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Trolling the only option?


shoebag22

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I will be moving up from the cheseapeake bay area and from most of the reports, it looks like trolling is the main technique for catching fish in LO.  I only ask because i really dislike trolling and am hoping there are other opportunities in the Rochester area.  The most fun part of fishing to me is getting the strike and setting the hook and i don't get that same excitement while trolling.

please help a newbie out...

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trolling is the main technique for catching trout and salmon on lake Ontario. there are many other species to catch. perch, both large and small mouth bass, catfish,panfish of all types. also, trout and salmon in the tribs. if you like the strike you will love a steelhead or salmon when they run the tribs.

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As noted above trolling is the MAIN technique for trout and salmon on Lake Ontario but there is a world class tributary fishery (no specific stream names can or should be published here though for a number of reasons). Also the area around Lake Ontario has an extremely vigorous fishery for trout, ATLANTIC salmon, and every other species of fish you can think of and walleyes seem to be making a comeback on Lake O as well. The Finger Lakes region offers some of the richest diversity of fishing in the country and if you are not into trolling for trout you can still jig for lakers until your arms fall off, still fish with sawbellies (alewives  ....member of herring family), cast lures from shore or boat, pier fishing in many places on Lake O and the Finger Lakes etc. Don't think for a minute that trolling is the ONLY way to have fun and catch some trophy size fish. Trolling is  a complex activity and it appeals to us for a variety of reasons (none of which is related to saving money) :)  but most of us have done all the other stuff over the years too despite the main focus here on LOU of trolling. You've already taken the most important step in achieving success by coming to this site ....it is a goldmine of information and you will be hard pressed to find more fresh water fishing expertise anywhere. I should warn you though that fishing on Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes can be ADDICTIVE.....and it is very contagious and may lead to adverse side effects in your relationships with others :lol: Best of luck to you.

Edited by Sk8man
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Shoebag22 welcome to the area! Rochester has a lot of downfalls (weather, taxes etc...) but you will find the friendliest people in the world on this site and in the general area.

I grew up fishing Long Island Sound with relatives and never fished LO until 1994. Although there are huge differences in the fisheries they each have their great points. I miss the tides, fish variety and coastline of ocean fishing and those things can't be replaced on a fresh water lake. That said, I also  love LO,  and have passed up trips to salt water to stay here at certain times of the year. I hope you learn to love the area and trolling, too.  Would I love to own my boat on the ocean- sure, but I have learned to really love this fishery. It is relatively non complicated, usually fairly quiet around you and you don't have to wash your boat EVERY time you come in!

How good is our fishery? I always laugh that when I took a trip to Alaska a few years ago and was in a fishing school most of the instructors/guides had Lake Ontario experience and wanted to talk all the time about Lake Ontario. For a fresh water fishery it is that good.

I know you asked about trolling and got the "Welcome Wagon" speech, but welcome and jump in.

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Usually all rollers aren't recommended for GLASS boats because of the strain from trailering that can put undue pressure from the individual rollers on specific spots on the hull and over time can crack or leave depressions in the glass.

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Shoebag -  Once you're up here, you'll realize Lake Onatrio is a lot bigger than most people think it is.  The obvious advantage to trolling is that it allows you to cover a lot of territory. 

 

Big-O doesn't have the typical "structure" that most lakes have.  Yes there are humps, drops and rocks in certain places but the real "structure" items are temperature and currents which the Trout & Salmon are attracted to. The fish, especially the majority of salmon are great wanderers.  In early spring lake temp is fairly uniform but then in mid spring a thermal bar sets up & moves offshore & finally a thermocline sets up for a couple months.  The temperature regime can change in just a couple hours depending on the time of year.  Bottom line,  a school of fish that was nearshore this morning may be 5 miles offshore in a couple hours.  They can also be 10 ft down over 250 FOW one minute then sitting on the bottom a couple minutes later.  Trolling allows you to cover a great deal of the water column trying to find them. 

 

If you want to hold the rod when some of these salmon hit it then more power to you.  If I had to hang on to a rod when one of these beaties hit, I'd have some kind of sting attached to like the "idiot mittens" little toddlers wear in winter.  I've been half-spooled on intial runs in just just a few seconds.    :)  

 

Tom B.

(LongLine)

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In the late 70's I was salmon fishing at Sodus and was riding with two guys who had fished for trout but not salmon before. The one guy had a screamer on his rod as soon as we got out there and his reaction when the fish was taking line like there was no tomorrow...was to impulsively try to THUMB THE REEL to slow it down :lol:  Needless to say it was the last time he ever did that....His thumb was SMOKING (I kid you not) and he had a bandage on it for weeks....

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Shoebag,

 

Trolling is the preferred method here on Lake Ontario, for all the good reasons that Longline stated.  Here on the south shore of the lake, especially out of the Rochester area, there isn't a lot of great structure, and trolling allows us to cover nuetrel water quickly and find active fish. 

 

January through March there are a lot of guys that jig for lake trout on the Niagara Bar.  The Bar is a huge piece of structure, and that's why it may be a good tactic for targeting winter Lake Trout, and many guys will continue to jig for lakers well into the spring.

 

I think you could certainly try a combo of the 2 techniques.  Perhaps trolling for the first hour or 2 on a trip, and once finding a good school of fish you could jig to them.  It's like anything... I think you're going to have to try it, and put some serious time into it in order to be succuessful, and that includes many fishless trips.   

 

Much of what we do here on the Great Lakes for targeting salmon is just stuff we picked up from salmon fishermen in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and modified the techniques a little bit.  Those guys jig for salmon quite successfully, and I'm sure the practice could be adapted for our fishery.  The one thing to remember, our fishery is completely different than that in the Pacific, and even in the other Great Lakes. 

 

I'd say go for it, and try it, and teach us Lake Ontario guys something new.  I'd be very interested in seeing how well you do with it.

 

Good luck!

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The fish in lake ontario are on the larger side and I personally would not want to be holding the rod when a 20+lbs. salmon slams the rod. My wife hates trolling but has came around and doesn't mind it so much.

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I have caught 5 to 8 lbs browns from shore in oswego during college and was a blast with lots of braid on the spool but a huge king would be nuts. Dont get me wrong it would be fun but a good work out.

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