• Lake Ontario Brown Trout Fishing Tips

    Posted on May 25th, 2010 admin No comments

    Brown trout fishing on Lake Ontario has changed drastically since zebra mussels were introduced back in the mid90′s and water clarity changed from visibility of 2-5 feet in past years to up to 36 feet today. 

    Anglers have learned to cope with these conditions by fishing in low light when browns are most active in clear water, searching out colored water in the sun, using light line/leaders and rods/reels to match, and fine tuning lure selection and presentation.

    Since I first fished Lake Ontario for browns in 1978, I’ve watched and brown trout  behavior closely and recorded everything I’ve seen, looking for consistent patterns that help put browns in the boat on every trip.   One year, I had the opportunity to see my customers boat 1004 browns from early April to Sept. 4, 524 of them boated by May 27.  With this much experience you would think catching spring browns would be simple, except that conditions vary from day to day.  Light  conditions, water color, surface conditions, currents, weather swings, wind direction changes, and water temperature fluctuations create complexities that only Mr. Brown Trout understands. 

    Early spring fishing in the clear shallows is probably the most challenging of all brown trout fishing.  Morning after morning in April, May, and early June I leave Oswego Harbor and put planer boards, riggers, and other gear in the water searching for browns.   Here’s something I’ve learned about spring brown trout that might help you.

     Once alewives move inshore, this year a mother lode of yearling alewives, browns are very surface oriented.  At dawn, you cannot fish too close to the surface.  The shallower a stickbait or spoon runs, the more effective it is early.  This is especially true if it is flat and glassy.  Avoid deep running stickbaits.  Tune stickbaits like Rapalas, so they run shallow.  Don’t put any weight on planer board lines at dawn.  I run flutterspoons, especially the Flutterdevle with no weight at all.   Riggers are run as close to the surface as possible, sometimes with the releases right out of the water!  I also catch browns early on flat lines…, that’s right, flat lines, right off the back of the boat, especially in flat water. 

    As the light intensity increases, add some weight to planer board lines, switch to deeper diving stickbaits, and drop riggers deeper. 

    Silver/blue and silver/black are my favorite early AM colors.

    Check out this selection of favorite Fish Doctor Flutterdevles.

    Check out this selection of favorite Fish Doctor Flutterdevles.

  • Lake Ontario Fishing Report…, Major 2009 Alewife Year Class

    Posted on May 25th, 2010 admin No comments

    Wow!!!  Great news about Lake Ontario’s alewife forage base…, lots of 3-4 inch alewives from the 2009 hatch.  Perfect chow for 2-year old browns, spring cohos, and young lakers, kings, and steelhead. 

    We’ve seen brown trout stomachs stuffed with them in 10 fow, young lakers on bottom in 190 fow bulging with them, and cohos, steelhead, and kings in the top 30 fow over 200+ fow chowing down on them.  This strong 2009 year class could carry the Lake Ontario fishery for several years, even if subsequent year classes, i.e., 2010, aren’t as strong.  Nothing saying they won’t be, though, conditions for alewife spawning/hatching this year are good.

    This brown was stuffed with yearling alewives hatched in 2009.

    This brown was stuffed with yearling alewives hatched in 2009.

  • Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Fishing…, A New Era?

    Posted on May 9th, 2010 admin No comments
    Leeanne with one of 8 sublegal landlocked salmon boated aboard the "Fish Doctor" this season.

    Leeanne with one of 8 sublegal landlocked salmon boated aboard the "Fish Doctor" this season.

    It was back in 1983 when the NYSDEC stocked 45,000 surplus landlocked salmon(LLS) smolts from the Adirondack Hatchery in northern New York into three different tributaries of Lake Ontario(L.O.).  In a lake 200 miles long and 50 miles wide, surprisingly, anglers started catchingLLS and quite a few of them.  In just a few years, I saw LLS up to 13.5 lbs.  come aboard my charter boat, and heard of LLS up to 16.5 lbs. caught, but the fishery soon fizzled, despite expanded stocking by the NYSDEC.

    Interestingly, a variety of different LLS and Atlantics, some from the Tunison lab in Cortland, were stocked over the next few years.  Once in a while a decent landlock(call them Atlantics, if you like) would be caught.  I saw one LLS  in about 2001 that weighed 22.5 lbs.  A NY record  was set by a L.O. fish weighing 24.5 lbs.

    The potential of L. O. to produce trophy LLS was obvious, but it wasn’t happening.  Survival of stocked fish was poor.  No serious research was being conducted, at least by NYS, to determine the problem and find a solution.  The basically insignifigant LLS  fishery continued for years with DEC’s lake wide creel census summary for a number of seasons showing a LLS catch/harvest of “O”.

    Then, after averaging about one LLS per year caught aboard my charter boat, in 2008 that changed.  In April that year there were lots of reports of LLS around 18″ being caught.  During the 2008 season, my charters boated 8 fish that by midsummer had grown to 21″.   But few larger LLS were reported.  Then in the spring of 2009, more reports of LLS…, a number of verified reports of fish in the 10 lb. class, plus numberous reports of smaller fish from 20-21 inches.  By May 1st, this season, my charters had boated 8 sublegal salmon, as many as we caught during the entire 2008 season, and probably more than we caught in the five years together prior to ‘o8.

    When I inquired about this, I heard that the Province of Ontario had changed their landlocked salmon stocking and management program with a rumor that stockings of spring fingerlings in tributaries might be doing the trick.  As I collect more info, I’ll report on it here.

    Whatever the reason for the drastic increase in LLS we’ve been catching, one thing is very obvious.  There is potential for producing a major LLS salmon fishery in L.O.  We’ve seen that it is possible to successfully stock LLS in L.O.  We’ve also seen that the growth rate of L.O. LLS may be some of the best on the planet.

    Sooo…, if it is Ontario, Canada that is producing the LLS we’re seeing, if their success continues, if they expand their program, and if NYS follows suit successfully, we may be looking at one of the finest if not the finest future trophy LLS fisheries on the planet. 

    Very, very exciting!

  • Lake Ontario Salmon Fishing Report, May, 2010

    Posted on May 9th, 2010 admin No comments
    Lake Ontario salmon fishing on May, 7, 2010..., Lori got the best of this big boy!

    Lake Ontario salmon fishing on May, 7, 2010..., Lori got the best of this big boy!

    Yes, if you’re wondering and haven’t been out fishing for them, there are some kings and cohos around outside Oswego Harbor.  So far, the numbers haven’t been big, but the size has.

    Steve Farrell caught the first one, about 20 lbs.,  of the 2010 season aboard the Fish Doctor on the morning of May 4.    It came on a “Casper” flasher/fly fished on a clear Dipsy on a 7′ roller Dipsy rod.  Another king about the same size was also boated that morning along with browns and lakers.   The second king hit a black venom Mauler.

    On May 6, Jethro Pease, Ben, Jason, and Jim  took two more kings along with browns, lakers, cohos and Atlantics.  Riggers, Dipsys, and copper all produced fish, but the two kings came on a thumper rod with a chrome glow dodger and purple/silver fly with a glow sardine insert.

    Then, on May 7, it was Colby Classic grand prize winner Steve LaDue’s friend, Lori, who put the biggest king of the season in the net.  Lori’s fish weighed 22.5 lbs. and hit an NK 28 Diehard at 65 feet on a rigger.  Steve, Lorie, Jay, and Joe also boated some cohos on spoons and flies out in the depths.  They were feeding on yearling alewives and smelt in the top 30 fow.

    Not a lot of kings out there, but some nice ones…, enough to make things interesting if you’re entered in one of the derbies!