Getting Ready for Spring Fishing

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Getting Ready for Spring Fishing

By

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

By

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!

by

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!