• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Reaction Strikes

    Posted on December 29th, 2015 admin No comments


    This midmorning king couln't resist a fast trolled spoon on May 25, 2015

    The early morning king salmon bite was a good one.  Joe and Eileen, their son Bill and  two grandsons Jim and Jess had three kings from 15 to 20 lbs. in the box.  They were hoping for a nice catch of kings to can.   We had located a large school of alewives in 150 feet of water on the morning of July  18, 2015, north of Oswego Harbor at daybreak and the kings were there chowing down.  Flashers and flies trolled on  riggers at 2.5 mph were the hot ticket.  Shortly after sunrise, though, action halted.  With plenty of bait and salmon still showing on my  fish finder, what to do?

     Overstuffed kings with bellies full of alewives can be tough to catch.  The early morning bite we had cashed in on is not unusual.  A  typical midsummer feeding scenario for kings is an aggressive early morning bite, a midmorning lull, another feeding spree from 11:00 AM to  1:00 PM, a midafternoon lull, and  a late day bite from  5:00 AM until dusk. 

     If we continued our slow troll with flashers, I guessed the action would be slow until midday.   That’s when I mentioned changing our presentation to see if we could produce some reaction strikes.  “A reaction strike?”  What’s that?  My answer, “Hopefully you’ll see.”

     I explained to my crew that what we would  be trying to rev up negative kings  enough  to  hit  when they aren’t actively feeding.  We want them to react and strike a lure without “thinking” about it.  When kings are negative a slow trolled lure or bait they can follow lazily behind and eyeball closely often just won’t do it.  When you zip a spoon by them they can’t dilly-dally.  It’s now or never, a reaction strike. 

     Predators like king salmon  capable  of swimming  up to 14mph can react to just about anything  that pushes their “ button”.  When they are in a negative mood, it just takes a little more “push” or stimulus to  flick their  “switch” and generate a response,  the basis for reaction strike trolling. 

                                Predators like king salmon  capable  of swimming  up to 14 mph

                                  can react to just about anything  that pushes their “ button”. 

     The same principle using a  high speed and/or erratic lure presentation to  trigger strikes from negative fish works well all  trout and salmon species.    I have seen Ontario brown  trout hit tuned stickbaits fished from planer boards at trolling speeds up to 4.9 mph.   On L.  Champlain, while trolling  for landlocks I watched a super charged lake trout, normally considered a fresh water slow poke, hit a tuned Mooselook Wobbler while  my Pelican trolling speedometer read 6.0 mph.   High speed trolling with streamers is legendary for landlocked salmon.  The question before us…, would a similar lure presentation mixing fast trolling  speed and erratic lure action put a few more kings in the box for Joe and Eileen and their family.

     As we changed our trolling spread to reaction strike mode,  I rigged  our downrigger, Dipsy, and copper line spread with speed tolerant spoons that work well from slow to fast speeds.  Then, I  increased  our trolling speed  to 3.5 to 4.5 mph.  Next,  I  handled  the boat to produce lure action as erratic as possible.  With three copper lines fishing from each oversized  planer board set 100 feet from the boat, the slightest  turn slowed trolling speed of the lines on the inside of the turn and increased the speed on the outside .  Ditto for spoons on the wire Dipsy rods.  Lazy “S” turns and erratic action with speed changes were just what the kings wanted. 

     Six hours later,  as I got ready to filet and package their  catch on the way back to the dock , there was no problem opening the cooler, because the  cover wouldn’t close.