• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, 2018 Brown Trout Prospects

    Posted on September 8th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    A hefty 13" yearling brown boated in July, 2017,

    September is here and the lake fishing season is winding down, time to think about the 2018 season.  And, what a season it should be, especially for spring and summer brown trout fishing.

    Anyone who fished spring browns in April, May, and June out of Oswego will tell you that 2-year old browns, some of them up to over 6 lbs. by late May were super abundant.  They were gorging on one of the largest ever year classes of 2-4 inch yearling alewives…, perfect forage.

    Oswego anglers will also tell you that because of the excellent salmon fishing from midJune thru September, summer fishing pressure on brown trout was almost nonexistent.  Harvest of all browns, including the abundant 2-year olds, was way down.

    Now comes the best news…, survival and growth of yearling browns stocked in May, 2017, looks excellent based on the unusually high number of yearling browns boated aboard the Fish Doctor, all caught, incidentally, while fishing for salmon.  These browns are in tremendous condition, some with tails of yearling alewives sticking out of their mouths.

    All of this adds up to what should be an outstanding 2018 spring and summer brown trout fishery out of Oswego.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Plan Ahead to Book in 2018

    Posted on September 5th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Planning ahead for a prime time date produced a limit catch of kings.

    It was the evening of August 12, 2014, and I was just about to hit the sack after morning and afternoon charter fishing trips on Lake Ontario.  The voice on the other end was a father who wanted to book a late August or early September fishing trip for him and his two daughters.  Telling him my late season calendar was completely booked was disappointing to him and frustrating to me.  Not only should he have planned further ahead to book a charter,  he should have done a little homework. 

     Planning and preparation are crucial in booking a charter trip anywhere.  Call early for best dates and don’t be afraid to ask questions.   Good captains are proud of their reputation and fishing services and will gladly answer your questions.

     Ask what size and type of boat the captain fishes.   Safety is the top priority. Your captain must be U.S. Coast Guard licensed and fully insured.    You will rarely find a veteran Ontario captain fishing less than a 28 footer.  Your charter fishing vessel should be fully equipped with USCG required safety gear, plus radar, a VHF marine radio, a chart plotter, and the best of fishing gear. 

    Ask if your captain fishes full time or part time, and how many trips he fishes per season.  Time on the water is important in locating and catching fish consistently.   

    Ask about lodging.  Many charter captains either provide their own, or arrange it for you at cabins, lodges, bed ‘n breakfasts, or  motels.   Captains also know the   best places to grab an early morning cup of coffee or a good meal.

    Ask for and check references.  Check the captain’s web site.   When you ask about price, remember you usually get what you pay for.   

     As easy as it is to arrange a trip by email, a quick phone conversation will help you feel out your captain.  When personalities aren’t compatible, it’s tough to have a good time even if fishing is outstanding.

     Tell the captain what you expect.   He will tell you if your expectations are reasonable.  Do you want to fish on a boat with the help of a mate, or would you prefer a hands on experience where you and your friends get involved in  rigging lines, and hooking your own fish?  

     Work with a captain to schedule your trip during prime time  for the species of fish you want to catch.  In Lake Ontario fishing for trout, salmon, walleyes, and bass  peaks at certain times.  If you want to lake fish for browns with light tackle, your captain will recommend a trip in April, May or early June.  If your sights are set on catching a king salmon, late spring or summer is best.

    Before you arrive at the boat, talk to your captain about what you’ll need.  Sun glasses, appropriate clothing, a camera, and a small cooler for lunch and beverages is standard.  Your captain will have an iced cooler on board for your fish.  Everyone 16 years of age and older will need a New York State fishing license, available online.

    When you arrive, be on time with the gear you need without overloading the boat.     Once you’re onboard, the rest is up to the captain.  Let him worry about details like tackle and techniques.    Any fish you catch and want to keep to eat or have mounted are his responsibility.    Most captains or mates gladly clean and package your fish free of charge, or provide fish cleaning facilities.  Wall hangers should be separately bagged, carefully stored on ice, and delivered to the taxidermist of your choice.

    When the boat leaves the dock, sit back with a cool drink, enjoy the ride, and relax, confident you’ve done everything you can to enjoy a great Lake Ontario charter fishing trip.

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Now is the Time for Kings!

    Posted on June 29th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Val and "Sammy" with a 22-pounder boaterd on 6/26/17

    If you’re thinking about booking a trip to fish for king salmon out of Oswego, you could not pick a  better time to fish for kings than RIGHT NOW!!!  We’ve been boating limit or near limit catches of kings for the past week or so, and it looks like the great salmon fishing will continue.

    Just ask Val and Diane DeCesare and their crew who boated well over a dozen kings, steelhead, lake trout, and rainbows on June 26.  Yesterday it was Brian and Matty’s turn and they boated their limit of kings while releasing others.

    The kings are just offshore, less than 5 minutes from the Oswego lighthouse. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Salt Ice for Fresher Fish

    Posted on June 29th, 2017 admin No comments

    This June 26, 2016 catch of trout and salmon aboard the Fish Doctor was kept fresh on salt ice.

    The only charter boat fishing out of Oswego Harbor that cleans trout and salmon onboard before returning to the dock is the Fish Doctor, AND…, we are very fussy about keeping fish as fresh as possible.

    That starts with bleeding and rinsing every trout and salmon that comes aboard the Fish Doctor.  The next step is putting the fish in our onboard cooler with salt ice to keep fish as fresh and cool as possible until they are fileted.

    Salt ice?  Yes, salt ice, 1 gallon jugs of water to which 3 heaping tablespoons of salt have been added.  Adding salt to water before freezing it lowers the freezing temperature of the water, meaning the ice will actually be colder than frozen fresh water.  When salt is added to water, the temperature drops: A 10-percent salt solution freezes at 20 F  and a 20-percent solution freezes at 2 F.

    That’s why you see the liquid in the bottom of a Fish Doctor cooler at the end of a trip frozen to the bottom of the salt ice jugs.  Not so with a frozen  jug of regular fresh water.

    Bleed fish, keep them rock hard on salt ice, filet them fresh taking care not to get any slime on the filets, and you’ll have the best tasting fish possible that keep much fresher for much longer in your frig or cooler..

  • Oswego Brown Trout Fishing Conditions

    Posted on April 7th, 2017 admin No comments

    An Oswego brown trout double boated on one rod in early April

    Despite recent fluctuations in the weather, plus high winds, early spring brown trout anglers are eyeballing the Oswego area, tops for browns in eastern Lake Ontario, waiting to get on the water.  If you’re one of these anxious brown trout fisherfolks, here’s an update on the Oswego fishing conditions.

    Flow in the Oswego River is crucial to spring brown trout fishing out of my home port.  The higher and muddier the water, the better the brown trout fishing conditions, and we do have high water!  This morning, April 7, 2017, flow was 25,300 cfs, 1.6 times higher than normal.  Temperature was 44 degrees.  Perfect.

    On Wed, April 5, temp on my Fish Hawk at my  boat slip(#21) in Oswego Marina was 45.3 degrees.  East of Oswego in 20 feet of water on the afternoon of April 5, the water was muddy, I’m guessing a visibility of 1 foot or less and the water temperature was 44.4 degrees.  Nice.

    With all the  recent rain, plus snow predicted today in the 5,000+ sq. mile Oswego River watershed, you can bet on high flow in the Oswego River well into April and probably May.

    Oswego anglers could not ask for better spring brown trout fishing conditions.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Steelhead Egg Take

    Posted on April 7th, 2017 admin No comments

    A Lake Ontario steelhead.

    Each fishing season Lake Ontario anglers enjoy some of the finest steelhead fishing in inland waters on the North American continent. To support that fishery the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation(NYSDEC) stocks close to one half million yearling steelhead raised at the Salmon River Hatchery in Altmar, NY.  This stocking, plus the yearling stocking policy for Lake Erie requires and annual egg take from adult steelhead at the Salmon River Hatchery.  A recent email from the NYSDEC reported the following results from the ;

    “NYSDEC Salmon River Hatchery staff completed Steelhead egg collections on Wednesday April 5th, 2017. More than 640 female steelhead were spawned over four days, resulting in over 2.4 million eggs collected (exceeded the 2.15 million egg target). Fish hatched from these eggs will be raised in the hatchery for approximately one year, and will be stocked as spring yearlings in 2018. An additional 149,238 eggs were collected from Skamania strain steelhead.  Steelhead are stocked every spring in tributaries to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie where they contribute to the open lake and tributary fisheries. Current Lake Ontario Steelhead/rainbow trout stocking includes 497,700 Washington strain yearlings, 43,000 Skamania strain yearlings and 75,000 “domestic” strain rainbow trout yearlings. Lake Erie tributaries are stocked with 255,000 Washington strain steelhead annually.  Steelhead are an important component of the world class fisheries supported by lakes Erie and Ontario.”

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Color and Noise for Muddy Water Browns

    Posted on March 31st, 2017 admin No comments

     

    A catch of muddy water browns all inside Oswego Harbor in early April

    On March 31, 2017, when I drove across the Utica St. bridge in Oswego and looked at the Oswego River it was high and muddy.  Later, checking online, I found that water temperature was 40 degrees.  Oswego brown trout trollers could not ask for better early April conditions.

     Early season browns crowd into shallow water looking for the warmest temperature they can find, a perfect setup for catching them on stickbaits.  When the Oswego River  is high and muddy that means browns will be in warm, turbid water with low visibility.  In these conditions, once you find browns, the key to catching them is lure selection.

     That normally means noisy, brightly colored stickbaits, with lots of action at slower trolling speed. .  This puts Smithwicks 3 ½” and 4 ½” floating Rattling Rogue with its tungsten rattle near the top of the stickbait heap for catching early April browns.  Jr. Thunder Sticks, Megabaits, and Rapalas are some of my othe go-to brown trout baits in muddy water.

     Turbid water Smithwick  patterns that catch fish when it’s sunny are the  fire tiger and clown. When it’s overcast or mixed light conditions you’ll catch browns on Smithwick patterns like the black/silver/orange belly and  blue/silver orange belly.  The clown and a plain blue/silver Smithwick will catch fish in lightly colored water.  Another fish catcher, if you can find them,  in lightly colored water is the Megabait in  the Kiro Kin and Blueback.

     Lots of other stickbaits in many other patterns will catch browns in early season muddy water, but the ones mentioned above will get you started.

  • Oswego Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Early April Fishing Conditions Report

    Posted on March 31st, 2017 admin No comments

     

    A 2-yr old Oswego brown boated on April 12 near the Oswego lighthouse.

    With my charter boat, the Fish Doctor, scheduled to go in the water at Oswego Marina on Monday, April 3 and my first charter trip scheduled on April 8 the question now is, what do the fishing conditions, especially for brown trout,  look like???

     The answer, considering lake temperature, Oswego River flow and temperature and the 7-day weather forecast…, PERFECT! 

     NOAA says the average lake wide surface temp on March 31 is a smidgeon shy of 40 degrees.  Flow in the Oswego River increased from 7,000 cfs on Mar. 24 to 20,000 cfs on Mar. 30 with river temperature rising from 36 degrees on Mar. 24 to 40 degrees on Mar. 31.   River  water is muddy.  The 7-day weather forecast calls for no snow, but rain 6 of 7 days, daytime highs averaging 48 degrees and nightly lows averaging 36 degrees, none below freezing. 

     High and muddy  Oswego River flow  +  river temps above normal +  lake temp above normal + enough rain forecast to keep river flow high + 7-day temps well above freezing = PERFECT spring conditions for Oswego brown trout, plus inshore lake trout, and occasional spring cohos, domestic rainbows, Atlantic salmon, and even a chance of early season king salmon.

     See you on the water!

  • Oswego Brown Trout Fishing…, Key on Gobies to Catch Oswego Browns

    Posted on March 21st, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Browns gobble gobies as large as 8 inches

    Each season I launch my boat in early April when no other Oswego charter boats are on the water  to take advantage of the early spring brown trout fishing around Oswego Harbor.  And, each spring, I see the same thing…, almost 100% of brown trout stomach contents are gobies.

    Early spring browns gorge on gobies and anything else available around Oswego Harbor until spawning alewives move inshore, some years as late as June.  Occasionally I see gizzard shad, spottail shiners, and even a few alewives in April browns, but usually they are feeding heavily on gobies.

    So what does that mean to brown trout trollers?  Well, to answer that question, you have to take look closely at a goby and consider it’s behavior.  The description in “Biokids” is excellent;

    Round gobies are small fish with large, frog-like heads, raised eyes, soft bodies, and spineless dorsal fins. Males are generally larger than females. They have a distinctive black spot on their front dorsal fin. Mature round gobies are covered by black and brown splotches that lighten when they are alarmed” Gobies reach 7 – 8 inches in length in the Great Lakes and have fused pelvic fins called a suctorial disc with which it attaches to the lake bottom in current.

    Important to brown trout trollers, gobies, 1) prefer a rocky bottom, 2) rest or literally crawl around on rocky bottom substrate using their oversized pectoral fins, 3) only leave bottom when alarmed, and then only momentarily rise up off the bottom, 4)reach a length of 8 inches or so, and, 5)according to what I’ve been told, move offshore in the winter and then back inshore when shoreline water temperature warms.

    Think bottom!  When actively feeding on gobies,  early spring browns are bottom oriented nd muching bait up to 7 – 8 inches long.  Surprisingly, many early season brown trout trollers ignore this, and fish small lures well up in the water column with no regard to rocky bottom substrate. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, About Gobies

    Posted on March 20th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Just the tail of a goby protrudes from the mouth of an early spring Oswego brown trout.

    Lake Ontarie fishermen know that the round goby is now abundant after being introduced through ballast water from ocean going ships.  Some things you might not know, as reported by the U.S. Geological Survey are interesting, including the fact that larger gobies feed on zebra mussels.  Check out these excerpts from the USGS report.

     “The diet of larger round gobies consists mainly of zebra mussels, which no other fish species of the Great Lakes consumes so heavily, allowing round gobies to uniquely exploit a resource that could fuel a population explosion . Walleye anglers in Detroit report that at times, all they can catch are gobies, which eagerly attack bait (Marsden and Jude 1995).”

    If you have fished with worms for Lake Ontario for smallmouths you’ll agree that gobies are wall to wall in some areas of rocky bottom and real gluttons for worms.

    “The invasion of round gobies into Lake Erie has had very real environmental and economic impacts. The State of Ohio has shut down the smallmouth bass fishery in Lake Erie during the months of May and June. The reason is that high predation rates on nests are affecting smallmouth recruitment. Under normal circumstances male smallmouth bass guard nests and are effective in keeping round gobies away. When males are removed, round gobies immediately invade and have been shown to eat up to 4,000 eggs within 15 minutes. The months of May and June normally account for 50 percent of the total smallmouth catch in Lake Erie so there will be a considerable loss in funds generated by recreational fishers.”

    I have never observed gobies preying on unprotected smallmouth bass nests, but have observed while scuba diving clusters of yellow perch with their noses down and tails pointed upward gobbling eggs from smallmouth nests.

    “Goby introductions may also be a vector for the spread of avian botulism. The change in behavior of infected gobies make them preferred prey items to piscivorous(fish eating) birds. At Lake Erie, botulism infected birds had been feeding more on round goby compared to uninfected birds (Corkum et al. 2004).”

    “Not all impacts of the introduced round goby are negative. Round gobies comprise the majority of the diet for Lake Erie water snakes  and the abundance of gobies has been credited for the increase in population size, increased growth rates, and larger body size of the snakes (King et al. 2006). Due to their increase in abundance, the Lake Erie water snake was removed from the federal Endangered Species List in 2011.”

    Endangered Lake Erie water snakes!  What next?

    “In addition, round gobies provide an abundant food source for several sportfishes including walleye, yellow perch, and largemouth/smallmouth.”

    Add to that, brown trout, especially in early spring when browns we catch in the shallows are gorging on gobies.  Once the alewives move inshore, however, you rarely find a goby in a brown.  I have also seen gobies in lake trout, and even king salmon, and have heard of them in cohos in late August in Mexico Bay.

    “Increased abundance of round goby in the diet of double-crested cormorant may reduce chick growth and reproductive success, due to a lower energy density compared to other native fish, and thus could provide some control over cormorant.”

    Recent studies show gobies in eastern comprise up to 96% of the stomach contents of cormorants in eastern L. Ontario