips about leaders and main line that will help you catch spring browns on your first trip to Lake Ontario.

    First a little background…, It was only a few years ago when filter feeding zebra mussels invaded Lake Ontario and water clarity increased unbelievably.    In the old days, a chartreuse downrigger weight disappeared 3-5 feet below the surface.  Today, I’ve seen the same weight as deep as 36 feet.  Clear water has had a major impact on fishing in Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes, especially for shallow water browns.

    But, on the Great Lakes, fishing conditions are changing constantly, especially in the shallows.  A day or two of heavy west or northwest wind will muddy shoreline waters reducing visibility to almost nothing.  Following heavy rains, areas of the lake off  the mouths of tributaries will change from clear to cloudy.  A slight wind direction change, and the next day it’s back to  crystal clear conditions.

    Like many other successful eastern Lake Ontario charter captains who specialize in early spring brown trout, I’ve learned to cope with gin clear water to consistently produce good brown trout catches.   Finesse and attention to details are two of the keys.

    Here are a few leader and main line rigging tips that will help you boat more shallow water browns when you can  count every pebble on the bottom in 10 feet of water.  It’s the system, a combination of each of the parts, that’s important.  One without the other will only get you part way there.

    1.  Leaders – Using light leaders for browns in clear shallow water has put many hundreds of brown trout aboard my charter boat, the “Fish Doctor”.  The clearer the water, the more critical the leader.   Although fluorocarbon line wasn’t abrasive enough to suit my needs when it first came on the market, recent improvements are convincing.  Not only is light leader  less visible to brown trout, it doesn’t restrict the action of ultralight spoons and small stickbaits unnecessarily.   When I say “light”, I’m talking no heavier than 8# leader and sometimes in gin clear water, 6#.  My favorite leader material is Maxima Ultragreen with fluorocarbon a close second.

    2. Spool prerigged 8-foot leaders in 6 lb., and 8 lb. test on leader spools.   Rig  leaders with a chrome or black Size #1 Duolock crosslock snap on one end and a Size #7 barrel swivel on the other. “Chain” 8 or 10 leaders together on a spool by  snapping  crosslock snaps to the barrel swivel on the next leader.  Whenever a brown stresses a leader or knot, or abrades the monofilament, change the leader.

    3.  Main Line -  Light, abrasion resistant monofilament is a must when trolling  for browns in clear water using downrigger and planer board releases.  Some of these releases are tougher on line than others, but they all cause abrasion.  No matter what your preference is in line, do your homework and select tough 10# test mono.   Surprisingly, high visibility mono like the Maxima Fibre Glo I fish on my charter boat doesn’t  spook clear water browns when fished from planer boards. 

    Many anglers new  to brown trout trolling in Lake Ontario travel here each year with great expectations.  Despite all the publicity and photos of monster “football” browns, it’s not as easy as it might seem.   Attention to lines and leaders can make all the difference.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Ultraheavy Lakers on Ultralight Gear

    Posted on March 2nd, 2016 admin No comments

     

    Lake trouut liike this are a challenge on ultralight gear.

    Lake trout up to 20 lbs. on 4 lb. test line and ultralight downrigger rods on cowbells in 200 feet of water?  Someone must be kidding, right?  Wrong! 

    Every spring on eastern Lake Ontario, when lakers from 5 – 20+ lbs. blanket the bottom in certain deep water areas, producing catches of 30-50 laker trout per trip.  anglers aboard my charter boat, the “Fish Doctor”, land dozens of big lakers on ultralight gear, using cowbells trailed by F-7 Flatfish.  Ultralight rods are usually rigged with 8# test line, but a few  lakers have been landed on as light as 2# test line. 

    If you have trolled multiple blade cowbells, you know the resistance of the heavy gauge blades spinning in the water creates tremendous dragthat would double over an ultralight rod.  The drag from 7-blade “bells” like the Les Davis Odd Ball is so great, it’s tough to tell when a small lake trout hooks up.  Landing just the “bells” on ultralight gear from 200’ down would be a chore in itself.  How then, can a troller be using such light line on ultralight rods with cowbells and plugs to catch lake trout on bottom in 200 feet of water?

    It’s simple.  First, I use a new type of ultralight cowbell with large 5 ¾” by 2 ¾” prism taped blades made from thin aircraft aluminum.  Similar “bells” with smaller blades are also available.  Secondly, rather than attaching the bells to the line, they are fastened to the tail of the downrigger weight.  The Flatfish is then fished separately off a downrigger release attached far enough above the bell so it does not tangle in the blades. 

    In deep water, using the ultralight blades attached to the weight is critical because it reduces drag and  minimizes the angle of the downrigger cable,  allowing better depth control.  My three favorite cowbell finishes are the silver prism blade with a diagonal dark blue prism stripe in the sun, and a light chartreuse prism blade with a diagonal silver prism stripe or glow blades with a fluorescent green stripe when it’s overcast.  I usually start fishing with at least one of each color and let Mr. Lake Trout decide which he likes best on a given day.

    Each rigger is set up with a Flatfish behind the ‘bells” and a spoon on a cheater, 4’ above the Flatfish.  The F-7 Flatfish is fished on an 8 foot, 10 lb. test leader.  A small, size #1 crosslock snap on one end of the leader attaches to the eye of the Flatfish and a barrel swivel is tied to the opposite end.  Midway up the leader I tie in a small ball bearing swivel to prevent line twist if the Flatfish spins.    A Roemer stacking release with a heavy tension Offshore release attached to it is locked to the rigger cable about one foot above the weight.  After attaching the leader to the Offshore release, the Roemer release is adjusted so the F-7 Flatfish, which dives slightly, is  3’ behind the tail spinner of the cowbell and just inches off the bottom when the rigger weight contacts bottom.      The downrigger weight is then fished as close to bottom as possible, touching occasionally. 

     If the Roemer release is adjusted at the proper height above the weight, and the length of leader to the Flatfish is correct, the Flatfish will wobble  along enticingly, just a few inches off bottom, when the downrigger weight touches.  Fasten a 1/2 oz. bead chain keel sinker to the tail of the spinner to keep it from tangling in the leader.

    A chrome  or chartreuse/fire dot #0 dodger can be rigged in the same way, attached to the tail of a downrigger weight.  Make sure it doesn not spin by attaching a 3/8 oz. keel sinker.   Fish the F-7 Flatfish about 4’ behind it, with the release 8” above the weight.  If you arere fishing two downriggers, try a cowbells attached to one weight and a dodger attached to the other, both fished right on bottom.

    Some days lake trout seem to prefer the Flatfish, but on other days, for reasons I’ve always wondered, the icing on the cake is a spoon fished on a 6’ cheater leader attached with a Roemer Liberator about 4’  above the release.  The combination of the plug behind the cowbell and the spoon fluttering along 4’ above the attractor and plug, can be deadly, and often results in a double on the same rod.

    Lake trout can be extremely color selective.  Here are some colors that work;

                                                             Sunny

     F-7 Flatfish Color                                                         Spoon Color

    Chartreuse Dalmation                           ham. slv/lemon-lime #3200 Eppinger Flutterdevle

    Purple/black/glow                                 char/fire dot  #41 Alpena Diamond, or 3F Evil Eye

     Glow/chartreuse                                      ham. silver/brass  #88 Suttön,

                                                             Overcast               

     Purple/black/glow                                     glow  green #3F Evil Eye             

    Coach Dog                                                 black/silver or brass/green 3F Evil Eye

    Silver/Red Head                                    purple//bk diamond/white #41 Alpena Diamond   

    Because lake trout tend to follow slowly trolled lures more than any other trout or salmon species, using scent is important.  Onboard the Fish Doctor, every lure that goes in the water has been doctored with Smelly Jelly in either anchovy, herring or smelt flavor. 

    There you have it, an ultralight lake trout system that has worked for me in every New York State lake where I have ve guided, including Lake George, Lake Champlain, the Finger Lakes, and Lake Ontario.

    Capt. Ernie Lantiegne operates Fish Doctor Charters on Lake Ontario and itÕs tributaries and has 27 years of experience in the business on a variety of New York State waters.  He also worked as a fishery biologist/manager for the NYSDEC for 22 years.  315-963-8403  <fishdoc@dreamscape.com>

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Spring Brown Trout

    Posted on February 29th, 2016 admin No comments

     

    A buster brown boated caught shallow in warm water.

    When it comes to understanding behavior of spring brown trout, experience goes a long way, but you can’t beat adding to your education with any other available information.  In the case of Lake Onario brown trout behavior, one very valuable source of info is a radio tagging study conducted back in the 1980s by Dave Nettles, entitled “Ecology of Lake Ontario Brown Trout”.  You can access it online, <Ecology of Lake Ontario Brown Trout – Digital Commons …>

    In it you will find a wealth of.  In his master’s thesis Nettle explained, “The purpose of my study was to examine seasonal movements, behavior,and habitat preferences of brown trout (Salmo trutta) in Lake Ontario.

     

    “During fall 1980 and spring and fall 1981, the activities of 36 radiotagged brown trout were monitored near the southern shore of Lake Ontario between Port Bay and Point Breeze (Fig. 1). Underwater radio telemetry techniques were utilized to evaluate inshore and offshore

    periods of occupancy, range of movements, attraction to outflow areas, depth and temperature preferences, spawning success, and homing to original stocking sites.”  22 browns were radio tagged in the spring of 1981.

    Nettles and his team of researchers used radio  tags implanted surgically and attached.  These tags relayed back not only an individual frequency that identified specific fish, they also relayed back water temperature.  The radio tags could be detected to a maximum depth of 30 feet, after which the browns “disappeared”.

    It is the following findings of the spring radio telemetry tracking that are so helpful to spring trollers;

    1.   “Spring brown trout seemed particularly interested in stream and power plant outflows, often interrupting movements to remain in those areas for extended periods.  In spring, natural outflows are typically warmer than lake waters, as are power plant outflows.  Streams and power plant outflows were observed to attract brown trout as well as large numbers of smelt and alewives in spring.”

    2. “Spring radio-tagged brown trout engaged in more wide ranging   movements  than fall fish and in a predominantly eastward direction.  The profound lack of westward movement is subject to considerable speculation and probably results from 2 factors: 1) the current in this region of Lake Ontario is predominantly eastward; 2) eastward drift of lethargic fish as they recovered from surgical tagging.

    3.  “Elevated nearshore  turbidity levels seemed to reduce brown trout tracking success in spring 1981.  It was repeatedly noticed during fall brown trout radio-tracking operations that tracking success was often low during and after periods of heavy rainfall and increased shoreline wave activity that resulted in elevated nearshore turbidity levels.”

    4.  “Inshore brown trout movement appears to occur as soon as nearshore waters warm above 4 c.” (39 F)

    5. Offshore movement to deeper waters occurred as  nearshore water temperatures approached and exceeded 18 C(65 F)

    6.  “Although brown trout tracking success appears to peak at nearshore water temperatures less than

    8 c, brown trout transmitter-related temperatures indicate that an 8-18°C(46 – 65 F) range was preferred.   A total of 186 individual c transmitted daily ambient water temperatures ranging from 4.6-19.9°C(40 – 68 F) were recorded for active spring brown trout in Lake Ontario. Of that total, 83% were in the 8-18 C(46 – 65 F) range.  fish were rarely recorded in waters cooler than 8°C or warmer than 18°C when the 8-18°C(46 – 65 F) range was available for selection.”

    In my experience, having fished spring browns on Lake Ontario since 1978, and operating a charter fishing business since 198, 2my findings coincide fairly closely with the Nettles radio telemetry study with a few exceptions;

    1. Turbidity Related Movement – if conditions are right, browns will hang inshore in some very tubid water.  This probably depends on the type of tubidity, i.e., fine turbidity caused by clay in suspension off a creek mouth, versus turbidity from heavy shoreline wave wash that might contain coarser particles in suspension.

    2 . Don’t ignore inshore water warmer than 65 F.  I have limited out in 68 F water and   caught browns in surface temperatures up to 71 F on rare occasions.  Also, we’ve all seen browns feeding on the surface in 70+ F degrees in the summer, when cooler temperatures are only 50 feet(seconds) or so, below.

    3.  Never say never.  I remember one spring, maybe 15 years ago when there were NO browns inshore in April.  Browns finally showed up offshore over deep water north of Fairhaven.  A couple weeks later they moved inshore as usual.

    4. If alewives are staged on bottom in April just offshore, say in 100 – 150 fow, browns will be there, especially big browns.  Back in 2002, after limiting out on browns inshore with a charter group, we moved offshore to fish for lakers.  The first fish we caught on bottom in 154 fow was a 10 lb. brown, the largest of the trip!

    In spring the Fish Doctor inshore brown trout formula for dealing with water temperature is;

    Temps less than 47 degrees F – You’ll find browns in the warmest water you         can even if it’s in the low to mid 30 degrees F.  Fish reportedly can sense a half a       degree change in temperature, so even 1 or 2 degrees in temp can be critical.

    - Temps between 47 and 65 degrees F –  Look for browns concentrated around bait and/or structure, or in areas of colored water, especially if it is sunny

    - Temps above 65 F but not higher than 70(or so) F – Browns may still be inshore, near heavy bait concentrations, especially if the water is slightly colored and/or it is overcast.  Browns “hate” to leave shore in the spring!

    I rarely go offshore to target browns, but commonly catch an occasional one, some larger than average, at any depth.  The bottom line is the Dave Nettles “Book on Browns”, is pretty close, but he never claimed it was the bible.