• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, New 2018 Stinger Colors

    Posted on February 27th, 2018 admin No comments

    Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon patterns from Stinger..., new for 2018!

    Take a look at some of the new Stinger patterns for 2018.   All but one of them are UV.  Many are hot and destined to take steelhead and cohos in clear water or kings and browns in turbid or deep water.  A couple patterns are takeoffs of the Frost Byte, a deadly black/green UV pattern that has proven itself for browns and kings aboard the Fish Doctor.


  • 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. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Fall Steelhead

    Posted on August 11th, 2011 admin No comments

    A September Chromer

    A September Chromer




    I could read Vinnie’s thoughts as he scanned the surface of Lake Ontario around my charter boat on that early November day.  “Are there really steelhead here?  If the fishing is so good, why aren’t there any other boats fishing?  Shouldn’t we have left the dock before daylight like we do for salmon, instead of heading out at 7:00 AM?”  His thoughts were rudely interrupted as one of his fishing buddies hollered, “Hey, there’s a steelhead jumping back there!”, as a noodle rod doubled over.


    Two months earlier right where we were off the mouth of the Big Salmon , boats were wall to wall fishing for staged king salmon.  Today, we were the only boat on the water.  Why?  Because anglers just aren’t aware of Lake Ontario’s fantastic fall for trophy steelhead  staged  off the mouth of spawning.


    Every year, when  the leaves start to color as fall approaches, tens of thousands of nomadic steelhead scattered the length and  breadth of 200 mile long Lake Ontario begin to feel the urge to spawn.  Homing in on ancestral spawning streams,  they make their way toward river mouths like the Big Salmon, near Pulaski, New York, in northern Oswego County.  More than a half million steelhead are stocked each year in Lake Ontario tributaries, none receiving a heavier stocking than the Big Salmon.  The fishing these stocked steelhead produces in shallow, accessible water is some of the best Lake Ontario has to offer.


    Before that November trip ended, Vinnie and his three fishing buddies put 8 steelhead up to 12 pounds in the cooler, and carefully released almost as many smaller fish, all on ultralight noodle rods and 8 lb. test line.  When we pulled the lines at 1:00 PM, there still wasn’t another boat in sight.


    Why is this fantastic fall steelhead fishery so underutilized?  The answers are simple.  First, the fishery hasn’t been publicized like the spring and summer brown trout, lake trout, chinook and coho fishery.  Most anglers don’t know it exists.  Secondly, most anglers don’t realize that the late October and early November weather along the southeast coastline of Lake Ontario is much warmer than the rest of the Northeast because of the heat sink influence of the vast expanse of warm water in Lake Ontario.  Third, anglers don’t realize how easily accessible fall lake steelhead are, and how easy they are to catch.


    Inshore fall steelhead trolling is as simple as you want to make it.  It’s great for the small boat  troller, because these fish are shallow, generally in 20 feet of water or less, and close to port.  In the case of the Big Salmon River, there is a public boat launch just inside the river mouth at Selkirk Shores State Park,  minutes away from the fishing.  Remember, though,  the waters of Lake Ontario can be extremely rough.  Caution and judgment should be used before taking a small boat out on the water Steelhead bite best in sunny, bluebird weather, perfect conditions for the small boater.


     The trolling setup for steelhead and rainbows is basic.  Trolling tight to the boat is generally not effective.  Downriggers and planer boards work best when fished 70-100 feet back.   Troll flat lines 100-150 feet back.


    As they say, steelhead and rainbows like fluorescent red lures no matter what color they are!  Lure color selection for autumn steelies is simple.  My favorite spoons are the size #41 and  #51 red/black Alpena Diamonds.  Stickbaits like Nils Masters, and Rapalas,  in red, orange, or orange/gold finishes are also effective.  


     Fine tuning your presentation is the key.  Stick to my   recipe speed of 2.5 MPH, and stay away from oversized snap swivels on lures, especially smaller stick baits.


    Have you felt the nip in the air lately?  It won’t be long before the leaves start to turn.  Fall will be here soon, and with it will come some of the best Lake Ontario steelhead fishing of the year.  I plan to be on the water every day from mid-October to mid-November and would love some company!  Bring some of those fluorescent red lures with you.  Close-in autumn steelies love ‘em.