• Fishing the Lite Bite Slide Diver

    Posted on May 17th, 2012 admin No comments

    If you troll for trout and salmon, and haven’t tried the Slide Diver or the Lite Bite Slide Diver you should.  It is a real fish catcher onboard my charter  fishing boat, the Fish Doctor, and has really been smokin’ during the fantastic April-May king salmon fishing we’ve been enjoying  in the Oswego area of LakeOntario this spring.

     Anglers who troll for trout and salmon are familiar with directional diving planers like the Dipsy Diver.  These planers attach directly to monofilament,  braided, or wire line and take your bait or lure down to target depths. The adjustable rudder on many of these  diving planers directs them to port or starboard of the boat.   These types of planers use water pressure against the angled surface of the diver to take the diver and the attached leader and lure to depth. 

     A drawback to standard diving planers…, the length of the leader training them is limited to a maximum of about eight feet or whatever length an angler can handle when the planer is reeled to the rod tip while landing a fish.  This is where the Slide Diver parts company with all other available directional and nondirectional diving planers.

     Slide Divers differ from all other diving planers and  are a major part of my trout and salmon arsenal aboard the Fish Doctor for one reason.  They are inline planers, that is the line passes through them and can be locked in place any distance ahead of the lure.  This allows a lure to be fished at any distance behind the Slide Diver, a huge advantage when trolling for boat shy trout or salmon just below the surface.  In many cases, a trout or salmon in the top 30 feet or less of water won’t hit a lure fished on a 6’to 8’ leader behind a diving planer.  Set that lure back 20’ or more and lock your line in place in a Slide Diver, though, and you’ll catch fish. 

     The Lite Bite Slide Diver is an improved version of the Slide Diver that has a different trigger mechanism, allowing even the smallest trout or salmon to release the trigger, avoiding dragging small fish behind the planer undetected.

     The setup I’ve used this spring on Lake Ontario to fish Lite Bite Slide Divers is a 9’ medium heavy rod with standard guides, and an ABU Garcia 7000 Synchro line counter reel spooled with 40” test Berkley braided line. The braided line is slipped through an 8 mm. bead and attached to 6’ of 15# to 20# test fluorocarbon leader with a barrel swivel.   The rudder on the Slide Diver is adjusted to the #3 setting taking the diver as far away from the boat as possible.  Spoons are normally fished 20 to 40 feet behind the Slide Diver.  When any size fish hits the spoon, the trigger on the diver releases and the diver slides back to the bead ahead of the swivel, 6’ ahead of the spoon.

     You will appreciate one of the greatest  advantages of the Slide Diver when a steelhead or landlocked salmon hits and goes aerial, leaping across the surface.  Instead of dragging a solidly attached diving planer along with it, increasing the chance for the hook to pull free, the inline Slide Diver  slides freely on the line, never allowing the fish to pull directly against the diver.

     Chris Dwy and Bill Purcell will attest to the effectiveness of Slide Divers after fishing them aboard the Fish Doctor onMay 7, 2012, to boat a limit of king salmon and brown trout.  With the last king of their limit thrashing in the net, three more kings hit.   Chris and Bill had a triple on, two on Slide Divers.  All three kings were released unharmed to thrill another angler another day.

     

    Slide Divers Took Some of These Browns and Kings

    There is a bit of a learning curve involved with using Slide Divers, but they are so effective for trout and salmon, the time it takes to learn to use them is well worth it.

  • Lake Ontario Salmon Fishing Tip – Fishing Sushi Flies

    Posted on October 19th, 2009 admin No comments

    Using brass wire to fasten a Familiar Bite alewife strip to a Lake Ontario salmon fishing fly

    Using brass wire to fasten a Familiar Bite alewife strip to a Lake Ontario salmon fishing fly

    Mike DuCross and his fishing buddies from Cornwall, Canada, were excited as we headed out of Oswego Harbor in eastern Lake Ontario in early September, 2009.  They had seen the catch of 20-30 lb. kings my morning charter carried off the dock,  and heard the war stories about how we had them dialed in all morning with whole alewives and big flashers.

     

     

    With 30 years of experience fishing for fussy Lake Ontario kings, I wasn’t quite as confident.  With a hot bite all morning long, I didn’t really know what to expect on the  afternoon trip.   Two things  I did know, though, were that conditions had not changed a bit, in my eyes, since late morning, and the “X” on my chart plotter that marked the scene of the morning’s hot action was where we would start with the same hot 2-rigger spread of Kingston Tackle golden retriever Slashers and Familiar Bite alewives in sun-faded chartreuse bait heads, one rigger at 130’ and back 25’, the other at 120’ and back 15’.

     

    After an hour of trolling without a touch, everything looked the same in early afternoon as it had in late morning on the 10” Sitex CVS 210.  There were   plenty of kings in the area, but their mood had changed.  Altering  leader lengths between flasher and bait and switching  bait head colors had made no difference. 

     

     

    With unwavering confidence in the big  silver and gold prism taped golden retriever flashers in bright midday light for staged kings,  I had opted for changes in leader length and bait head color, to no avail, before deciding on one last change before doing something drastic. 

     

    Reaching into my bait cooler, I pulled out a a freshly salted Familiar Bite alewife strip, and securely wired it to the leading beak hook of a Tournament Tie on a Mirage fly with a 48” leader and replaced the whole bait with the baited Mirage fly.  After dropping the rigger back to same depth of 120’ with the same 15’ setback as before,  the rod fired in minutes.  Immediately after I reset it the second time, it fired again.  Meanwhile, the whole bait, 10’ deeper at 130’and 25’ back was just a slug.  While fighting the second fish, Mike  pulled the deep rigger, while I baited another fly, and we reset the rigger exactly as before,  130’ down and 25’ back.  Before we untangled the second king from the net, the deep rigger with the baited fly fired.

     

    .  Why a king salmon would select a baited fly over a whole alewife one time and do the reverse the next time  I cannot say.  What I can say is that it’s not the first time I’ve seen it happen.  

     

    A couple hours later, as the sun dropped toward the horizon and light intensity at the riggers dropped, you guessed it.  The program changed and the kings decided they absolutely loved whole Familiar Bite alewives 60” behind an 11” glow green ProChip 11.  

     

    Baited flies and, before that, baited hoochies or squids, in combination with flashers have been a go-to rig for me aboard my charter boat, ever since my first trip to Alaska  in 1990.   I was fortunate to  be invited aboard several commercial salmon trolling boats,  and the first thing I noticed on deck was  buckets of 11” plastic flashers, mostly white, green, chartreuse, and red.   Hanging on the rear of the cabins were rows and rows of  3 ½” hoochies(squids) in a myriad of colors, some for kings, some for cohos.  Closer inspection of the hoochies showed a piece of light brass wire, inside each hoochie, attached to the eye of a large commercial single hook.

     

    The wire on these hooks was for attaching strips of herring inside the hoochie.  The bait strips are generally about 3 inches in length, and a hoochie rarely goes in the water for Alaskan kings without them.

     

    The commercial trollers also showed me how they rigged whole herring, herring filets, and cut plugs, all of which they carry onboard, along with spoons and plugs,  when they’re trolling. To a man, they were adamant about how fussy king salmon were and how important it was to master a variety of techniques to consistently catch fish in all conditions. 

     

    I never forgot that lesson, and returned to Lake Ontario with not only a new perspective on fishing bait for kings, but a new conviction to do my utmost to become as versatile as possible in fishing for them .  

     

     

    Today, my favorite flashers with baited flies include, 8” ProChips, 11” ProChips and HotChips, and 13” Kingston Tackle Slashers in a variety of color and finishes.  I use 36”-48”, 60 lb. mono leaders behind 11” and 13” flashers, and 19” to 30” leaders behind 8” flashers.  Flasher/fly color combos are exactly the same as for clean flies.

     

    Rather than the single hook used by commercial trollers, I prefer a tournament tie with a 5/0 beak hook and a #2 bronze treble.  The same tournament tie used with clean flies can be used with bait, but I prefer to extend the leader length between the beak and treble hooks about 1 ½” so the treble trails at the tail of the bait.  Although, the alewife bait strip can be hooked on the leading beak hook, even a properly prepped alewife bait strip softens quickly in fresh water and seldom will stay on the hook very long. 

     

    The secret to keeping an alewife bait strip secured inside the fly is to wrap it on the beak hook just behind the hook eye using soft .020” diam. brass wire.  Although the brass wire can be attached to the beak hook on a pretied Tournament Tie, I like to attach it before I snell the hook, by simply placing it through the eye of the hook, pulling the brass wire down along the shank of the hook, tying the snell, and trimming the brass wire leaving about 1 ½ inches of each end of the wire extending to each side of the hook. 

     

    The head end of a correctly shaped bait strip  that is tapered to about 3/8” at the head end of the strip is then laid skin down against the hook shank, and the brass wire is wrapped from opposite directions around the bait with enough tension to slightly bury the wire into the meat on the bait strip.  It is not necessary to twist the ends of the wire together to hold the strip.  Using this setup, the bait will stay attached to the beak hook as long as you fish it.  I tie my own, lightly dressed flies to use with bait. 

     

    From 18 years of experience fishing baited flies, I’ve found that elongated diamond shaped bait strips about 3” in length and ½” to 1” wide, tapered to 3/8” at the head and ½” at the tail  is about right.  The later in the season, the larger the bait strip, including strips with tails as large as ¾ inches in width.  Bait strips are filleted from the both sides of an alewife and trimmed to shape.

     

    The better the quality of the bait strip, the better it catches fish.  Availability of alewives to use as whole bait or bait strips has always limited the use of bait for Great Lakes trout and salmon.  The Familiar Bite Co., which harvests, brines, and vacuum packs freshly collected alewives in 8-packs has now solved this problem.   To properly prep quality alewife bait strips, filet them immediately when fresh or immediately after removing partially thawed bait from the vacuum pack. Trim them to shape, and place them in a ziplock bag of noniodized salt.  They will keep indefinitely refrigerated.  I carry a ziplock bag of preshaped bait strips in a small bait cooler along with a brine jar of whole alewives and an ice pack.

     

    Years of experience and millions of Great Lakes king salmon have proven clean flies catch kings, but I’ve found  that baited flies will outfish clean flies for unaggressive fish, whether  they are just negative,  nonfeeding staged fish, or big, lazy fish.

  • Lake Ontario Salmon Fishing Report, August 25

    Posted on August 24th, 2009 admin 1 comment
    Paul Collis with a hefty king salmon that hit a fly trailing a ProChip 11

    Paul Collis with a hefty king salmon that hit a fly trailing a ProChip 11

    When you’re aboard the Fish Doctor salmon fishing in Lake Ontario, you’ll notice one thing…, 11″ ProTroll flashers and Fish Doctor Sushi Flies rule in late August and early September.

    One of the reasons…, big flashers catch bigggg staged kings.    With a $20,000 LOC Derby grand prize up for grabs thru September 7,  biggg kings are where it’s at!

  • Lake Ontario Salmon Fishing Tip, Sushi Flies

    Posted on August 17th, 2009 admin No comments
    An early morning king that hit a Purple Passion flasher and glow green Fish Doctor Sushi Fly on August 13, 2009.

    An early morning king that hit a Purple Passion flasher and glow green Fish Doctor Sushi Fly on August 13, 2009.

    If you’re not fishing 11″ Pro-Troll flashers and Sushi flies for Lake Ontario salmon, you’re missing a bet.  These 11-inch “Big Guys” and flies baited with Familiar Bite alewife strips have been our go-to rigs aboard the Fish Doctor lately.  If  you’ve fished cut bait behind these big attractors in the past, you know the color combos.

  • Lake Ontario Salmon Fishing Report, July 22, 2009

    Posted on July 23rd, 2009 admin No comments
    Lake Ontario salmon fishing in July, 2009.

    Lake Ontario salmon fishing in July, 2009.

    Salmon fishing charters on Lake Ontario do not get much better than they were yesterday,  on July 22, 2009.  It was a double charter day for Fish Doctor charters with Mike, Carl, and Carl’s two son’s, Caleb and Collin in the morning.   Then a “special” 6-hour charter with 80-year old, Marcia Carlson, former member of the NRA board of directors, and her fishing buddies, Gary and Gary, Jr.

    The weather was gorgeous, flat calm and overcast in the morning and just as flat in early afternoon.  Later in the afternoon, a mild NE wind acting as a perfect air conditioner…., real comfy.

    It didn’t take long to find the king salmon in 170 feet of water in the morning, then deeper in 350 feet of water later.    The calm weather has resulted in a rising thermocline, with cool water at and below about 100 feet.  The biggest king, a 25-pounder was a long haul on an NK28 “Spook” on 500′ of copper.  The only steelhead of the trip, a 10-pounder, came on a Purple Thunder Mauler.    “Way Low”(white/double glow) flashers and a white fly, NK28 “Spooks”, and green/glow green ProChip 8s.  Were the best items in the morning.

    In the afternoon, before we could get our second rigger in the water, the action started with a lake trout, then switched to steady action with kings.  With no more room in the cooler which was stuffed with 23-27 lb. kings, our crew decided to call it quits early.  Before we reached the dock, Capt. Ernie had their catch fileted and packaged for them.

    The hot items in the afternoon were “Late Riser” ProChip 8s with a Pretty Jane fly, NK28 Spooks,  Michigan Stinger Sting Rays in the Mongoose pattern, and mag MI Stingers in the Maui Wowee.

  • Lake Ontario Salmon Fishing – Meat and Mylar

    Posted on July 3rd, 2009 admin No comments

    Fishing salmon with baited flies

    Fishing salmon with baited flies

    An hour into their afternoon trip, Mike Ducross and his buddies from Cornwall, Canada, were not quite as optimistic as they had been after watching my morning charter carry heavy coolers of 20–30 lb. Lake Ontario kings off the dock.  They had heard the war stories about how we had them dialed in all morning with whole alewives and big flashers, and knew we were returning to the very same “X” on my chart plotter.  The Sitex fish finder showed the kings were still there, but they were turning their noses up at our 2-rigger spread of 13” Slashers and whole alewives down 120 and 130 feet.

     

     

     

     

    With unwavering confidence in the big  silver and gold prism taped golden retriever flashers in bright midday light for staged kings,  I had opted for changes in leader length and bait head color, to no avail, before deciding on one last change before doing something drastic. 

     

    Still firm in my belief that when a big king bellies up to the sushi bar he’s looking for one thing, alewives, I reached into my bait cooler for a freshly salted alewife strip and  replaced the whole bait with a baited fly.  Minutes after dropping the rigger back to same depth of 120’ with the same 15’ setback, the rod fired.  Immediately I reset it the second time, and it fired again.  Meanwhile, the whole bait, 10’ deeper at 130’and 25’ back was just a slug.  While fighting the second fish, Mike  pulled the deep rigger, while I baited another Mirage fly, and we reset the rigger exactly as before,  130’ down and 25’ back.  Before we could untangle the second king from the net, the deep rigger fired.

     

    Four hours later, as the sun angled toward the horizon and light intensity at the riggers dropped, you guessed it, the program changed and the kings decided they absolutely loved whole alewives in a glow green bait head 60” behind a glow green splatterback HotChip 11.  

     

    Why a king salmon, with a brain the size of a pea,  would select a baited fly over a whole alewife one time and do the reverse the next,  I cannot imagine.  What I can say is it’s not the first time I’ve seen it happen, and I’ll be ready when it happens again. 

     

    Baited flies and, before that, baited hoochies or squids, in combination with flashers have been a go-to rig for me aboard my charter boat, ever since my first trip to Alaska  in 1990.   Fortunate to  be invited aboard several commercial salmon trolling boats,  the first thing I noticed on deck was  buckets of 11” plastic flashers, mostly white, green, chartreuse, and red.   Hanging on the rear of the cabins were rows and rows of  3 ½” hoochies(squids) in a myriad of colors, some for kings, some for cohos.  Closer inspection of the hoochies showed a piece of light brass wire, inside each hoochie, attached to the eye of a 6/0 single hook.

     

    The wire on these hooks was for attaching 3”- 4” herring strips inside the hoochie, which rarely go in the water for Alaskan kings without bait.

     

    The  trollers also showed me how they rigged whole herring, herring filets, and cut plugs, all of which they carry onboard, along with spoons and plugs, during an king salmon opening. To a man, they were adamant about how fussy king salmon were and how important it was to master a variety of techniques to consistently catch fish in all conditions. 

     

    I never forgot that lesson, and returned to Lake Ontario with  a new perspective on fishing bait for kings and  a conviction to do my utmost to become as versatile as possible in fishing for them .   

     

     

    Today, my favorite flashers with baited flies include, 8” ProChips, 11” ProChips and HotChips, and 13” Kingston Tackle Slashers in a variety of colors and finishes.  I use 36”- 48” leaders on 11”- 13” flashers and 19”- 30” leaders on 8” flashers.  Flasher/fly color combos are the same as for clean flies.

     

    Rather than the single hook used by commercial trollers, I prefer a tournament tie with a 5/0 beak hook and a #2 bronze treble.  The same tournament tie used with clean flies can be used with bait, but I prefer to extend the leader length between the beak and treble hooks about 1 ½” so the treble trails at the tail of the bait.  Although, the alewife bait strip can be hooked on the leading beak hook, even a properly prepped alewife bait strip softens quickly in fresh water and seldom will stay on a hook very long. 

     

    The secret to keeping an alewife bait strip secured inside the fly is to wrap it on the beak hook just behind the hook eye using soft .020” diam. brass wire.  Although the brass wire can be attached to the beak hook on a pretied Tournament Tie, I like to attach it before I snell the hook, by simply placing a 3” length of wire midway through the eye of the hook, pulling the brass wire down along the shank of the hook, and tying the snell, leaving about 1 ½ inches of each end of the wire extending to each side of the hook. 

     

    The head end of a correctly shaped bait strip,  tapered to about 3/8”,  is then laid skin down against the hook shank, and the brass wire is wrapped from opposite directions around the bait with enough tension to slightly bury the wire into the meat on the bait strip.  It is not necessary to twist the ends of the wire together to hold the strip.  The wired bait will remain in the fly as long as you fish it.  I prefer lightly dressed flies for use with bait strips. 

     

    From 18 years of experience fishing what have now become know on my charter boat as sushi flies, I’ve found that elongated diamond shaped bait strips about 3” in length and ½” to 1” wide, tapered to 3/8” at the head and ½” at the tail are about right.  The later in the season, the larger the bait strip, including strips with tails as wide as ¾”.  Bait strips are filleted from both sides of an alewife and trimmed to shape. The better the quality of a bait strip, the better it catches fish. 

     

    Availability of alewives to use as whole bait or bait strips has always limited the use of alewives for Great Lakes trout and salmon.  The Familiar Bite Co., which harvests, brines, and vacuum packs fresh alewives in 8-packs,  has now solved this problem.   To properly prep quality bait strips, filet alewives when fresh or immediately after removing partially thawed bait from a vacuum pack, trim them to shape, and place them in a ziplock bag of noniodized salt.  They will keep indefinitely refrigerated.  I carry  ziplocks of preshaped bait strips in a small bait cooler along with a brine jar of whole alewives and an ice pack.

     

    Years of experience and millions of Great Lakes king salmon have proven clean flies catch fish.  When it comes to inactive kings, though, especially staged fish or big, lazy fish, I’ve found that sushi flies are just what the doctor ordered