• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Trophy Mystique

    Posted on December 24th, 2014 admin No comments

    Trophy mystique lured Gary Decker to the St. Lawrence River and this trophy musky.

    Gary Decker patiently waited and watched as we trolled our
    monster musky plugs In the St. Lawrence River, near Clayton, New York.  Knowing the Thousand Island area of this mighty river holds some of the largest muskies in the world, he
    was firm in his belief that given enough time, he would catch and release one
    of these incredible freshwater predators.  He was excited, because when you play this game, in this kind of water, you just never know how big the next musky might be.  It’s called trophy mystique, a feeling which lures thousands of anglers to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

    Oct. 20, 2004 was Gary’s lucky day.  At 4:20 PM, trolling off the tip of a
    submerged shoal, a C90 Williams wobbler ripped free from a downrigger release
    set  20 feet below the surface, and the 7 foot downrigger rod doubled over.  With
    40 lb. Maxima line peeling steadily from the Garcia line counter reel, Gary , for a moment, wondered if he was snagged on bottom.  He soon new better when the rod tipped was yanked
    savagely toward the river’s surface by an unseen mighty force below.  After some tense moments and shaky knees, Gary eased a 54 ½ inch musky to the net and I carefully lifted it over the
    stern.  A few quick photos, “Ooohhs” and “Aaahhs” and the trophy musky was released unharmed to continue the mystique of musky fishing in the St. Lawrence.

    On Lake Ontario trout and salmon anglers feel trophy mystique
    every time they cast or troll a line in this 200 mile long fresh water ocean,
    legendary for it’s monstrous salmon, steelhead, brown trout and lakers.  It’s that feeling you get when you’re waiting for a strike, not knowing just how big the next fish will be, convinced there
    really is no limit on size.  For many years a 26 lb.  5 oz. Lake Ontario steelhead held the New York State record.  An Ohio angler fishing Lake Ontario out of Olcott, New York, in the summer of 2004 never imagined he would boat a 31 lb. 5 oz. steelhead which shattered the old state record.  Most of
    us who fish this unbelievable trophy producing water believe even larger steelhead are out there.  There it is again…, trophy mystique.

    Over the years I have guided anglers on many waters in New York State, including 28 mile long Lake George, 130 mile long Lake Champlain, and the Finger Lakes.  The fishing in these lakes was excellent and the scenery spectacular, but you pretty much knew the maximum size that îake trout, rainbows, and landlocked salmon could reach.  Nice fish and trophies in their own right, but there were limits.  Not so in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

    Does anyone believe a landlocked salmon larger than the current 24.5 lb. New York State record won’t be caught?   No way, that record will undoubtedly be broken soon, possibly in 2014, with the super abundance of forage available the past few years!  How about the 47 lb. 13oz. chinook salmon record?  Ditto!

    And,  how about that 69 lb. 15 oz. state record musky Art Lawton caught in the St.
    Lawrence River in 1957.  There is a bigger one out there, and Gary Decker and I have a feeling in our bones that with the next smashing musky strike, we might just be tangling with it!

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, The Almighty Sutton

    Posted on December 8th, 2014 admin No comments


    This hefty Lake Ontario brown hit a 44 Sutton with blue lazer tape.

    If I had only one spoon to use for trout and salmon anywhere on a flatline, leadcore or copper line, or a downrigger or Dipsy, , it would be an ultralight flutter spoon called a Sutton, in Size #44.  If I could select a few different sizes of Suttons, I would add the #31, #71, #88 and #38.


    The first time I fished LakeOntario in September, 1977, with my fishing partner Mac Collins,  five out of the six kings my partner and I caught were on a flat silver #88 Sutton.  Since then, Sutton spoons in a variety of sizes and stock finishes, plus customized versions I concoct myself, have caught every species of trout and salmon in LakeOntario for me including, cohos, steelhead, lake trout, domestic rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, several thousand brown trout, plus walleyes and bass. 


    Suttons, by far, were the most popular trolling spoon for trout and salmon in New York’s Finger Lakes, where they originated many years ago, and continue to be manufactured in Naples, at the south end of Canandaigua Lake.  They have one of the finest silver plated finishes on the market. 


    Suttons are no longer available retail, but if you can find any used ones, call me!  They were available in both ultralight flutterspoons and heavier casting spoons in a variety of finishes including flat and hammered silver, brass, copper, silver/brass, and silver/copper depending on the model and size.


    My favorite is the ultralight flutterspoon because it can be tweaked to troll properly at speeds from 1.5 – 3.0 mph.  These spoons come from the factory with a light treble hook which produces good action at slow speeds.  For my purposes on LakeOntario, I replace the treble on all Sutton spoons with a single Mustad siwash hook.  On my favorite, the  3” long #44 Sutton, I use  a Size #1, #1/0 or #2/0 Siwash hook depending on the speed I’ll be trolling for different species and the spoon action I’m trying to achieve.  With the factory bend and a single # 1 hook, the #44  rigged with a #1 crosslock snap on a light leader will start to spin at 2.0 mph.  Small crosslock snaps improve the action of any flutterspoon at slow speeds.  Rigged with the same small crosslock snap, but a 1/0 Siwash hook, the #44 will start to spin at 2.3 mph.  Rig a #44 Sutton with a #2/0 Siwash hook and a #2 Sampo coastlock ball bearing snap swivel it will wobble up to about 2.7 mph.  Flatten the spoon thru the middle and bend back a 3/8” length of the nose of the spoon, and it will wobble up to about 3.0 mph. 


    For brown trout, tune a Sutton to wobble.  King salmon prefer a spoon that wobbles, but will hit spinning spoons when they’re aggressively feeding.  Domestic rainbows sometimes prefer a flutterspoon that spins.  Vary the size of the Sutton you’re fishing from the smaller, 3” #44 and #31 to the larger #71 and #38 depending on the size of the bait fish trout and salmon are targeting. 


    One of my my favorite Suttons in LakeOntario’s gin-clear water when it’s sunny is the stock hammered silver/brass finish.  A 1/16stripe of fluorescent orange paint along the silver edge of a hammered silver/brass Sutton produces more fish in colored water under sunny skies.  A flat silver Sutton with a diagonal stripe of light blue lazer tape is one of my favorites for brown trout in clear water and moderate light.  Your own custom touches of tape and paint are sometimes just what the doctor ordered.


    I’ll never forget that first LakeOntario trip with Mac Collins.  As he removed a crumpled #88 Sutton from a big king’s toothy maw, I suggested the spoon was ready for the garbage heap.  “No way,” Mac said.  “This baby is just starting to get a little character!”  Mac put another “peppermint twist” in the spoon, rigged it on a downrigger and promptly caught another king on it.  I’ve heard of some obscene prices being paid for used Suttons online, but they are probably worth it.