• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Location, Location, Location

    Posted on October 26th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    The first of a limit catch of kings in 600+ feet of water on 7/20/17.

    More years ago than I care to think, in the fall of 1980,  when fur prices had climbed to an all time high, I was checking mink traps on a crisp October morning in the high peaks of the Adirondacks.  Walking the shore of the small, shallow  pond after a crisp, calm night, the early morning sun relflected off a mirror gin clear first ice, I was focused on trapping, not fishing. 

    With the first rays of the day, just barely clearing a shoreline of dense white spruce, I stopped in my tracks.   Across the pond, in a small bay a column of steam, highlighted by the sun, rose straight up in the stillness.  Hmmm…? 

    As I walked closer, checking traps, the source of that column of steam was clear.  About 40 yards from shore there was a circular,  ice free opening in the frozen surface of the 12 acre pond. Aha, a spring hole!

    Knowing the shallow, trailless pond,  three miles from the nearest road,  was stocked with brook trout and lightly fished, my mind turned from trapping to fishing.   With visions of fresh caught brookies sizzling in a cast iron frying pan of hot  bacon grease, I made a mental note to return there the  next summer with my fly rod. 

    9 months later, my lightweight Grumman canoe on my shoulders, I could see the surface of the pond reflecting through the spruces as I eased my way down a ridge to  the shoreline.  My sinking fly line and tandem light cahill wet flies worked close to bottom in that spring hole confirmed what I already knew.  That spring hole in the warm, shallow pond supported brook trout through the hot months of summer.  Releasing all but four 10 – 12 inch brookies, the pleasure of  a memorable fishing trip making the hike out an easy one. 

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               Ninety percent of the fish are in ten percent of the water.

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    As I bush whacked my way back out to the truck, I kept thinking…, location, location, location.  As an old timer once told me, “Ninety percent of the fish are in ten percent of the water!”

    Thirty-six years later, in early August, 2017, I was sitting at the helm of my charter boat planning northwest out of Oswego Harbor.  The depths of  Lake Ontario below us looked like the Black Hole.  My  12” Garmin fish finder had been blank for 10 miles.  Not deterred, I continued, heading for the offshore honey hole where salmon and steelhead fishing had been consistent for weeks. 

    Fishing one or two trips a day, I had searched for and followed the bait, trout, and salmon from 120 feet of water east of port as they gradually moved offshore.  Every day the fish and bait had moved northwest further and further until they were 10 to 12 miles out, suspended over more than 600 feet of water.

    The pattern, an early morning bite, had been the same for weeks.  Find them, get the right stuff down to them, and action would be nonstop. 

    When the Garmin fish finder lit up, Karl and his wife Colleen, both veteran Lake Ontario anglers,  could not believe it…, we had found them!  The motherlode of king salmon and steelhead were below us.

    Because we had searched for miles to locate fish, the first downrigger rod in the water fired in minutes, followed by strike after savage strike from aggressively feeding kings and  steelhead.  Our high speed spread of spoons and flasher/flies flies was exactly what they wanted.

    The old timer wasn’t far off when he said ninety percent of the fish are in 10  percent of the water, and it doesn’t make any difference if that water is 200 mile long Lake Ontario or a 12 acre brook trout pond. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Record 2016 Alewife Year Class

    Posted on October 26th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Hatched in 2016, record numbers of yearling alewives showed up in 2017

    When I launched the Fish Doctor in early April, 2017,  and started fishing charters for brown trout and lake trout, the great fishing was what I expected, but the big surprise was the abundance of  2-4 inch yearling alewives they were feeding on.  As spring progressed into May, these alewives were even more abundant.

    In shallow water where we were trolling in 5 to 15 feet of water, the browns were chowing down on them.  Ditto for lake trout on bottom in 120 to 150 feet of water.  At the end of a trip the bottom of the fish cooler was dotted with small alewives.  Never since 1977 have I ever seen such an abundance of young alewives. 

    Later in the season bottom trawling by US Geological Survey fisheries researchers confirmed what anglers suspected.  The abundant 2-4 inch yearling alewives anglers observed in 2017 were an all time record 2016 year class.  Just what Lake Ontario salmonids needed to maintain to the lake’s legendary world class fishery.