Less Is More

Less is more! We’ve all heard that expression before. But how does that apply to Lake Ontario fishing, especially out of Oswego, NY. There are several aspects or concepts that make up “less is more”. These include but are not limited to, leadering down, fewer rods, and less obtrusive presentations.

Leadering Down

In a previous post, we discussed leadering down to trick line shy fish. Titled, “Choosing the right fishing leader for Lake Ontario“, we discussed the when and how to use it as well as, what to use. Using lighter line in effect, is using less line. Smaller diameter line puts less of a signature vortex or disturbance in the water. It also allows for more lure action!

Fewer Rods In The Spread

On days when the fish are in negative moods, “less is more”can tip the odds in your favor to generate bites. You know them days! Everyone is on the radio announcing they see fish but ain’t getting bit. If you fish Lake Ontario enough, this will inevitably happen to you. We have had success cutting back on rods in the spread, especially rigger rods. In fact, one of our biggest salmon ever was taken with just two spoon rods in the water! No divers or board rods, either! How many times have you gotten bit as soon as your first rod was deployed, and then starve out later after more rods are added!

Less is more to catch fish like these!
38.6lbs verified at Oswego Fish Station

Stealthier Presentations

Stealthier presentations have there place from time to time when the fish are negative or spooky. This goes for attractors when fishing meat, as well. We have noticed that just running two riggers with flasher flies or meat does much better than when three or four riggers are in the water. This is especially true with staging kings. We have even experimented with eliminating divers on one side to see if that side starts to get bit. You will be surprised at how many times this works.

Why Not Give It A Try

When you’re out there fishing and not getting bit, why not give the less is more approach a try. Less rods or stealthier applications sometimes streched out way behind the boat can be just the ticket to get bit when others are not. You may want to check out a previous post titled “The Best Lake Ontario Fishing Tip” for further enlightenment, if you havn’t already.

If you have any questions , feel free to contact us at 413-346-7675 or via our contact form with any of the questions you may have . We will be happy to answer them. If you would like to book a trip please call 413-346-7675 or feel free to use our contact form as well!

Best Lake Ontario Fishing Tip

Best Lake Ontario Fishing tip I know will be discussed in this post. It was taught to me by the late, great, Kevin Davis, in my opinion, the best Great Lakes fisherman of all time! The G.O.A.T!!!!!

How To Go About Learning It.

Before I disclose what it is, there are a few things that have to be in place for it to work. Perhaps paramount is building a network of fellow fisherman that you can trust and communicate with on a daily basis.

Asking The Right Questions

When building up a network of guys/ gals to work with, the right questions have to be asked to determine how your contacts typically fish. Questions such as target temperature, depth of water, and speed are of utmost importance. Also the species’ being targeted must be known! Location can be key as well!

Best Lake Ontario fishing tip in se to catch kings like these
When you’re “getting them”

Are You Getting Them

Once you learn how other boats fish, “Are you getting them” is the most important question to ask of all! For if I know how you fish in terms of temperature, preferred baits, depth of water, etc. and you’re getting them and I’m not……. Adjustments will certainly be made on my part, accordingly! This is how you put the best Lake Ontario fishing tip into action when needed.

Putting It In Operation

Kevin and I would communicate after the first half hour to hour or so. If both of us were getting them, then usually there was no time to call! We would always ask “Are you getting them”? Kev knew that I liked to fish in the ice. I knew that Kev liked to start off in the warmer water, most times. It usually didn’t take us long to figure out where we needed to concentrate our presentations one way or the other.

Are You Getting Them

So there you have it. The best Lake Ontario Fishing tip is not only building up a network of trustworthy fishermen, but also taking the time to learn how they typically fish on any given day. What are their preferred styles and presentations. If you’re getting them, then it’s no big deal. But if you’re starving, it’s not a bad idea to switch over to what’s working on someone else’s boat!!! And always, one should give as good as they get to keep the trust flowing!

If you have any questions , feel free to contact us at 413-346-7675 or via our contact form with any of the questions you may have . We will be happy to answer them. If you would like to book a trip please call 413-346-7675 or feel free to use our contact form as well!

The Lake Ontario Fishing Forecast for 2023

The Lake Ontario fishing forecast for 2023 looks very promising. Based upon the 2022 observations during our Lake Ontario fishing charters, there was an abundance of juvenile fish in the aquatic ecosystem. Two year old fish were also present in our catches suggesting a good population of them, as well.

Brown Trout

In 2021 , there was a very successful stocking of young of the year brown trout in the Oswego area. Our 2022 season catches of browns, produced many two year old browns in the 3-5lb range. They could be found both to the east and west of the Port of Oswego. There were also reports of good brown trout catches in the Mexico Bay area! Lots of young of the year browns were present at times in our catches and subsequently released! This was indicative of a succesful 2022 stocking of juvenal browns. So for 2023, if all goes to plan, we should have a good two year old (3-5lbs) and three year old age class of browns (8-10lbs) to fish for in the Oswego area. Let’s not forget the older Trophy size browns we target in June still swimming around in our waters weighing in the mid to upper teens.

The Lake Ontario fishing forecast for 2023 for browns like these.

King Salmon

The Lake Ontario fishing forecast for 2023 King Salmon also appears to be quite promising! The 2022 season saw loads of juvenille salmon in our Oswego area. Even in that category, there were kings in size from 8″ up to 18 inches in length. The Oswego net pen project kept up to its yearly raising and releasing of well over 90,000 high protein pellet fed, and smolted salmon into our local waters. There were also an abundance of two year old kings around as evidenced in our clients’ 2022 season catches. The basis is there for a stellar 2023 season due to the abundance and presence of the previous years’ age classes.


Steelhead, being the nomadic species that they are, were not prevalent in the Oswego waters that we fished in 2022. 2021 steelhead fishing was stellar for about a two month period starting in June and well into July the previous year. The good news is that both the Oswego and Salmon rivers had a decent return of steelhead this fall and early 2023. As mentioned, they are very nomadic and are not afraid to relocate many miles away when they feel like it. Apparently in 2022 they did just that. But this fall they returned to their perennial streams and rivers! So one can conclude that they will be out there, somewhere!

Overall Outlook

The Lake Ontario fishing forecast for 2023 has all the makings for a banner year. The forage base of alewives appear to be in good health and numbers according to biological reports for the species for the 2023 year outlook. Our sources indicate there will also be a 10% increase in the 2023 salmon stocking to 126,330 in the Oswego River due to the healthy alewive population assessments! The population age make-ups of target species are also in great shape. Having an abundance of juvenille, yearling, two year old and adult fish are indicative of a sustainable fishery. After all, you can’t have three year old fish without two year old fish. You also can’t have two year old fish without one year old fish. And of course, no yearling fish without fry or minnows.

If you have any questions , feel free to contact us at 413-346-7675 or via our contact form with any of the questions you may have . We will be happy to answer them. If you would like to book a trip please call 413-346-7675 or feel free to use our contact form as well!

Rough Water Fishing on Lake Ontario

Rough water fishing on Lake Ontario is inevitable whether you are prepared for it or not! In this post, we will discuss some things you can do to deal with it! We also discuss how to not get caught up in it in the first place.

What Is Considered Rough Water

Everyone’s definition of rough water is different. The size of the vessel as well as the experience of the pilot make a difference as to what is fishable and what is not. Rough water to us here at Ace Charters is more defined by the ability of our cllients or lack there of, in most cases, to handle the existing conditions. Age of clients and physical attributes certainly play a part in this. Big water experience must be considered,too!

It’s Supposed To Be Fun

Fishing is supposed to be fun. If the Lake is kicked up, it will not be fun for some folks. Sea sickness happens more often while rough water fishing. Getting bounced around while fighting a fish is challenging. We want our clients to have fun fishing and come back again. How many folks do you think will want to come back after getting sea sick, or beat up and left sore, because of rough Lake conditions. As you can guess, probably not many!

Forecasting Is Key

Knowing if and when it”s going to get rough is paramount to avoid rough water fishing on Lake Ontario. There are several apps and sources available for free that we use. They allow us to make intelligent decisions predicting the Lake conditions. The apps we use most often include, but are not limited to, “Fishweather” and “Windfinder Pro”. Both are free play store downloads on your cell phone. For real time Lake conditions such as wave height and direction, check out www.ndbc.noaa.gov . Prince Edward, Oswego, and Rochester all have weather buoys with information updated every half hour or so via this NOAA website.

Future Forecasts Are Not Always Accurate

I can’t tell you how many times in the last couple of decades we have been burned by inaccurate forecasts whether in our favor or not. Predictions of impending inclement weather turned out to be false! Fare weather forecasts turned out to be anything but. This past 2022 season was perhaps the worse I can remember! It was bad when it was supposed to be good and good when it was supposed to bad on too many ocassions.


No one wants to get caught out in a thunderstorm on Lake Ontario. They do happen and can pop up out of no where when the conditions are right. During the hot and muggy summer months are when they most often occur. Most of the time they come from west of Oswego, our home port. Sometimes they don’t! There are easterly occurences and pop up storms that happen right in Oswego! Vigilence is a must. Keep aware of your surroundings. Watch the skies for signs of building inclement weather like in the photo below!

rough water fishing on lake Ontario includes pop up storms

Forecasting Tools

The best way to avoid storms is to use the radar apps for general conditions and forecasting. We prefer and use several in making determinations whether it’s safe to fish or not. For quick assessments, “Radar X” is hard to beat. It shows rain activity and direction of travel. It does not show lightning, however! If we are seeing lots of red and or anticipate lightning, we switch over to “Weather Bug” which shows lightning strikes and the history of them. “Weather Bug” is a bit slower to load, that’s why we prefer “Radar X” for making quick assessments. The “Weather Channel” app is also good to some degree with its futurecast predictions. Beware though, it’s not always 100% accurate either!

Wave Directions Matter

One of the worst wave’s direction to fish, in my opinion, is from the northeast. Northeast waves are typically well defined, pointed, and tightly packed together. The second worst are westerly or north westerly waves. They have 150 plus miles of Lake to build on you. They produce the highest wave heights and take much longer to lay down. One tip worth considering is this! If slow rolling waves start to appear, especially out of the west, check the Rochester buoy for actual wave heights. Slow rollers are usually an indication that big waves “are a coming”!

Our Operating Procedure

Weather providing, we fish daily! Our procedure to determine if we will fish or not actually starts the proceeding day or two, before the trip starts. Using the “Fishweather” app is always our starting point. It has wind predictions both in intensity and direction. Also, if you scroll down under the complete forecast heading in the “Fishweather” app, National Weather Service has a lake wide forcast with predicted wave heights. We also check out “Windfinder Pro” especially, to see if that forecast concurs with other high wind forecasts. ‘Radar X” is also checked for any existing storms that are in our area or heading our way before every trip, whether morning or afternoon .

Small Craft Advisories

One should take heed when small craft advisories are issued for Lake Ontario by the NWS. A small craft is any vessel under 40 ft in length! Small craft advisories typically are issued when waves heights are four foot sustained or higher. Even if the Lake doesn’t appear to be rough, it’s still prudent to heed the warning and stay off the water. NWS advisories can be found on “Fishweather” as well as “The Weather Channel” apps. Just remember. There are no do-overs on Lake Ontario and it can seriously injure or worst yet, kill you!

If you have any questions , feel free to contact us at 413-346-7675 or via our contact form with any of the questions you may have . We will be happy to answer them. If you would like to book a trip please call 413-346-7675 or feel free to use our contact form as well!

Lake Ontario Catch And Release

Lake Ontario Catch And Release is a topic often discussed dockside among my fellow charter captains. In this post, I will present my feelings on the matter, as well as some others. More specifically, on why and when it’s beneficial or detrimental to the concerned species to keep or let them go. My premise is that if you keep your first legal catch, more fish will survive in the Lake Ontario aquatic ecosystem to be had for later opportunity.

Lake Ontario catch and release should only be practiced at certain times.

Species Matter

The primary species sought after by most charters on Lake Ontario are brown trout and king salmon. These will be the main focus in this post, today! Time of the year is important. Age class also has a huge bearing on catch and release success and, or mortality, of the aformentioned species.

Water Temperature

Perhaps the most influencial factor for success or failure of Lake Ontario catch and release is water temperature. More specifically, the surface water temperature plays a huge part in this matter! If the Lake’s temperature is homogenous, i.e. little to no change in temperature numbers from top to bottom, released fish have a much better chance of survival. Conditions like these are indicative of spring fishing or when the Lake gets iced out.

Warm Water On The Surface

During the summer, warm surface water temperatures are prevalent on the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Water temps can be as high as upper 70’s and approaching 80 degrees or more. Being predominently cold water species, salmon and to a lesser extent brown trout, live in cold water. When their preferred water temperatures are deep in the water column, bringing them to the warm surface temperature produces catostrophic stress. Perhaps more so in salmon, but it does occur with brown trout, as well.

Mortality Factors

Mortality factors include stress, disease brought on by scale loss, depth of catch, length of fish battle, and age class. This list is just some, but not all, of fish mortality causes. An interesting article can be found here , written by Aaron Bartholomew & James A. Bohnsack. Their findings are pertinent to Lake Ontario catch and release. The report discusses mortality factors such as some of the ones mentioned above. It mentions mortality rates as high as 30% in certain conditions. I believe it’s even higher on Lake Ontario due to the more extreme conditions the Lake posseses. Here is a link to another interesting read on catch and release shedding more light on the subject. https://hikingandfishing.com/catch-and-release-fishing/ I disagree with their premise that even if released fish die, some will survive to be caught again, as all kept fish are dead! Mathematically it doesn’t add up, especially when at least 30% die after you release them. If you keep catching and releasing them at a 30% mortality rate, you are killing one out of every three fish. All this mortality just to catch bigger fish!

Scale Loss Among King Salmon

Besides stress due to bringing king salmon up from the depths into warm water, an often overlooked cause of future mortality is scale loss, especially among certain age classes of king salmon. One and two year old king salmon are prone to scale loss due to their inherrent loose scale structure. In fact, one method used to tell the difference between a two year old and adult salmon is the scale loss that occurs during netting of the two year olds. Fish need their scales intact to survive. Once they are disrupted, disease and future death can occur!

Killing Fish For No Reason

With some history in fisheries biology via U Mass Amherst class of 1979, and some use of common sense, releasing juvenal fish that have been pulled up from the depths is a death sentence. Think about it. Being pulled up out of 44-48 degree water into warm water and fighting all the way, how can these fish not be stressed to the max. Add to it, loss of fish scales due to netting, and you have the recipe for disaster. Why put them back just to swim off and die, if in fact, they swim off at all!

Released Fish Show No Signs

Even though two year old salmon swim away more times than not, the loss of scales and their stressed out condition on top of it, limit their future chances for survival. Fish scales do grow back but slowly if at all! Without any antibiotics available for treatment in the wild, infection is almost a certainty. Emperical evidence shows over half of the caught and released one year old salmon end up floating after release, just to become sea gull food. What a waste!

Whether its lack of education or just egotistical disregard for the species, releasing stressed out salmon in hopes of catching a bigger one in my opinion, is just plain wrong! I do believe in utilization of the resource. Catching and keeping fish from a put and take fishery paid for by fishermen is there by design to be used. Even promoting fishing tournaments is ok too, providing the resource is utilized and put to good use at the end. I’m in favor of tournaments that promote keeping your first legal catch but would like to see the minimum size coincide with state regulations on the species. Cull tournaments on the other hand, promote releasing smaller fish to keep bigger ones with no regard to exisiting Lake conditions. Conditions that enhance stress and unsuccessful survival of released fish are not taken into consideration.

Some Final Thoughts

Stress kills fish ,especially when brought up from the depths from cold water to warm. Once fish scales are lost, they grow back slowly if at all and leave fish prone to disease. If you think about it, when was the last time you ever caught a two year old salmon with half its scales missing! There are times that catch and release on Lake Ontario is ok to do as long as certain precautions are taken. If Lake temperatures are homogenously cold, top to bottom, the fish are less stressed out due to warm water temperature shock. Care must be taken not to dislodge scales through proper handling. Rubber nets along with keeping the fish in the water when dehooking is preferred. Also, allow the fish time to catch their breath before releasing them.

If you have any questions , feel free to contact us at 413-346-7675 or via our contact form with any of the questions you may have . We will be happy to answer them. If you would like to book a trip please call 413-346-7675 or feel free to use our contact form as well!