Attention Salmon Junkies! On Saturday, January 21, 2017, the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA) is proud to (once again) host its well known in-depth Salmon School. This highly successful school, in its 10th year, boasts six hours of detailed instruction taught by three expert captains and this year they are: Captain Bob Songin (Real Excitement Charters out of the ports of Oak Orchard and Wilson, NY); Captain Russell Gahagan (Anglers Avenue out of Sheboygan, MI); and Captain Jerry Felluca (Rebel Charters out of Sandy Creek, NY). These three captains offer a huge amount of on the water experience trolling for trout and salmon along with a proven tournament track record of high placement in the most prestigious tournaments over many years. They are a diversified set of instructors and will provide a class full of insights and details that no one single instructor would be able to provide. They are all skilled communicators and are very well known for sharing their fishing knowledge and daily fishing trips with anglers to help them to be more successful fishing the lake. Each brings their own unique set of trolling skills, techniques and knowledge to the class. Given the depth of the knowledge base of these instructors and their proven ability to educate anglers, we expect this school to be another high quality, comprehensive in-depth, information packed event that our attendees have come to expect from this annual day long instruction.
Capt. Bob Songin has been salmon fishing the western end of Lake Ontario for over 30 years as a professional, running a full time service fishing over 120 days a year. He make his home out of the Orleans County port of Oak Orchard/Point Breeze most of the year but actively fishes the Niagara County port of Wilson to take advantage of the great spring salmon fishery during the month of May.
Capt Bob Songin was the founder of the first net pen program on Lake Ontario, managing the construction of the pens and the activities of the project for 18 years. This involved the coordination of the care, feeding and release of more than 1.4 million salmon fingerlings and 200,000 yearling steelhead for Oak Orchard Harbor. This project helped promote the imprinting and survival of the fish stocked at the Oak Orchard site, providing for better fishing for all stakeholders. He has unselfishly given his time and energy over many years to participate in fisheries management activities with the DEC to help all of us enjoy a quality Lake Ontario fishery.
Bob has also been a regular participant in the derbies and tournaments fishing both the north and south shore of western Lake Ontario and has won or cashed numerous times during his tournament career. Some of his accomplishments include first place finishes in the ESLO derbies, Orleans County derbies, Niagara Pro-Am tournament, and St. Catherine's Scotty contests in Canada. With many additional top 10 finishes, Bob has learned to successfully adapt to the changing conditions of Lake Ontario over the years. He has become proficient in the different techniques available to entice bigger salmon to take his offerings on a regular basis. Bob has also been a long standing member of "Team Dreamweaver" and on the pro staff of "A-Tom-Mik Trolling Flies". He also produces the daily fishing report "At the Oak" when at his home port and "At the Bar" when fishing in Wilson to provide honest information to help anglers become more successful and encourage more participation in the Lake Ontario fishery.
Russell Gahagan has been fishing Lake Michigan his entire life on three different levels -for fun, for charter fishing and for tournament fishing. As a kid, Russell was a first mate for Dumper Dan Charters and over a ten year span ran over 1,200 charters. This experience gave him a great advantage as he started competitively fishing Lake Michigan in the early 2000s. Russell's team, Anglers Avenue, primarily fishes the Tournament Trail on Lake Michigan. Russell is an 8 time event winner and has qualified for the Salmon Showdown finale four straight years.
in the mid-2000s, Russell was one of the innovators of the flasher/fly program on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. He was responsible for developing many of the patterns made today by Michigan Stinger, Pro King and more. His shop Anglers Avenue leads the way in salmon tackle innovation, always having the newest tackle and even custom tackle exclusive to them. This ability to innovate and be a step ahead of everyone has been a huge reason why he has enjoyed success for many years on Lake Michigan.
Capt. Jerry Felluca has lived right on the Lake Ontario shoreline his entire life and has fished Lake Ontario for over 40 years. He is a 31 year US Coast Guard licensed captain and was the youngest person on Lake Ontario to receive a license. He is co-owner of Lake Ontario United.com website which is Lake Ontario's largest online website. He actively participates as a spokesman for anglers on the fishery with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission as an advisor for Lake Ontario/New York. This also includes other annual meetings on Great Lake issues.
Jerry is a well known and successful tournament fisherman with a resume of Pro-Am wins in Oswego, Rochester, and Sodus along with a Lake Ontario Pro-Am Lakewide Pro-Am Challenge Cup win. He has first place division wins in ESLO/LOC derbies for lake trout, rainbow trout and salmon. He is a two time Grand Prize winner of the Orleans County Derby. He has won the Niagara County Pro-Am Buffalo Sabres Alumni Fishing Day with the largest salmon in 2012, 2013, 2014. He won the 2015 Grand Prize in the Red Cross Tournament (Rochester) and took first place in the 2015 Sandy Creek Shootout (Hamlin NY). He actively participates in most tournaments around Lake Ontario, including the Canadian ones on the north shore.
Capt. Felluca is most proud of doing these accomplishments as he is a part time charter captain and a "weekend warrior" like most fishermen on the Lake today. He credits fishing against the top professionals in the tournaments for shortening his learning curve to help him compete successfully over many years. He is always learning and notes that he learned a lot more form losing tournaments than he did when he won. Jerry is looking forward to sharing his experience and knowledge to help Lake Ontario Fishermen become more productive in the time they have fishing the lake.
The class is not meant for novices to the Lake Ontario fishery. It is a "hard core" salmon class targeted toward providing the "experienced weekend warrior" with additional insights and details to improve their catch in the limited time they have on the water. In a year of challenging fishing like we just experienced the past two years, this knowledge is often the difference between having a couple of bites or having steady bites throughout the day.
The LOTSA Salmon School is also a custom class that is built from the input from each attendee on what they want covered. It is not an "off the shelf" class for the masses. Each attendee will have the opportunity to submit their top 3 questions on areas that they want covered in the class. Those questions will be submitted with their registration to the event. The instructors will then use this input from the attendees to customize the class to cover these particular areas. The registration price includes free admission to the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo (www.NiagaraFishingExpo.com) Saturday and Sunday, a hot buffet lunch on Saturday with beverages available throughout the class and a good bag consisting of the "go to" baits of the instructors. The class (and the Expo) is held at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls in a state of the art conference room with a large screen, stage, good seating with tables and a good sound system that all make for a comfortable venue throughout the day for everyone attending. Given the quality of what you will be taught, coupled with the lunch, goodie bag, and free admissions, we think it is a terrific deal and a great way to start your 2017 season. Were else would you want to be on a Western NY Saturday in January than at a nice and comfortable venue talking salmon fishing with a room full of individuals with the same common interest you have?
What we have seen over the years is that the majority of the attendees come back year after year and the event sells out! Admittance to the School is pre-paid only with a deadline of January 15th (or as soon as it is sold out). Please sign up early at www.lotsa1.org to avoid being left out in the cold.
We hope a lot of you will be able to attend the Salmon School along with the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo this January, which will be packed with Trout, Salmon and Walleye Exhibitors.
Victor Rowcliffe and Joe Yaeger -LOTSA