• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Booking a Lake Ontario Charter

    Posted on January 15th, 2020 admin No comments

    So your friends returned from their Lake Ontario charter fishing trip and you’ve seen all the photos of gigundus trout and salmon they caught, right?  Now you’ve decided to book a charter trip in 2020.  What now?

     

    Kings like this can be released in early spring when surface temps are cool.

    Well, first, you have made a great decision.  Lake Ontario fishing is unlike any other in the Northeast.  There is a large charter fleet on this 200 mile long lake, with around 450 USCG licensed captains fishing out of ports from Henderson Harbor in the east to Wilson Harbor in the west.

    However, like lawyers, real estate agents, and car salesmen, not all charter captains are created equal, to put it politely.  The key is to find a friendly, patient veteran with vast experience and good equipment who can put you on fish and catch them.

    Planning and preparation are crucial in booking a charter trip anywhere.

    If you don’t have a referral from a reliable person, your first step should be checking web sites online.  You’ll find a wealth of info, but read between the lines.

    Web site testimonials are meaningless…, they are all 5-star!   Beware of  Google rankings.  Anyone can show up on the first page of a Google search if they are willing to pay a webmaster enough money or pay for an ad.

    Most web sites list “What to Bring With You”, and if not , ask your captain.  Bring the proper gear with you, and you’ll have an enjoyable trip without overloading the boat.

    Remember that children under the age of 12 must wear a PFD at all times, and it’s best to bring your own to make sure they fit properly.

    Call early for best dates.

    Safety is the top priority. All Great Lakes charter captains must be USCG licensed and for your protection should be insured.  Their charter boats must meet all USCG requirements.  All safe charter boats are equippe3d with radar.

    Ask questions.  How many trips does a captain fish yearly, part time or full time?

    What size and type of boat will you fish from?  Veteran Ontario captains seldom fish less than a 28-footer.

    As for price, you usually get what you pay for.

    Some captains will not release fish and return to the dock the minute you catch your limit, no matter what size the fish.  Abbreviating your trip to 1 or 2 hours and paying for a 6 to 8-hour trip can be a turnoff.  A typical scenario is this…  An unnamed charter boat out of Oswego last June bragged about returning to the dock in two hours with a 2-man limit.  An hour later, the two clients were at Fat  Nancy’s Sport Shop in Pulaski, complaining they paid for a 6-hour trip and fished only two hours, even though they wanted to return the smaller, but legal, kings they caught.  Ego cost that captain a return trip.  Ask.

    Instead of just emailing or texting your captain,  chat with him by phone to get a feel for his personality.  Incompatible personalities in the confines of a boat can make for a long day.

    Beginners new to trolling may want to fish on a boat with a mate.  Veterans, however, may prefer a hands-on trip with no mate so they can help rig lines and hook their own fish.  Again, ask.

    Work with a captain to schedule your trip when fishing is best for the species you want to catch.  For browns, your captain will recommend a spring or midsummer trip.  For monster kings, book in late August or early September.

    Once you book a trip, ask your captain to help you with lodging and places to eat.

    So, now you called early, found a top captain, decided when to fish, and nailed down your trip with a deposit.   When the big day comes, and you arrive at the dock on time with the proper gear, just relax and take it easy.  Let your captain take it from there.

    Sit back with a cool drink, catch some rays, and enjoy some of the best trophy trout and salmon fishing in the Northeast.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Ontario Mystique

    Posted on January 4th, 2020 admin No comments

    It’s the feeling you get when you fish Lake Ontario.   You just never know how big the next fish you catch will be.  I have fished this 200 mile long lake since 1977, and every time an anglers onboard hooks up with a monster, I feel it.  It’s like a chronic case of buck fever!  It happened again on September 17, 2019.

    Before daybreak when Mike Wales and his crew boated out with me through the mouth of the Little Salmon River  into Mexico Bay at the southeast corner of Lake Ontario, their thoughts were on salmon.  Kings and cohos migrate from all over the lake to this 20 mile wide bay where they stage before their spawning run in the Big Salmon River.  Along with the salmon, prespawn brown trout, some of them huge, also concentrate here.

    As we navigated out to the area in 35 feet of water where I had been fishing the previous day, the conversation was all about salmon.  Fishing for both kings and cohos had been better than I cared to mention, hesitant to elevate expectations.  When I mentioned the brown trout we had been catching in a bit shallower depths than the kings, there was no response.  Just, “How many salmon? How big?”

    With the sky lightening over the east shore, I had just set our third downrigger when the center rigger rod bent to the water.  We were locked up with our first king of the trip on a J-plug.  Action was steady until the sun sun broke over Tug Hill Plateau, then slowed.

    That’s when I headed for slightly shallower water toward the brown trout zone.  Although kings and cohos are the main target in September, on every trip I keep one rod in the water for brown trout.  Browns are great eating in September, and you never know when you might just tangle with a big one.

    As we trolled along at 2.5 mph in 30 feet of water, the port slide diver with one of my favorite brown trout flashers and flies  was fishing just above bottom.  When that rod doubled over and the reel’s drag started screaming, my first thought was, “Aha, a shallow water king.”  Not so.  Instead of the screaming run of a September king, the fish only ran about 50 feet, then stayed deep, refusing to come up off the bottom.  “Hmm, too warm in here for a big laker?”  I wondeed,   “A big brown?”  That’s when I felt it

    The chance of catching a brown twice this size keeps you on the edge of your seat when you fish Lake Ontario.

    .  If it is a big brown, how big?.                             

    It only took about five minutes to find out.  When Hen ry Hitchcock eased it to the surface, all I could see was gold.  When it came aboard, it took my breath away, even after seeing  thousands of Lake Ontario browns boated.  What a magnificent male brown trout in full spawning colors!

    As big and beautiful as the brown was, I knew there were even larger ones, much larger ones,  in this seemingly limitless lake we were fishing, maybe nearby, maybe our very next fish.

    It’s the feeling you get when you cast or troll a line in Lake Ontario,  legendary for world class trout and salmon.  Would anyone have ever imagined the once 26 lb. 5 oz. NYS steelhead record would be broken by an unimaginable 31 lb. 5 oz. steelhead?  What’s next?  There it is again…, Ontario mystique.

    And, what about the 32 lb. 3 oz. NYS record brown trout?  Is there a bigger one out there?  I’m betting there is.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, to Release or Not to Release

    Posted on January 3rd, 2020 admin No comments

    I don’t remember his name, but I do remember  his fish. The young man standing in the back of my charter boat that late April day had been hooked up with it on an ultralight 9’ noodle rod and 10 lb. test line for about 5 minute and we had yet to see the fish.

    There were no head shakes like those of a heavy lake trout, no short runs like those a big brown.  Just a heavy pull like a monstrous walleye.

    We were fishing browns that morning in the warm, plume of the Oswego River where it entered clear, frigid Lake Ontario just outside the harbor walls.

    Minutes more passed with the noodle rod doubled over and still no fish.  I was scratching my head wondering if we had foul hooked a fish.

    Then the  huge brown surfaced.  But why the lethargic fight?

    As I netted it, the answer was clear.  It was a huge female brown trout that had spawned in the fall, spent the winter in the Oswego River, most likely, and had just dropped back into the lake.  It was the longest female brown I had seen in 42 years fishing in Lake Ontario, but thin, with a huge head and frayed tail from spawning.  With barely enough energy left to swim and feed, it had not put up much of a battle.

    With the big female brown trout  still in the water and swimming upright in my oversized landing net, it was time for a decision…, to release or not to release.

    The young angler was excited.  This was this the biggest brown he had ever landed.  But, our  cooler was already half full of good eating browns.  And, it was obvious the big female would not make a god mount with scrape marks on its sides and a tail frayed tail from digging a gravel redd.  When I explained the flesh in spent fish like this is nowhere near as good eating as that of smaller browns which had yet to spawn , the young man made his decision…, “Release her”!

    Releasing a 55 1/2", 52# musky aboard the Fish Doctor

    Before we did, a quick measurement showed she was 38” long,  and I guessed about 18 lbs.  By the end of the season, after feeding heavily on alewives it might reach close to 30 lbs.

    The decision to release or not release a fish, isn’t always an easy one, but for one of the crews who fish with me twice a year, once in early spring and again  in midsummer,  it’s no problem.  In the spring when Dan Barry and his buds fish with me,  they , released every brown trout.  Why, because when they fish, the water is cold, the fish are near the surface, they are fishing with artificial lures instead of bait, and the browns they catch can be released unharmed.

    Importantly, the smaller 2-year old, 2-4 lb. browns they catch will grow to be 6-12 lbs.  by the next spring.  The older, larger browns they release have the potential to live several years longer reaching world class size, and thrill another angler another day.

    But, in late August, it’s a different story.   The 3-year old king salmon we target will die in 2-3 months after spawning in October and November.   Most kings they catch are usually deep and surface wter temperature is in the mid-70s, making it tough to release them unharmed.  Dan and his crew keep every legal king they catch, most of which are smoked.

    The bottom line, after complying with existing regulations is this.   To release or not to release a fish depends on what is good for the fishery, the fish population, and, in the end, your personal choice.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, MI Stinger Selection for Spring Browns

    Posted on April 28th, 2019 admin No comments

    A selection of deadly standard size Stingers for spring brown trout

    In today’s world of excessive verbosity(all hat and no cowboy!), there are a few things that don’t take many words.  One of those is a list of Standard size Michigan Stingers that are deadly for spring brown trout.  Yes, there are an endless number of Stingers that have caught browns and catch brown trout occasionally, but the photo posted shows some Fish Doctor favorites.

    Yes, there are other patterns that veteran anglers and charter captains swear by, but those shown are a few of the ones that consistently catch fish onboard the Fish Doctor.  Others that aren’t shown include the Sodus Bay Buckeye, clown, hammered silver/black edge, gree bubble on brass, gold perch and more.

    Any of the black/silver patterns or the chicken wing may work better in low light with a glow inside cup.

    A tip for fishing standard size Stingers at slow speeds in ice water early in the season.  Switch the stock #2 stock treble to a #4 trebe.  It gives a Stinger a much better action at slow speeds.

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, April 24, 2019, Fish Doctor Trout and Salmon Fishing Report

    Posted on April 24th, 2019 admin No comments

     

    Co-captain Kevin Kellar shows off a nice king aboard the Fish Doctor, 4/22/19.

    As I eased the Fish Doctor past the west end of the detached breakwall, just outside Oswego Harbor, I heard co-captain Kevin Kellar say, “Fish on, boys.  Grab that center rod!”  25 feet below us a yet to be seen king salmon had chomped down on an aqua Howie fly and I could hear the reel moaning as as the 3-year old king headed NE, stripping line from the reel.

    That’s just a sample of what has been going on aboard the Fish Doctor since April 18, our first day on the water, a fantastic beginning to the 2019 season. 

    Fishing for brown trout has been steady, as usual, around Oswego Harbor, but the king salmon fishing has heated up earlier than normal.  So far best depths have been 15-40 feet of water for the kings and larger browns.  Browns and kings have been coming on everything we’ve put in the water, flat lines off the boards, lead, slide divers, minidivers, and riggers.  Along with the browns and kings, a few lakers, cohos, and Atlantics have been stretching the lines.

    All of the water the Fish Doctor has been prowling so far has been off  from and east of Oswego Harbor, but we’ve heard reports of kings being caught on the color line as far west as West Nine Mile and Fairhaven. 

    The browns have been hitting standard spring items, including spoons, stickbaits, and occasionally flies.  Michigan Stingers in the standard size and Scorpions have been the best producers in black/silver, black/silver glow, brass and green, copper goby, brown trout Chucklet, and others,  There is always a chewed up old black/silver 3F Evil Eye in the water, deadly in the spring.  Old reliables like the black and silver F-11 Rapala always catch browns.  To date, the larger browns have been coming offshore in 15-40 feet of water.

    Kings have been in 15-40 feet of water, with the most boated so far this season 8 or 9 on 4/22.  On April 19, it took a while to find them, but our PA crew was 4 for 5 on kings with in the last 1 ½ hrs we fished. .  Dodger/flies, spoons, black and silver F-11 Rapala flat off the boards, are all  working.  The best spoons for kings have been standard size Michigan Stingers and 3F Evil Eyes in the same colors as for the browns.

    Surprisingly, some of the kings have hit small spoons, #3 Needlefish, Eppinger Chucklets on flat lines off the boards and minidivers.

    All of the browns we’ve cleaned onboard so far have been feeding on gobies, but on 4/22, we did see a released lake trout spit up a 3-4 inch yearling alewife, the first alewife we’ve seen this spring.  Hopefully that is  a good sign of what might be a strong 2018 year class of alewives.

    All in all, it looks like another great spring season out of Oswego.  You gotta love the early kings in shallow, with little or no travel time to get to the fish. Especially when many of them are being caught on ultralight Fish Doctor ShortSticks and Altum 12 reels spooled with 10# main line and 8# leaders. 

    Yeah, it does take a little longer to land them on ultralight gear, but what a way to battle a souped up spring king!

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Fishing the Slide Diver and Lite Bite Slide Diver

    Posted on April 12th, 2019 admin No comments

     

    A late April brown that hit a lemon lime flutterdevle 30' behind a slide diver.

    If you troll for trout and salmon, and haven’t tried the Slide Diver or the Lite Bite Slide Diver you should.  They are a real fish catcher onboard the Fish Doctor, and have  been smokin’, especially in the spring,  ever since I started using them

     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 lb. 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 on May 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.

     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 Trout and Salmon Fishing…, If You Always Did What You Always Do

    Posted on April 12th, 2019 admin No comments

     

    A change in tactics put this silver king in the boat.

    If you always do what you always did, you will always catch what you always caught.  I remember that statement by Chip Porter, one of the best fishermen on the upper Great Lakes, when he and I were touring the states of Michigan and Wisconsin a few years back giving seminars for Chip’s Salmon Institute.

     The point he was making was although an angler may catch fish using the same technique that has produced for many years, it still pays to be versatile and experiment with new techniques and fishing gear.  Conditions might change in the waters you fish or the fishing there may fizzle altogether, and you might have to seek out new waters where your old technique doesn’t work as well.  Also, if you learn new techniques, you might be even more successful in your favorite waters, catching more and bigger fish.

     Back in the 1960s on 28 mile long Lake George in northeastern New York State, a top fishing guide named Doug specialized in hooking up his clients with bottom hugging lake trout.  His technique, jerk lining 7-inch Hinkley spoons on copper line was devasting for big lakers feeding on ciscoes up to 10 inches.  But, the ciscoe population diminished and smelt showed up in the lake in 1976 changing the predator/prey scenario.  Doug consistently caught plenty of lakers in the 1960s doing the same thing he had always done,  but when conditions changed, and smelt became the primary lake trout forage, he stayed on top of his game  by switching to smaller smelt size spoons.

    At the same time, 2 to 4 lb. rainbow trout were plentiful in Lake George, but Doug never fished for them, even though I consistently caught them fishing small Mooselook wobblers on leadcore line at moderate trolling speeds and at slower speeds on leadcore using small chrome/copper cowbells trailed 18 inches back by an F-4 fluorescent red Flatfish.  If Doug had changed his ways and added a single leadcore rig to his spread his clients would have caught more rainbows.  

    In the early 1970s, downriggers first became available commercially and I started doing something I had never done, leaving my copper  and leadcore rigs at the dock and experimenting with riggers in Lake George for trout and salmon.  There was a learning curve involved in fishing this new fangled gear, but it didn’t take long to figure things out.  Trolling medium size Mooselooks at moderate speed near bottom was all it took to catch lakers.  The only problem was most of these lakers were 5 lbs. or less and I knew as a fishery  biologist working on the lake that much larger lakers were there.

    Although I could have fished the same old way with Mooselooks and continued to catch small lakers on spoons at a moderate trolling speed, I wasn’t satisfied and continued to experiment with different downrigger techniques.  Surprise, surprise!  Yes, there were bigger, lazier, slow moving lakers there, and they could not resist an F-7 Flatfish wobbling along slowly,  inches off bottom, 4 feet behind an 8-inch chrome dodger attached to the tail of a fish-shaped downrigger weight.

    At the slow speed I was trolling for lakers, the same, small, 4-blade cowbell I used for rainbows on leadcore line caught suspended ‘bows just as well on light tackle when the cowbell was attached directly to a downrigger weight and fished with the same fluorescent red F-4 Flatfish trailing 18 inches behind the tail spinner of the cowbell at a water temperature of 61 degrees. 

    Not doing what I had always done with copper and leadcore line produced consistent combination catches of lakers and rainbows on much lighter tackle than I had been using.  

     

  • lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, MLE, Fish Cleaning and Rigging Table

    Posted on April 4th, 2019 admin No comments

     

    Cleaning fish onboard is a time saver for my customers and me.

    Making life easy(MLE), as easy as possible has always been a driving force onboard my charter boat, the Fish Doctor.  MLE saves time, money, and most importantly, energy.

    Energy  conservation is a major issue when a captain is fishing solo with no mate, doing many doubles during the season from daylight to near dusk on 150 to 200 trips per season.  Every move is measured.  Every ounce of energy saved is an extra ounce available  for rigging another line, handling another fish, another charter, or coping with another day of high seas.

    Over the years I have learned ways to save energy and time while on the water to become as efficient as possible, and the cleaning board I built on the port transom of my charter boat is near the top of the list.

    It started simply as a cleaning board, built on pedestals about placing the board about8 inches above the gunnel.  The initial objective was fish cleaning on the water after a trip on the way back to the dock.  The purpose, two fold, (1) for the convenience of anglers so they did not have to pay for fish cleaning or wait in line after hours on the water at the fish cleaning station, and, (2) to save time for me between trips or at the end of trips.

    That is exactly what happened, but in addition I use the cleaning table at the port corner of my boat far more for other things than fish cleaning.  The table isperfect for rigging at the back of the boat, changing lures, rigging bait, cutting Sushi strips and more, plus it’s a “leaning post”.

    What an energy saver for me, especially in rough water,  when rigging lines, including the port corner rigger, as well as wire Dipsys, copper, leadcore, and others!  The reason…, being waist high, I can lean against it, helping balance myself.

    Because of the waist high height of the cleaning table, it quickly became the favored station on the boat for fighting fish, again, especially in rough water.  Folks unaccustomed to boats and a bit unsure on their feet in rough water can lean against it to keep their balance while battling trout and salmon.

    Lastly, it’s a tool bench.  A few holes strategically placed at the front corners of the table are perfect for holding pliers, etc., keeping them at my finger tips when I need them at the business end of the boat.  A few screw hooks inderneath and I have a place to hang my billy club, scent bottles, etc.

    When you’re busy on the lake, it’s all about efficiency and energy conservation.  Make your life easier!

  • 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…, The Two Biggest Ever LOC Derby Kings

    Posted on March 23rd, 2019 admin No comments

     

    This 38 lb. 14 oz. Fish Doctor grand prize winning LOC Derby King pales in comparison to Kolasienski's 42 lb. 11 oz. monster.

    On the evening of Thursday, August 26, Travis Kolasienski was fishing with his dad Ed, friend Steve Williams, and his Uncle, Dick Carey, a 15 year veteran on Lake Ontario.  They were trolling north of  Oswego Harvor in Dick’s boat in 110 feet of water. Fishing was slow until one of the rods fired.  When Ed Kolasienski grabbed the rod and set the hook, he offered to give up his turn to his son.  When travis said, “No than ks Dad, I”m going to catch a bigger one!”, it set the stage for his the biggest fish of his life.

    Just a few minutes after his dad landed a 34 lb. king, a second rod fired.  Travis snatched the rod from the rod holder and set the hook into what felt like a log.  It was a king he’ll never forget.  The 45 minute fight was followed by a 10 minute flat-out boat ride to shore in Dick Carey’s 24-foot Thompson. They arrived at the weigh station just minutes before it closed at 8:00 p.m. 

    Travis still gets excited when he tells the tale.  His big money fish that earned him $20,000 hit hit a monkey puke Oki flasher trailed by a glow green Rhys Davis bait head with a herring strip.  They were trolling it 65 feet down at 2.0 mph with only a ple of other boats nearby.    


    When I asked Travis for advice to would-be LOC Derby winners, he commented, “Whew, it’s not easy!   Fish with someone like my Uncle Dick and my Dad who know what they’re doing.”  He also mentioned that luck plays a big part in it, since they fished the same area off Oswego with the same technique during the 2000 LOC Derby, and caught no derby-size kings. 

     In, 1999, LOC Derby competitition was stiff, to say the least, with well over 6500 entries for 18 days. With the top 10 fish entered all over 40 lbs., and the grand prize winner at 42 lbs.  11 oz., it would take a serious second place king to win the derby’s Salmon Division.  That’s exactly what Gary Lawrence caught.

    Gary fished the Mexico Bay area of Lake Ontario out of Catfish Ck.  On the last Wed. of the derby,  Gary was fishing with Jack Mazzie and Mike Orapello on Jack’s 23’ Bayliner, the “Sandy Lee”.  Because he had been catching his biggest kings in the afternoon for several weeks, he  made a point to be on the water on the evening of Wed., Sept. 1st.   At 6:30 PM, off Nine Mile Point, with only one other boat nearby, Gary hooked and landed his big king on an 11” purple Hot Spot trailed by a plain glow bait head and herring strip.

    Because of an inaccurate digital scale that weighed Gary’s fish at 35 lbs., he almost fileted the big king.  When he decided to have the fish mounted, taxidermist Fran Mosher of Animal Art Taxidermy talked him into entering the fish.  When Gary did, he couldn’t b believe his eyes. The scale read 42 lb. 3 oz. and his king  king became history, rather than just another salmon filet on the table.  His big king missed the $20,000 grand prize by 9 oz!

    These two king salmon are mthe largest ever entered in a LOC Derby.