• Snow, Baby, Snow for L. Ontario Spring Salmon and Trout Fishing

    Posted on January 26th, 2011 admin No comments

    Most of us like to look on the bright side, especially folks who fish.  If the fish aren’t biting, they should start any minute.  If they don’t start biting, well, it’ a nice day to be outside.  If it really isn’t a nice day outside, well, your garden needed the rain anyway.  You know, like we’ve all heard before, “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work!”


    Well, those of you still in northern New York may be having a little trouble looking on the bright side this winter.  On the night of Jan. 24, in Saranac Lake, NY, it was 47 degrees below zero, and -22 degrees in Watertown on the east end of Lake Ontario.  In Syracuse, NY,  south of Lake Ontario where snowfall is usually less than in Mexico, NY, where I live, by Jan. 22, 2011.  109.8 inches of snow had fallen.  The average snowfall by that date is 59.3 inches!  So far, we’re talking a far much colder and snowier winter than normal.  The record snowfall for Syracuse is 191 inches, and the area is well on its way to that.


    The Oswego and Niagra Rivers are New York State’s two largest Lake Ontario tributaries emptying directly into deep water areas of the lake..  I moor my charter boat at the mouth of the Oswego River in Oswego Harbor, right in the city of Oswego, NY.  .  The river’s watershed is huge, stretching all the way south to the southern drainages of the largest Finger Lakes, Cayuga, Seneca, and others.  It also includes Oneida Lake, one of the largest inland lakes in New York, as well as the Syracuse area, and tens of thousands of acres of farm land.  When the snow melts in the spring runoff from this drainage basin funnels down the Oswego River, increasing the flow into the lake.  The spring runoff, warmed by the sun, carries with it nutrient laden water, the food of plankton, which attracts baitfish like smelt and alewives as it enters the lake.  Following the baitfish…, predators like brown trout, rainbows, chinook and coho salmon, and Atlantic salmon.


    Yes, folks in Central New York are having a tough winter and are sure to be tired of shoveling and plowing snow.  We’re hearing lots of groaning, but we’re also hearing, “Snow, baby, snow!”, not only by skiers and snowmobilers, but by Lake Ontario anglers who know that a heavier than normal snow pack means better than normal spring fishing!


    Since the year, 2000, the two winters with the highest Syracuse snowfall were 2000-01 with 191.9” and 2003-04 with 181.3”.  It’s not a coincidence that my two best springs for chinook salmon fishing offshore of Oswego Harbor were 2001 and 2004, when flow in the Oswego River was high from the huge snow melt.  I didn’t keep an accurate log of my salmon catch in 2001, but I did in 2004…, 201 chinook salmon in 31 trips.  The only reason these fish were just outside Oswego Harbor…, the attraction of the Oswego River and it’s plume of warm water that extends out into the lake, like a magnet to baitfish, trout, and salmon.  


     If the cold, snowy weather in Syracuse and central New York continues, we will be looking at one of the heaviest snowfalls in the past 20 years, and some super chinook salmon fishing in Lake Ontario this spring.. 


     High river flows have the same effect on brown trout fishing in the Oswego Harbor area, but for a different reason.  Spooky,  browns are much easier to catch in colored water.   When river flow is high and the discharge plume outside Oswego Harbor is turbid with visibility as little as 3 to 5 feet, baitfish aren’t as easy for brown trout to locate and chow down on so browns feed longer.  In addition, light penetration thru turbid water is reduced, so the sun doesn’t shut down light sensitive browns. 


     It’s easy for me, sitting in North Carolina as I write this, and I apologize to those folks up north who are wearing out snow shovels, but I think I’ll join the chorus, “Snow, baby, snow!”

    In Feb, 2007, the snow was so deep near Oswego, NY, that our Adirondac Goldens walked right up onto the roof.

    In Feb, 2007, the snow was so deep near Oswego, NY, that our Adirondac Goldens walked right up onto the roof.




  • Think Snow…, for Great Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing!

    Posted on January 23rd, 2011 admin No comments
    Part of a limit catch of chinook salmon boated aboard the Fish Doctor on May 2, 2004.

    Part of a limit catch of chinook salmon boated aboard the Fish Doctor on May 2, 2004.

    There isn’t any question in my mind about it…, a heavy snow pack in Central New York in the huge Oswego River drainage basin produces great trout and salmon fishing out of Oswego Harbor.  The plume of the Oswego River with it’s warm, greenish nutrient  laden water, rich with plankton, is like a magnet to forage fish like smelt, alewive, gizzard shad and spottail shiners, favorite chow of actively feeding brown trout, chinookand coho salmon, rainbows, and Atlantic salmon, that concentrate around Oswego Harbor to chow down after a long winter.

    If snow + snow + snow = heavy runoff + high flows + awesome fishing, then anglers should be in for a bonanza this spring.  By January 22, 2011, Syracuse, NY, in the heart of the Oswego River watershed,  had received  109.8 inches of snow, compared to the normal average of 59.3 inches for the same period!   The average snowfall for the entire winter is only 121.1 inches.  Will there be heavy runoff and high flows in the Oswego River this spring.  You can bet on it!

    That is exactly what happened in the spring of 2004 when after heavy winter snowfalls chinook salmon were attracted to the mouth of the Oswego River and Fish Doctor anglers boated 203 chinook salmon in 31 trips, and good fishing for chinooks continued on into June and July.

    High river flows has the same effect on the brown trout fishing, but for a different reason.  Whether flows are low are high, there are always brown trout concentrated around the mouth of the Oswego and Oswego Harbor because of the warmer water temperature and the abundance of baitfish there.  But, and this is a big “but”, browns are a “tough nut to crack” in crystal clear water with visibility of up to 25 feet when the sun is out.  Sooo…, when flows are low and the water clear brown trout fishing is usually great in low light conditions, that is, early in the morning and on overcast days.  Therefore, the bite can be very, very short between daylight and sunrise.

    When flows are high and the discharge plume turbid, with visibility of as little as 3 to 5 feet, baitfish aren’t as easy for brown trout to locate and chow down on so they feed longer, plus light penetration thru turbid water is much less, so the sun doesn’t turn off light sensitive browns.

    Since I’m writing this on a beautiful, sunny day in North Carolina, it’s easy for me to say…, “Snow, baby, snow!!!”