• Lake Ontario Salmon Fishing…, in the Depths!

    Posted on June 29th, 2010 admin No comments
    This Lake Ontario salmon hit one of my favorite deep water spoons, the NK28 Spook.

    This Lake Ontario salmon hit one of my favorite deep water spoons, the NK28 Spook.

    If you fish the east end of Lake Ontario where prevailing westerly summer winds push cold water deep, you know all about fishing the depths for trout and salmon. 

    Fishing deep water has been a way of life out of Oswego lately, with temps in 200 feet of water, 60 degrees at 100′ , 50 degrees at 160′, and 43 degrees at well over 200 feet, give or take 20 to 50 feet depending on which day we’re talking about in the last seven days or so.  Throw in an increase in the number of water fleas we’re seeing lately, plus some serious subsurface currents, and this deep water  fishing can be tough. 

    Nobody wants to fish a standard size Dipsy on the #1 setting with 400 feet of wire to just barely get to temp 120 feet down.  Riggers take that much  longer to set and retrieve, if they’re down  over 200′, and major snarls using multiple riggers are common.  With copper, better get out your 500′ and 600′ sections, and keep some spare spools on the boat because tangles with Dipsys are not uncommon. 

    These challenging conditions discourage lots of anglers, but there are some simple way to cope with them and enjoy some great fishing.

    My approach is to go back to basics and keep it as simple as possible.   Here are a few things that help keep me in fish when they’re deep, the fleas are nasty, and the currents severe;

    1. Use only two riggers, and use at least a 12 lb. rigger weight that is tunable to make the weights swim away from each other slightly, avoiding tangles.

    2.  Use a good speed/temp probe to monitor temp and maintain optimum trolling speed.

    3. Use stout releases like the Capt. Jax to handle the extra pull on the line caused by the added resistance caused by all the line in the water, plus fleas.

    4.  Use mag Dipsys with 7′ roller rods.  These Dipsys will get you down to 120 feet or more with as little as 250 feet of wire, depending on currents.

    5.  Fish copper off boards, 400, 500, and 600′ sections.  Even though the 400-footer will only get you down about 90 feet deep, kings and steelhead will come up out of temp to chase bait and attack a lure.  Also, on sharp turns, a 400′ section will drop as deep as 120 feet or deeper.  When you’re fishing copper off the boards, don’t be afraid to fish a zig zag trolling pattern.

    6.  You’re not going to be able to speed troll at 200′ because of swayback, so fish lures and flashers that work well at speeds of 2.1 to 2.5 mph.  Spoons like the NK in the size 28 and mag or Stingers in the Stingray or Mag are excellent.  You can’t fish a better 8″ flasher in the depths than the ProChip.   

    7.  The deeper I fish, the more effective I find whole bait and Sushi Flies.

    8.  Perhaps most important…, remember that the further west you fish and the  further you fish from shore, the higher the cold water.  If you can find fish there, you won’t have to fish deep!!!

    Don’t let deep water trolling discourage you.   Keep it simple, use the right gear,  use your head, and you’ll catch fish.

  • Lake Ontario Salmon Fishing…, for Atlantics!!!

    Posted on June 16th, 2010 admin No comments


    Biologists estimate this 23 1/2" Atlantic boated on 4/30/10 is 2-3 years old.

    Biologists estimate this 23 1/2" Atlantic boated on 4/30/10 is 2-3 years old.


    In a recent Atlantic salmon blog,  I said I would be back with more info when and if I received further details on any management changes that might have resulted in the recent increase in the number of Atlantic salmon we’ve been catching in Lake Ontario this spring.  Those very interesting details are now available.


    A little background…, In 1983, the NYSDEC stocked 45,000 landlocked salmon in three different L.O. tributaries and these fish, along with others stoced the next few years produced some surprisingly good salmon fishing , with some fish in the double digit weights.  Unfortunately, this fishery declined, despite additional stockings in following years of a variety of different strains and sizes of landlocked and Atlantics. 


    After 2001, despite various landlocked and Atlantic salmon stockings by New York State and the Province of Ontario, the catch of landlocks dropped off to close to zero, and on my charter boat we saw an average of about one per season, , sometimes sublegal, sometimes larger than the 25” size limit, the largest 13.5 lbs.


    In the spring of 2009, that changed.  My Fish Doctor anglers started catching 18 to 20 inch landlocks and I heard similar reports from other fishermen.  An occasional legal landlock larger than 25” was taken, but most fish were sublegal, probably two or three years old, according to preliminary estimates from biologists.  During the 2009 season, from April through September, my anglers boated 8 landlocks, a major increase over previous years.
    That brings us to the 2010 season.  As of June 15, my charters have already boated 15 landlocks up to 24 inches on my charter boat, and I I have collected data on 12 of them for a researcher in the Province of Ontario. Although my anglers haven’t caught any legal landlocks, several photos of landlocks in the 10 to 15 pound class were  posted online in late March and early April, 2010.


     I had heard that not much had changed with the landlocked salmon or what biologists are calling Atlantic salmon management program in New York State, but major changes had been made by the Province of Ontario.  When I received the information I asked for about Ontario’s salmon management program, it became very clear why we’re seeing more Atlantics.  Canada’s stocking increased from  199,062 fry and fall fingerlings in 2005 to 836,898 fry, fall fingerling, yearling, and even 698 adult  salmon in 2009, all so-called “LaHave/Harwood” strain Atlantics, a major change in the program. In contrast, the NYSDEC stocked 74,000 Atlantics in 2009.


    Although New York and Ontario biologists don’t yet know if the increased number of landlocks is a result of Ontario’s intensified management program, that certainly(emphasis) appears to be the case. 


    My guess is also that we may be seeing the beginning of a spectacular Lake Ontario fishery for Atlantic salmon, and, hopefully,  the successful restoration of this once native species in Lake Ontario.  Historic written accounts tell about native landlocked Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario up to 47 lbs.  Adult fish in the fall were so abundant in tributary streams that spawning salmon in gravelly river fords spooked horses pulling wagons.  Spawning Atlantics were even speared onto wagons for use as food, and even fertilizer for gardens. 


    If it happens, hats off to Ontario’s fishery biologists and their historic accomplishment.