• Oswego Salmon Fishing Charters…, Oswego Salmon Bite Smokin’

    Posted on July 10th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    A limit of nice kings on June 25, 2018, for Bill and Dave.

    If  you’re thinking about booking a salmon fishing charter, do it now, and book it out of Oswego!  The Oswego king salmon bite since late April minutes out of Oswego Harbor has been one of the very best ever.

    Oswego Harbor is the largest and best protected Lake Ontario harbor with plenty of deep water right out the front door.  Just a week or so ago, kings were concentrated in water as shallow as 65 feet where we were getting our first bites just before sunup.  Right now as postspawn alewives are beginning to move offshore, most of the action has been in 100 feet of water or deeper.  Occasional browns and steelhead are also being caught along with the kings.

    July is a perfect time to book a charter for kings.  They are still feeding actively, mint silver, and delicious eating.  Both morning and afternoon fishing is good.

    The only hitch at this point is that many charters are booked heavily, especially on weekends, so you will want to contact them to book a trip ASAP.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…,Trolling Multiple Copper Lines

    Posted on June 13th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    Leonard Beebe, aboard the Fish Doctor on June 9, 2018, with a nice king he boated on 200' of copper.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It’s a lot of work, especially fishing solo without a mate, but multiple copper lines catch fish.  Mess up, and it’s a copper calamity!   Done properly, it often saves the day.

     

    The megaboards I use with up to 500’copper sections run nearly straight out boatside rather than  dropping back  like inline boards.  These  triple boards  are built with 3’ x 10” boards with Styrofoam flotation to keep them from diving in roughseas.  They are rigged on  200 feet of 300# test mono tether line on Great Lakes Planer System  masts and rod holders. 

    My choice for releases is the Scotty Power Grip Plus 1170.

    For copper reels, I prefer Penn’s  Fathom 40LW for 200’ copper sections with 35” Spectron backing, the Fathom 60LW  for 300’ sections with 50# Spectron backing, and the 345GTI for 400, 500, and 600’ sections with 50” backing. 

    Up to six 7’ copper  rods on the boards are stacked in the rod holders and a 9’ copper rod is used   down the chute All the copper rods  are custom built from E-glass blanks with oversized aluminum oxide guides and  tip tops. 

    Fifty feet of 30# Berkley Big Game leader on the copper is attached directly to flashers. An 8’, 20# leader added for spoons. 

    A typical midsummer, 7-copper spread aboard the “Fish Doctor” when steelhead and kings are suspended from 80 to 110 feet looks like this.  3 to 4 riggers set at 41- 62 degrees, with a combination of spoons and flashers.  Two to four wire dipsy rods fishing  the same temps.  Six copper lines, 400’, 450’, and 500’,  are set out 200’, 150’, and 100’ from the boat on each  tether line, with spoons on the outside four rods and 8” flashers on the shorter lines on the inside.  A 9’ Chute Rod with coded copper and a dodger/fly finish the spread.  

    Yes, there are definitely a lot of lines in the water at once and every once in a while when you contact a feeding cluster of kings all heck can break loose with multiple hookups.  And, yes, tangles can occur.  But, if you’re concerned about that, all I can say is NGNG(no guts no glory)!!!

     

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, June Fishing Charters the Best?

    Posted on June 13th, 2018 admin No comments

    Lennie Beebe battling an early morning king salmon aboard the Fish Doctor in early morning on June9, 2018

    One of the most common questions I hear is, “What time of the season is the best fishing?”  Well, it would take a book to answer that one, but in a nutshell;

    It all depends on what you want to fish and what type of tackle you enjoy.  If you want to fish for brown trout in shallow water, you generally must fish in April, May, and early June.  If you like  ultralight gear the answer is the same when we’re trolling on or near the surface with noodle rods and 8 to 10 lb. test line.  If you want the biggest kings and cohos of the season, you should fish in late August and early September.

    Good fishing any time of  the year depends on conditions.  If weather patterns and especially winds are consistent, with no major changes, fishing is consistent.  Get a big blow and it changes everything.  Fishing can be the best all season, but one major weather change, especially high winds, can change everything.  If you’re fishing when a major cold front comes thru.  Don’t expect a good bite.

    That said,  especially over the past 5 years, I think the best fishing of the season, especially because of the beautiful weather, calm seas, and multispecies catches, occurs in June.

    A few days ago , on June 9, 2017, I had a plan based on what I had been seeing and catching the previous few trips.  I talked with  Leonard Beebe and his  sons Adrian and Len that morning before we left the dock, and explained that there had been a lot of bait(alewives) and plenty of kings a little northwest of  the Oswego lighthouse and we should not have to go far to find them.  With consistent weather conditions and light winds, I guessed the kings had not moved far.

    We  never put the boat on plane as we left the mouth of harbor the compass bearing steady at 330 degrees.  My eye was on my Fish Hawk surface temp.  When it dropped from the 60s to the high 50s in 65 feet of water I started setting riggers, and slide divers.  Before  all of our lines were in the water a screaming drag on a slide diver rod shattered the early morning calm.  King on!

    For the next 5 hours action was steady and by 10:30 a.m., Leonard and his boys boated 13 kings up to 19 lbs., Keeping a limit of 9, most of them caught on rigger rods with line as light as 12# test.

    I wasn’t surprised.  King salmon fishing in June, 2017, and in many months of June before had been just as good.  Exactly one week earlier Karl Schmidt and his fishing buddies had done exactly the same catching one king after another their whole trip.  Two years earlier on the same first Saturday of June that Karl has fished for over 20 years, Karl and his crew had 10 kings and one lake trout in the boat by 6:30 a.m.

    On the way back to the dock, as I was filleting the kings that Leonard and his boys had caught, I was thinking…,  does salmon fishing get any better than that?

    Maybe June IS the best!

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Catching June Transition Kings

    Posted on June 4th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    Karl Schmidt with a June transition king, one of 8 boated on the morning of 6/2/18.

     

    It was early June as I eased my charter boat out of Oswego Harbor in search of king salmon and steelhead.  One eye was on the seas and the other on my compass and electronics.  My Garmin 3500 told  the story below us, my eyes read lake conditions, my compass bearing would lead us to the offshore hot spot we had fished the previous day, and perhaps most important,  my Fish Hawk speed/temp unit was continually recording  surface water temperature.

    I watched as the 72 degree surface water temperature inside the harbor dropped to 67 degrees just beyond the Oswego lighthouse, and then slowly decrease as we cruised offshore.  5 miles northeast of the harbor, we found what we were looking for, a break in surface temperature from the high 50s to high 40s in less than 100 yards.  My chart plotter showed we were very near the waypoint where we had boated steelhead, lake trout and king salmon 12 hours earlier.  

    The scumline along the break was obvious, with weeds, sticks, and other debris floating in it.  Even more obvious were the gulls that stretched along it picking insects from the  surface.  Not far below  that, I knew there were baitfish and predators, a classic June transition hot spot.

    The June transition is seasonal and all about warming late spring weather.  As late spring air temperature increases, surface temperature warms inshore, pushing trout and salmon offshore.  Meanwhile, because of the huge volume of 200 mile long, 50 mile wide, and 802 feet deep Lake Ontario, surface water temperature offshore remains optimum for kings,  steelhead and lake trout.  It is also  the time when alewives, that have wintered in deep water in mid-lake,  are moving onshore to spawn.  King salmon and steelhead  follow them, remaining in cold  water offshore. 

    There is no time of year when king salmon and steelhead are more active and more surface oriented than in June.  The only problem…, they can be very scattered and tough to locate.  June kings and steelhead are much more scattered than they are in midsummer when a thin band of rapidly decreasing water temperature separates a a warm upper layer and cold deeper laye, concentrating trout and salmon deep. Once you pin point aggressively feeding offshore kings steelhead in June, though, they are easy to catch.

    Locating kings in June is more about hunting than fishing, using a combination of old fashioned fishing savvy and state of the art fish finding electronics.  When trout and salmon are this scattered it is important to use a fish finder capable of locating fish, bait, and plankton at planning speeds.  When kings and steelhead are in the top 15-20 feet of water and can’t be detected effectively with standard sonar, experience reading offshore surface water to located feeding birds, current lines, and thermal bars helps pin point king salmon concentrations.

    In June, my mind set is…, “Find kings and you will catch them!”  At no other time of the year are they more actively feeding.  With no urge to spawn this early in the season, their two priorities are to be comfortable and to keep their bellies full.  Comfort meant optimum water temperature, available in June anywhere in the lake from the surface to the bottom.  Keeping their bellies full means feeding on alewives, their primary forage.  Find alewives and you find kings.  Find kings and get ready to open your fish cooler!

    With the proper equipment on your boat,  June kings and steelhead can run, but they can’t hide,  even in the  great expanse of Lake  Ontario. It may take more effort to find these these silvery battlers when they are scattered, but a cooler full of delicious late spring salmon and steelhead is well worth the effort.

    When transition kings and steelherad are in the top 30 feet and scattered, my “High, Wide, and Handsome” spread includes 3 to 5 riggers, two slide divers, and a total of 6 leadcore sections usually ranging from 2 two 7 colors, covering the depths from 8’ 28’., 3 on each of my Megaboards planning out +100’ on each side of the boat, boat traffic permitting. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon…, The Oswego Rules!

    Posted on May 11th, 2018 admin No comments

    One of many browns, plus rainbows and salmon boated in and around Oswego Harvbor on 5/11/18.

    There are a lot of ports along New York State’s Lake Ontario shoreline where trout and salmon are caught in the spring, but it’s tough to beat fishing out of the port of Oswego.

    Second largest tributary emptying into the lake, the Oswego River and it’s warm, rich plume that impacts several miles of the lake’s shoreline is a magnet to baitfish, alewives, and, following, them, predators…, trout and salmon.

    Last time the Fish Doctor was out deep in 150 fow, offshore surface temp was 38.5 degrees.  Inshore, surface temp in Oswego Harbor was in the mid50s.  Today, in 60 fow surface temp was 40 degrees and harbor temp was 60 degrees.  Browns and salmon we boated were stuffed with alewives.

    In a tough NE wind, it was too bumpy to fish the main lake, so every boat out of Oswego fished in and around the harbor, boating browns, rainbows, Atlantics and a few kings.

    Elsewhere on the south shore of the lake from the Niagara River to the Salmon River it was either impossible to troll or very, very lumpy.

    No wonder Fish Doctor anglers say, “The Oswego Rules”!

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, April, 2018 Oswego Brown Trout

    Posted on April 15th, 2018 admin No comments

    The Fish Doctor, moored at dock #21, Oswego Marina.

    If you’ve got a hankering to do some spring brown trout fishing, now is the time and Oswego is the place.

    Water temperature in Oswego Harbor was near 40 degrees the past few days and there are plenty of browns in the harbor and to the east of it.  There are also some lakers stacked up on bottom in 120 fow and deeper.  Along with the browns in shallow water near shore, occasional domestic rainbows are showing up.  Haven’t seen or heard of any spring cohos being caught, but there have to be a few around.

    Good numbers of 2-year olds are being reported, along with 3-year old and older fish.   Check out the attached pic of one of the browns boated on the Fish Doctor on April 13.

    The browns, even in early spring, can be a bit selective.  It didn’t take long a few days ago that the browns told us they wanted Stingers and 3″ stickbaits in black/silver/orange.  Fussy buggars!

    Weather has been an issue for sure, keeping us off the lake on April 14, 15, and, from the looks, well into the coming week.  When things finally settle down, spring fishing should be good.

    See you on the water!

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, 2017 NYSDEC Creel Census Results

    Posted on March 10th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    One of the largest king salmon ever boated on the Fish Doctor

    Whether it’s the Atlantic or a small New England pond, fishing is much the same everywhere.  Ask one angler how they were biting and you might here, “Never had a nibble all day!”  Ask another fishing the same water the same day, and you might  see a limit of beautiful brook trout in their creel.  So it is on Lake Ontario where success on any given day or during any given season may vary from boat to boat or location to location.

    Fortunately, to paint an accurate picture of the Lake Ontario fishery, each season the NYSDEC conducts a lake wide creel census, interviewing hundreds of anglers and sampling thousands of trout, salmon, and other species. 

    The 2017 lake fising census estimates are for April 15 to Sept. 30.  Although there are many variables involved and some of the census results, i.e., angler use, are estimates, much of the data, i.e., average size of each species harvested and success rate of charter boat anglers, is hard data. 

     Several  important factors dramatically affected fishing in 2017 for trout and salmon.  1) record high spring water levels, with only one public boat launch at Wright’s Landing in Oswego open for boat launching and many private marinas were struggling to operate with some permanent docks submerged. 2) excessive floating debris, i.e., large trees, docks, etc. which caused concern about boating safety. 3) Record high king salmon catch rates resulting in less fishing pressure for other salmonid species, particularly brown trout and lake trout.  

    Here are a few creel census highlights from the 2017 season;

    • Angler effort for trout and salmon declined to an estimated 35,856 boat trips, a reduction of  21% compared to the previous 6-year average
    • Trout and salmon fishing success rate was high.  Combined catch rate for all salmonids increased 45% from 2016 and 16% compared to 2003-2016 highs.
    • King salmon catch rate reached a record high of 0.14/hr., a 54% increase in the 2003-2016 average catch rate
    • Coho salmon catch rate was among the highest in 33 years surveyed
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    • Estimated total trout and salmon catch was 162, 341, including 96,226 kings, 10,630 cohos, 22,556 rainbow/steelhead, 17,092 brown trout, 15,44 lake trout, and very few Atlantic salmon
    • Brown trout and lake trout catch catch declined from previous year as anglers targeted king salmon(this does not reflect the excellent April and May brown trout fishing in the Oswego area)
    • Catch of rainbow/steelhead, commonly boated while fishing offshore in mid-summer for king,  was one of the highest on record
  • Oswego Brown Trout Charters…, Mild Weather Means Early Fishing

    Posted on February 28th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    Oswego Harbor at Wright's Landing on 4/3/15, some different than this year!

    The recent warm spell in the North Country is great news for Fish Doctor Charters anglers fishing in April.  On the morning of Feb. 28 would you please the air temp in Oswego, NY at 46 degrees was two degrees warmer than the 44 degrees we were looking at in Chesterfield, SC? 

    This and the recent spell of warm weather in northern New York has had a huge impact on water temp in Lake Ontario and the Oswego River.  Oswego Harvbor and most Lake Ontario been ice free for weeks.  There is no snow cover anywhere in central New York including the Finger Lakes, Oneida Lake, and the Syracuse area

    On Feb. 28, the water temp in the Oswego River had risen to near 38 degrees.  Compare that to the average winter when the temp of the Oswego on this same date is just above freezing and the harbor locked in with ice.  In 2015, my charter boat could not be launched until April 10 because Wright’s Landing and Oswego Marina were locked in with ice.

    Also on Feb. 28, surface water temp of  Lake Ontario at the Rochester weather buoy was 38 degrees, a two degree rise in the past two weeks.  Further east in mid-lake northwest of Oswego, satellite imagery showed 39 degrees, that compared to the winter of 2014-15 when the lake was 80% ice covered. 

    Yes, we can still get some hellacious winter weather between now and early April.  But, with water temperatures this high and no snow pack in the Oswego watershed, no matter what the weather the rest of the winter, Fish Doctor anglers will be on the water in early April enjoying what should be some fantastic early spring charter fishing.

  • Lake Ontario Trout andSalmon Fishing…, ABU Garcia’s new Altum digital line counter reels

    Posted on January 28th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    A lunker brown boated on a 6' Fish Doctor Short Stick and 10# line.

    If you’re in the market for a new line counter reel, take my advice and check out ABU Garcia’s new Altum digital line counters.  I fished the Altum 20, largest of the Altum series,  with 30# mono on rigger rods for salmon last season, and it never skipped a beat. 

    My thoughts…, smooth as a Swiss watch and built  like  a tank!  It has features currently unavailable in any other  line counter reel.  It is programmable for different line diameter, has a large digital  display, has a lighted display at the push of a button, and resets to zero, if necessary, with a push of a button.  These aged old eyes really appreciated the large digital  readout, and especially liked the lighted readout in low light at dawn and dusk.

    Altum reels also have ABU Garcia’s Synchro feature found in their 7000 Synchro which has not been available in the U.S. and also the Alphamar 16 and 20 series.  I’ve used the 7000 Synchro for 1o or so years and the Alphamar 20 for 4 or 5 years.  They, along with the Altum 20 are the nicest reels I’ve ever fished on rigger rods and wire rods.

    Here’s the deal with the Synchro feature…, crank the reel handle backward 1/4 turn and it lightens the drag, perfect for setting riggers.  Rig your line in the release, crank the Synchro handle back and it lightens the drag just enough to maintain a bend in the rod as your rigger weight descends.  When the rigger stops, flip the free spool lever and you are good to go.  If you need a bit more  tension on your drag to maintain the proper bend/tension in your rigger rod don’t crank the handle back quite as far.  The 1/4 revolution in the reel handle controls the drag tension.

    As you already guessed, this feature is perfect for setting wire/braid/mono Dipsys.  Place your diver in the water, adjust the tension on the rod tip by cranking the reel handle back to the proper drag tension and walk away as the Dipsy descends into the depths.

    For the upcoming season, I just spooled up 10 Altum 12s, smallest of the Altum series,  with 10# hi-vis Trilene/Berkley Solar mono on ultralight planer board and rigger rods.  Line capacity is 320 yds of 12# mono.  The Altums replace my Garcia 5500 LCs, which hold 205 yds. of 12# mono.

    When someone finally hooks  that monster brown on ultralight gear, there isn’t anything much worse than  looking  down at an empty spool with almost no line left on it.  The extra 100 yds. of mono on the new Altum 12 brown trout reels will be a welcome “cushion” this season.

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, 2018 Prospects

    Posted on January 14th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    A 10 lb. domestic rainbow boated in June, 2017

    Yours truly tends to be a bit verbose  in the winter when time  is more available than during the 24-7 charter fishing season. Sooo…, with charter customers asking,  “What do you think fishing will be like this season?”, let’s take a short and sweet look at this by species ranked 1 to 10.

    King Salmon –   8-10   But, this depends on when kings show  up in Oswego.  If we start catching them in late April or early May like some years…, 10.  King salmon fishing in 2018…, I’ll give it an 8 overall with some outstanding fishing in late, June  near shore and offshore in July and early August.

    Spring Cohos –  5   Some years  we catch decent numbers  of spring cohos well into June, but other years  nomadic leave Oswego  in late April and early May.  The word is…, unpredictable.   

    Late Summer Cohos – 7  Not so with late season cohos that always show upin eastern Lake Ontari9o in late August and provide decent fishing  until the run the Salmon River in late September.  Late summer coho fishing in 2017…, 8.    2018…,  ?

    Brown Trout –  10    Look for exceptional spring/ summer fishing for larger than average browns.  We caught more yearling browns in 2017 while fishing for browns and cohos than I’ve seen in years.  2-year olds were plentiful and larger than normal in the spring and summer harvest was down because all the attention was focused on kings.  Expect plenty of  2-year olds and some jumbo 3-year olds, along with the occasional monster.

    Lake Trout(April 1 – June 1) –  10    Every spring just outside Oswego Harbor  lake trout fishing is as good as it gets, but lakers leave the Oswego area in late spring. Summer lake trout fishing out of Oswego is almost nonexistent.  If you want summer lakers, head north to Stony Point.

    Steelhead   -  ???    Excellent in June the past few years, including 2017.  Fishing in July and August 2017 was better than normal because we were fishing kings way offshore in “steelhead country”!  Steelhead fishing is all about conditions, but in mid to late summer, you can always find them offshore.

    Domestic Rainbows – ???    Normally caught incidental to brown trout and salmon fishing, domestics were more abundant and larger than normal in 2017.  Where most domestic rainbows are still less than the legal 21″ limit by early May, domestics were averaging 22-23 inches at that time in 2017.  Dandy bonus fish.

    Atlantic Salmon – 1!     We see very few trophy Atantics each season, but they are spectacular!