• 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…, 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.

     

    .

                   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. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Oswego Spring King Salmon Charters

    Posted on May 5th, 2018 admin No comments

    My "Fishin No Bitchin" charter with part of a limit catch of browns and kings on May 4.

    If you’re thinking about acharter  trip out of Oswego Harbor for king salmon, do not delay!  The spring king salmon fishing right now in shallow water is the best I’ve seen since 2012.  Wow, those kings are fun on light tackle down to 6′ custom built Fish Doctor Shortsticks and Altum 12 reels spooled with 10 lb. test Berkley/trilene line.

    It takes a silk smooth drag and plenty of 10# line capacity to tame a high octane spring king in 40 to 50 degree water, and the Altum 12s have proven them selves.  It also takes a light hand on the rod and my ”Fishin No Bitchin” fishing team had just that on May 3 and 4.

    I’m not a big fan of “meat” shots, but this crew deserved to show off their stuff!

     

     

     

     

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  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Catching Early Spring Kings

    Posted on April 29th, 2018 admin No comments

    April 23, 2018..., first king of the season aboard the Fish Doctor

    On the morning of April 23, fishing with a crew willing to hunt for king salmon, the first adult chromer of the 2018 season  came aboard the Fish Doctor.  More early spring kings will follow because we fish for them.  Yes, a few boats catch an occasional early spring king while targeting other species, mostly browns this time of year.  But, if you want to catch any number of kings you have to fish for them.

    Although the mother lode may not arrive for a while, there are always some kings around in late April.  Until kings begin to stage and forget about feeding in favor of spawning, kings are looking for only two thing, to be comfortable in suitable temperagture and to keep their bellies full.

    After spending the winter in 39.7 degree water in the midlake depths chowing down on alewives, kings are comfortable anywhere in Lake Ontario right now from the shallows to midlake, surface to bottom.  Yes, a few kings are caught in shallow water near shore, but if you’re looking for numbers, look deeper.  It’s just a behavior thing.

    Feeding kings need food, in the case of Lake Ontario, alewives.  Find alewives and you’ll find kings, whether it’s April or July.  Early spring kings are easy to catch when you find them.  The best place to find them…, off the mouths of the two largest tributaries in Lake Ontario, the Niagara and the Oswego Rivers, PERIOD!

    The same techniques that catch kings later in the season catch them now, as long as you fish the temp where they’re comfortable.  Fish for them on the surface right now with the right stickbaits spoons and they will hit them.  Dodgers and flies are another early spring Fish Doctor favorite.

    The bottom line…, you have to fish for them to catch them.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, What’s Wrong with My Riggers?

    Posted on November 1st, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Releasing an early May king boated while fishing only two riggers.

    I sent the center rigger down the 5th time to 135 feet  Conditions had not changed in several days and I new the troll, due north at a surface speed of 2.7 mph.  Wham!!  Dr. Kerry Brown, Capt. Tim Hummel, and their first mates, Tom and John watched the 7’ Shortstick double to the water as I tightened the line to the release.  The tally was 5 kings in a row on the double pearl dodger and “king salmon” Howie Fly behind the decoy rigger weight down the center, before we could put another line in the water. 

     

    Kerry, and his crew had traveled from the Port of Oak Orchard in western Lake Ontario to Oswego Harbor in eastern Lake Ontario on July 20, 2005, to do an  on-water Howie Fly class with me.   Tom’s  comment after a half hour on the water and five consecutive kings with only one  rigger in the water, “I’ve seen enough, we can go back!”

     

    What Dave had not seen, was what was comng next.  Instead of dropping the center rigger back down to 135’, I rigged the two corner riggers with dodgers and flies and dropped them to 130’ and 120’.  No takers!  I immediately dropped our hot item on the center rigger back down to 135’.  We watched intently.  We were still on the same hot troll…, identical speed, identical direction,  doing everything to “repeat-a-fish”.  The sonar was still showing  bait and kings from 100’ to 140’.  Nothing.  After setting copper lines, wire Dipsys, and a thumper rod, we started catching fish again, but not on the riggers.

     

    One week later, the scenario was similar.  As my crew approached the end of an 8-hour charter, we had boated some nice kings, but not a single one of them had come on a rigger rod.  Running three to four riggers at a time, the flashers and Howie Flies, had not  produced a nibble.  Because our copper rods, wire Dipsys, and thumper rods were all firing I had not changed the rigger spread.  As we got ready to haul lines, I purposely pulled both  boom riggers and spread the corner riggers, one down 100’,  one down 140’.  Before I could get the second boom rigger weight out of the water, we doubled on the two green ProChips trailing  green krinkle flies.  Reducing the number of riggers in the water and spreading them out was all it took.

     

    I don’t know about you, but I’m a firm believer in the addage that, “less is often more”

    when it comes to fishing riggers.  And, when I say less, think about not just dropping down to two riggers, but sometimes only one!  One fish on one rod every 10 minutes equals 6 fish/hour, equals…  You  know!

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, The Deadly Sutton

    Posted on November 1st, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Another Oswego Harbor brown trout falls prey to the deadly #44 Sutton.

    Some things never get old, and that includes spoons that have caught trout, salmon, and other fish species for eons.

     

    As a Lake Ontario charter captain with 40 years of experience under my keel fishing the “Big Lake”, I’ve been asked many times, “If you had only one spoon to use in Lake Ontario for trout and salmon, what would it be?”  Well, to answer that, I’ll take it one step farther.  If I had only one spoon to use for big water trout and salmon anywhere on a flatline, leadcore or copper line, or a downrigger or Dipsy , it would be an ultralight Sutton flutter spoon in Size #44.  If I could select a few different sizes of Suttons, I would add the #31, #71, #88 and #38.

     

    Apparently, I’m definitely not the only angler who favors the Sutton spoon, otherwise a while back when the Sutton Co. was not manufacturing their deadly spoon, used #44 Suttons would not have been selling for up to $25 ea. on ebay.

     

    The first time I fished Lake Ontario in September, 1977, with my fishing partner Mac Collins,  five out of the six kings my partner and I caught were on a flat silver #88 Sutton.  Since then, Sutton spoons in a variety of sizes and stock finishes, plus customized versions I concoct myself, have caught every species of trout and salmon in Lake Ontario for me including, cohos, steelhead, lake trout, domestic rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, several thousand brown trout, plus walleyes and bass. 

     

    Suttons, by far, are the most popular trolling spoon for trout and salmon in New York’s Finger Lakes, where they originated many years ago, and continue to be manufactured in Naples, at the south end of Canandaigua Lake.  They have had and continue to have one of the finest silver plated finishes on the market. 

     

    Suttons are available in both ultralight flutterspoons and heavier casting spoons.  They are available in a variety of finishes including flat and hammered silver, brass, copper, silver/brass, and silver/copper depending on the model and size.

     

    My favorite is the ultralight flutterspoon because it can be tweaked to troll properly at speeds from 1.5 – 3.0 mph.  These spoons come from the factory with a light treble hook which produces good action at slow speeds.  For my purposes on Lake Ontario, I replace the treble on all Sutton spoons with a single Mustad siwash hook. 

     

    On my favorite, the  3” long #44 Sutton, I use  a Size #1, #1/0 or #2/0 depending on the speed I’ll be trolling for different species and the spoon action I’m trying to achieve.  With the factory bend and a single # 1 hook, the #44  rigged with a #1 crosslock snap on a light leader will start to spin at 2.0 mph.  Small crosslock snaps improve the action of any flutterspoon at slow speeds.  Rigged with the same small crosslock snap, but a 1/0 Siwash hook, the #44 will start to spin at 2.3 mph.  Rig a #44 Sutton with a #2/0 Siwash hook and a #2 Sampo coastlock ball bearing snap swivel it will wobble up to about 2.7 mph.  Flatten the spoon thru the middle and bend back a 3/8” length of the nose of the spoon, and it will wobble up to about 3.0 mph. 

     

    For brown trout, tune a Sutton to wobble.  King salmon prefer a spoon that wobbles, but will hit spinning spoons when they’re aggressively feeding.  Domestic rainbows sometimes prefer a flutterspoon that spins.  Vary the size of the Sutton you’re fishing from the smaller, 3” #44 and #31 to the larger #71 and #38 depending on the size of the bait fish trout and salmon are targeting. 

     

    One of my my favorite Suttons in Lake Ontario’s gin-clear water when it’s sunny is the stock hammered silver/brass finish.  A 1/16stripe of fluorescent orange paint along the silver edge of a hammered silver/brass Sutton produces more fish in colored water under sunny skies.  A flat silver Sutton with a diagonal stripe of light blue lazer tape is one of my favorites for brown trout in clear water and low light.  Your own custom touches of tape and paint are sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

     

    I’ll never forget that first Lake Ontario trip with Mac Collins.  As he removed a crumpled #88 Sutton from a big king’s toothy maw, I suggested the spoon was ready for the garbage heap.  “No way,” Mac said.  “This baby is just starting to get a little character!”  Mac put another “peppermint twist” in the spoon, rigged it on a downrigger and promptly caught another king on it. 

  • Oswego’s Spring Kings

    Posted on April 5th, 2009 admin 5 comments
    DJ Vaughn couldn't have picked a flatter day to fish for Oswego's spring kings.

    DJ Vaughn couldn't have picked a flatter day to fish for Oswego's spring kings.

    Many anglers don’t realize that just outside Oswego Harbor there is some excellent king salmon fishing in the spring. Here’s an article I wrote a while back that will give you the scoop on it.  Don’t forget to view my fishing hotline page on the Fish Doctor Charters web site at <blog.fishdoctorcharters.com>

    As we backed my charter boat into the narrow slip at Oswego Marina, my buddy Bob, standing on the dock, asked 12-year old Jackson Davis, “How’d they bite, young man? Jackson couldn’t wait to spit the words out, “We limited out!” “Aha, said Bob, the browns are a lot of fun this time of year, aren’t they?” “We didn’t catch any browns”, Jackson blurted out, “We caught king salmon.” Jackson flipped open the big cooler, heaping with 8 to 19 pound mint-silver kings. The date was May 2, 2005, and we couldn’t have had a better day of fishing.

    I had located the fish the day before, figured out a pattern, and Jackson, his Dad, and Bob Jones had cashed in. The seas were calm and the skies sunny, but the best part…, we were the only boat on eastern Lake Ontario fishing kings that morning. Since 2004, spring fishing for king salmon, just 5 minutes outside Oswego Harbor, has been fantastic. Just in the month of May over the past three years, anglers aboard my charter boat have boated more than 400 king salmon and 150 cohos, this in an area much better known for spring brown trout fishing. Fishing for king salmon continues on through June and July as these sleek predators stay just offshore while hordes of alewives move shallow to spawn.

    Experience has shown that high spring flow in the Oswego River is a major attraction for baitfish and spring kings and cohos. Since 2001, another great year for spring kings, the pattern seems clear, high flows produce the hottest spring salmon fishing, BUT, no matter what the flows, there are always kings outside Oswego Harbor beginning in early May. In the past few weeks, the Oswego River has been flowing at around 10,000 cfs,, not high,but still laden with nutrients from thousands of acres of rich farmland in the watershed, the greenish colored plume of water off Oswego Harbor is like an oasis in the Sahara to fish in eastern Lake Ontario. With snow and rain predicted every day for the next week, expect increasing flows in the Oswego River, a magnet for both baitfish and predators like browns, cohos, kings, and rainbows.
    If youユre thinking about sampling the super spring king fishing at Oswego, on a typical sunny day the early bird definitely gets the worm. Leaving the dock at Oswego Marina at 5:00 AM, it’s only a short 5-minute ride to the fishing grounds in 90 to 100 feet of water. Most mornings I try to have my rods are in the water just before daybreak. At that time, almost no fish or bait can be seen on my 10” color Sitex video fish finder below 30 feet. Some calm mornings, salmon can be seen porpoising right on the surface…, exciting. All the early morning action is in the top 30 feet of water, and I mean action. Triples and quads are not unusual. One morning, my crew of three ranging from 79 to 85 years old, including one lady angler, hooked and landed six kings at once from 13 – 19 lbs. Whew!

    Even though the surface water temperature in early May is 39-40 degrees, on sunny days, kings start to move deep by 7:00 -9:00 AM and are often flat on bottom in 120 feet of water by late morning. ProChip Flashers and dodgers trailed by Howie Flies are standard fare for spring kings. My favorite in low light is the Casper, a stock white ProChip 8 with a Little Boy Blue fly trailing behind it. Spoons like Maulers, Northern Kings, and Michigan Stingers are also excellent spring king medicine. My top spoons, depending on the light conditions, are the NK28 spook, “Venom” Mauler, black alewife and monkey puke Stingers, NK 28 Diehard, Plain Jane Mauler in brass/green, Orange Ruffe Mauler, and Blue Dolphin Silver Streak. Downriggers, Dipsey Divers, and copper line fished from planer boards get lures down to kings. The first 10 minutes after daylight, you can catch kings right on the surface with spoons and stickbaits. Flasher/flies and spoons on copper off the boards are solid producers for spring kings.

    One of the most consistent early morning rigs on my charter boat, the Fish Doctor, is a thumper rod down the chute with a 10 oz. weight, 80’ of 20# wire, and a chrome/glow dodger with a glow baby purple/silver fly. As the light conditions brighten, you’ll find a chrome/silver prism dodger with an aqua fly on the thumper rod.  Later, in brighter light, I opt for a trash can dodger with a green crinkle or Pretty Jane fly. The hottest bright light flasher/fly combo for me in May, especially when the kings have dropped down deep, my Fish Doctor “Late Riser”(char/double glow) ProChip 8 with a Pretty Jane(glitter/silver/green) Fly with chartreuse beads.
    If youユre waiting until August to fish for king salmon in eastern Lake Ontario, you might want to rethink your plan. Oh, and the other thing…, there is no better eating fish in fresh water than a spring king salmon dripping with oil after chowing down on alewives all winter…, yum, yum!