• Lake Ontario Trout and Salm on Fishing…, MLE(make life easier) Tips from the Fish Doctor

    Posted on April 2nd, 2019 admin No comments

     

    This pic has nothing to do with MLE techniques..., just checking to see if any of you boys are reading my blog!

    There is nothing a charter fishing captain who fishes two trips a day, day after day in all kinds of weather and conditions likes any more than something that MAKES LIFE EASIER(MLE)!  Over the years, I have discovered some of these MLE items that will save you time, effort, and money.

     As I prepare for the 2019 charter fishing season beginning in midApril in and around Oswego Harbor trolling shallow for trout and salmon, one of the first things that will makes life easier and save a ton of energy and aggravation is the use of 6 lb. downrigger weights.

     It may not sound like much, but the difference between using 6 lb. and 10-12 lb. downrigger weights when you’re fishing up to two trips day after day is HUGE.  It’s huge as far as saving energy, and it’s even huger when it comes to reducing wear and tear on your body and equipment.

     Here’s the deal.  Most anglers use the same 10 or 12 lb. rigger weights all season, whether they’re fishing shallow or deep.  However, there is actually no need for the heavier rigger weight when you’re fishing shallow, especially at early spring brown trout depths or offshore spring steelhead depths shallower than 10-15 feet.  The lighter rigger weights work fine with minimal blowback.

     If you’re using downriggers mounted either astern or abeam with booms long enough to require a retro-ease, which is used to pull the weight close enough for rigging, there is a huge difference between pulling a light rigger weight and a heavier weight to the boat.  If you’re using a heavy weight, you have to grab on to the retro-ease line firmly with your full hand, pull it to the boat, and lock it in place with the chock.  It takes some “umphh”!  When you get it locked in place, if the water is rough, you all know what happens.  The weight starts to rock and roll, putting a lot of stress on your retro-ease line, downrigger boom, rigger cable, terminal snap, etc., etc.  Put too much stress on the cable connection to the weight too many times, and you hear the dreaded splash as the cable breaks and the weight heads for bottom.  Been there, done that, eh?

     Now, with the lighter 6 lb. MLE weights,  you grasp the retro-ease line with a couple of fingers, easily pull the light weight to the boat and lock it in the chock.  When it’s rough, the little weight bobs around a bit, but doesn’t put much stress on your gear.

     This MLE tip saves me tons of energy thru the season whenever I’m trolling shallow.

     The other major benefit of 6# weights over larger weights…, completely different signature with far less “disturbance” in the water .  The result…, trout and salmon hitting on shorter setbacks.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Targeting Early Spring Cohos

    Posted on March 16th, 2019 admin No comments

     

    An early April coho that could not resist a red dodger and green fly

    Plenty of late March and Early April cohos are caught by brown trout trollers, but if you really want to fill the cooler with delicious spring “silvers”, you need to target them.  And, that’s exactly what we were doing just outside Oswego Harbor aboard the Fish Doctor in early April. 

     On my 16” flat screen,  we watched in amazement as four cohos darted around behind a red #00 and Little Green Hummer fly 5’ behind my Strike Vision camera on the center rigger down 15’.  As all four fish swirled around in full view of the camera, one of the  silvery torpedos shot forward and nailed the fly, pulling the line from the release.  The 7’ Shortstick sprang upward and a quick hand snatched the ultralight rod from the rod holder.  Before the excited angler could say, “Fish on!”, the mint silver coho was already airborne.

     All 13 rods in our coho spread of riggers, Dipsys, and inline planers were rigged with red #00 dodgers and L’il Green Hummer flies.  We were definitely targeting cohos

     Coho salmon are an early spring bonus in inshore waters of  Lake Ontario, and are often in the  same water around Oswego Harbor as brown trout or just outside them in the ice water.   Nothing compares to their wild and wooly antics when hooked close to the boat.  Absolutely fearless of boats, and very surface oriented, I’ve seen them hit lures many times that were in full view, less than 6’ behind a down rigger weight and not more than one foot below the surface. 

     The wilder and noisier the action of a lure and the gaudier the color, the more cohos like it.  As they say, cohos like any colored lure as long as it has fluorescent red.  When you find a “wolf pack” of marauding spring cohos, prepare for action, because it’s not unusual for  every single rod you have in the water to double over with a fish on it.

     Cohos are hyper fish.  Everything they do is fast including the rate at which they grow.  The cohos that make up Lake Ontario’s spring fishery are 2-year old fish that weigh 2-3+ lbs.  By late August of the same year, when they stage before returning to the hatchery in the headwaters of the Big Salmon river in Mexico Bay they will weigh 6-12 lbs. and more.   After spawning, adult cohos will die like all Pacific salmon. 

     Unlike Chinook salmon that migrate back to the lake from spawning streams as spring fingerlings, young cohos remain in rearing streams in for a year or more.  To mimic this behavior, the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation stocks 5”-7” yearling cohos each spring.

     Needless to say, my favorite spring coho rig  is a fluorescent red #00 dodger trailed 12” – 14”(or shorter) back by a 2 -2 ½” green mylar fly.    The smaller dodgers are effective trolled shallow on downriggers and Dipsy divers.  The icing on the cake for any spring coho spread is a set of red #00 dodgers fished behind inline planers port and starboard.

     To rig dodgers and flies for trolling behind inline planers, use 6’ of 20# test leader ahead of the dodger.  Between the leader and the main line snap in a 5/8 to 7/8 ounce bead chain keel sinker.  This keel sinker helps keep the dodger from planing to the surface.  Set the dodger/fly back 25 to70 feet behind the inline planer board, and let the planer board out to the side of the boat the desired distance.  Multiple inline planers can be used off each side of the boat,with the nearest inlineno more than 25’ out. 

     Riggers are normally set in the top 10 feet of water when surface temperatures are cold in late March, and April, then set deeper as temperatures warm and cohos move offshore.  Much like landlocked salmon, cohos are attracted to the boat, and downrigger setbacks of  6 to 20 feet are common.  My side riggers are set 3 to 5 feet down and 10 to 12 feet back with the dodger fly clearly visible from the boat as it wobbles back and forth. 

     Diving planers are set on 15 to 25 feet of line between the rod tip and the Dipsy until surface temps warm.  A trolling speed of 2.0 to 3.0 mph is about right depending on water temperature.  When a coho hits close to the boat, you usually see the fish in the air before you see the rod go!

     Although I rarely target cohos with them, high action jointed plugs like the J-9 orange and gold Rapala or  standard size Michigan Stingers in hot colors, especially in fluorescent red and silver or brass combos will also catch cohos.

     Interestingly, the one salmonid species that likes dodgers and flies almost as much as a coho is the landlocked salmon. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing Tips from the Fish Doctor

    Posted on January 23rd, 2010 admin No comments

    MLE(Make Life Easy) Tips from Fish Doctor Charters

     

    There is nothing a charter fishing captain who fishes two trips a day, day after day in all kinds of weather and conditions likes any more than something that MAKES LIFE EASIER(MLE)!  Over the years, I personally have discovered some of these MLE items, and thought some MLE tips might help you as well.

     

    As I look toward the beginning of the 2010 charter fishing season that will begin in early April in and around Oswego Harbor fishing for browns and cohos, one of the first things that makes life easier for me when I’m trolling shallow, say less than 30’ deep,  is 6 lb. downrigger weights.

     

    It may not sound like much, but the difference between using 6 lb. and 10-12 lb. downrigger weights when you’re fishing up to two trips day after day is huge.  It’s huge as far as saving energy, and it’s even huger when it comes to reducing wear and tear on your body and equipment.

     

    Here’s the deal.  Most anglers use the same 10 or 12 lb. rigger weights all season, whether they’re fishing shallow or deep.  However, there is actually no need for the heavier rigger weight when you’re fishing shallow, especially at early spring brown trout depths or offshore spring steelhead depths shallower than 10-15 feet.  The lighter rigger weights work fine with minimal blowback.

     

    If you’re using downriggers mounted either astern or abeam with booms long enough to require a retro-ease, which is used to pull the weight close enough for rigging, there is a huge difference between pulling a light rigger weight and a heavier weight to the boat.  If you’re using a heavy weight, you have to grab on to the retro-ease line firmly with your full hand, pull it to the boat, and lock it in place with the chock.  It takes some “umphh”!  When you get it locked in place, if the water is rough, you all know what happens.  The weight starts to rock and roll, putting a lot of stress on your retro-ease line, downrigger boom, rigger cable, terminal snap, etc., etc.  Put too much stress on the cable connection to the weight too many times, and you hear the dreaded splash as the cable breaks and the weight heads for bottom.  Been there, done that, eh?

     

    Now, with the lighter 6 lb. MLE weights,  you grasp the retro-ease line with a couple of fingers, easily pull the light weight to the boat and lock it in the chock.  When it’s rough, the little weight bobs around a bit, but doesn’t put much stress on your gear.

     

    This MLE tip saves me tons of energy thru the season whenever I’m trolling shallow.  The other benefit…, far less disturbance(smaller signature) from the small weights in the water, and fish tend to hit on less setback.

    There is a HUGE difference handling 6 vs. 12 lb. rigger weights.

    There is a HUGE difference handling 6 vs. 12 lb. rigger weights.

     

     

  • 2009 Lake Ontario Salmon Fishing – Lessons Learned, 10/10/09

    Posted on October 10th, 2009 admin No comments
    An 11" ProChip and Familiar Bite whole bait were this king salmon's undoing

    An 11" ProChip and Familiar Bite whole bait were this king salmon's undoing

    You’re never too old to learn, and even though I’ve fished Lake Ontario for trout and salmon since 1977, and operated a charter fishing business on this great fishing lake since 1982, my learning curve peaked in ’09.  Part of the reason…, I force myself to not get in a rut, and to stay as far out as I can on the edge of the developement of new Great Lakes trolling techniques and the refinement of old ones.

    One thing I learned in ’09…, 11″ flashers like Pro-Troll’s ProChips and HotChips trailed by flies and Familiar Bite whole bait are deadly for  king and coho salmon.  Luhr Jensen’s magnum dipsy divers are an essential part of my 11″ flasher program.  These magnum divers will take big flashers way downnnnn to depths.  For example, on the #3 setting a mag dipsy on 225′ of wire will fish down 90′, depending on trolling speed, current/trolling direction, etc.

    The same flasher on a standard size LJ Dipsy will fish down maybe 60 t0 70 feet.

    One of the bonuses for those fishing mag dipsys along with copper…, the sharp downward angle of your wire on the Dipsy rod is far less likely to tangle with copper coming in and out…, HUGE!