• Oswego’s Spring Kings

    Posted on April 5th, 2009 admin 5 comments
    DJ Vaughn couldn't have picked a flatter day to fish for Oswego's spring kings.

    DJ Vaughn couldn't have picked a flatter day to fish for Oswego's spring kings.

    Many anglers don’t realize that just outside Oswego Harbor there is some excellent king salmon fishing in the spring. Here’s an article I wrote a while back that will give you the scoop on it.  Don’t forget to view my fishing hotline page on the Fish Doctor Charters web site at <blog.fishdoctorcharters.com>

    As we backed my charter boat into the narrow slip at Oswego Marina, my buddy Bob, standing on the dock, asked 12-year old Jackson Davis, “How’d they bite, young man? Jackson couldn’t wait to spit the words out, “We limited out!” “Aha, said Bob, the browns are a lot of fun this time of year, aren’t they?” “We didn’t catch any browns”, Jackson blurted out, “We caught king salmon.” Jackson flipped open the big cooler, heaping with 8 to 19 pound mint-silver kings. The date was May 2, 2005, and we couldn’t have had a better day of fishing.

    I had located the fish the day before, figured out a pattern, and Jackson, his Dad, and Bob Jones had cashed in. The seas were calm and the skies sunny, but the best part…, we were the only boat on eastern Lake Ontario fishing kings that morning. Since 2004, spring fishing for king salmon, just 5 minutes outside Oswego Harbor, has been fantastic. Just in the month of May over the past three years, anglers aboard my charter boat have boated more than 400 king salmon and 150 cohos, this in an area much better known for spring brown trout fishing. Fishing for king salmon continues on through June and July as these sleek predators stay just offshore while hordes of alewives move shallow to spawn.

    Experience has shown that high spring flow in the Oswego River is a major attraction for baitfish and spring kings and cohos. Since 2001, another great year for spring kings, the pattern seems clear, high flows produce the hottest spring salmon fishing, BUT, no matter what the flows, there are always kings outside Oswego Harbor beginning in early May. In the past few weeks, the Oswego River has been flowing at around 10,000 cfs,, not high,but still laden with nutrients from thousands of acres of rich farmland in the watershed, the greenish colored plume of water off Oswego Harbor is like an oasis in the Sahara to fish in eastern Lake Ontario. With snow and rain predicted every day for the next week, expect increasing flows in the Oswego River, a magnet for both baitfish and predators like browns, cohos, kings, and rainbows.
    If youユre thinking about sampling the super spring king fishing at Oswego, on a typical sunny day the early bird definitely gets the worm. Leaving the dock at Oswego Marina at 5:00 AM, it’s only a short 5-minute ride to the fishing grounds in 90 to 100 feet of water. Most mornings I try to have my rods are in the water just before daybreak. At that time, almost no fish or bait can be seen on my 10” color Sitex video fish finder below 30 feet. Some calm mornings, salmon can be seen porpoising right on the surface…, exciting. All the early morning action is in the top 30 feet of water, and I mean action. Triples and quads are not unusual. One morning, my crew of three ranging from 79 to 85 years old, including one lady angler, hooked and landed six kings at once from 13 – 19 lbs. Whew!

    Even though the surface water temperature in early May is 39-40 degrees, on sunny days, kings start to move deep by 7:00 -9:00 AM and are often flat on bottom in 120 feet of water by late morning. ProChip Flashers and dodgers trailed by Howie Flies are standard fare for spring kings. My favorite in low light is the Casper, a stock white ProChip 8 with a Little Boy Blue fly trailing behind it. Spoons like Maulers, Northern Kings, and Michigan Stingers are also excellent spring king medicine. My top spoons, depending on the light conditions, are the NK28 spook, “Venom” Mauler, black alewife and monkey puke Stingers, NK 28 Diehard, Plain Jane Mauler in brass/green, Orange Ruffe Mauler, and Blue Dolphin Silver Streak. Downriggers, Dipsey Divers, and copper line fished from planer boards get lures down to kings. The first 10 minutes after daylight, you can catch kings right on the surface with spoons and stickbaits. Flasher/flies and spoons on copper off the boards are solid producers for spring kings.

    One of the most consistent early morning rigs on my charter boat, the Fish Doctor, is a thumper rod down the chute with a 10 oz. weight, 80’ of 20# wire, and a chrome/glow dodger with a glow baby purple/silver fly. As the light conditions brighten, you’ll find a chrome/silver prism dodger with an aqua fly on the thumper rod.  Later, in brighter light, I opt for a trash can dodger with a green crinkle or Pretty Jane fly. The hottest bright light flasher/fly combo for me in May, especially when the kings have dropped down deep, my Fish Doctor “Late Riser”(char/double glow) ProChip 8 with a Pretty Jane(glitter/silver/green) Fly with chartreuse beads.
    If youユre waiting until August to fish for king salmon in eastern Lake Ontario, you might want to rethink your plan. Oh, and the other thing…, there is no better eating fish in fresh water than a spring king salmon dripping with oil after chowing down on alewives all winter…, yum, yum!

  • Welcome to the New Fish Doctor Blog

    Posted on April 5th, 2009 admin No comments
    Capt. Ernie with an Oswego spring king

    Capt. Ernie with an Oswego spring king

    Early May is the start of Oswego’s spring king season.

    Welcome to the new Fish Doctor blog. I’m just getting my feet wet with this, and really don’t have a clue about manipulating the administrative mechanics of a blog, Sooo…, Lord knows exactly what you’ll be seeing here until I master it, if that’s even possible for an old dog in such foreign territory. Bear with me, though, it could be interesting.

    What I hope to do is not only provide some useful and interesting information to readers about Lake Ontario fishing and fishery management, but broaden the focus of this blog to include current statewide, Great Lakes wide, and even issues of broader scope that might interest sportsfolks who love to hunt and fish or just spend time in the outdoors. For instance, what’s the story ongoing Lake Ontario lake trout study? How has the brown trout fishing been so far this spring in eastern Lake Ontario. What’s going on in the west lake…, any cohos yet? How about L. Michigan? What’s cooking on the north shore of L. Ontario. I have contacts everywhere, and I’m guessing we’ll be able to dredge up some interesting info, especially with your input.

    One broader issue that where I sense mixed emotions is the proposed NYS fishing and hunting license fee increase, especially after DEC’s recent effort to close the last remaining state pheasant rearing facility, the Reynolds Game farm, where I once had a part time job while attending Cornell Univ. I worked for the NYSDEC for 22 years as a fishery biologist, fisheries manager for Region 5, and the last three years of my career as the Natural Resources Supervisor for Region 5, in charge of the fish and wildlife management, forestry, fire control(41 forest rangers), environmental protection, and mined land resources. I’ve seen the good and the bad, and will gladly share my views and the views of others with you, for what they’re worth.

    Over the next few weeks, months, etc., you’ll find lots of different information here, including some in-depth fishing techniques information that is too lengthy for my web site( fishing hotline and newsletter.