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 . 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!