• Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, HotChips, the most overlooked Great Lakes flasher!

    Posted on July 26th, 2018 admin No comments

    ProTroll's HotChip, the most overlooked Great Lake salmon and trout flasher. Perfect for high speed offshore trolling in midsummer!

    So, it’s midJuly and the bait is moving offshore, kings and steelhead following.  Everything is scattered big time as far out as the Canadian border.

    So, you’re going to troll along at slow poke speed and try to catch kings, right.  Nope.  Unless you get lucky and set down on a huge concentration of bait and fish, you’re going to have to cover some water.

    To do that, you’re going to fish, like everyone else, an 8″ ProChip flasher with a rudder and a fly or the same flasher with bait, that basically doesn’t work well at speeds over speeds over 2.7 mph.  Wrong!

    To kick it in the butt and cover more water, my solution to catching widely scattered kings and steelhead way offshore is to pick up the speed to 3.0+ mph using rudderless flashers like Pr0-Troll’s HotChip with flies(leader lengths 19 – 21 inches, and tuned Stingrays with a larger treble and heavier swivel.  High speed trolling is not the best program for catching moster kings, but it’s perfect for most kings out there and absolutely deadly for steelhead.

    High speed trolling also helps locate bait concentrations and the kings and steelies that feed on them.  Once you find them, that’s the time to slow down and fish for a monster.

     

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…,Trolling Multiple Copper Lines

    Posted on June 13th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    Leonard Beebe, aboard the Fish Doctor on June 9, 2018, with a nice king he boated on 200' of copper.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It’s a lot of work, especially fishing solo without a mate, but multiple copper lines catch fish.  Mess up, and it’s a copper calamity!   Done properly, it often saves the day.

     

    The megaboards I use with up to 500’copper sections run nearly straight out boatside rather than  dropping back  like inline boards.  These  triple boards  are built with 3’ x 10” boards with Styrofoam flotation to keep them from diving in roughseas.  They are rigged on  200 feet of 300# test mono tether line on Great Lakes Planer System  masts and rod holders. 

    My choice for releases is the Scotty Power Grip Plus 1170.

    For copper reels, I prefer Penn’s  Fathom 40LW for 200’ copper sections with 35” Spectron backing, the Fathom 60LW  for 300’ sections with 50# Spectron backing, and the 345GTI for 400, 500, and 600’ sections with 50” backing. 

    Up to six 7’ copper  rods on the boards are stacked in the rod holders and a 9’ copper rod is used   down the chute All the copper rods  are custom built from E-glass blanks with oversized aluminum oxide guides and  tip tops. 

    Fifty feet of 30# Berkley Big Game leader on the copper is attached directly to flashers. An 8’, 20# leader added for spoons. 

    A typical midsummer, 7-copper spread aboard the “Fish Doctor” when steelhead and kings are suspended from 80 to 110 feet looks like this.  3 to 4 riggers set at 41- 62 degrees, with a combination of spoons and flashers.  Two to four wire dipsy rods fishing  the same temps.  Six copper lines, 400’, 450’, and 500’,  are set out 200’, 150’, and 100’ from the boat on each  tether line, with spoons on the outside four rods and 8” flashers on the shorter lines on the inside.  A 9’ Chute Rod with coded copper and a dodger/fly finish the spread.  

    Yes, there are definitely a lot of lines in the water at once and every once in a while when you contact a feeding cluster of kings all heck can break loose with multiple hookups.  And, yes, tangles can occur.  But, if you’re concerned about that, all I can say is NGNG(no guts no glory)!!!

     

     

  • 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…, Catching June Transition Kings

    Posted on June 4th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    Karl Schmidt with a June transition king, one of 8 boated on the morning of 6/2/18.

     

    It was early June as I eased my charter boat out of Oswego Harbor in search of king salmon and steelhead.  One eye was on the seas and the other on my compass and electronics.  My Garmin 3500 told  the story below us, my eyes read lake conditions, my compass bearing would lead us to the offshore hot spot we had fished the previous day, and perhaps most important,  my Fish Hawk speed/temp unit was continually recording  surface water temperature.

    I watched as the 72 degree surface water temperature inside the harbor dropped to 67 degrees just beyond the Oswego lighthouse, and then slowly decrease as we cruised offshore.  5 miles northeast of the harbor, we found what we were looking for, a break in surface temperature from the high 50s to high 40s in less than 100 yards.  My chart plotter showed we were very near the waypoint where we had boated steelhead, lake trout and king salmon 12 hours earlier.  

    The scumline along the break was obvious, with weeds, sticks, and other debris floating in it.  Even more obvious were the gulls that stretched along it picking insects from the  surface.  Not far below  that, I knew there were baitfish and predators, a classic June transition hot spot.

    The June transition is seasonal and all about warming late spring weather.  As late spring air temperature increases, surface temperature warms inshore, pushing trout and salmon offshore.  Meanwhile, because of the huge volume of 200 mile long, 50 mile wide, and 802 feet deep Lake Ontario, surface water temperature offshore remains optimum for kings,  steelhead and lake trout.  It is also  the time when alewives, that have wintered in deep water in mid-lake,  are moving onshore to spawn.  King salmon and steelhead  follow them, remaining in cold  water offshore. 

    There is no time of year when king salmon and steelhead are more active and more surface oriented than in June.  The only problem…, they can be very scattered and tough to locate.  June kings and steelhead are much more scattered than they are in midsummer when a thin band of rapidly decreasing water temperature separates a a warm upper layer and cold deeper laye, concentrating trout and salmon deep. Once you pin point aggressively feeding offshore kings steelhead in June, though, they are easy to catch.

    Locating kings in June is more about hunting than fishing, using a combination of old fashioned fishing savvy and state of the art fish finding electronics.  When trout and salmon are this scattered it is important to use a fish finder capable of locating fish, bait, and plankton at planning speeds.  When kings and steelhead are in the top 15-20 feet of water and can’t be detected effectively with standard sonar, experience reading offshore surface water to located feeding birds, current lines, and thermal bars helps pin point king salmon concentrations.

    In June, my mind set is…, “Find kings and you will catch them!”  At no other time of the year are they more actively feeding.  With no urge to spawn this early in the season, their two priorities are to be comfortable and to keep their bellies full.  Comfort meant optimum water temperature, available in June anywhere in the lake from the surface to the bottom.  Keeping their bellies full means feeding on alewives, their primary forage.  Find alewives and you find kings.  Find kings and get ready to open your fish cooler!

    With the proper equipment on your boat,  June kings and steelhead can run, but they can’t hide,  even in the  great expanse of Lake  Ontario. It may take more effort to find these these silvery battlers when they are scattered, but a cooler full of delicious late spring salmon and steelhead is well worth the effort.

    When transition kings and steelherad are in the top 30 feet and scattered, my “High, Wide, and Handsome” spread includes 3 to 5 riggers, two slide divers, and a total of 6 leadcore sections usually ranging from 2 two 7 colors, covering the depths from 8’ 28’., 3 on each of my Megaboards planning out +100’ on each side of the boat, boat traffic permitting. 

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon…, The Oswego Rules!

    Posted on May 11th, 2018 admin No comments

    One of many browns, plus rainbows and salmon boated in and around Oswego Harvbor on 5/11/18.

    There are a lot of ports along New York State’s Lake Ontario shoreline where trout and salmon are caught in the spring, but it’s tough to beat fishing out of the port of Oswego.

    Second largest tributary emptying into the lake, the Oswego River and it’s warm, rich plume that impacts several miles of the lake’s shoreline is a magnet to baitfish, alewives, and, following, them, predators…, trout and salmon.

    Last time the Fish Doctor was out deep in 150 fow, offshore surface temp was 38.5 degrees.  Inshore, surface temp in Oswego Harbor was in the mid50s.  Today, in 60 fow surface temp was 40 degrees and harbor temp was 60 degrees.  Browns and salmon we boated were stuffed with alewives.

    In a tough NE wind, it was too bumpy to fish the main lake, so every boat out of Oswego fished in and around the harbor, boating browns, rainbows, Atlantics and a few kings.

    Elsewhere on the south shore of the lake from the Niagara River to the Salmon River it was either impossible to troll or very, very lumpy.

    No wonder Fish Doctor anglers say, “The Oswego Rules”!

  • 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…, April, 2018 Oswego Brown Trout

    Posted on April 15th, 2018 admin No comments

    The Fish Doctor, moored at dock #21, Oswego Marina.

    If you’ve got a hankering to do some spring brown trout fishing, now is the time and Oswego is the place.

    Water temperature in Oswego Harbor was near 40 degrees the past few days and there are plenty of browns in the harbor and to the east of it.  There are also some lakers stacked up on bottom in 120 fow and deeper.  Along with the browns in shallow water near shore, occasional domestic rainbows are showing up.  Haven’t seen or heard of any spring cohos being caught, but there have to be a few around.

    Good numbers of 2-year olds are being reported, along with 3-year old and older fish.   Check out the attached pic of one of the browns boated on the Fish Doctor on April 13.

    The browns, even in early spring, can be a bit selective.  It didn’t take long a few days ago that the browns told us they wanted Stingers and 3″ stickbaits in black/silver/orange.  Fussy buggars!

    Weather has been an issue for sure, keeping us off the lake on April 14, 15, and, from the looks, well into the coming week.  When things finally settle down, spring fishing should be good.

    See you on the water!

  • Lake Ontario trout and Salmmon Fishing…, Targeting Shallow Water Lake Trout

    Posted on April 10th, 2018 admin No comments

    This jumbo laker was boated on April 9, 2018, in Sturgeon Bay(Lake Michigan) while trolling shallow water for browns.

    It’s that time of year when you’ll see many Lake Ontario anglers on the water trolling for brown trout in shallow water.  Along with the browns, they will catch occasional cohos, domestic rainbows, Atlantics, and lake trout.  Most of these other trout and salmon species are caught incidental to browns, without targeting them.  However, while fishing shallow, inshore water, anglers can target these other species, including lake trout.

    Lakers behave differently than browns and like a different trolling presentation.  When folks aboard my charter boat, the Fish Doctor, are interested in catching a few shallow water lakers along with browns, we target them with one or two lines.  To do this, I run at least one rigger tight to bottom with a larger spoon than I would typically fish for browns.  That spoon also has a bit more color in it, be it paint or tape, than a spoon I would select for brown trout.

    Ditto, for targeting lakers with planer board lines…, a larger, deeper diving plug will catch more lakers for you.  Storm’s Thin Fin is one of my favorites for what my Maine customers call togue.

     

     

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon fishing…, Lake Ontario Charters, When and Where

    Posted on April 5th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    A successful early June Lake Ontario trout and salmon fishing charter

    So, you’ve heard about the unbelievable fishing in Lake Ontario for king salmon up to well over 30 lbs., plus brown trout, steelhead, and lake trout all reaching weights of over 20 lbs.  You’ve decided you’re going to book a charter on this 200 mile long by 50 mile wide inland ocean in 2015.

    Whoa!!!  Stop right there.  Don’t make one more move until you’ve considered two things…, when, and where.  Both are extremely critical to the success of your charter fishing trip.  There are lots of uncontrollable variables like weather and the mood of trout and salmon on any given day that will affect your success or failure.  But, when and where you fish are factors you can control.  Wise decisions about each are the difference between time and money wasted or memories of an awesome fishing trip that will last forever. 

    Lake Ontario is about 200 miles long, it’s southern shoreline winding 326 miles along the northern edge of New York State.  Fishing along the coastline varies, with some areas producing better fishing for certain trout and salmon species at different times of the season. 

    To keep things simple, let’s break the lake fishing season, which generally runs from April 1 to Sept. 30 into four categories, early spring(April/May), spring transition(June), midsummer(July and August), and early autumn(September).  Now let’ take a look at the hottest fishing areas along New York’s coastline during these periods.

    Early Spring – The minute anglers get on the water in late March and early April they’re catching trout and salmon, mostly cohos.  Although every port along NYS’s coastline produces cohos in early spring, the west lake is the best bet for “silvers” in May and Jun.   If you’re looking for spring king salmon, wait until after  the first of May and fish from Oswego west.  Because of the  heavy spring flows of sun warmed water from the Oswego River, the port of Oswego usually  produces king salmon fishing in May when  Fish Doctor anglers have put as many as 201 May kings in the cooler in 31 trips .  However, spring  salmon fishing out of Owego is not as consistent as in the western end of the lake. 

    For spring brown trout, three of the very best Lake Ontario ports are Oswego, Fair Haven, and Sodus, where charter  captains target Lake Ontario’s world class “football” browns. 

    Spring Transition – By June, king salmon are scattered lakewide fishing in out of the port of Oswego is  revving up as kings follow spawning alewives inshore.  Offshore steelhead fishing starts to heat up in June, as nearshore surface temperature warms.  Some years, like 2014, when conditions are right, steelhead fishing in late spring is fantastic.   June also produces some of the best fishing of the season for tropy brown trout,  east of Oswego Harbor where two out of the three recent 30+ lb. New York State record browns were boated.

     

    Midsummer –   In July and August, every Lake Ontario port  along New York’s 360 mile long coastline, including Oswego,  produces good salmon and trout fishing.  The big difference among ports by early August…, tens of thousands of king and coho salmon beginning to stage in the southeast corner of the lake, as they prepare to spawn in the Salmon River, the Lake Ontario tributary with the heaviest salmon stocking and the greatest production of wild king salmon.  This is when anglers flock to the port of Oswego. 

    Early Autumn – In late August and September, stocked and wild salmon are returning to their rearing streams, and all New York’s Lake Ontario ports produce salmon fishing.  Again, though, the largest  concentration by far, of king and coho salmon is in Mexico Bay in the southeast corner of the lake, making ports like Mexico Point and the Salmon River early autumn hotspots.

    That’s why you’ll  find the Fish Doctor moored in the Lower Little Salmon River just upstream from Mexico Point,  from midAugust through the end of September, at the front door to Mexico Bay, minutes away from , more staging adult king and coho salmon than anywhere else in Lake Ontario.

  • Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Fishing…, Same Old, Same Old

    Posted on March 30th, 2018 admin No comments

     

    One of many browns that fell for a new spring trolling technique in 2017.

    “If you always do what you always did, you will always catch what you always caught.” That is a quote from Chip Porter,  one of the best fishermen on the upper Great Lakes.   I heard it many times when he and I were touring the states of Michigan and Wisconsin a few years back giving seminars for Chips’s Salmon Institute.

    The point Chip was making was don’t get in a rut when you’re fishing for many reasons.  Fishing conditions can change and a consistently successful angler needs to change with them.  You may be catching fish doing the same old, same old, but changing your tactics might just catch you more and bigger fish or help you cash in on another species you haven’t been targeting.   Being versatile and experimenting with new techniques pays off sooner or later.

    It did for me when I first started guiding back in the early 1970s.  When downriggers first became available commercially,  I started doing something I had never done.  I left my old reliable copper  and leadcore rigs at the dock and began experimenting with riggers in 28,00 acre Lake George in northeastern New York  for lake trout and  rainbows. 

    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. 

    More recently, during the 2017 season, avoiding the same old, same old paid off for me big time.  Every season I experiment with a new trolling technique that I’ve never heard of or read about to  to augment my arsenal of old reliables.  Some of the new trials work out and some don’t.  In 2017, the new technique I tested for  spring browns didn’t just work out, it turned out to be one of the deadliest, most efficient spring brown trout trolling techniques I’ve ever fished.  It pays to experiment, and I’ll be trying another new technique for kings this season.