Running Spoons on Lake Ontario

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Running Spoons on Lake Ontario

   Running spoons on Lake Ontario during one of our Lake Ontario fishing charters definitely has its time and place. It has produced fish for us when no other applications will. In this post, I will discuss the times and places where running spoons on Lake Ontario, especially out of Oswego, NY, is key to putting fish in the boat. I will also discuss presentation criteria that we use when employing spoons while trolling. This past year, our two biggest Kings came off of spoon presentations, both weighing 34 and 36 lbs. respectively!  one of our biggest kings of the year at 34lbs. running spoons on Lake Ontario

  I belong to the school of lite line trolling while running spoons on Lake Ontario and believe in using the lightest line possible to get the job done. Line diameter is key in generating bites and the smaller the diameter the better, to a point. If you use too lite of a line, you increase the risks of breaking off the fish. For our rigger applications, we run 15 lb. Berkley Big Game clear  leadered down to 10-15 lb test Ande fluorocarbon. Our slider and cheaters employ 10-15 lb Ande flouro. On our copper and diver set-ups, we run 20 lb test Ande flouro. The other important part of the set-up is the swivel and in our case we run a plain 50 lb. Spro power swivel to the leader and a #2 dual lock snap on the business end of the flouro on our riggers. On our divers, we run a 50lb. Sampo barrel swivel with a dual lock snap!

custom Carl Sherman trolling spoon

One of our favorite salmon spoons from Carl Sherman

Our favorite time to be running spoons on Lake Ontario is when the temperature in the column is eighty feet or less. The higher in the column the temperature , the lighter we leader down to. We have also taken kings on spoons deeper than 80 ft and much shallower than one would think. Consider this! In the past, we have caught king salmon as shallow as on a free slider on a rigger down 15 ft. During the spring Scotty King of The Lake Tourney out of St. Catherines , we did just this! This shallow water king took top honors for the biggest fish of the weekend long event weighing in at 25 lbs.

Biggest fish trophy for spoon caught fish

St. Catharines Biggest Fish Trophy

Another favorite time to run spoons is when we are having a hard time keeping our lines straight while running attractors due to crabbing and currents. Spoons are much more forgiving when lines are crabbing off to the side of your line of travel. They seem to generate more bites under these conditions vs. running attractors with meat or flies. Along with crabbing, rough seas also lend themselves to a better presentation with spoons. Variations in speed, and up and down motion due to wave action can impart favorable action to the spoons. Spoons are also much more speed tolerant than attractors when it’s hard to keep speed.

Last but not least, there have been days when the fish just want spoons instead of attractors for no other apparent reason. During days when our go to items are not producing, changing over to spoons has saved the day. Most of the time, we have at least one spoon put out in our spread, anyways. If it starts going, we add additional spoons into the spread. Starting from the outside in is our go to method for adding items that are getting bit.  Adding another spoon as far away from the spoon that’s getting bit will tell you if the fish do, in fact, want spoons over your other items, or if it’s just the position that the spoon is running in that’s creating the bites.

Running spoons on Lake Ontario have their time and place when trolling for king salmon. Having the right size and color spoons in your spread and in the right location(s) can and do generate bites. Knowing when to run certain size and color spoons changes during the season. That sounds like a good topic for a later post. Till then……

Chasing The Radio

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Chasing The Radio

Chasing the radio. We’ve all done it while trolling on Lake Ontario for trout or salmon. Inevitably, someone will be getting bit and catching fish while we’re not, announcing it on the VHF radio.  A natural reaction would be to try to duplicate what you’re hearing on the radio in an attempt to get bites as well. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn’t. Results, or lack of, indicate that there are a few problems with doing this. This article will attempt to shed some light on why chasing the radio may or may not be such a good idea.

Chasing The Radio

Typical VHF Radio used on Lake Ontario

The key word here is “duplicate”. Speed, direction, depth of water over, depth in the column, set backs behind riggers, diver lead lengths, etc., etc., can and will have an effect on lure presentation. The right lure presentation is what gets bites! Location on the body of water also plays an important role as you may not be over any fish and the report you’re hearing could be miles away from where you’re fishing.

Years of trolling Lake Ontario has taught me that chasing the radio will usually not pan out.There are just too many variables that can’t be duplicated. Equipment set-up alone is a major factor in and of itself. One important question that has to be answered is what kind of cable does the boat that’s getting bit have on its downriggers. Is it actual wire cable or is it power pro? What pound test or diameter is the cable? This will effect blow back and hence, the presentation. What size and type of downrigger weights are they using? We use sharks! Do you? Do they? What pound test wire line are they using on their dipseys? If any of these are different, how can you expect to get similar results?

We often get calls from friends looking for information on how and where to catch fish. Typical questions we get are,” how deep of water and how far down are your riggers?” If you think about all the variables that can and do exist, these are not the right questions to be asking unless you know for sure that your set-ups are exactly the same as the boat you’re talking to. There are much better questions to be asking that will lead you to success.

Perhaps one of the most important questions to ask is,”Where is temperature?” However, this in and of itself is not a panacea unless you know the actual depth in the water column. Let’s say, for example, that the target temperature is 100 ft. down actual depth in the water column. This is a variable that you can duplicate with the proper equipment or knowledge. We use the Fishhawk X4D and TD for this purpose. Knowing what you need to do on your boat to get to the target temperature and speed with your equipment eliminates most of the other variables that were mentioned in the preceding paragraphs that can affect your presentation.

The other really important question to ask is,”What speed are you trolling at?” Here is the second biggest piece of the puzzle.On any given day, the target species may want it fast or they may want it slow. It has been our experience that faster is better for generating bites but slower seems to produce larger fish. Either way, speed, and depth of target temperature are the two parameters that you can reproduce on your vessel and make all the other variables that much less important.

Many of the charter boats and recreational fishermen on Lake Ontario doctor up their rigs. They may tape an attractor or spoon a certain way that you can’t duplicate unless you have seen that rig personally. Another issue is that some fishermen will stretch the truth or just flat out lie about what they are catching or what they are using. Personally, I find no use for this but, I guess some people just have to do it to make up for their inefficiencies.

Learning how to ask the right questions and then knowing how to run your stuff to match it will take you a lot farther than listening to everyone else on the VHF radio. Chasing the radio is usually not the answer. In fact, most of the really good fishermen that I know do not broadcast what they are getting bit on, anyways! Unless you know them, they won’t tell you in person, either. Learning to network with people you can trust and building relationships with other good fishermen will put many more fish in the boat than chasing the radio will ever do!

For more information feel free to check out our Lake Ontario fishing info and tips page here

September Fishing and End of Season

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September Fishing and End of Season

Another season has come to a close and what a season it has been. Our clients caught many limit catches and some very exceptional trophies including giant Lake Ontario king salmon weighing over 32, 34, and 36 lbs. Many fish of all age classes bit on a regular basis all over the lake from less than 100ft.of water to well over 700 plus ft. depending on the day. This is one of the main reasons Oswego, NY is such a great trophy fishing area. Oswego has one of the shortest runs to deep water of all the ports on the United States side.

Many of our trips easily saw double digit bites in September and through out the season. Atommik flies,  Carl Sherman spoons, with our favorite being the “Ace in the Hole Spoon”,

Ace in the Hole Spoon

“Ace in the Hole Spoon” by Carl Sherman

and meat rigs both plain and with twinkies did the damage. We employed both Ryhs Davis and John King cutbait heads when we fished meat. Again, depending on the day, either of these cutbait heads would be the ticket to get bites. During the month of September, unless we went offshore, only adult kings were being targeted by us and being caught. Check out some of our clients better specimens caught this year.

Monster King Salmon caught in JulyAnother monster July King Salmon caught with Ace ChartersJuly monster 30 lb plus king salmonNice catch out of Oswego,NY

We are now booking for the 2018 season. If you would like, please feel free to visit our contact page by clicking on this link. You can also give us a call at 413-346-7675 or e-mail us at [email protected]




August Salmon Fishing on Lake Ontario

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August salmon fishing on Lake Ontario continues to be sizzling hot as the season progresses. More and more adult king salmon are showing up daily as the spawning urge begins to take hold. As of right now a 34 LB king is leading the fall loc derby.

August salmon fishing on lake Ontario

With the coming of the fall salmon run and the bigger fish associated with it comes the increase is loss of tackle. The problem comes with trying to replace the hot items that these big August king salmon take away when we bust off on them. The tackle stores both brick and mortar as well as on line shops are all sold out as the season end drawers near. The good thing is that the kings have been more willing to take Atommik flies on a daily basis and flies are more readily available at the local shops.You see Atommik flies are made here locally in Oswego by Tom Allen. Thank goodness.
Here’s the dilemma that we all face. Earlier in the year when an item becomes hot and the word spreads, it becomes nearly impossible to acquire these items. This is why when I do get new stuff, I always buy several in anticipation of it working. That being said, I do have a lot of items that just don’t seem to pan out. Enter the creation of customizing up your own stuff. We have been able to doctor up losers and turn them into winners on occasion. Some continue to work year after year until you lose them and run out. And of course you can’t buy any more.

After fishing season I plan to come back to this post and update it with some of the more successful tricks that we have employed to trick out items. When you do hit on a winner its good to know that you are the only one who is showing it to the fish in the lake.

Stellar July Salmon Fishing

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What a stellar July salmon fishing month it has been. Our clients have had ample opportunities to battle and successfully land king salmon on nearly every trip. Many kings have been captured tipping the scales at over 20lbs. along with one magnificent specimen weighing well over 30lbs. Excellent July salmon fishing to say the least. Check out the pics below.

July salmon fishing

30 plus LB king