Lake Ontario fishing consisits of many different aspects encompassing a world class fishery that is utilized by all forms of anglers. There are recreational fishermen who fish by either boat or from shore from on the main Lake to its rivers, streams, and tributaries. There are also many charters for hire as well, specializing in catching the many different species available. Fishing in Lake Ontario and its tributaries is dictated mostly by seasonal differences and species sought after. Lake Ontario and its fishing contributes billions of dollars annually into the budgets of cities and towns bordering the Lake in both the USA and Canada.
Every year in as early as March, weather permitting, charters and recreational boats head out onto Lake Ontario in persuit of fishing quarry. The most popular perhaps, are the trophy Brown Trout! They are found along the shorelines as the waters begin to warm. With the many free public launchs available in New York state, access is readily available. Perhaps the second most saught after species during the early spring including April and May, is the walleye. Most often, they are persued at night in the major rivers entering Lake Ontario. Niagara and Oswego are two of the most popular.
Time of Season Dictates Location
As stated earlier, early spring is noted for Brown trout and walleyes especially on the southern border of Lake Ontario. There are also early spring and later spring opportunities for salmon; both kings and cohos. Typically, spring salmon fishing is best on the western end of the Lake out of ports Dalhousie, Wilson, and Oak Orchard. It would be fair to mention that Oswego and Sodus will produce king salmon when the conditions are right during this time frame. In fact, Oswego has had net pen rearing for many years now introducing as many as 90,000 smolt salmon into the Lake at that location per year.
Perhaps there is no better time to angle for kings salmon on Lake Ontario than during the summer months. Late June, July, and August are typically best. Most boaters know this. From the recreational boater to the full time and weekend warrior charters, Lake Ontario gets very busy; more so than any other time of the year. Kings can be found in all age classes from one year old to three year old fish throughout the Lake. Offshore Lake Ontario fishing in depths of water over 600 ft. is an excellent place to look for all the age classes. Find the bait, find the fish! Post spawn Alewives head offshore during the summer months.
Late Summer-Fall Fishing
As the days become shorter and the nights become cooler, both coho and king salmon feel that spawning urge. Salmon of both species come in to shallower water to stage in anticipation of running their pre-natal rivers. Its a great time to target adult salmon much closer to shore. Once again recreational and charter boats are found plying the same waters for these congregated fish. At no point in time will you find salmon any larger in size as during this period! Oswego, NY is our home port and perhap the finest place to come fish for staging kings and cohos.
There are ice fishing opportunities on the surounding bays of Lake Ontario although at times limited! Lake Ontario proper itself, never freezes good enough to be safe to venture out on. This is due to its immense size. Being so large, Lake Ontario is always moving either by wind or Coreolis Effect currents. thus limiting ice production. Some of the more popular Bays to fish are Henderson Harbor and Chaumont Bay.
Lake Ontario Derbies
One would be remiss to not mention the Lake Ontario fishing debies which take place annually. There are spring, summer, and fall “LOC” derbies . The spring season runs for 10 days in May followed by the summer derby which runs for 30 days during the month of July. Last but certainly not least, The big one, the fall derby runs from mid August through Labor day. The Loc is open Lake wide! On the Canadian side, the Great Ontario Salmon Derby is perhaps the grandest of them all. Billed as the “Largest Freshwater Fishing Derby in North America”, the prizes are a testament to just that. In 2021 they awarded a brand new Toyota 4 Runner. On the lesser side, but certainly quite popular are the many Challenges and Pro Ams held in ports along the Lake Ontario southern shore.
Warm Water Species
Lets not forget the warm water species available to angle for in Lake Ontario as well. Yellow Perch are both recreationally and commercially fished for in Lake Ontario. Yellow perch are sold in both the United States and Europe. Licensed commercial fishing occurs in the Chaumont Bay and Henderson Harbor areas of Lake Ontario. Other species such as Northern Pike, Chain Pickerel, and Muskellunge are also popular targets. Anglers fish for Trophy Muskellunge by both Recreational and Charter Boats, daily in the fall.
Best of The Best
Lake Ontario fishing is truly a one of a kind endeavor where anglers of all walks of life have the opportunity to catch the fish of a lifetime. It holds many state and world records for many different species. And, there are still the opportunities to brake records with the many different fish that inhabit Lake Ontario. It is truly a special place with where fish can grow to enormous proportions through their life cycles.
Area Tackle Shops And On Line Sources
Should you decide to try Lake Ontario fishing on your own, there are many tackle shops and on line suppliers who specialize in providing tackle and equipment for sale. For more general equipment offerings, stores such as Cabella’s and Bass Pro Shops sell both on line, and brick and morter. For specialized salmon fishing tackle, check out Atommik Manufacturing. They have a huge supply of flies, meat heads, twinkies, and attractors for sale on line. Atommik flies are also available in many of the area tackle shops both in USA and Canada. Some of the more popular south shore tackle shops with on line presence include Fat Nancy’s in Pulaski, Sonny’s Fishing Center, Pulaski,NY, Narby’s Bait and Tackle, Kent,NY, and The Boat Doctors in Olcott,NY.
Some Final Thoughts
Many go it alone when Lake Ontario fishing for the many different available species. For more insights on the best times to fish the Lake, check out “Best Time To Fish lake Ontario for Trout and Salmon“. Also consider when choosing Lake Ontario fishing charters some things to look out for to insure a quality experience. Google is a good place to start when you don’t have a good recomendation from friends or family. Google My Business (GMB) listings display some of the top charters on Lake Ontario. GMB listings include reviews from clients who have used these quality charters and certainly warrant consideration when choosing. One can find other considerations in choosing a quality charter here. Beware of organic listings that represent numerous charters under one url, especially at reduced prices. When it comes to paying for a charter, you typically get what you pay for.