• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Snow Baby, Snow!

    Posted on January 10th, 2014 admin No comments

    This April brown was caught in the colored plume of the Oswego River on a "dirty water" plug.

    Most of us like to look on the bright side, especially folks who fish.  If the fish aren’t biting, they should start any minute.  If they don’t start biting, well, it’s a nice day to be outside.  If it really isn’t a nice day outside, well, your garden needed the rain anyway.  You know, like we’ve all heard before, “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work!”


    Well, those of you in northern New York may be having a little trouble looking on the bright side this winter.  What weather swings…, frigid cold, lake effect, more cold, more snow, then a January thaw that may cause flooding.  What’s next?   More snow and rain?    If the weather pattern we’ve been seeing continues, you can count on it, since we’ve got over 2 ½ months of winter left.  This is bad news if you’re tired of shoveling snow and shuffling around on ice, but for the  spring brown trout fisherman on Lake Ontario, it couldn’t be better.


    The Oswego and Niagara Rivers are New York State’s two largest Lake Ontario tributaries emptying directly into deep water areas of the lake..  I moor my charter boat at the mouth of theOswegoRiverinOswegoHarbor, right in the city ofOswego, NY.  .  The river’s watershed is huge, stretching all the way south to the southern drainages of the largestFinger Lakes, Cayuga, Seneca, and others.  It also includesOneida Lake, one of the largest inland lakes inNew York, as well as theSyracusearea, and tens of thousands of acres of farm land.  When the snow melts in the spring runoff from this drainage basin funnels down theOswegoRiver, increasing the flow into the lake.  The spring runoff, warmed by the sun, carries with it nutrient laden water, the food of plankton, which attracts baitfish like smelt and alewives as it enters the lake.  Following the baitfish…, predators like brown trout, rainbows, chinook and coho salmon, and Atlantic salmon.


    Since the year, 2000, the two winters with the highestSyracusesnowfall were 2000-01 with 191.9” and 2003-04 with 181.3”.  I’m guessing it’s not a coincidence that my two best springs for chinook salmon fishing offshore of Oswego Harbor were 2001 and 2004, when flow in the Oswego River was high from the huge snow melt.  I didn’t keep an accurate log of my salmon catch in 2001, but I did in 2004…, 201 chinook salmon in 31 trips.  The only reason these fish were just outsideOswegoHarbor…, the attraction of theOswegoRiverand it’s plume of warm water that extends out into the lake, like a magnet to baitfish, trout, and salmon.


    High river flows have the same effect on brown trout fishing in the Oswego Harbor area, but for a different reason.  Spooky,  browns are much easier to catch in colored water.   When river flow is high and the discharge plume outsideOswegoHarboris turbid with visibility as little as 3 to 5 feet, baitfish aren’t as easy for brown trout to locate and chow down on so browns feed longer.  In addition, light penetration thru turbid water is reduced, so the sun doesn’t shut down light sensitive browns.


    If the cold, snowy weather in Syracuse and central New York continues, we should be looking at and some super fishing for kings and browns out of Oswego Harbor.  Sorry folks, but from where I am in South Carolina, I’m joining the chorus singing, “Snow Baby Snow!”

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