• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Search and Destroy at Warp Trolling Speed

    Posted on January 20th, 2020 admin No comments

    With king salmon stockings cut by 20% each year in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and king salmon numbers dwindling because of it, things are changing in Lake Ontario.  If anglers don’t adapt to those changes, it will make for some slow days on the water.

    When good numbers of active, feeding, aggressive fish of any species  are concentrated and you find them, figure out what they want and present your trolling arsenal to them effectively, you can  put a lot of fish in the net in a hurry,  and it usually doesn’t take many lines in the water to do it.  But, in the next few year, in Lake Ontario the opposite will often be the case.  Due to decreased stocking, plus the usual effects of weather, fish behavior and movement, and other factors,   king salmon will at times be fewer and more scattered than ever before in the 200 mile length and 50 mile breadth of Lake Ontario like.

    Onboard my charter boat, the Fish Doctor, when kings and steelhead  are scattered hither and yon and are tough to locate, I switch to one of my favorite techniques, search and destroy mode,  and head with the “pedal to the metal” for the open lake at maximum trolling speeds of 3.5 to 4.5 mph, far from any other boats.

    A key element of my search and destroy spread is an oversize planer board I call a megaboard.  Two of  these big, 36” triple boards go in  the water on 300# test mono spread 150 feet to port and starboard .  Using customized Scotty releases, each board is rigged with up to three sections of leadcore line if fish are shallow in the top 30 feet of water, or a combination of leadcore and copper lines if the fish are 30 feet and deeper.   Downriggers, wire Dipsys, and slide divers on braided line are added to the spread, depending on target depths.

    Two, three, five and seven-color leadcore sections are rigged with 50 feet of leader and backed with fine diameter, 40# test  Berkley braided line spooled on Penn Fathom 25LW reels  fished on light 7’ rods.  At 2.7 mph the 18 lb. test  leadcore line I use fishes down about 4’ per color. At 4.5 mph, it fishes shallower. Six  lead core sections, all with tuned spoons,  spanning 300 feet are fishing  8, 12, 20 and 28 feet or thereabouts below the surface with the shallowest furthest from the boat.  Combined with tuned dodgers and HotChips 8s plus tuned spoons on riggers and divers, this “high, wide, and handslome” spread can be deadly and, most importantly, helps you cover a lot of water to located fish and bait.

    Ditto for copper sections from 100’ to 600 feet hen fish are deep with the shallowest copper furthest from the boat…, 3 copper lines per board with tuned spoons and/or tuned attractors.

    Only two stock spoons I fish have proper action at speeds up to 4.5 mph without tuning them, NK28s and Pro Kings, and both of these work better with a Sampo #3 coast lock snap.  On other spoons like Stingrays and Silver Streaks, hook size and swivel size must be increased to make them run properly at warp speed.

    Dodgers and 8” HotChips are tuned by bending with the action adjusted boatside as you monitor surface trolling speed.

    Lure selection, of course is important at fast trolling speeds, but doesn’t seem to be as critical as when trolling slower.  I call this the “take-it-or-leave-it” factor.  Burn a spoon past a king salmon and they don’t have much time to make up their line.  Reaction strikes and solid hookups are the result.

    Such was the case on May 12, 2016, when Jerry Argay and his crew headed northwest aboard the Fish Doctor out of Oswego Harbor on a midlake search and destroy “mission” for kings. After covering miles of water we locate them in the top 25 feet over 300 to 400 feet of water, but the rods weren’t popping.  Under a clear, sunny sky with the lake mirror calm, the kings were fussy.  With the lake’s surface glassy, I knew light intensity at 30 feet was only about 6%, perfect conditions for UV spoons.  It wasn’t until we found the magic, a Michigan Stinger  UV green alewife, that things really started happening.

    When their 8-hr search and destroy trip was over  my crew of veteran anglers had boated 25 kings, releasing all but 11 delicious, mint silver fish from, 5 to 18 lbs. Every rod on the boat had fired, but the leadcore sections on the megaboards had made the day.

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