• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, The Copper Revolution

    Posted on December 14th, 2018 admin No comments

    Penn Fathom copper reels, the Fish Doctor favorite.

     

    As I walked along the south side of Oswego marina where I moor my charter boat, I thought, “My old buddy Doug Canaday would chuckle if he could see this lineup of copper rods.”  With a major Lake Ontario tournament going on in the middle of the charter fishing season, specialized rods and reels rigged with copper line were everywhere in rod holders.   

    Doug was a lake trout guide on 28 mile long Lake George in northeastern New York and introduced me to fishing with twisted copper line in, 1967.  A fantastic fisherman and innovative thinker, Doug was a detail guy who understood the water, quarry, and gear he fished, and left as little to chance as possible.  A few others, mostly lake trout fishermen in waters like New York’s Finger Lakes, were also close-mouthed copper line aficionados. In, 2004, before I wrote the first article for Great Lakes Angler about fishing copper in the Great Lakes, he wouldn’t have seen a single copper rig on a boat in Oswego Marina, and most likely, no other Great Lakes ports.  Before Great Lakes trollers started fishing copper, fast sinking trolling line was all about leadcore, be the quarry trout, salmon, or walleyes. Today copper line is king and used widely from Lake Ontario to Lake Superior.

     Why the change?  With today’s modern gear like down riggers and diving planers, how could any angling technique, especially one involving antiquated gear like wire line,  evolve from the absolute unknown to what has to be today’s “Great Lakes Copper Revolution”?  The answer…, trolling with twisted copper line is absolute deadly, catches fish when nothing else does, is relatively simple to use, and reaches fish in deeper water where leadcore line cannot.  The bottom line…, copper is the ultimate in a stealthy deep water presentation when salmonids get fussy.  As I tell my charter customers, “It ain’t ultralight,  but it puts fish in the boat when nothing else does.”  It also catches the biggest fish of the season on my boat, including a 38 lb. 10 oz. king a few years back that won the $20,000  grand prize in Lake Ontario’s Fall LOC Derby. 

    Copper vs. Leadcore

     Leadcore line ruled for many years on the Great Lakes, is considered more user friendly than copper by some, and still has a place in our trolling arsenal.  Copper line has some advantages over leadcore, though, the foremost being sink rate.  The difference is signifigant, with 300’ of leadcore reaching a depth of about 40 feet at a trolling speed of 2.7 mph, while .037 diam. copper puts a lure at a depth of 66’ on the same length of line.  Six hundred feet of copper spooled on a Penn 345GTI will reach depths around 130 feet, 50 feet deeper than 600 feet of leadcore.   Copper is also easily spliced given tangles or kinks.  Fished straight off the boat, copper line also conducts electric current, which can be a fish attractant.  Copper when handled properly is also extremely durable, and will last for years. 

    Copper Learning Curve

     Most Great Lakes anglers, use it.  Some now consider themselves experts with it, but many anglers in the Great Lakes and other waters have yet to fish it.  I started trolling with copper trolling line in, 1967, well before the Great Lakes “Copper Revolution”,  when there weren’t many other options for trolling deep.  Every year since then, I continue to improve my copper trolling technique.   

    Selecting the right copper is important.  I started fishing with .037 ga. twisted copper line and still fish it.  Ten years of experience fishing it in 28 mile long Lake George, where there was negligible subsurface current, taught me the copper I trolled at 2.7 mph with a spoon fished 22’ deep for every 100 feet of wire I had in the water.  Depth fished varies with trolling speed, and those of us who have fished it know it sinks like a stone on sharp turns. 

    When tackle companies first jumped on the copper band wagon, most had no clue.  There were claims of 30 lb. copper and 45 lb. copper, but to date, I’ve never seen  hard data on breaking strength.  Diameter of these lines was variable, and so were the depths they fished.  There was tightly twisted copper and very loosely twisted copper, with the amount of twist directly proportional to line density and sink rate.  I still use .037 diameter copper, which I purchased in 30,000 foot bulk spools. 

     How copper is rigged is critical to it’s effective use, with proper connections to braided backing and leader a must.  Although some prefer knots, I’ve found connections using a #3 Spro Heavy Swivels are the most dependable.  To attach braided backing to copper, I use an overhand loop knot that is looped through one end of the swivel.  A haywire twist in the opposite end of the swivel attaches the copper securely.  At the business end of the copper, another Spro swivel is attached to the copper with a haywire twist and the 20# leader is knotted to the swivel.  Where the braid connects to the copper, I tie an extended 18” loop of doubled line  to give planer board releases a better grip.

     Premeasured copper sections from 100’ or less to 500’ are generally used on my boat from planer boards.  When I rig a 600’ copper setup, it is primarily to fish down the chute, and is coded at 50 foot intervals to fish at controlled depths.  The easiest way to do that…, stretch out all 600’ of the copper line in an open area, measure out 50’ intervals with a tape, and mark the line with strips of adhesive from Johnson and Johnson Band-Aids, the only tape I’ve found that will stick securely to copper line.    Half inch strips code the line at 100’ intervals and ¼ inch strips at 50’ intervals.  Shrink tubing also works.  The beauty of coded copper down the chute is that with your lure trailing well behind the boat, you have plenty of time to adjust it’s depth when trout and salmon show up on your fish finder, , and I’ve taken many, many trout and salmon on the chute rod doing just that.

    Copper Rods and Reels

    A number of manufacturers including Shimano and Okuma make levelwind reels with enough line capacity to hold large diameter copper line.  I use Penn reels exclusively, for fishing lengths of copper from 100’ to 600’.  These reels include the 320LD, the 330, 340, and 345 GTI series, and the much improved Fathom series, including the 25, 40, and 60, LW.  Fully spooled, the 60LW retrieves over 36 inches of line with one crank of the handle.   

    I build my own 7’ and 9’ copper rods with heavy duty Fuji reel seats, oversized foregrips for ease of handling, and oversized guides and tip tops that pass swivels and knots without them hanging up.  The 7-footers are use on planer boards and the 9-footers are used down the chute.  The longer chute rods help avoid tangles when setting lines and landing fish.

    Copper “Recipes” –

     Sitting at the kitchen table with a shiny, new spool of copper line  and the reel you want to spool it on?  Never rigged copper on a reel before?   You know you need braided  backing and a section of leader, along with whatever length of copper you want to fish.  You know you want to fill the reel to the top of the spool to take maximum advantage of the retrieve ratio, but how much copper will the reel hold, and how much braided backing, and leader will it take to fill the spool?

     Over the years, while spooling copper, I’ve cooked up recipes for Penn reels I use with .037 ga. copper, either from premeasured spools or bulk spools, along with Berkley Big Game(BG), Zilla(ZL) or Cortland Spectron(CS) braid backing, along with Berkley Big Game 20 lb. test mono leader;       

                                                            Copper(.037 diam.)                              Braided Backing     Leader(100’ 20# BG)

                                                                    Levelwind                                             Levelwind                 Levelwind

             Reel                              Len.(ft)     Passes              Type   # test    Len(yd.)   Passes                       Passes

     Penn 320LD                             100            10x                  CS        35       —-           120x                        10x

    Penn 330 GTI                           200             20x                   CS        35       200          126x                         7x             

    Penn 340 GTI                           300              26x                   CS        50      250           82x                          8x

    Penn 345(GTI)                        300             16.5x                    ZL        50     330            92x                     5.5x

                                                     400              23x                     CS        50     250             75x                      5.5x

                                                      500              31x                     CS        35     250             70x                      5.5x

                                                       600              40x                     CS        35     200             65x                    5.5x

                                       

    Penn Fathom 25LW                100                                             BG       30      ___        ___

    Penn Fathom 40 LW               200                  11x                      BG       30      300        —-                    7x

    Penn Fathom 60 LW               300                   16x                      BG          65   300        —-                     7x

     

    Leaders

     Although I’ve caught fish on copper using leaders from 20 to 30 lb. test, in lengths from 6’ to 100’, I spool my copper reels with 100 feet of 20 lb. test Berkley Big Game mono.  Shorter leader lengths work, but, especially for spoons fishing spoons, I prefer longer leader lengths.

     Megaboards

     Although many Great Lakes trollers use inline boards for fishing copper line, I prefer  larger, triple boards I call megaboards, each of the 3 staggered boards measuring 39” x 10”.  When trolling up to 3 copper lines on each, they stay well abeam, without dropping back astern on turns, unlike inline boards or smaller planer boards burdened by long lengths of copper.  

     Planer Board Releases

     I use Scotty Power Grip Plus 1170 releases on the boards. And attach them to carabiner clips to reduce wear on the 300 lb. test monofilament planer board line, which works well on megaboards because of the built in stretch in the line and the slick surface which allows releases to slide freely.

     Presentation –

     Few question that trolling with .037 diameter 7-strand, twisted copper trolling line tops the list of stealthy deep water presentations for trout and salmon.  Those who have used it know the depth it fishes is affected by currents and speed.  When copper sinks like a stone on the inside of a turn, it can cause hang-ups and lost gear when trolling near bottom.  However, that same characteristic can be used to advantage when trolling for suspended fish over deep water when fishing copper from boards trolling in an “S” pattern.  Turns drastically vary lure speed and depth fished, with lines on the inside of turns trolling slow and deep while outside lines are running higher and faster.

     Copper shines over leadcore because it fishes deeper, and this advantage is huge if you’re  fishing deep.  Where target depth is 80 feet, less than 400 feet of copper will get you there, versus 600 feet of leadcore to reach the same depth.  Imagine fishing using a 3-core, 900’ leadcore rig to reach 120’!  It takes just over 550 feet of copper to do that. Just lifting a reel with 900’ of leadcore would be a chore, not to mention reeling in more than 1/5th of a mile of line! 

    Interactive Copper Spreads

     Picture your spread, attractors, flies, bait, and spoons in continuous motion, all a part of a whole presentation, each and every one, along with every line, diving planer, rigger cable, and downrigger weight, not to mention your fishing vessel,  all part of your interactive spread.  Trout and salmon are so sensitive to sight and sound stimuli that each and every thing you have in the water affects each and all of the others.  Vary one setback, add a flasher/fly to your spread, change the type or color of attractor, or drop a rigger 5 feet deeper, and it may change the response of trout and salmon to everything else you’re fishing. 

     When it comes to copper spreads, you have a choice.  Keep it simple with one rod down the chute.  Live dangerously with two chute rods, fish one or more rods on inline planer boards, or really rev things up and add to your copper spread with  multiple copper rods on megaboards.

     If I’m out in the open lake far from other boats, where I much prefer to fish, you’ll see my megaboards in the water port and starboard.  If the rigger, and wire dive bite is hot or my chute rod is firing regularly, I may run one copper rod on each planer board, if I have time to rig it.  If the fish are negative and the riggers and divers are slow, it’s time to load up the megaboards.  First step is to add a second line on each board with either spoons or flasher/flies. Depending on the bite, a third rod may be added on each board. 

     Fish Doctor Copper Spreads

     Single Chute – When a single copper rod fished with a spoon, plug, whole bait, or attractor/fly is working, there is no need to go any further.  In early September, 2013, on sunny days in Mexico Bay of Lake Ontario off the mouth of the Salmon River, a Chaquita dodger and flitter green fly on 300’ of copper was all that was needed, destroying staged king salmon all day long.  When that was happening, the megaboards never got wet.   

     Double Chute Rods – If trout an salmon are a fussy, seas are too rough to run boards, and my crew feels lucky(copper tangles are the worst!), I run two 9’ chute rods with coded copper port and starboard, one with an attractor fly, and one back 25 feet further with a spoon, whole bait, or plug. 

     Multiple Spoons on the Boards – When target species are scattered vertically and horizontally, 1 -3 copper lines  on each board fishing spoons and/or attractor/flies catch fish.  Inside rods are set deepest and longest.  Fast, erratic trolling speeds from 3.5 to 4.5 mph with tuned Stingrays, Silver Streaks, NK28s cover a lot of water and are just the nuts for active kings and steelhead,

     2-rod, Attractor/Spoon Setup – One of my favorite copper spread on the boards is a 2-line setup on each board, one line with an attractor/fly and the other with a clean spoon.  The attractor/fly run on the inside rod, and the spoon run 25 feet further back on the outside rod.  I use the same length copper sections for this spread, with 25 additional feet of backing in the water on the line with the spoon, placing the spoon, behind,  slightly below, and outside(from the boat) the attractor. 

     Out of Temp High Rods – This one is sooo deadly for steelhead, suspended browns, and early morning kings, when fish swimming up out of temp for bait.   The outside copper rod is fished with a copper section that runs just above the thermocline.  An S-turn trolling pattern slows the planer board on the inside of the turn, dropping the spoon into the thermocline.  As the boat straightens and the board pulls forward, the lure is pulled back to it’s original depth above the thermocline.  Deadly!   It’s impossible to duplicate  the extent of this lure drop and change of depth with riggers and divers.  Change in speed, change in direction…, catches fish.

     When I run 3 copper rods on each board, I fish a vertical “V” spread,  the outer rods shallow and the inner rods deepest, with the furthest rod spread horizontally 200’ from the boat and the lines spaced 50 feet apart. 

     There’s a method to the madness when handling a 6-copper setup.  First, it helps maintain sanity to not to fish a chute rod, so you can move rods around while resetting lines.  If a fish hits an inner copper rod, say on the port board, it’s no problem. You just land the fish and reset the line on the port board.  If a fish hits a middle or outer copper line on the port board, after the fish is landed, the release(s) holding the one or two remaining lines are pulled back to the boat, and moved to the starboard board, keeping them separated enough so that none of the lines tangle.  That’s up to 5 lines now on the starboard board!  The outer line is then reset, attached to a release, and slid back to it’s outer position on the port board, followed by the middle and/or inner port lines. 

     Yes, things can get hectic with multiple hits, and that’s often exactly what happens when you encounter feeding kings.   When copper rods start popping everywhere throw ou the recipe book.  Just hang on, enjoy, and hope for the best!  

     If you’re wondering about tangles, all I can say is it’s surprising it doesn’t happen more often when you’re fishing multiple copper lines. In my experience, tangles are rare, seemingly because when fish are hooked, they tend to rise up toward the surface above the other lines, then eventually,  drift directly behind the boat.  When you’re battling multiple trout or salmon at the same time on copper lines, it’s actually easier  than handling them on mono or braided line, because the heavier diameter twisted copper tends not to tangle or break as much as thinner braided or mono lines.

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, HotChips, the most overlooked Great Lakes flasher!

    Posted on July 26th, 2018 admin No comments

    ProTroll's HotChip, the most overlooked Great Lake salmon and trout flasher. Perfect for high speed offshore trolling in midsummer!

    So, it’s midJuly and the bait is moving offshore, kings and steelhead following.  Everything is scattered big time as far out as the Canadian border.

    So, you’re going to troll along at slow poke speed and try to catch kings, right.  Nope.  Unless you get lucky and set down on a huge concentration of bait and fish, you’re going to have to cover some water.

    To do that, you’re going to fish, like everyone else, an 8″ ProChip flasher with a rudder and a fly or the same flasher with bait, that basically doesn’t work well at speeds over speeds over 2.7 mph.  Wrong!

    To kick it in the butt and cover more water, my solution to catching widely scattered kings and steelhead way offshore is to pick up the speed to 3.0+ mph using rudderless flashers like Pr0-Troll’s HotChip with flies(leader lengths 19 – 21 inches, and tuned Stingrays with a larger treble and heavier swivel.  High speed trolling is not the best program for catching moster kings, but it’s perfect for most kings out there and absolutely deadly for steelhead.

    High speed trolling also helps locate bait concentrations and the kings and steelies that feed on them.  Once you find them, that’s the time to slow down and fish for a monster.

     

     

  • Posted on July 10th, 2018 admin No comments
    Filleting king salmon onboard the Fish Doctor on the way back to the dock

    Because the king salmon fishing has been sooo… good out of Oswego Harbor since late April, your charter captain has been filleting and packaging lots of kings for Fish Doctor anglers to take home.  One of the most common questions as I’m cleaning salmon at the stern of my charter boat is how I recommend cooking them.

    Well, there are hundreds of ways  to cook salmon, some simple like grilling them, some more complicated like  king salmon florentine(mmm, mmm!), but here’s a really quick, simple, and delicous recipe that is one of my favorites.

    First, go online and “Google Simply Asian Sweet Ginger spice” and order a jar.  Some Walmart stores carry it.

    Take a fresh salmon filet and cut it in strips about two inches wide.  The salmon filet from a good size king will be about an inch or more thick.  Rub the  steaks with olive oil, then sprinkle on the Simply Asian Sweet Ginger spice to taste.  Place   the steaks on a broiling pan and broil on high until just barely cooked.  Overcooking will make the filet dry and tough.

    Quick and dirty broiled king salmon…, deeelicous!!!

     

    Take a king

  • 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 Fishing…, Take A Lady On A Fishing Charter

    Posted on June 4th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    Harry and daughter Ashley enjoying time together aboard the Fish Doctor in May, 2018

    Back in the old days, the ladies stayed home, cooking, sewing, cleaning, and raising kids, while the gentlemen worked, hunted, fished, and trapped. My only sister Bonnie grew up in that era while her four brothers, Bernard, Bob, Bill, all avid outdoorsmen, followed tradition in our dad’s footsteps.

    That’s just the way it was, back in those days.  As the oldest child in the family, I regret that I did not realize how much Bonnie loved the outdoors.  I learned way too late that she would have been thrilled to be included in family outdoor activities. 

    Years later in the mid 1980s I had the pleasure of fishing not only only with my sister Bonnie, but her daughters Melodie and Jennifer.  Bonnie and her two girls still talk about their trip on my charter boat  fishing for lake trout and landlocked salmon in Lake Champlain.  None of them had any experience fishing with downriggers, but learned quickly.  All caught fish, and enjoyed themselves immensely.

    To this day, this family experience is one of the reasons I encourage ladies of all ages to come aboard my charter boat.  I do my utmost to make fishergals feel comfortable fishing and enjoy their time on the water.  Times have changed and I see more and more avid lady anglers fishing every year, and this season has been no exception.

    On May 18, 2018, as I watched Ashley Brooks and her dad Harry step onboard, I knew there would be no problem with Ashley enjoying her trip.  Harry had introduced Ashley to fishing years ago and they had fished with me before.  Their timing was perfect because the king salmon bite had been hot and heavy.  The  time Ashley and her dad spent on the water was precious and their memories lasting.  But not all ladies are as experienced and confident fishing as Ashley.

     

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                   I always encourage ladies to join in on the fun, and explain that there

                     is nothing difficult or complicated about fishing on a charter boat.

     

     

    When Kevin Conte and his niece Tiki stepped onboard on the morning of April 25, 2018.  Tiki had never trolled for trout or salmon in Lake Ontario before, but her uncle Kevin had. Tiki had fished with Kevin before but was not experienced with downriggers, slide divers, leadcore line and planer boards. It wasn’t long  before she was in the cockpit with Kevin helping me set lines.  As I explained to Tiki, “This isn’t rocket science. You just have to learn a few simple techniques.”  Before the 8-hour trip was over, Tiki had learned how to set lines, hook her own fish, and finesse fish to the net, including some mint silver early spring king salmon and brown trout. 

    Later this spring when I answered the phone one even ing, heard a lady’s voice on the other end.  Gals often call to book a family trip for their husband and children or other family members.  In other cases  ladies calls to book a trip for their husband and and one or two other couples.  Often, they mention they plan to come along to be with family and friends but do not intend to purchase license to fish because they are inexperienced.   

    Whenever I hear this, and I hear it quite often, I always encourage ladies to join in on the fun, and explain that there is nothing difficult or complicated about fishing on a charter boat.  All it takes is a little friendly instruction about what to look for when a fish strikes, how to set a hook, and how to handle a fish on rod and reel.   

    Most times ladies are convinced to give fishing a shot and usually end up enjoying the fishing trip far more than they would have just sitting in the boat watching the others fish. 

  • 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…, Oswego Spring King Salmon Charters

    Posted on May 5th, 2018 admin No comments

    My "Fishin No Bitchin" charter with part of a limit catch of browns and kings on May 4.

    If you’re thinking about acharter  trip out of Oswego Harbor for king salmon, do not delay!  The spring king salmon fishing right now in shallow water is the best I’ve seen since 2012.  Wow, those kings are fun on light tackle down to 6′ custom built Fish Doctor Shortsticks and Altum 12 reels spooled with 10 lb. test Berkley/trilene line.

    It takes a silk smooth drag and plenty of 10# line capacity to tame a high octane spring king in 40 to 50 degree water, and the Altum 12s have proven them selves.  It also takes a light hand on the rod and my ”Fishin No Bitchin” fishing team had just that on May 3 and 4.

    I’m not a big fan of “meat” shots, but this crew deserved to show off their stuff!

     

     

     

     

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