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The start of Lake Ontario's King fishery - who was there?


ReelPower

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Are there any old timers in the forum who remember the start of the Lake O king fishery? I was too young growing up in the 80's chasing Erie salmon in Cleveland. I've read a lot about lake Michigan's experiment with salmon in the late 60's but I don't know squat about how things started off on Big O. I'm sure many members would love to hear how it all began. What techniques were used? Size of fish? Learning curve?

Edited by ReelPower
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Just saw this. No time tonight or this week but I can offer what I know and remember next week. Not ready for the "old timer" label just yet, however.  For now, know that Dr. Howard Tanner in Michigan(still living retired) and NYSDEC's late Bill Pearce were men of great vision and courage. They were all aboard about creating a booming sportfishery and giving their states an economic "shot in the arm", while at the same time creating a solution to the Alewife problem. Contrary to what some believe, its BECAUSE of the introduction of Pacific Salmon that any progress has been made in restoring native species.

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Fished it during the eighties.  Water was a completely different color.  Inshore it was mostly brown.  Lots of bright Rebel Stickbaits, Canadian Wigglers, J-plugs, Northport and Southport Nailer spoons, Alpena Diamonds, Bright colored orange and yellow Dodger and squid or flys.  Junk lines were not being used yet.  Some early dipsy diver usage.  Mostly downriggers were to delivery device.....as many as you can place and run off a transom.  Stacking downrigger lines and cheaters got more baits in the water.  We used to run four downriggers, each with an additional stacked rod for a 8 rod spread on 19' Chapparal.  The fish were big.  Fishermen would not blink at the weights on the current LOC board.  Bait was everywhere.  During the pier season Kings and browns would be crashing bait next to the pier.  Pier fishing was shoulder to shoulder where you had to cast perfectly straight out or you caught someones line.  The runs were huge by comparison as the number of salmon stocked was double of that today.  Snagging was in full force and was a spectacle to watch.  Salmon lined the banks.

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Remember reading  Floyd Kind & saying they were going to stock these "Salmon" in the lake. A few year later a friend of mines father brought home a bunch of Crickets for us and we went down to the Oak Dam and gave it  a shot. W/ the lousy equipment we had ,no luck but saw some swimming around & jump and was mezmorized by them . I think I was maybe 15.

 

Got my first boat in 1978 or 9 ,a 17'wood Cruisers Inc, A pair of Riviera riggers, A Brown box Lawrance paper graph And off I went.

 

 Got in the spring derby and  I think a 17 salmon won.

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I remember the day .Started chasing salmon and browns in the late 70's  LOL  We had Riviera downriggers ( not exactly state of the art ) ,Used mostly Luhr jensen dodgers with squid . No line counter reels or downrigger rods . Had a 21 ' Starcraft Mariner with 175 horse Evinrude on the back ,wish I still owned that boat .I agree that bigger (and better numbers ) seemed to be the norm in the 80's .There were also 3 times as many fishermen . and combat fishing was the norm .I've seen many battles fought over perceived transgressions .We also had a Lowrance paper graph ,which replaced the flasher .Replacing paper and stylus was a full time job, lol . I still have a supply of Northport nailers , the go to spoon . Little cleos were also very much in use . Snagging was legal and the banks of the Salmon River were shoulder to shoulder with " fishermen " throwing 2/0 weighted trebles . That was something to watch LOL . The salmon did a great job of cleaning up the mooneyes (alewives) which would wash up on the beach after the annual die off and be 6 inches deep .They also cleaned up the Smelt ,we could go to Selkirk during the run and fill the  back a pickup with great eating fish .No more . Lake O has seen many changes over the years , Some good and some not so good . I still love chasing the salmon and hope the fishery is still there for my son . 

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There are a few people on this lake that hold this knowledge and remember how it all started. I love to sit there and listen/soak it in when they do talk about it.

 

 

Not ready for the "old timer" label just yet, however.

 

Hahahahaha....it aint far away bud!

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Remember guys the salmon fishing died off in the 80's. DEC used to release the fry in the river and the birds used to line the banks. Then the Browns, pike and everything else that had a mouth was waiting for them to enter the lake. Snagging was allowed in the entire river, for a short time even at night. Snagging hooks were sold alongside the roads. No Fat Nancy's or McDonalds. The Amish used to come up by the bus loads. Tony's bait was the biggest around. A guy using a fly in the river was a moron. There were no fishing reports had to figure it out yourself. Eggs were sold by the fisherman $1.65 /pound was the highest I remember. A guide was non existent. 1 gas station 2 hotels and a diner.

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Funny part about it all, when the salmon entered the river then they didn't eat and still don't. Guys pay guides a lot of money to line a fish. Given every now and then one will get pissed a grab a fly. Think about it. Ever clean a fish with a full belly from the river? Ever clean a fish with anything in its belly? Granted snagging was barbaric and dangerous but now you have 2 less hook points and have to snag them in the mouth. i give the river guides credit now by showing a fisherman how to catch a salmon on a fly all while the guy next to them is cleaning up on a sponge. LOL tight lines!!!!!!

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I remember the 80's quite well.

 

1.) Lot's of full time charter captains who made a run at making a living from charters.

2.) Rolling out of the river in the spring with alewives jumping behind the boats thinking how am I going to get a fish to bite with all the food in here.

3.) Loran C was the expensive mans GPS and being with 100 feet of mark was just awesome.

4.) Like mentioned before if it wasn't spring it was all about riggers.  Stacking was just the norm and the idea of down speed and temp were just a small possibility and very unreliable.

5.) Russels Station was the bomb for fishing.  Warm water discharge in spring made it the place to troll in front of.  Warm water made late runs of kings, coho's and steelhead compared to rest of tribs so the "good season" lasted longer.

6.)VHF radio was LOU back then.  What information you got was from listening on the radio and some people clamped up, some talked and you could only believe a little of what you heard.

7.)Paper graphs.  Old boat still has a Sitex with some used rolls on it, but what a pain running out of paper when your out there fishing, thinking you had another roll and were wrong.

8.)Lack of Internet and smart phones to keep track of pop up storms.  Never fun when your out in 500 feet of water look back at port and see black clouds on a forecasted clear and sunny day.

9.) "Power trolling" with number 5 J-Plugs in the Genny almost all the way up to the Veterans bridge in hopes of snagging a fall kings making it's run.

10.)The industry down at the Genny george of small businesses.  Cricket sellers, egg buyers and kids with wagons, bikes and ropes offering to bring you catch up the gorge to you car for a couple of bucks.

11.) Not a lot of people Steelhead fishing in the dead of winter.  Lot of days with me and two other guys to the whole genny.

12.) ESLO main prize always including a new boat, Grady White I believe.

13.) Fishing Regulations that were actually understandable to read now matter where you where or what time it was.

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I started in 1984 at five years old with my dad and his buddies. Like Chad said the water was way different. Kings were plentiful and so was the bait. I can remember snagging a lot of alewives as we trolled and my father would get frustrated about cleaning them off the lines. I look at the tools we have today compared to back then and you wonder how we caught fish back then!

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I started fishing Lake Ontario in 1975-1976.....All we caught was coho while trolling in front of the salmon river. By 1978 my father was full time chartering out of east side marina in Oswego, I was his first mate weekends and all summer. We had a lot of trips, and no competition. By 1986 I had my captains license, and there were quite a few of today's, "old timers" coming on to the scene. 

 

Here is a picture I just found of  Oswego east side marina in 1981...notice there were no other fishing boats in it. 

 

EPSON010_zpskzkgg8po.jpg

 

I believe it was 1983-1984 before the next charter boat came in the marina, two guys actually came the same year, Capt. Ken Bud on his boat of the time, Trout Scout, later to be replaced by Amberjack in 1986.....and Mac Caderet ,  owner of Fredons Wholesale on Teal Ave, who had none other than Capt. Tony Buffa running his boat at the time....'The Bandito".  Mac moved on, Tony bought his 30' Sportcraft  "The Bandito II" around 1986...I was his second captain when he was in School or had Oneida Lake trips. 

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A little more east end history.  During the shutdown in 78 I believe please correct me if I got the year wrong.  Two brothers who owned a saw mill on a small creek  east of the nuclear plant  decided they were going to raise there own kings.  So they did, it was "Old Hickory" and his brother some of you may remember Old Hickory he passed away at 96 about 6 years ago.  Anyway he and his brother raised these kings for at least  4 egg cycles before they were found out and asked to stop.

 

Every year since 1980 there has been a small late October, early November run off kings to this particular creek what a very cool legacy these two men have left the Eastern Basin.  Certain veteran captains would hold out knowing this run would stage in the area as well.

 

I with held the name of this creek to protect the innocent!!

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I remember reading in the paper that they planded to stock kings in the lake in the late sixties.

 Wow that got the blood flowing,I had a 16ft. lonestar with a 35hp Johnson,I fished the lake for bass and perch back then.I got a hand crank Riviera from a old timer on the Finger lakes and bought a Larance green box. Some time around1970 the first run of salmon came into the Salmon river.

Not manny had a clue about catching them, me either. I don't think I got any the first season.I don't think I got the speed right till I got a speed gage,it was a pice of wire with a weight on one end and a

pointer and a halfmoon shapped piece of tin on the other mounted on the side of the boat.you put the weight in the water ,the hand pointed to numbers on the plate. If you hit a fish you checked the number on the plate,that was your speed. We gave snaging a try at night, got out of work at 12:30am and headed up to the river they had the water flow down and the river was full of fish, seven of us took 35 salmon that night,it was fun thats not fishing.Some one took a 48lber out of the river, I think that was the record and still holding. Those were the good old days. Boy am I old. :lol:

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I used to fish with Old Hickory quite a bit we stayed at a empty house he had in Catfish Creek in the spring we just pulled out of the creek casting Cleos catching Browns almost every cast, netting up alewives on the surface and casting them into the bubble. Dam should have bought that place from Neil when he offered it for 5 grand . Also fished with Ken Budd for Steelies in the Oswego river he was not a very personable guide but loved to fish hard.

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A little more east end history.  During the shutdown in 78 I believe please correct me if I got the year wrong.  Two brothers who owned a saw mill on a small creek  east of the nuclear plant  decided they were going to raise there own kings.  So they did, it was "Old Hickory" and his brother some of you may remember Old Hickory he passed away at 96 about 6 years ago.  Anyway he and his brother raised these kings for at least  4 egg cycles before they were found out and asked to stop.

 

Every year since 1980 there has been a small late October, early November run off kings to this particular creek what a very cool legacy these two men have left the Eastern Basin.  Certain veteran captains would hold out knowing this run would stage in the area as well.

 

I with held the name of this creek to protect the innocent!!

Hey I rember Old Hickery,he and his brother were very active with the DEC and the fishery, I think he was the first president of ELOSTA, I went to the first meeting and was a member into the 90ies.

Sorry to hear he pass,hope he had a big one on when he died.

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Hey I rember Old Hickery,he and his brother were very active with the DEC and the fishery, I think he was the first president of ELOSTA, I went to the first meeting and was a member into the 90ies.

Sorry to hear he pass,hope he had a big one on when he died.

He was the original president and founding member.  I still have 3 guys who were originals on the board of directors.  They all have quite the story's to tell.

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I used to fish with Old Hickory quite a bit we stayed at a empty house he had in Catfish Creek in the spring we just pulled out of the creek casting Cleos catching Browns almost every cast, netting up alewives on the surface and casting them into the bubble. Dam should have bought that place from Neil when he offered it for 5 grand . Also fished with Ken Budd for Steelies in the Oswego river he was not a very personable guide but loved to fish hard.

Ken Budd had the first ever drift boat on the Salmon River. His first year he would pick me up at my fathers house and make me wear my lacrosse helmet and hold a pair of scissors the whole time down the river. Why the helmet and scissors?  SNAGGING WAS LEGAL, and he was the first drift boat to backtroll down through the pools of snaggers. Any fishing line that was cast across the hull of the boat had to be cut before the guy would yank the hooks back! Yes, I was hit in the side of the head with a few michigan crickets and was glad I wore that helmet. Oh, and all the chinooks we caught did hit the backtrolled hot shots as well. They were not feeding, but they did strike the plug....violently. Old Hickory spent a bunch of time fishing on The Misty Blue....I remember him fondly....Brian, after all these years you let that cat out of the bag?   It used to be a good secret......

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 accompanying  a outdoor  writer is how  we got to know   Hickory  we would  pull  into  Catfish creek   with a large cooler full  of  lobsters and no problem ever getting  a  dock for the boat, told  just what the fish were hitting and where to go.

 One year in the spring things got slow in that neck of the woods and we took a drive ran into a old friend  at Fair Haven he told us   it was hot for  browns. The  next day we got   Old  Hickory  took a ride west for a spell  with a couple of bottles  of  scotch and a couple  of boats  he hit em   hard  then over the years  fished  all the way   west to Hamilton  and back  for some  reason  Fair Haven  is  my favorite   place

 Screwy  Louie  back then  was a great help in getting us on the fish.

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We had no down temp and never thought about down speed. What we used was a thermometer attached to 150' of cable on a hand spool. We would run out to the fishing grounds (120' drop off in front of Alcan, no 5 stacks then) and attach that temp probe to a Proos downrigger with a #16 rubber band, while the boat was out of gear and drifting.  We kept lowering the 10 lb. ball down until we found the thermocline. Took note of how many feet down it was, and started trolling. Once we were set up, we had this block of wood that was called a downrigger "computer"  that we held up next to the downrigger cable while trolling. The computer would measure the angle of the cable blowback, turn the block around, and a chart on the back would tell you how many feet to add to your downrigger cable to get to the depth you wanted. High tech stuff, state of the art . At the time our best spoons were rattle spoons and sugar spoons. The rattle spoons we bought off  Capt. Emil Dean while chartering him on Lake Michigan (Our "go to" source of info) The sugar spoons were small, cup shaped, and had colored Rhine stones glued to them. 

 

We had no clue what we were doing........every day was the learning curve....

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DandyGlows, Michigan squids with license plates, north port mailers, tiger plugs..... And the list goes on.... Anyone have the fish hawk hand held wheel with cable and a temp probe you rubberbanded to a herbie weight? Lol

Sent from my VS980 4G using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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