Fishing in a Crowd on Lake Ontario

Fishing in a crowd on Lake Ontario is almost inevitable at certain times of the year. In this post, we will discuss the two sides of this coin. One, is actually fishing in a crowd do to choice. The other is getting caught in a crowd through no fault of our own. Either way, it’s not very fun. Stressful at times, we do our best to stay away from these situations, whenever possible.

Choosing to fish in a crowd is inherent in harbor patrol for staging kings. As the fish move tighter into the river mouths in anticipation of spawning, adult fish will be concentrated. If you want catch adult kings, you have to fish where they are, hence in a crowd. There are a few things you can do to reduce the stress level when surrounded by boats.

Fishing in a crowd on Lake Ontario makes it tougher to catch fish like these.


If the majority of the boats are trolling east and west, it would be prudent for you to do so.  It never ceases to amaze me, perhaps more disgust, when a boat upsets the apple cart and trolls north and south against the grain. This can only lead to trouble. The north as well as the south boat are cutting off all the other boats and just asking to get lines tangled or cut off. Remember, you are responsible for your lines behind your vessel. Let me repeat! You are responsible for your lines behind your vessel! It also never ceases to amaze me why boats insist on running boards and excessive long lines while trolling in a crowd. They are just begging to lose their stuff, especially from the more inexperienced fishermen that show up at this time of the year.

Trolling Crowds Appear

It seems to be happening more and more each year that when we hook up on fish, within minutes we are completely surrounded by other boats. We find ourselves once again fishing in a crowd on Lake Ontario, but this time, through no fault of our own!  Most of the time it’s recreational fishermen or weekend warrior charters. They see us hook up and figure this must be where all the fish are. Even though we are catching fish, it’s more from what and how we are running our program rather than the exact coordinates we are over. This leads me to a very important point.

Avoid The Crowds

You will catch many more fish by not fishing in a crowd and trolling away from the pack than by fishing in it! Think of it. Underneath your boat you are running attractors. Attractors appeal to a salmon’s lateral line and draw them into the spread, which they do. But when you have too many boats whizzing by with attractors all over the same area, the salmon’s sensors over load.  This has the opposite effect on the fish and shuts them off.

Why would you want to follow or parallel another boat while trolling? This happens quite a bit and usually just leads to trouble. This hampers maneuverability! Why do this? Why limit yourself to directions of travel when you don’t really have to? What happens if you hook up? Or if the other boat hooks up? Will you have a way to navigate and maneuver your boat to keep the hooked up fish where it needs to be, behind the boat?

When at all possible, we fish away from the pack and other boats to avoid fishing in a crowd. As outlined above, you can see why it’s advantageous to do so. You will catch more fish. You will be less stressed out and above all, have more fun. You may also like to check out our post on “Trolling Skills”