Getting Ready for Spring Fishing

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Getting Ready for Spring Fishing


Capt.Jimmy Samia

Getting ready for spring fishing is more about anticipation and waiting for the weather to get good enough to get the boat out of storage than actually getting the boat on the water. At least, that’s the way I’m feeling about it right now. I’m sitting here recovering from a chest cold that sent us to the clinic to get some meds to help alleviate the discomfort and am just starting to feel better. Just recently, I was added to the Lake Ontario Discussion and Reports (South Shore) page on facebook. To say my cell phone has been blowing up is an understatement. Everyone is feeling the same amount of anticipation waiting for the weather to break so we can get back out onto the water.Here at Ace Charters , we are anxiously awaiting and anticipating when we will be able to get our boat out of storage and into the water for our shakedown cruise on the Hudson River. This post will outline and describe getting ready for spring, at least the way we have been doing it for the past several years. So let’s get started!

The “Ace” is stored inside a metal barn located in Oswego,NY and has been kept there for the past few years. It sits on a trailer and is stored with several other boats of various shapes and sizes.

Getting ready for spring fishing and heading out onto the Lake

The Ace Charter Boat on its way to action!

Our first step, of course,is to contact the owner of the barn so that we can rendezvous with him to get the boat out.The Ace is one of the last boats to go into storage and is the first boat to come out come springtime. The Ace has never been stored outside during the winter. We hook the boat up to our Chevy pickup truck and tow it a short distance to Scriba Hill Campground where we have been staying at for years!When we start our Lake Ontario fishing charters in early June, many of our clients stay in the cabins here at the campground as well as the price is very affordable.

The batteries on the boat will need charging and thats the first thing that needs to be done. We use a portable battery charger and an extension cord connected to power supplied at the campground. While the batteries are charging, we give the outside of the boat the once over with hull cleaner to remove any of the stains and growth that the bottom paint didn’t repel from the previous season. Next, any spots that need recoating with bottom paint get touched up.We have had great success with VC17 as all you need to do is clean the spots with solvent and then roll the VC17 over the area that needs covering.There is no sanding required and the VC17 dries very quickly! We then move on to washing and waxing the exterior hull. Most of this can be done in about half a day.

The interior of the boat is then inspected for any necessary repairs or cleaning. We do clean the inside of the Ace before we put her away for the winter so there usually isn’t too much to do here. All the electronics are then brought back onto the boat and hooked up. We coat all connections prior to storage with dielectric gel. This really helps to prevent corrosion and assures solid connections. Next, we go through the dashboard electronic switches to check the functionality of all onboard components such as nav lights,bilge pumps,windshield wipers, windlass,etc. This is where you find out if any winter Gremlins got on your boat and messed with your stuff. It always amazes me that when getting ready for spring fishing that things that worked perfectly in the fall when you put the boat away somehow quit working come springtime.

If all goes well here, the boat is then hooked up to the tow vehicle and brought to Coeymans’ Landing Marina on the Hudson River awaiting to be launched into the mighty Hudson and tied off to the dock near the gas pumps. All the striper tackle is then brought onboard. If we have time, we usually try to top off the gas tanks in anticipation of the annual shakedown cruise to take place the following morning.

As you can see, there is quite a bit that goes into getting ready for spring fishing and having the boat ready for the beginning of another charter fishing season. As previously mentioned, this time off the year carries with it the width of anticipation awaiting and finally being able to get the boat in the water so that we can go fishing. I can’t wait. Can you?

Fishing Offshore Breaks

Lake Ontario Fishing Charter catch
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Fishing Offshore Breaks


Capt.Jimmy Samia

 Fishing offshore breaks on an early season  Lake Ontario charter can be one of the best ways to fill a cooler with trout and salmon if you know what to look for and how to find it. In this segment we’ll talk about what an offshore break is and just how we go about finding and fishing it.It can be a very deadly technique!

Fishing offshore breaks put us in the lead.

Fishing Offshore breaks gave us the lead on day one.

In the early spring or when there has been an exceptionally cold winter like the one in 2014 where part of the Lake had actually frozen over, there will exist a very large mass of colder water which makes its way to the surface from the bottom of the Lake where it existed in its most densest form at a temperature of 39.5 degrees. There will also be big pockets of colder water that originated from the melting of the ice that was floating on the surface at or less than 32 degrees which is its least densest form, the reason why it floats. In either event, there will a huge mass of colder water somewhere on the surface during the early season creating  large fishable offshore breaks.

One of the easiest ways to find these surface temperature breaks is to check the surface temperature maps available from the Coast Watch Sea Grant website. They have water temperatures via lasers from satellites which help to generate surface temperature maps like this one . There is a problem though when it comes to using this method and that is, they are not updated fast enough, sometimes for days. They do however, give you a general place to start. There is a more accurate real time method to employ to get us fishing offshore breaks and home in on it a lot more accurately.

Do you have a surface temperature apparatus on your boat? If you don’t, then I highly recommend that you get one if you would like to try fishing offshore breaks in the early season. What we will typically do on the start of one of our fishing trips is to point the boat north west and head out towards the middle of the Lake. On our charter boat the “Ace“, we use the Fishhawk X4D which has a surface temperature gauge.

Furuno FCV 585 fishfinder used on Ace Charters

Furuno FCV 585 Fishfinder

We also have a surface temperature gauge built into our Furuno FCV 585 fishfinder as well.

. What we are hoping to see, is a huge drop in the temperature where the warmer water drops off into the ice. Last year, even as late as the third week in June, we found the surface break out over 500 ft of water.

We were fishing offshore breaks on a daily basis . The fish were there. We caught all species of trout and salmon out on the the break, albeit, the warmer side. That break was so sharp that it acted like a wall that the fish did not want to cross. We had 48 degree water on the warm side and 38 degree water on the colder side in certain spots. Because the temperature was so high up in the column, planer boards both inline, we use Church walleye boards, and Otter boats were deployed simultaneously. Some days the big boards were hot and other days the inlines were the ticket. One things for sure, on any given day, the fish would tell you which boards to use within an hour or so when they started biting.

Stickbaits and spoons were the best items for us. Fishing that high up in the water column, we also leadered down to 8 lb test and even dropped to 6 lb when there were steelies around. Long leads off of the downriggers with fixed sliders were very productive on most days. Two and three color segmented lead cores were absolutely devastating on most days as well. The trick to all of this was to determine what species were holding on the break that outing and then loading up on the items that they were biting. If there were steelies, small stinger spoons,  super slims, and Jr. Thundersticks got the nod. Lake trout were all over the stingers and stingrays. Kings when they were around,were crushing stinger and stingray spoons both in glow and standard finishes.

Early season, fishing offshore breaks is a great weapon to have in your arsenal to catch fish with. You can also fish offshore breaks later in the season when looking for steelhead. Anytime when you can find an area where there is a significant change in temperature on the surface, there is a very good chance that this break will be holding fish. Sometimes breaks as little as 1-2 degrees can be little gold mines for holding fish later in the season. We’ll talk about fishing offshore breaks that occur later in the season in a future post. You can read other articles that are on our main website in our fishing info and tips section.

Use a Kicker Motor or not

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 Use a Kicker Motor or not!


Capt.Jimmy Samia

This post is about when to use a kicker motor or maybe more appropriately when not too. On our charter boat the “Ace” we use a 20 hp Yamaha 4-stroke kicker motor mounted in the center of the transom. Compared to the main 6.2 l Mercruiser main engine, it uses about 50% less fuel while trolling Lake Ontario. This is usually the main reason why most use a kicker motor on their boats. It’s also a good idea to have a second means of propulsion in case something was to happen with the main engine.

use a kicker motor

Use a kicker motor like this Yamaha 4-stroke

We have caught a lot of fish while trolling using our kicker motor on Lake Ontario. In fact, we use a kicker motor most of the time. But for those of you who use a kicker motor, did you ever notice that there are days that you just can’t seem to catch fish or get bit? We have and after some careful thought and trying to put two and two together, we think we figured out the possible cause.

To figure out the cause, we first had to recognize a pattern of when this “not getting bit” when we use a kicker motor phenomenon was occurring the most. There were two conditions that kept occurring simultaneously when this “not getting bit” did happen! Those two conditions were flat or calm water and the target temperature being less than 60/70 ft. in the column. When we use a kicker motor when trolling in wavy water and less than 60/70 ft. in the column, we got bit. When we troll deeper than 60/70 ft’ in the water column and the surface is flat, we still got bit. But, when these two conditions line up, the flat surface and temperature being up in the column, we do not get bit hardly at all.

In several tournaments and while on charters, we did considerably better when we would not use a kicker motor and instead trolled with the main engine during flat, high temperature conditions. Not to just accept this at face value, we also tried to figure the reason why this was happening. As best we can figure, it has to do with the kicker motor completely exhausting below the surface. This is not an issue when the lake has wave action on the surface because the noise emitted by the kicker is broken up on the uneven surface of the lake and dissipates.  Of course there will still be some noise below the surface, but no where near as much as when the water is flat. When the water is flat, the underlying surface acts like a mirror and reflects most of the noise back towards beneath the boat and scares the fish.

On our charter boat, the main engine exhausts above the water level not below. We have found that on flat days with the temperatures up in the column, we can increase our bites by switching to the main engine and not use a kicker motor. This has worked for us on too many occasions not to be discounted as coincidence. In fact, on a charter last fall the lake went flat and the bite just died. We switched over to the main engine and the fish bit again. We then went back to the kicker and they stopped biting. But guess what! The fish began to bite again as soon as we switched back to the main engine one more time.

After seeing the bite begin again when we quit use of a kicker motor time and time again, this has become standard operating procedure during calm conditions and shallow temperatures. Have there been days when even running on the big engine and the fish wouldn’t bite? Of course there has! But, when fishing in these conditions and others are catching fish and you aren’t, maybe getting off that kicker may be just what’s needed to get the bites going again.

You can check out more info on our info and tips page on our main website!

Actual Dipsey Diver-Downrigger Depth

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Actual Dipsey Diver-Downrigger Depth


Capt.Jimmy Samia


Knowing your actual dipsey diver-downrigger depths in real time while trolling is paramount to maximizing your fishing success. Would’nt it be nice to have a way to just look at your outfits whether dipsey divers or downriggers while they are deployed and know within a few feet where they are actually running below the surface? Well, there is and it”s basically free!

A while ago we included an article on our website called “Do you know where your stuff is running” which outlined some very good insights on how to figure out actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth when trolling on Lake Ontario. Although we still use a lot of those methods to determine our actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth today, we finally figured out an easier way that works in real time and in any direction under all conditions. It all goes back to high school trigonometry. Yup! Good ole high school trig.

For figuring out the actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth, we will need to use only two trigonometric functions. For dipseys, we use the sin function and for downriggers we use the cos function of the angles created by these apparatuses as they enter the water to determine actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth. Here’s how it works for the dipsey. If we look at the angle created by where the dipsey line enters the water and the surface of the water, we can take the sin of that angle and figure out the opposite side of that angle which would be the depth that the dipsey is running at. For the downrigger, we will use the cos of the angle created by where the rigger cable swings back from the rigger pulley at the end of the downrigger arm and calculate from there.

Working out an example for an actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth for dipseys would go something like this. Let’s say that we wanted our dipseys to run down 80 feet in the column, actual depth. We look at the angle created by the dipsey line and see that it’s 20 degrees (angle “A” in diagram below). Using our smartphone we look up the sin of 20 degrees and see that its value is .34. Remembering that the sin=o/h where o=the actual depth(opposite side in diagram below) of the diver in this case and h= the hypotenuse or in this case the amount of dipsey line out, we can then figure that  .34=80/h  remembering that h (the hypotenuse in diagram) = the amount of line we need to let out on the diver. So, solving for h we get h=80/.34 which equals 235 ft of dipsey line that we would need to let out to get the depth we wanted of 80 ft in the column.

dipsey diver-downrigger depth using trig functions

use sin of angle A for dipseys

Working out an example for an actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth for downriggers is also quite similar except we are going to use the cos function of the rigger cable angle as it comes off of the end of the downrigger(angle B in diagram). Lets say we want to run our downrigger ball down to a depth of 80 ft in the column. We estimate the angle of the rigger flare (angle B) to be 15 degrees . We look up the cos of 15 degrees on google and see that its value is .97. So in this case cos B=a/h where a=the adjacent side to the angle or in this case the actual depth of the rigger ball, and h= the hypotenuse or in this case the amount of downrigger cable we need to let out. We find that   .97=80ft/h  solving for “B” we get B= 80/.97 which equals 82 ft of line we would have to let out.

actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth using cosine function

Use cosine of angle B for downriggers

Using trig functions to determine actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth may seem a bit daunting at first, but once you get used to using them, they can really save the day. Granted, we use a Fishhawk X4D on our downrigger which gives actual depth of our downrigger, it’s still nice to know that you can use some high school math to verify its accuracy or reverse engineer the angle of the cable (angle B) to get the feel for it. There is also newer technology on the market today that is supposed to give you reel time underwater feedback of downspeed and depth for copper lines,riggers,and dipseys called Smart Troll , but it’s pricey. It cost over a 1000.00 dollars. It’s newer technology and the jury is still out on it overall performance.

We used trig functions this past summer to determine actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth and it really helped us to dial in on the fish. The temperature was really deep that particular day and our dipsey divers were not getting bit. in fact, the whole charter fleet was starving for dipsey diver bites. Because of the deep temps and wicked underwater currents, we knew that we would have to run mag divers to get down to the fish. The temp was down 125ft. We noticed that the angle of the dipsey line to the water was about 22 degrees while trolling east. Using our formula we took the sin of 22 which was .37, so to get down to 125 ft in the column we calculated .37=125/h where “h ” is the hypotenuse or the amount of line we had to let out which was 125/.37  or 338 ft of line out. We ran our dipseys out to 340 on the counters and don’t you know are dipseys started firing. When we were trolling in the opposite direction, in this case west, the angle on the diver was about 30 degrees ,so …sin of 30 degrees =.5  then 125/.5=250 ft of line out. We then starting catching fish on the dipseys going west as well even though it took  90 ft less of line out.

To those of you who got through this article on actual dipsey diver-downrigger depth and understand it, give this a try next time you’re out on the big pond pulling dipseys or setting downriggers. It really does work. For those of you who missed those days in high school and are still struggling to wrap your head around this, we suggest brushing up on your high school trig, or just go back to guessing or experimenting to get your dipseys to go. As always, you can read more about Lake Ontario info and tips on our website

Lake Ontario Brown Trout Fishing

Lake Ontario brown trout fishing lead core catch
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Lake Ontario Brown Trout Fishing


Capt.Jimmy Samia

   Lake Ontario brown trout fishing out of Oswego,NY can and is a savior at times for our charter fishing adventures especially from June all the way through the rest of the summer. There will be days when salmon and other species such as steelhead will not be readily available to catch. This could be caused by high off shore winds or the wrong temperature profile being available to promote good fishing for salmon or the other species.  This is where brown trout fishing on Lake Ontario can really shine.

A June limit of Lake Ontario Brown Trout

June Brown trout fishing on Lake Ontario produces nice catches of brown trout like these.

   Lake Ontario brown trout, by nature, inhabit the waters that are often more closer to shore than other species. They can typically be found in depths of anywheres between 10 to 120 ft of water from the month of June on. Brown trout are also predictable in that they will usually be found where 55 degree water intersects with the bottom of the Lake. For example, if you put your temperature probe down (we use an X4D) and find  55 degree water down 70ft in the column, then we can usually expect the browns to be stretched horizontally along the shoreline in 70 ft of water at or near the bottom near this 70 ft contour.

 Now that we know where to look to start our Lake Ontario brown trout fishing excursion, we then must choose which lines and apparatus to use to effectively put our lures at the correct depth. Here’s lies one of the biggest secrets to catching brown trout on Lake Ontario and that is putting your spread out so that it covers from 55 degrees to as high as 68 or even seventy degree water. That’s right! Even though you will see the browns scattered along the bottom at the 55 degree intersect, the active browns will usually be higher up in the water column in the warmer water.

Lake Ontario brown trout fishing lead core catch

A giant Lake Ontario brown trout caught in 70 degree water on a lead core.

We have caught some of our biggest brown trout in 70 degree water on lead cores off of in-line planer boards  during the dead of summer.

   So what lures should you use when Lake Ontario brown trout fishing? The answer is,”that it depends”. Let me try to help narrow it down a little bit for you. Earlier in the season as well as earlier in the morning when the light is low, stick baits such as Smithwicks, Rapalas, and Thundersticks get the nod, especially off of the high lines either flat chutes or in-lines. The rest of the time we are most likely to be running spoons. Here, items like Michigan Stingers and R&R spoons will get deployed.

  One of the other secrets to be successful in catching Lake Ontario brownies is trolling at the right speed and this can vary as the season wears on. Our typical speed is somewhere in the 1.8mph downspeed range but there are days when this will very. Watching how the fish react towards your spread when on turns can give you clues as to what speed you should be pulling for that day.If the fish are hitting on the inside of your turns, that’s a pretty good indication that speed should be lowered as the fish are hitting on the drop as the lure is slowing down.

   Another often overlooked key to Lake Ontario brown trout fishing success is knowing when to leader down on your presentations. When the temperature is up in the column and the water is clear, leadering down in line diameter can make all the difference in the world as to whether you will catch fish or not. There have been times when we are fishing tournaments that we have leadered down to 6 lb test to get bites on pressured fish in clear water. It does take some rod handling skills to battle and land these brownies on the lite line, but patience and steady pressure will get the job done in good fashion.

  One of the nicest things about Lake Ontario brown trout fishing is that it makes for great sport for women and children, especially when running lite tackle.

Lake Ontario brown trout fishing family

Lake Ontario brown trout fishing family fun when everyone gets in on the action.

It is not uncommon to catch brownies in the mid to upper teens during one of our charters and with the lite line it can take quite a while to battle and bring the fish to net. With the equipment that we use on our charter boat the “Ace”, women and children as well as those that are physically challenged can have the time of their lives catching big browns. Also keep in mind that most days the browns can be quite active which promotes a lot of action on the boat, When you have the right stuff down, multiple hook-ups at the same time are quite common.

  Some of my favorite times on the water on Lake Ontario are spent brown trout fishing with families including women and children. It’s an absolute blast to watch the excitement that is generated when several rods go off at once and the fire drill in back of the boat ensues. There are anglers in back of the boat up against the transom doing simultaneous battle with brownies hooked on the other end of their lines. Clients shuffling back and forth to keep the lines straight is also exciting to watch and experience. The smiles on their faces when the fish are netted and brought on to the deck of the “Ace”  says it all.  Give us a call at 413-346-7675 or check out our Ace Charters website for further information.