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

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.

ThunderStorms

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!

Choosing The Right Fishing Leader For Lake Ontario

Choosing the right fishing leader when fishing Lake Ontario can make all the difference in the world when it comes to generating bites. Not only is it species specific, but is also seasonal as well. In this post, we will discuss what we have found best for trophy Steelhead and Brown Trout as well as King salmon. Lets get started.

Line Diameter Matters

Those of you that know me know that I prefer the lightest line possible to get the job done. Line diameter typically coincides with pound test or breaking strength. That being said, when running lighter line, the right equipment has to go along with it. Rods with the right action and reels with silky smooth drags are a must. Reel capacity must also be taken into consideration when lite lining kings. Enough line to cover long blistering runs typical of cold water kings should be considered.

Line Suppleness

Often overlooked, the suppleness of the fishing line or lack of softness of it matters. When running spoons, experience has shown us that softer or more supple line works best at slower speeds. The softer line allows the spoons to kick more because of the flexibility of the line. This is especially true for Brown trout as they react better to spoons that kick at the slower speeds they prefer, later in the season. Our preferred choice for supple line is P-line Floroclear.

Choosing the right leader such as P-line

Using Straight Florocarbon

We use straight or pure florocarbon as well. But as you may have figured out by now, pure florocarbon is much stiffer. Our preferred application is for dipsey leaders, copper leaders for attractors, and fly tying. We also use it on our own twinkie rigs, too! We use Atommik twinkies almost exclusively but we tie our own set-ups with 40lb test Ande Floro with Tommy’s flies. When running clean meat rigs, we use both pure floro and coated P-Line depending on the type of heads we are running and size of the bait being used.

Floro For Steelhead And Kings

When choosing the right fishing leader, certain circumstances will dictate running pure floro carbon. This is especially true for running spoons at fast speeds. The most common appliction is when we fish for steelhead. Steelies typically like a faster trolling speed. Early season salmon also do, too! This is when the stiffer, pure floro carbon shines. We prefer Ande pure florocarbon. Being stiffer, it allows for more speed to be carried before the spoons spin out and lose their kick.

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 Boat Speed for Lake Ontario

Lake Boat Speed for Lake Ontario trout and salmon fishing will be discussed here. As you well may know, there is no one size fits all trolling speed to generate bites. This holds true for both trout and salmon. Lake conditions also change, sometimes daily, dictating just how fast or slow you can troll. Taking into account the natural speed of the Lake currents and using them to your advantage is what this post is all about.

Natural Boat Speed

Have you ever noticed that on some days you can just set your throttle at idle or near idle, and keep a constant trolling speed with little to no effort or further adjustment? And at the speed you desire! I have, too! I call it “Lake Boat Speed“! On any given day, the lake currents will control the natural speed of your boat at or near idle. Some days it will be faster or slower than you would like. It can also be dependant directionally, too. I’ve been toying with this concept of Lake Boat Speed this past season and have had some success with it.

Adjusting To What’s Natural

It’s all well and good on the easy days when Lake currents let you troll effortlessly at your desired speed. But, how about on the days that it won’t ? Well, don’t fight it! Instead, adjust your spread to what the Lake Boat Speed is for that day and given conditions. For example, if the natural speed for that day is 2.8 mph and I was targeting salmon, spoons along with flashers and flies would be my go to. 2.8 mph is typically a very good default speed for those items to start with.

Seasonal Speed Changes

Seasonal speed changes do occur for trout and salmon. Typically, the earlier the season, the faster the fish like it! Brown trout speeds in the 2.4 to 2.6 range are productive. Salmon speeds in the 2.8 to 3.0 mph down speed range work for them. These are just staring points but are generally good ones for both species, respectfully. Just remember that these speeds are not carved in stone and may have to be adjusted as the day wears on. Lake currents, however, may not agree with letting you troll this way. Your Lake Boat Speed may be too fast or too slow.

Trolling Bags

Using trolling bags to slow the boat down to get to that effortless throttle position is OK to do, too! The key is to use the throttle as little as possible and still control the boat speed to where it’s natural for the presentation you’re after. On the contrary, if you’re too slow without bags, adjust the spread with spoon tuning or cutbait head tuning. Also, you can run on two motors if need be if you can’t get to were you want to be speed wise.

Lake Boat Speed acheived with trolling bag

Troll With Two Motors

On really rough days with high winds and big waves, trolling with two motors will get the job done. In most cases on our boat “The Ace“, running on two motors adapts well to the Lake Boat Speed. Two engines in gear at idle are actually less noisy than one engine at higher rpms. There is less turbulance and boat noise to show up on the fishfinder as well.

The Gist Of It

My premise is that Lake Boat Speed when adapted to and applied, generates more bites. Think about it! How can putting down a spread that typically does best for you at 2.0 to 2.2 mph down speed when the Lake currents and/or wind will not let you troll any slower than 2.8mph, be good for you! It can’t! Conversely, if your spread runs best at 2.8 to 3.0 mph down speed and you can’t go faster than 2.0… Again, how can that be good for you?

Tune Your Spread

If you take anything away from this at all, it’s to work with what the Lake and Mother Nature throw at you. Adjust and or tune according to the natural or Lake Boat Speed for that given outing. The easier you can keep things on yourself, the better the results will be, most days!

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!