• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Jitterflies, Best Kept Secret on the Great Lakes

    Posted on January 27th, 2019 admin No comments

    The absolutely deadly Pretty Jane Jitterfly

    (Reposted on Jan. 27, after being deleted from archives)

    If any Great Lakes troller who fishes trout and salmon in any of the Great Lakes is not fishing Jitterflies behind ruddered, rotating flashers like ProChip8s and 11s or the larger 13” Kingston Tackle Slashersor Okis, , find some, buy some or steal  some from your best buds in the dark of night!  If you have some that you’re willing to part with, call me!

    Why?  Because Jitterflies are absolutely, definitely, without question one of the deadliest items onboard the Fish Doctor, for every species of trout and salmon in the Great Lakes…,PERIOD! …and they should be OUTLAWED FOR COHOS! 

    My thoughts about Jitterflies are  based on 17 years(since 2001) trolling flies in Lake Ontario and 11 years fishing Jitterflies since I  first got them wet in 2007.  JItterflies catch fish all season long, but become increasing deadly late in the season.

    Stepping  back a bit, Jitterflies first produced in 2007 and after some fine tuning were available to anglers in 2008.  Long story short without going into the gory details, production was eventually discontinued after a few years.  Having done the original field testing with Jitterflies and being involved with their design and development, I knew the unbelievable potential of this unique, actionized fly, and took it from there, improving the original.

    What’s different about them? ACTION and NOISE!  Watch them in the water boatside and you’ll see.  Sparsely dressed, they vibrate in the water and the turbulence of the water as it passes around the plastic disc at the head of the fly actionizes the mylar skirt.  This vibration and turbulence produces a “hperaction” fly unlike any other.  Just stimulus it takes to flip the switch of negative trout and salmon and generate the response you want.  Speaking of stimuli, the large eyes of a Jitterfly,unavailable on any other fly,  add to it’s effectiveness.

    Look at the reviews online and you’ll see positive and negative comments.  One of which, I’ll call a whine, “I don’t like  them, because the  mylar skirt gets ripped off after it  catches  4 or 5 fish.”  The mylar material of a Jitterfly is exactly the same as that used in a Howie Fly and no more delicate. I’ve caught many hundreds of kings, browns, steelhead on Jitterflies and never had one “destroyed” by just 4 or 5 fish.  When the mylare does get a bit chewed up, like most other flies, they often work even better than new ones.  When the mylar gets completely shot, if you tie your own flies Howie Fly style, it takes only a coupleof minutes to retape new mylar on a Jitterfly body.

    A couple negative reviews are correct.  Trout and salmon will occasionally or finally rip one or both eyes off.., “Oh, well!”  Also, the single fixed hook on a Jitterfly is a little light and will occasionally straighten enough to lose a fish if a release is set extremely tight or too much “oomph” is put to a big king.  I rarely have had one of these fixed single hooks open up, but it has happened.  

    Sooo, there is a time and place for every rig and lure in your tackle box, including Jitterflies.  When fish are slurping everything in sight, it’s no trick to catch them on most anything, including standard flies trolled behind a variety of flashers.  It’s when trout and salmon are lazy, negative, or just plain fussy that Jitterflies come into their own.   This might be during early and mid season when feeding fish are inactive or later in the  season, midAugust through September,  when staged browns and salmon are off their feed.

     In late season from midAugust through September, Jiterflies along with Sushi Flies are always in the water behind 8”, 11”, and 13” flashers. The deeper you’re fishing and the later in the season, the better the larger flashers work.  When cohos move into Mexico Bay and the Oswego area and charter customers want them, at least two 8” Hot Tamale Chips with Silent Assassin Jitterflies get wet.

    Like every other technique, there is a Jitterfly learning curve.  They catch fish “as is”,  right out of the box, but there are ways to improve their effectiveness.  One important way,  because they have their own action, is to fish them on a longer leader than standard flies.

    Check the “Fishing Hotline” page on my Fish Doctor web site for more details and photos on fishing this deadly item.

     

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, New 2018 Stinger Colors

    Posted on February 27th, 2018 admin No comments

    Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon patterns from Stinger..., new for 2018!

    Take a look at some of the new Stinger patterns for 2018.   All but one of them are UV.  Many are hot and destined to take steelhead and cohos in clear water or kings and browns in turbid or deep water.  A couple patterns are takeoffs of the Frost Byte, a deadly black/green UV pattern that has proven itself for browns and kings aboard the Fish Doctor.

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Coping with Clear Water Browns

    Posted on February 3rd, 2018 admin No comments

    A monster Oswego brown trout on ultralight, clear water tackle.

     

     In the past 25 years fishing conditions have changed drastically in Lake Ontario, and so have consistently successful angling techniques, especially for shallow water browns in April and May. 

     In the early 1970’s, when I climbed aboard legendary charter captain Ron Ditch’s charter boat at Henderson Harbor to show him how to fish his new downriggers for lake trout, his  chartreuse downrigger weight disappeared 2-4 feet(that’s not a typo!) below the surface.  Those turbid water conditions persisted through, 1993, when zebra mussels showed up in the lake. 

     In mid-May of 1995, on a glassy calm day I dropped a chartreuse rigger weight into the depths, and it disappeared at 36’.  Now that’s a major change!  Subsequently, to cope with the gin clear water conditions and catch fish consistently new fishing techniques have evolved that will help first time spring brown trout trollers catch more fish.

     Although we still fish turbid water after westerly or northerly blows and around the mouths of rivers like the Oswego during high spring runoff, much of the time  water conditions are gin clear.  This is especially true during calm weather and when spring tributary flow is low.   Coping with these clear water conditions for shallow water browns in April and may can be especially challenging.  This is when finesse combined with an understanding of brown trout behavior becomes  the name of the game. 

     Before the introduction of zebra mussels, in turbid water conditions, to catch browns you  simply had to chuck almost anything chartreuse over the side and tow it around on as heavy a line as you wanted. It was “Heave, ho, and away we go!” Today, try the same tactic in shallow clear water, and you will end up whining back at the dock.   One way to avoid that is the use of a stealthy presentation with light line and terminal tackle matched with a light action rod and reel.

     My spring brown trout rods are spooled with 10# test main line, hi-vis Trilene  Solar on the planer board and flat line rods and clear Berkley Big Game on rigger rods, each terminating with 8’ of lighter leader.   Some captains I know effectively use main line as heavy as 15# mono, plus a lighter leader.   The more durable main line, along with a less visible, lighter leader results in a deadly brown trout combination.  I personally like the finer diameter main line, especially on planer board and flat line rods,  because without adding any weight, thin diameter line allows  stick baits and spoons to fish deeper than larger diameter line. 

    For light  lining spring browns on planer boards, flat lines, and riggers, I use two different rods with the same reels.  I build my n planer board rods on a 9’ graphite, 3-4 weight, slow action St. Croix fly rod blank  and my rigger rods on 6-7 foot moderate action e-glass blanks.  Both styles of rods are built with non-slip EVA foam grips, quality reel seats and Fuji casting guides for use with levelwind reels.

     In the past, I’ve used either Penn 855LC digital line counter reels or, more recently, ABU Garcia 5500LC line counter.  This season I’m switching to ABU Garcia Altum 12 digital line counter reels, because of their greater line capacity and improved digital line counter.

     When using terminal leaders as light as 6# – 8# test, levelwind reels  must have a silk smooth drag or or you will curse your ultralight gear as a hog brown heads for the horizon with your lure and only part of your line trailing from hit’s toothy maw.   Fill your reel to the brim with quality line.  You’ll need it when you hook  a monster. 

    Yes, times have changed when it comes to fishing for shallow water brown trout in Lake Ontario.  Heave- ho techniques with heavy line and terminal tackle are a thing of the past.      

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Custom Painted Lures

    Posted on December 16th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Custom painted stick baits can make your day when browns are finicky

    As I looked at the3-inch Smithwick Rogue hooked solidly in the brown trout’s jaw, I thought, “Thank the Lord for custom lure painters!”  The deadly metallic  perch stickbait bait pattern that had lured  the 6 lb. brown into striking was once available from Smithwick in a special Walleye  Series, but  no longer made.  The one I was fishing was was not an original, but a custom painted replica of  one of the deadliest stickbait patterns on my charter boat for spring browns.

    Earlier in the morning  the brown trout bite had been steady under a solid cloud cover and flat calm seas.  Black and silver spoons and stickbaits were firing on the riggers and planer boards.  At about 9:00 AM conditions changed as the sun peeked through the clouds,  the sky turned to clear blue, and a warm southerly  breeze rippled the water.

    It was like throwing a switch.  Action went from feast to famine…, lock jaw!    Knowing we were on fish, it was time for a lure change.  With browns in 5 to 10 feet of water feeding near the surface on 2 to 4-inch alewives under sunny skies, there was no question in my mind that we should be fishing a shallow running stickbait on our planer  board lines, and that bait, which is no longer made,  but tops the list of deadly spring brown trout lures, should be a custom painted 3” metallic perch. Just minutes after it went in the water, the brown trout switch tuned back to “ON”!

     Many anglers are in the same boat.  You have a favorite lure for trout and salmon or whatever you fish for.  It is a fish catcher.  The problem, it is no longer made.  Either the company has gone out of business or  your favorite pattern was discontinued.  You are down to the last one in your tackle box.  You are holding back, hoping you can catch them on something else.  You’re desperate for a fish.  “Old Reliable” that has seldom failed you goes in the water, and the next thing you know it is gone, either in the jaws of a fish or hung up on bottom.  Grrr…. 

    If you’re like me, you’ve tried to-it-yourself paint jobs to try to duplicate a lure pattern, but at least in my case, the end product was a dismal failure.  Then, through fishing buddies, one in Wisconsin and one in New York, I learned about two fantastic custom lure painters whose custom painted lures are works of art.  Jay Hunter from Hunter Boys Outdoors in Indiana is a master painter.  Jay produces the finest replicas on the planet, PERIOD!  You can contact him through his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Hunter-Boys-Outdoors-754122868010025/  He can copy your favorite stick bait or crank bait patterns or create new patterns for you.  The many color photos of Jay’s work on his Facebook page are nothing less than amazing.  For the best results mail Jay the lure you want replicated, but he can also work from photos.

    When it come to spoons, Crazy Ivan Lures www.crazyivanlures.com/  in Vermont gets my nod for custom painted spoon patterns.  Pat Church  another fantastic artist with an air brush, duplicates color tones and patterns  exactly.  Many of my favorite Chinook salmon and brown trout spoons on my charter boat were painted by Pat.   Pat strips the finish from the spoons sent to  him to be replicated, paints them, and then clear coats them.  The finish is indestructible.  

    If you have a favorite spoon or stickbait in your tackle box that is no longer available, and don’t have the artistic ability to reproduce it your self, contact a custom lure painter.  These folks are unbelievably talented artists.  They can reproduce color tones exactly and copy color patterns precisely.  On my charter boat, often save the day.

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

    Posted on December 15th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Penn Reels's Fathom 60LW spooled with 300' of .037" twisted copper

    I was uneasy, sitting next to float plane pilot “Buss” Byrd, engine roaring, aluminum pontoons skimming the water as we attempted to take off from Terror Lake in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.  My fishery biologist partner and I had just completed a fisheries survey of the remote 25 acre pond, and it was time to head back to civilization.

    Circling over the pond on our arrival, I had looked down at the hour-glass shaped pond with it’s narrow, boggy, spruce lined channel separating the pond’s two sections and naively asked “Buss”, “Can we get in there?”.  Buss replied, “No problem getting in.  It’s getting out that’s the problem!”  As we addressed the “getting out” problem, the plane roaring toward a wall of spruces near the narrow neck of the pond, pontoons still skimming  the water, I blurted out, “Buss, can we make it through the narrows?” “Only if we have to”, “Buss” calmly replied, as the rickety old biplane jumped from the water, pontoons brushing the spruce tops.

    The answer is the same when someone asks me about using multiple copper lines.  I fish up to a 7-copper spread, but only when I have to, and only with  megaboards, for suspended fish IN NO BOAT TRAFFIC!  If the bite is hot using my standard spread of 3  riggers, 2-4 diving planers, a thumper rod and a couple of copper lines off the boards, there is neither the time nor the need for rigging multiple copper lines.    If the bite is slow, and suspended fish are very scattered vertically and horizontally,  a 7-copper spread goes in the water, 6 copper lines on the megaboards, and one down the chute.  It’s a lot of work, especially fishing solo without a mate, but multiple copper lines catch fish.  Done properly, it’s no problem.  Mess up, and it’s a copper calamity!

    Thinking back, 2008,  was one of those only-if-I-have-to Lake Ontario salmon seasons.  The 7-copper spread has saved the day for Fish Doctor anglers  that season and many times since when  salmon and steelhead are scattered far and wide, espeically in nasty seas. 

    Without using megaboards, oversized triple planer boards, trolling up to 7 copper lines without eventual tangles is impossible.  The triple megaboards I use with up to 500’copper sections run nearly straight out boatside and don’t drop back  like inline boards.  The time an effort saved not having to haul an inline board back to the surface after a big king has submarined it is a blessing.   

    My multiple copper line trolling technique evolved over the past 41 years, influenced by some of North America’s most innovative anglers.  In 1967, Adirondack guide, Doug Canaday taught me to fish .037” diameter twisted copper line on the bottom for Lake George lake trout.  In 1978, on Lake Ontario I learned that  tuned #38 brass/silver Sutton spoons on copper were deadly medicine for bottom hugging prestaged kings.  Later trips to Lake Michigan in 2001 with Tim Dawidiuk  and Chesapeake Bay in 2004 with Capt. Bill Williams paved the way for the multiple copper line spread I use today aboard the Fish Doctor. 

    Fishing multiple copper lines from megaboards is as basic as fishing multiple flat lines from a  standard size planer board.  My  oversized triple boards  are built with 3’ x 10” boards with Styrofoam flotation to keep them from diving in rought seas.  They are rigged on  200 feet of 300# test mono tether line on Great Lakes Planer System  masts and rod holders.  The heavy mono is stron, and  because of it’s stretch, has built in shock absorption, important when fishing in heavy seas.

    Scotty Power Grip Plus 1170 releases  save time and missed fish.  To prevent chafing the tether line, a spring loaded  ¼” diam. carabiner is substituted for the stock crosslock snap.  Release tension is perfect with 35-50 lb. Cortland Spectron braided backing. 

    Reels for fishing copper are a matter of choice.  I prefer Penns, the 330GTI  0r Fathom 40 for 200’ sections with 35” Spectron backing, the 340GTI or Fathom 60 for 300’ sections with 50# Spectron, and the 345GTI for 400, 500, and 600’ sections with 50 braided backing.  Six hundred foot sections are coded with shrink tubing and reserved for fishing down the chute.

    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 with tuned 12 lb. salmon tracker weights are set at 41- 62 degrees, normally with a combination of spoons mixed with flashers or dodgers and flies. An X-4 Fish Hawk probe on the shallowest rigger monitors temp and speed, usually 2.5-3.0 mph.  Two to four wire dipsy rods fish 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.   Later in the season,  J-Plugs or Orcas are substituted for spoons.

    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 hell can break loose with multiple hookups.  Up to 10 on at once, is the record aboard the Fish Doctor.  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…, Pro-Troll’s New Pro-Flash Flasher

    Posted on December 9th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Another king salmon that fell for a Proflash flasher and fly

    In early August when the package arrived with the new ProFlash flashers from Pro-Troll, I was anxious to check them out.  Hmm, a water activated blinking light in the time tested and deadly ProChip8 and ProChip 11 flashers, a gimmick or a fish catcher?

    The colors of the flashers were right, white, green, and chartreuse, all proven to catch trout and salmon.  But the water activated light???   The next morning when I climbed aboard the Fish Doctor before daylight the first thing I did after carefully stowing that all important travel mug of strong, black coffee was to fill a bucket with a few inches of water and place an 8” ProFlash flasher in it.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!

    The water activated light kicked in the instant the flasher hit the water blinking red, white, and green and lighting up the white bucket beyond my wildest expectations!  No question about it…, we’re talking some serious light here.

    The next step was to get the new Proflash attractor in the water and see what the kings we had been catching every trip thought of it.  The white on white flasher/fly combo that went in the water before daylight did not produce and had me wondering???  Just before the early morning sun edged above the horizon, the green 11” Proflash flasher with a glow/green Sushi Fly baited with a strip of fresh alewife answered my questions when a mature king nailed it!  Yesss!!!

    Later in August either green or chartreuse 8 or 11-inch Proflash flasher and Sushi Flies produced king salmon, cohos, brown trout, and even a nice Atlantic, more than proving themselves.  This text message from a charter captain friend of mine on 8/29/17 when the demand for Proflash flashers sky rocketed and they were in short supply in local shops. 

    “Would you happen to have any of the 11” green lighted protrolls?  None of the shops have  them in stock, if you have some lying around, name your  price.”

    Name your price???  My answer…, “If I had an extra one, I would give it to you.”  He later found the hot item and ordered it online.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Penn’s Fathom 25LW for Leadcore Sections

    Posted on March 5th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    A Penn Fathom 25LW spooled with a leadcore section.

     

    In a recent blog, “Search and Destory” I mentioned that my favorite reel for fishing leadcore sections from planer boards, inlines, and down the chute is Penn’s Fathom 25LW.

    Since publishing that blog, I’ve had several inquiries about the 25LW from Great Lakes trollers who were looking for a better leadcore reel.  Writing from my winter SC headquarters, I don’t have any of the specs handy for the leader/leadcore/backing line capacity of these reels,  but can say a few thing about them.

    First, the 25LW is a fantastic reel, typical of Penn’s recently manufactured models with influence from ABU Garcia, one of 16(?) tackle companies, along with Penn that Pure Fishing owns.  There is nothing I do not like about the 25LW…, silk smooth operation, nice retrieve rate, purrrrfect drag, ample line capacity, nice handle, and last but not least, a loud clicker(for old ears!).

    I own a bunch of 25LWs spooled with 50’ of 20# leader, 2 to 7 colors of leadcore, plus at least 200 yds.(I’m guessing) of 65# test Berkley braided backing, enough for handling kings.

    I fish the 25LW on 7’ custom made Fish Doctor Shortsticks and spread out the leadcore sections up to 300’ on megaboards when I’m not near other boats.   Works for me!

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

    Posted on March 4th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Brining whole alewives before fileting Sushi Strips

    Baited flies and, before that, baited hoochies or squids, in combination with flashers have been a go-to rig for me aboard my charter boat, ever since my first trip to Alaska  in 1990.   Fortunate to  be invited aboard several commercial salmon trolling boats,  the first thing I noticed on deck was  buckets of 11” plastic flashers, mostly white, green, chartreuse, and red.   Hanging on the rear of the cabins were rows and rows of  3 ½” hoochies(squids) in a myriad of colors, some for kings, some for cohos.  Closer inspection of the hoochies showed a piece of light brass wire, inside each hoochie, attached to the eye of a 6/0 single hook.

     The wire on these hooks was for attaching 3”- 4” herring strips inside the hoochie, which rarely go in the water for Alaskan kings without bait.

     The  trollers also showed me how they rigged whole herring, herring filets, and cut plugs, all of which they carry onboard, along with spoons and plugs, during an king salmon opening. To a man, they were adamant about how fussy king salmon were and how important it was to master a variety of techniques to consistently catch fish in all conditions. 

     I never forgot that lesson, and returned to Lake Ontario with  a new perspective on fishing bait for kings and  a conviction to do my utmost to become as versatile as possible in fishing for them .  I’ve found over the years the baited flies I now call Sushi Flies work well behind all types of flashers all season, including early spring.  I use 36”- 48” leaders on 11”- 13” flashers and 19”- 30” leaders on 8” flashers.  Flasher/fly color combos are the same as for clean flies.

     Rather than the single hook used by commercial trollers, I prefer a tournament tie with a 5/0 beak hook and a #2 bronze treble.  The same tournament tie used with clean flies can be used with bait, but I prefer to extend the leader length between the beak and treble hooks about 1 ½” so the treble trails at the tail of the bait.  Although, the alewife bait strip can be hooked on the leading beak hook, even a properly prepped alewife bait strip softens quickly in fresh water and seldom will stay on a hook very long. 

     The secret to keeping an alewife bait strip secured inside the fly is to wrap it on the beak hook just behind the hook eye using soft .020” diam. brass wire.  Although the brass wire can be attached to the beak hook on a pretied Tournament Tie, I like to attach it before I snell the hook, by simply placing a 3” length of wire midway through the eye of the hook, pulling the brass wire down along the shank of the hook, and tying the snell, leaving about 1 ½ inches of each end of the wire extending to each side of the hook. 

     The head end of a correctly shaped bait strip,  tapered to about 3/8”,  is then laid skin down against the hook shank, and the brass wire is wrapped from opposite directions around the bait with enough tension to slightly bury the wire into the meat on the bait strip.  It is not necessary to twist the ends of the wire together to hold the strip.  The wired bait will remain in the fly as long as you fish it.  I prefer lightly dressed flies for use with bait strips. 

     Years of experience and millions of Great Lakes king salmon have proven clean flies catch fish.  When it comes to inactive kings, though, especially staged fish or big, lazy fish, I’ve found that sushi flies are just what the doctor ordered. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Search and Destroy!

    Posted on February 12th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    A Penn Fathom 25LW, my favorite lead core section reel.

    When active, feeding, aggressive fish of any species  are concentrated and you find them, figure out what they want and present your trolling arsenal to them effectively, you can  put a lot of fish in the net and it usually doesn’t take many lines in the water to do it.  But, many times on Lake Ontario the opposite is the case.  For whatever reason, weather conditions like heavy winds, forage fish behavior, and other factors,  trout and salmon can be very scattered.  This is especially true of pelagic species like steelhead and king salmon which tagging studies have shown roam the 200 mile length and 50 mile breadth of Lake Ontario like nomads.

    Onboard my charter boat, the Fish Doctor, when kings and steelhead  are scattered hither and yon and are tough to locate, I switch to one of my favorite techniques, search and destroy mode,  and head for the open lake at maximum trolling speed, far from any other boats. 

    The key element of this  search and destroy spread is an oversize planer board I call a megaboard.  Two of  these big, 36” triple boards go in  the water on 300# test mono spread 150 feet to port and starboard.  Each is rigged with up to three sections of leadcore line if fish are shallow in the top 30 feet of water, a combination of leadcore and copper lines if the fish are 40 feet and deeper, or a straight spread of copper if kings and steelhead are deeper.   Downriggers, wire Dipsys, both regular size and mags depending on depth, and slide divers(if fish are in the top 30’) on braided line are added to the spread.

    Two, three, five and seven-color leadcore sections are rigged with 50 feet of leader and backed with fine diameter, 40# test  braided line spooled on Penn Fathom 25LW reels  fished on light 7’ rods.  At 2.7 mph the 18 lb. test  leadcore line I use fishes down about 4’ per color.  With 6 leadcore sections  spread 300 feet apart lures are fishing  8, 12, 20 and 28 feet below the surface with the shallowest lines furthest from the boat.  Combined with riggers and divers fished from the boat, this huge spread can be deadly. 

    Even when you find fish, there is nothing automatic about getting them  to strike a lure.  Presentation may be spot on, with lures running precisely  as they should at preferred  water temperature  in the strike zone.  Speed may be perfect with optimum lure action.  But, as an old timer once told me, “If ya don’t have the right stuff down there, you might as well head for shore.”  Water color, light conditions, lake surface condions, and many other factors all play a part.   Finding the right lure fish can’t resist on any given day is the icing on the cake.

    Such was the case on May 12, 2016, when Jerry Argyle and his crew headed northwest out of Oswego Harbor with me in search of king salmon.  It took some time to locate them in the top 25 feet of water over  300 to 400 feet of water, but when we did, releases started snapping.  Under a clear, sunny sky with the lake mirror calm, the kings were fussy.  With the lake’s surface glassy, I knew light intensity at 30 feet was only about 6%, perfect conditions for UV spoons.  After a little experimenting we found the magic, a UV green alewife.  When their 8-hr trip was over  my crew of veteran anglers, setting their own hooks, helping me rig, and handling the rods perfectly, had boated around 25 king salmon, releasing all but 11 delicious, mint silver fish from 5 to 18 lbs.

    We had caught fish on leadcore lines, riggers, and slide divers, but the leadcore sections on the megaboards were the rigs that made the day.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Dipsy Diver Leader Length

    Posted on January 19th, 2017 admin No comments

    So you want to know exactly how much leader to run behind your Dipsy Diver to catch trout and salmon, consitently, right?  Me, too, even after 30 years of trolling the Great Lakes with them.

    The answer, I think, is, “It all depnds.”  That is, it depends on what you’re fishing for,d the conditions you’re fishing in, and what you’re fishing behind the Dipsy.  For a starter, let’s assume you’re using a clear snubber, which most, not all, Great Lakes captains use most of the time and talk about leader length from the swivel on the snubber to the snap swivel on the lure.

    Fact is, Iknow one captain who fishes leaders as short as 48″ when trolling spoons and attractor/flies or bait.  Others, mostly for spoons, fish leaders up to 25 feet long and half to handline fish to the net.  These are extremes.

    I have found that over the years I’ve fished Dipsys with spoons a 10′ leader with mono as light as I can get away with for the species I’m targeting works best for me.  With attractors and flies or bait, 8-10 foot leaders do the trick, but I’ve caught numbers of king salmon on 56″ leaders.  When I want to fish spoons further back than 10′, I switch to slide divers.

    As for leader, when trolling spoons, the lighter the better, and I never fish heavier than 20# test for anything, always with a clear snubber.  For attractors, I believe you can use as heavy a leader as you like.  I fish clear snubbers with both spoons and attractors for several reasons, but occasionally use dcolored snubbers for cohos and steelhead.  You will not find fluorocarbon leader in the lighter lb. tests on my charter boat because of poor knot strength.  I doubt that fluorocarbon leader increases hookups when fishing with divers.