• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Respecting Our Fishery

    Posted on June 27th, 2018 admin No comments

    Carefully releasing a spring king off the stern of the Fish Doctor

    ;Earlier today, I received an email about a video from a Lake Ontario charter captain posted on Facebook.  The email read, “I saw a video on Facebook of a chest thumper from the little salmon river. He says I quote ” this is how good the fishing is right now, bite 38!”  Holding a 12 lber by the gills, whips it over his head back in the lake. P_ _ _ _ _ me right off. No respect for the fishery. But he did confirm my opinion on him.

    I checked out the video and sure enough…, just as I was told.  The video showed a competitor fishing the Atomik Challenge fishing tournament on June 23 at the stern of a boat boasting about the number of bites the  tourney team had gotten.  In his hand was a king being  held  by the gill  flap. As he spoke he flipped the king into the air and it splashed into  the water well behind the boat.

    I have fished Lake Ontario since 1977 and have known some of the very best captains on the lake, many still  here and some departed.  I have know full time captains and part time captains, young and old.  I know many great fishermen who don’t charter but love fishing the  lake. Many of these great guys have been with me on the Fish Doctor during on-wateer fishing classes.

    Through all of this, I have never, ever witnessed the disrespect for a fish that I saw on this video, utter disregard for the animal.

    Whether it’s fur, fowl, or scales we harvests, none of it deserves that kind of disrespect.  Careless, senseless, rough handling of released fish in privates or in public on social media makes all of us who hunt, fish, and trap look bad in the eyes of those who do not.  Actions like this by the thoughtless hurt our fishery and endanger the future of our sport and provide “ammo” to the antis.

    Such disrespct for fish harvested during a fishing tournament  jeopardizes the future of these events.

    I’m sure many tournament bass  anglers who go to great lengths and expense to release bass unharmed would  agree.

     

     

     

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…,Trolling Multiple Copper Lines

    Posted on June 13th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    Leonard Beebe, aboard the Fish Doctor on June 9, 2018, with a nice king he boated on 200' of copper.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It’s a lot of work, especially fishing solo without a mate, but multiple copper lines catch fish.  Mess up, and it’s a copper calamity!   Done properly, it often saves the day.

     

    The megaboards I use with up to 500’copper sections run nearly straight out boatside rather than  dropping back  like inline boards.  These  triple boards  are built with 3’ x 10” boards with Styrofoam flotation to keep them from diving in roughseas.  They are rigged on  200 feet of 300# test mono tether line on Great Lakes Planer System  masts and rod holders. 

    My choice for releases is the Scotty Power Grip Plus 1170.

    For copper reels, I prefer Penn’s  Fathom 40LW for 200’ copper sections with 35” Spectron backing, the Fathom 60LW  for 300’ sections with 50# Spectron backing, and the 345GTI for 400, 500, and 600’ sections with 50” backing. 

    Up to six 7’ copper  rods on the boards are stacked in the rod holders and a 9’ copper rod is used   down the chute All the copper rods  are custom built from E-glass blanks with oversized aluminum oxide guides and  tip tops. 

    Fifty feet of 30# Berkley Big Game leader on the copper is attached directly to flashers. An 8’, 20# leader added for spoons. 

    A typical midsummer, 7-copper spread aboard the “Fish Doctor” when steelhead and kings are suspended from 80 to 110 feet looks like this.  3 to 4 riggers set at 41- 62 degrees, with a combination of spoons and flashers.  Two to four wire dipsy rods fishing  the same temps.  Six copper lines, 400’, 450’, and 500’,  are set out 200’, 150’, and 100’ from the boat on each  tether line, with spoons on the outside four rods and 8” flashers on the shorter lines on the inside.  A 9’ Chute Rod with coded copper and a dodger/fly finish the spread.  

    Yes, there are definitely a lot of lines in the water at once and every once in a while when you contact a feeding cluster of kings all heck can break loose with multiple hookups.  And, yes, tangles can occur.  But, if you’re concerned about that, all I can say is NGNG(no guts no glory)!!!

     

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, June Fishing Charters the Best?

    Posted on June 13th, 2018 admin No comments

    Lennie Beebe battling an early morning king salmon aboard the Fish Doctor in early morning on June9, 2018

    One of the most common questions I hear is, “What time of the season is the best fishing?”  Well, it would take a book to answer that one, but in a nutshell;

    It all depends on what you want to fish and what type of tackle you enjoy.  If you want to fish for brown trout in shallow water, you generally must fish in April, May, and early June.  If you like  ultralight gear the answer is the same when we’re trolling on or near the surface with noodle rods and 8 to 10 lb. test line.  If you want the biggest kings and cohos of the season, you should fish in late August and early September.

    Good fishing any time of  the year depends on conditions.  If weather patterns and especially winds are consistent, with no major changes, fishing is consistent.  Get a big blow and it changes everything.  Fishing can be the best all season, but one major weather change, especially high winds, can change everything.  If you’re fishing when a major cold front comes thru.  Don’t expect a good bite.

    That said,  especially over the past 5 years, I think the best fishing of the season, especially because of the beautiful weather, calm seas, and multispecies catches, occurs in June.

    A few days ago , on June 9, 2017, I had a plan based on what I had been seeing and catching the previous few trips.  I talked with  Leonard Beebe and his  sons Adrian and Len that morning before we left the dock, and explained that there had been a lot of bait(alewives) and plenty of kings a little northwest of  the Oswego lighthouse and we should not have to go far to find them.  With consistent weather conditions and light winds, I guessed the kings had not moved far.

    We  never put the boat on plane as we left the mouth of harbor the compass bearing steady at 330 degrees.  My eye was on my Fish Hawk surface temp.  When it dropped from the 60s to the high 50s in 65 feet of water I started setting riggers, and slide divers.  Before  all of our lines were in the water a screaming drag on a slide diver rod shattered the early morning calm.  King on!

    For the next 5 hours action was steady and by 10:30 a.m., Leonard and his boys boated 13 kings up to 19 lbs., Keeping a limit of 9, most of them caught on rigger rods with line as light as 12# test.

    I wasn’t surprised.  King salmon fishing in June, 2017, and in many months of June before had been just as good.  Exactly one week earlier Karl Schmidt and his fishing buddies had done exactly the same catching one king after another their whole trip.  Two years earlier on the same first Saturday of June that Karl has fished for over 20 years, Karl and his crew had 10 kings and one lake trout in the boat by 6:30 a.m.

    On the way back to the dock, as I was filleting the kings that Leonard and his boys had caught, I was thinking…,  does salmon fishing get any better than that?

    Maybe June IS the best!

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Catching June Transition Kings

    Posted on June 4th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    Karl Schmidt with a June transition king, one of 8 boated on the morning of 6/2/18.

     

    It was early June as I eased my charter boat out of Oswego Harbor in search of king salmon and steelhead.  One eye was on the seas and the other on my compass and electronics.  My Garmin 3500 told  the story below us, my eyes read lake conditions, my compass bearing would lead us to the offshore hot spot we had fished the previous day, and perhaps most important,  my Fish Hawk speed/temp unit was continually recording  surface water temperature.

    I watched as the 72 degree surface water temperature inside the harbor dropped to 67 degrees just beyond the Oswego lighthouse, and then slowly decrease as we cruised offshore.  5 miles northeast of the harbor, we found what we were looking for, a break in surface temperature from the high 50s to high 40s in less than 100 yards.  My chart plotter showed we were very near the waypoint where we had boated steelhead, lake trout and king salmon 12 hours earlier.  

    The scumline along the break was obvious, with weeds, sticks, and other debris floating in it.  Even more obvious were the gulls that stretched along it picking insects from the  surface.  Not far below  that, I knew there were baitfish and predators, a classic June transition hot spot.

    The June transition is seasonal and all about warming late spring weather.  As late spring air temperature increases, surface temperature warms inshore, pushing trout and salmon offshore.  Meanwhile, because of the huge volume of 200 mile long, 50 mile wide, and 802 feet deep Lake Ontario, surface water temperature offshore remains optimum for kings,  steelhead and lake trout.  It is also  the time when alewives, that have wintered in deep water in mid-lake,  are moving onshore to spawn.  King salmon and steelhead  follow them, remaining in cold  water offshore. 

    There is no time of year when king salmon and steelhead are more active and more surface oriented than in June.  The only problem…, they can be very scattered and tough to locate.  June kings and steelhead are much more scattered than they are in midsummer when a thin band of rapidly decreasing water temperature separates a a warm upper layer and cold deeper laye, concentrating trout and salmon deep. Once you pin point aggressively feeding offshore kings steelhead in June, though, they are easy to catch.

    Locating kings in June is more about hunting than fishing, using a combination of old fashioned fishing savvy and state of the art fish finding electronics.  When trout and salmon are this scattered it is important to use a fish finder capable of locating fish, bait, and plankton at planning speeds.  When kings and steelhead are in the top 15-20 feet of water and can’t be detected effectively with standard sonar, experience reading offshore surface water to located feeding birds, current lines, and thermal bars helps pin point king salmon concentrations.

    In June, my mind set is…, “Find kings and you will catch them!”  At no other time of the year are they more actively feeding.  With no urge to spawn this early in the season, their two priorities are to be comfortable and to keep their bellies full.  Comfort meant optimum water temperature, available in June anywhere in the lake from the surface to the bottom.  Keeping their bellies full means feeding on alewives, their primary forage.  Find alewives and you find kings.  Find kings and get ready to open your fish cooler!

    With the proper equipment on your boat,  June kings and steelhead can run, but they can’t hide,  even in the  great expanse of Lake  Ontario. It may take more effort to find these these silvery battlers when they are scattered, but a cooler full of delicious late spring salmon and steelhead is well worth the effort.

    When transition kings and steelherad are in the top 30 feet and scattered, my “High, Wide, and Handsome” spread includes 3 to 5 riggers, two slide divers, and a total of 6 leadcore sections usually ranging from 2 two 7 colors, covering the depths from 8’ 28’., 3 on each of my Megaboards planning out +100’ on each side of the boat, boat traffic permitting. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Take A Lady On A Fishing Charter

    Posted on June 4th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    Harry and daughter Ashley enjoying time together aboard the Fish Doctor in May, 2018

    Back in the old days, the ladies stayed home, cooking, sewing, cleaning, and raising kids, while the gentlemen worked, hunted, fished, and trapped. My only sister Bonnie grew up in that era while her four brothers, Bernard, Bob, Bill, all avid outdoorsmen, followed tradition in our dad’s footsteps.

    That’s just the way it was, back in those days.  As the oldest child in the family, I regret that I did not realize how much Bonnie loved the outdoors.  I learned way too late that she would have been thrilled to be included in family outdoor activities. 

    Years later in the mid 1980s I had the pleasure of fishing not only only with my sister Bonnie, but her daughters Melodie and Jennifer.  Bonnie and her two girls still talk about their trip on my charter boat  fishing for lake trout and landlocked salmon in Lake Champlain.  None of them had any experience fishing with downriggers, but learned quickly.  All caught fish, and enjoyed themselves immensely.

    To this day, this family experience is one of the reasons I encourage ladies of all ages to come aboard my charter boat.  I do my utmost to make fishergals feel comfortable fishing and enjoy their time on the water.  Times have changed and I see more and more avid lady anglers fishing every year, and this season has been no exception.

    On May 18, 2018, as I watched Ashley Brooks and her dad Harry step onboard, I knew there would be no problem with Ashley enjoying her trip.  Harry had introduced Ashley to fishing years ago and they had fished with me before.  Their timing was perfect because the king salmon bite had been hot and heavy.  The  time Ashley and her dad spent on the water was precious and their memories lasting.  But not all ladies are as experienced and confident fishing as Ashley.

     

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                   I always encourage ladies to join in on the fun, and explain that there

                     is nothing difficult or complicated about fishing on a charter boat.

     

     

    When Kevin Conte and his niece Tiki stepped onboard on the morning of April 25, 2018.  Tiki had never trolled for trout or salmon in Lake Ontario before, but her uncle Kevin had. Tiki had fished with Kevin before but was not experienced with downriggers, slide divers, leadcore line and planer boards. It wasn’t long  before she was in the cockpit with Kevin helping me set lines.  As I explained to Tiki, “This isn’t rocket science. You just have to learn a few simple techniques.”  Before the 8-hour trip was over, Tiki had learned how to set lines, hook her own fish, and finesse fish to the net, including some mint silver early spring king salmon and brown trout. 

    Later this spring when I answered the phone one even ing, heard a lady’s voice on the other end.  Gals often call to book a family trip for their husband and children or other family members.  In other cases  ladies calls to book a trip for their husband and and one or two other couples.  Often, they mention they plan to come along to be with family and friends but do not intend to purchase license to fish because they are inexperienced.   

    Whenever I hear this, and I hear it quite often, I always encourage ladies to join in on the fun, and explain that there is nothing difficult or complicated about fishing on a charter boat.  All it takes is a little friendly instruction about what to look for when a fish strikes, how to set a hook, and how to handle a fish on rod and reel.   

    Most times ladies are convinced to give fishing a shot and usually end up enjoying the fishing trip far more than they would have just sitting in the boat watching the others fish.