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ReelPower

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

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After reading and studying all that data.....It seems this is obviously a dying business...   :(

dying no.  Changing yes. you have to remember this is a relatively new fishery so what your seeing in a lot of ways is just a stabilization/evolution with the changes to the lake.

 

My very first memory was of my dad taking me steelhead fishing in the spring at 3 years old he had a fly rod and I had a spinning rod with a bobber.  I can still see all of those steelhead swimming in that creek.

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We started with the snagging in 1975, I believe ?  That was the only way we knew of at the time, to catch them. Then we discovered the will readily wack cleos  ,especially at night, when the run came in ( although many said it was impossible to make a King strike a bait) we had a ball once we gained some knowledge. It's been a good many years now, and were still having fun. Tight Lines to all. 

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Ahhh!  I remember catching my first Lake Ontario salmonid, a coho, in the warm current of Russel's Station.. I get a tear in my eye every time I drive past that closed plant that use to have fishermen there 365 days a year. When the samonid fishery took off; each spring 1000's of boats (99% 18' and under) caught plenty of football browns, cohos,  lakers and steelhead.  Catching of chinooks was spotty. A trip with 2 kings was unheard of until September came around and people caught them at the pier heads. Dick Schleyer came up with an idea to have a fishing derby in the spring where the grand prize was a boat bigger than 99% the boats out there. On those four days each morning had vehicles with trailers lined up onto Rt 18 at Olcott, onto the parkway waiting to launch at Black North Inn, A couple marina launches at Rochester and Sodus. But where where those kings.Everybody those other species and took them in to the weigh stations to get those door prizes. I think it was Ed Rowan that won the first boat and he caught it out of Bald eagle. That port also got winners the next few years. There was something about that west end and catching kings. So much so that a rift formed between the east end and the west end. Henderson (Bill Saiff) even went to have a derby with NO king category.  The early years no one could catch kings consistently. I remember even going out with Vinnie off shore in the night to see if we could catch kings in the summer. The real turning point in king fishing came when Northern King developed the NK 28. The rest is history. Catches of 100's of pounds of kings in the summer was common until the crash. The crash that started with an ocean boat dumping his ballast tanks and releasing the zebra mussel. Those were the days   

 

Crash??

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Crash??

Because DEC saw the Zebra musells and the cleaner water they reduced the stocking 60% of the king stocking. manmade or natural that's a crash

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Maybe a mini crash.  From Late 80's to early 90's fishing got tougher.  Fishermen had to adjust tactics.  Now less fish........but better fishermen!

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I long for the old days after reading these posts & thinking about it . There was a bit of a mystique about the fishery which for me is gone.  I believe you had to be a better fisherman back then .We knew little about the seasonal habits. The  equipment was limited back then . Breaks my heart in a way to see what it has become. 

 

 I remember going into Elams & asking what the hot lure was as I allways did. Showed me a card at the end of the first isle with 4 NK 28s hanging  on it, I bought 2 wrapped in tissue.  Said  he sold over 500 the last few days.It was game on after that. 

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Maybe a mini crash.  From Late 80's to early 90's fishing got tougher.  Fishermen had to adjust tactics.  Now less fish........but better fishermen!

 

 

If I remember right in the middel to late seventies the mooneye population crashed due to cold winters and over stocking,the DEC cut back stocking and on top of that they started testing the fish for heavy metal-mercury and said the fish were not safe to eat and that nearly shut the hole thing down.I thought the fishing was good in the late eighties till the middle nineties.I chartered out of Sodus bay from 89-97 and the fishing was good, the west end boys were taking limit catches daylie,I didn't limit out that often but got enought to keep the clints happy. Some time in the early early or middle 90ieswe got a heavy snow storm,over 2' and the next day it turned to rain and flooded the hole state,the fishing went bad that season, the fish were there but they wouldn't bit. I had a multiclector by Lake systems on my boat for down temp and speed and it showed the PH of the water and color. I noticed the PH was around 4.5,thats not good, it should be around 7. My next trip we went looking for a better or higher PH, so we went out deep700fow and if I remember we were 0n the 55bar Lat. Lon. that was all most to the fence and the PH was up and the fish were feeding. I was talking to an other capt. out of Fairhaven that hit the same bar that day and it wasen't long the word was out and every one was out there. Anyone remember that.

About 95 it all **** the bed. Sold the boat. Hey its back. :)

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This thread may never end. The posts here have brought back so many memories. Yeah, that red hot "Manistee wobbler" in glistening dull nickle plate finish, LOL. Yes Skateman it did look like mantaray!

Mature Kings were caught by the "bull fighting" method at the pierheads--we wore them down. Back and forth with sub par presentations until a frustrated Male blasted one. The marinas at the Oak took POLAROID pics of EVERY Salmon caught(talking late 70's the "ban years"). One King made for a successful outing, the entire crew would pose with the fish like they do with Great Whites and used to do with Marlin.  

My first memories started with being being in love with fishing in "the big lake" at my grandfathers cottage at Wautoma beach. Too many hours in the mid to late 60s sitting on the dock watching dying and dead Alewives not knowing I was wasting my time soaking worms and minnows. We caught our first Salmon on bobbers and worms in the late 60s in Sandy creek(Hamlin)--they were yearling stockie Coho and they were the coolest little fish. We released them and little did we know what was about to happen. By the mid 70's we wore rubber off our bike tires riding to Russell Station to cast in the lake current in the Spring or drift sacks or anise sponge inside by the "tubes". When the drivers licenses came in late 70s we were on adventures to the piers at Hamiln or renting boats from Dick Barney on the Little Salmon river. This post will close with that story. Rented one of his 16fters(for a while no one cared if you took them out in the lake) brought our portable 2 x 6 with the manual "Rivies" at each end and clamped it to the  rental vessel. Our weights were official Riviera plastic torpedos filled with bb shot. Our rigger rods were Heddon "Silver Kings", with huge spinning guides on them--and we accomodated with big surf casting reels. We slapped my buddies dads 15hp Evinrude on the transom and shot down to the SR. It was a merry go round circus even then. We each hooked one on Green glo Fire plugs, one on a flatline the other on a rigger set halfway to bottom. Landing both of them proved life threatening, as the boat was shut down for the battle and offshore wind blew us a mile out in the lake while battling the beasts, no cell phones and no marine radio. We had 2 Kings however, and from that day forward it was ON. Many a sleepless night before even a pier casting trip. I dont lose sleep anymore, but each and every Chinook Salmon is as good as ever. I refer to those early days as "the wonder years".     

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Good times for sure I started back in the early 80's and was hooked. Winning  ESLO was just as exciting as winning the in the lottery.

Times changed and invasives entered, 2 kids and little time and in 2000 I sold my boat and stopped fishing the lake. Sure I went out with buddies occasionally on their boat. 3 years ago the bug bit me again after fishing the last month of summer and the fall derby. This may not be the hay day but its damn good fishing we have here on Lake O!

 

Back in the early 80's 

 

 

 

salmon_days_of_old.jpg

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Great thread. I remember back in the 70's there was a local guy that would drill the sideplate of a Penn 209 and somehow attach a bicycle oddometer which was as accurate as most of todays line counters. He charged $10 which included the oddometer. Most were sold to guy's wirelining for lake trout.

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Awesome stuff here!  Obviously there are MANY people that were bitten by the bug early on and great to hear many of us are still around enjoying what we have in our backyard.  '79 was my starting place with my dad and brother... 21' starcraft center console flat lining cleos off Sodus, figured out the manual Riveria downriggers the following year and caught lakers during the summer, soon realized that manual cranks stunk and moved to big jon electrics the following year and the rest was history. Worked charters at the Oak (Pequod Jim and Shongo Butch mainly) and my dad moved the boat down there in 1987. At this point it was all stacking riggers and running drop weights with dodgers until Jim Shouey started running dipsey divers in 87 or 88 and was smoking all of us with late august kings at the Oak... that changed everything!  The Oak was a complete zoo back in the 80's... Four C's came alive by 4:30am preparing for a mass exodus of boats by 5:30am, everybody had their own battle cries of music blaring at the docks preparing for the trip... we showed no pity on the random transients that decided to overnight at the marina!  Capt Marv Cappon and his 32' Wellcraft was by far the battleship of the fleet, most were 20-25 footers, The VHF had come into play and was alive with constant banter all day long on every channel imaginable.  It was a great time to be part of the fishery for sure with far more excitement and fanfare than now.

 

My favorite story from back then was late August I decided to take a day off from charters because I actually wanted to fish on my own... I grabbed a couple friends and took my dad's boat out, there was an upwelling, we had to battle 10 miles of fog to get to the warm water, I setup and pretty quickly bagged a 34lb king on our Chattilon scale (it was not big enough to weigh, so we stayed out since we had literally only been out for 30 minutes).  I reset and we promptly tied into another good one which ended up being a matched pair, we fished a few more hours with some more fish and came in... they both officially weighed 33 1/2lbs and are still the biggest kings that ever came aboard my dad's boat, which I repurchased and have been running for the past 7 years out of IBay. This was late August, about a week before the ESLO ended and these fish were both a pound short of 20th place!

 

 

BTW- Where is Jerry Felluca on this thread.... come on man!  We need some Sandy Stories!!!

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Fished my first ESLO in '79 out of 16' StarCraft bowrider with 2 manual Rivera's. Four of us fished with two guys using the downriggers and other two just flatlining. We had bass tackle and ended up just placing out of the money eventhough we were pretty much clueless about what we were doing. By '85 had a new 23' Wellcraft with four manual Rivera, Loran C and Lowrance paper graph that would go through a roll of paper a day. We would stack those riggers and get as many lures as we could in the water. Fished a lot of evil eyes, northport nailers, chargers and loco's. In the fall off the Genny you'd load up the j plugs and a good day was when you picked up as many as you lost. Remember hearing guys talk about NK's in a bar at Braddock's and how hot the 28's where once I got a few (wrapped in paper). We'd listen to radio all day and that provided lots of entertainment. Lots of good memories from those years. Pretty hard to compare to todays fishing- today's equipment is so much better than the old Penn 209's we had and the electronics are far superior. With Loran C you never knew when signal would fail, GPS is so much more reliable. Huge advantage with down speed and temp on the dash. We thought it was high tech when we got the Mac Jac handheld temp unit and sent that down to find the thermocline. The amount of information available today really helps as all we had in the past was days old info that had varying degrees of BS buildt in. Today with the clearer water and fleas we have to pay more attention to lines and terminal tackle. We use more "junk" lines and spread things out more. it was fun in the old days and it's still fun when a wire dipsey takes off screaming. To me we're pretty fortunate to have the resource at our doorstep.

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