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Lake Ontario 2012 - Stats, Thoughts, Observations & Findings

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As my first season with a boat moored at Lake Ontario comes to an end, I thought I'd post some random thoughts.

I received my new boat the beginning of May, so I didn't get it to Wilson Marina until the middle of the month (no early season brown fishing done.) I fished all but 4 weekends between then and now. I had fished there sporadically the previous 2 years launching out of Olcott. I still have a "Lot of Learnin' to do"!


While I try to place a waypoint for every fish hooked (not every hit), I end up probably marking 2 out of 3 and never get multiple marks when we double, triple or quadruple. Let's figure 67%. Total marks when I pulled the boat this past weekend was 259. So;

259/0.67 = 386 fish

Of course some of these were dropped or broke off. I'm sure a lot of guys do better, but I'm darned happy. We only caught 2 lakers and 1 brown this year (don't target them) so ~384 were kings, coho or steelhead. Caught a couple dozen skippys this spring before I switched to a F/F program, but the vast majority were greater than 10lbs with a few dozen being 20+ lbs. I never got a 30 lb fish, so I have something to shoot for in 2013.

Random Thoughts, Observations, Findings

* Lake Ontario is nothing short of amazing and we're very blessed to have a place like this.

* Having a boat moored at the lake gives you time to talk to a lot of fisherman and captains and they are very nice people who always seemed willing to help out and BS. (Special thanks to Jim (Hammerhead) and Perry (Prizefighter) to name just a few)

* I also appreciate all of the info provided by Rich (Yankee) and Capt Vince. It got me up running with knowledge that would have taken decades to acquire.

* Wilson Marina has very good bands playing every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer, but it's not a good idea to stay up till 12:30 and get up at 4:00 to fish for days on end.

* Picking a boat name is difficult, because I'm sure whatever I pick, I'll hate in a month. :)

* NOAA and all other wave forecasts are very often wrong. The best interpretation is to add +/- 2 feet and that will be close.

* The bouy in the middle of the lake in front of Rochester can say 1', but at Wilson it could be 5' (Can't go by that either) Waves obviously build in the direction of prevailing winds, but that can be wrong with any wind direction.

* The prevailing wind direction at the lake this summer sure seemed like from the NE. I can't tell you how few Westerly or Southwest winds occured this year.

* Wind direction can change multiple times in a single day and fairly rapidly.

* Waves can get bad quickly. Be ready to get back to port if you've traveled any distance or it can be a loooong bumpy ride.

* If the linkage breaks on your autopilot, pushing the control button more often or harder doesn't keep the boat from going in circles and wrapping everything up.

* My power on button for the TR1 autopilot is on the back of the boat and unmarked. Tell everyone not to push that button to "see what it does"! Till you realize it's off, you've done a 360.

* Autopilot makes fishing easy and probably saves marraiges. :)

* You can never tell when the fish will turn on. Sometimes it's morning, sometimes evening, sometimes all day and sometimes never.

* I think that sometimes it isn't a matter of fish "turning on" but simply finding a pod of active fish.

* Some days the best bite of the day was in the 2 hours before daybreak, but it isn't always that way.

* Fishing past sunset didn't produce much for us but the last hour of daylight can be good.

* Typical spring spoon program died early for us and F/F took the majority of our fish.

* Some days the hot program was long lines (copper and LC) and you could have left the rest of the tackle at the dock.

* Riggers also had their days, but wire dipseys took the lions share of fish.

* Some days nothing worked as well as cut bait and other days it didn't do the trick.

* Jim Piano (Hammerhead) makes some great spoons and cowbells. (Blatant, uncompensated plug)

* If you run a copper or LC down the chute, immediately clear it when hooked into a fish of any size on another rod. (at least with a boat with a 8'6" beam).

* Look over every inch of your leader, your knots, and fly leaders before putting a line out and replace if there is anything that even looks questionable. I ended up tying new leaders every trip.

* Learn to tie Tournament Rigs and buy Captains Packs of flies to save a lot of money over buying them.

* Most days there was a dominant lure pattern (or two) that seemed hot. These patterns can change daily, but it seems most last at least a week. 42 second F/Fs and spoons were the #1 producer for us in May and June, but went dead later in the season. Carmel Dolphin and Crazy B*tch F/Fs had their days. Some days it was all about meat rigs.

* Mid August and later a white Spin Doc w/ blue tape coupled with a blue and white fly was deadly. A few came on White Green Dot and Wonderbread Spin Docs, but we couldn't get them going like others did.

* Check downrigger termination frequently and thoroughly. I've left plenty of lead laying on the bottom before I remembered to do this.

* If you have someone on the boat who has never fished wire or copper, spent at least ten minutes going over the do's and don'ts and periodically remind them.

* If the drag is set too loose, you fight the fish longer, if it's too tight, you find your weak link very quickly.

* I think trying to nail you lure depth to a 2-3' range isn't necessary. I've seen a lot of fish come up or down 20-30' to look at a lure.

* Albright knots on copper is asking for problems (lost copper). Spend the time and money and go with inline swivels.

* The jury is still out on e-chips for me. I just can't convince myself that they result in any more strikes.

* I'm very tempted to get a GoPro camera and attach it to the downrigger ball, but I think I'd just be frustrated by how many fish came for a look and turned away.

* While kings supposedly like the temps around 52 to 54 degrees, most of our fish came out of 42 to 47 degrees. The bigger fish definirtely came out of the ice water.

* While it nice to see your downspeed on a Fishhawk, I'm pretty sure you can get a good feel for it from the bend in your dipsey rods. The down temp is where I focus.

* I've caught enough fish while making turns to realize the change in lure speed probably triggered the bite.

* The Niagara bar is an outstanding place to fish most of the year and you can always seem to find fish around there when they aren't hitting elsewhere.

* The Bar is tough to fish during combat trolling because everyone is trying to work the same water along the edge of the drop.

* If you see someone that appears to be trying to do an "S" troll along the bar dropoff, they probably don't have contour lines on their fishfinder and are constantly moving too shallow or too deep.

* If you see 3-5 guys that appear to be standing in the water because you can't make out the boat they're in at a distance, give them plenty of room because they don't realize you have lines dragging behind your boat.

* When the inside water dies in June/July, just point the boat north and troll until you find them. You will find them.

* Sometimes, I think, when radio chatter says they are catching fish at the 29 or 30 line, I think they are just trying to get boats around them to head out and away on a wild goose chase.

* Steelhead can make a lot of slow periods more exciting. Keep sliders and long lines off of boards going for a more steady pick.

* Occasionally, slowing the motor when you see fish and then gunning it will take fish, but not always.

* If the line pops out of the downrigger release when you're dropping the ball, do not assume you have the release too loose, it can be a fish.

* Sometimes, the best fishing strategy is to go in early in the afternoon and take a nap. Getting back out that evening with your second wind is better than toughing it out.

* Only run 4 wire rods when you have a capable second person on board and light waves.

* When you double or triple with inexperienced angler friends, you need to choreograph all of their moves.

* Fish stop actively feeding much sooner than I expected. I haven't caught a fish with anything in it's stomach for 3 or 4 weeks.

* There are a lot more naturally produced fish than I expected. We were going probably 50% through July. Throughtout August and September, we caught mostly stocked fish.

* Don't try to fish from sun up to sunset in the summer for days on end unless you're young and strong.

* Some people who want to go fishing with you think that this is like bobber fishing out of a boat for a few hour on a sunny afternoon. Be selective and explain the experience before hand to sort them out.

* If you ask to go fishing but spend most of the day sleeping in the cabin, you couldn't have been too serious.

* You can't tell who will get sea sick and who won't so suggest everyone without previous experience on the water take dramamine to enjoy their trip.

* Having pizza delivered to the dock when you get back in is great!

* When you end up with only 400-500 feet of wire on a reel because you had to cut sections off because of kinks or wrapping up lines, you're going to find a fish that wants to run out 1000' of line on you.

* If you happen to cross the fence into Canada near the Niagara because you're not watching the GPS, the Canadians do not come gunning for you. Maybe there's an unwritten grace zone or maybe we were lucky.

* Having good fishing partners that know what needs to be done and when is a blessing.

* The season goes by much too fast!!!

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Great report and observations BW.. :clap::yes:

Rick (Yankee Troller) always gives great fish reports no matter if he is in Wilson or the Oak he reports are always informative. Ya can not forget Tim (Fishsticks) out of Olcott, Jeremy (Chromslayer) out of Wilson and Capt Bush at the Oak. Not to take away from a lot of fishermen share their successes. We had some difficulties this season an hopefully we will get enough time on the water next year to join in.

This is a great website, outstanding fishery and a lot of friendly and knowledgeable fishermen. :yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes:


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Excluding this sporadic bite on salmon in front of the genny this mid to late september i would DEFINATELY say this was the best year i have seen in 28yrs of chartering. I am talking numbers, size, availability to species, and overall wind and currents. I believe the people out there caught wind of this, cause my trips were up a little bit. When its good, its all good. 2 trips left, then its time for fur and feathers.

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