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I've just moved to NY from Wyoming and am excited to get involved in the Lake Ontario fishery. I need all the help I can get because the only salmon I've caught has been a 5lb Kokanee and a couple Kings from the Columbia River. Here's what I have and let me know where I have gone awry.

I have a 23' Walkaround that can troll down to 1.5mph. I have 2 Walker downriggers and the ability to fish 2 rods on each rigger. My rods are 7'6" Eagle Claw Starfires with 20lb PLine flourocarbon. I need to assemble 2 thumper rods for salmon in late July-September. Any input on the thumper rods and the line type? I am thinking wire or Tufline for thumpers. Is my setup with the rigger rods sufficient?

On the lure front, I'm thinking dreamweaver spoons and dodger/Howie flies. Any suggestions on size, color of spoons? How about the fly setup? Any ideas on what else I should have in my tacklebox?

I'm thinking about heading to Mexico Bay or Port Ontario and trying my hand at the browns in the morning, and maybe try to pick up a salmon later in the morning. Any suggestions are welcome as I'm competely now to this area. Many thanks in advance.

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Well I think you are better off setting up 2 wire dipsy rods. I run a thumper but I also run 2 wire dipsys and just about everyone on this board does too.

With your rig I would run 2 rigger rods, 2 wire dipsy's and a thumper.

Usually I run green and white as my primary colors for dodgers fly set ups. What we call green on green or white on white.

Mag and the next size smaller (28 size) spoons will be fine. Colors? Everyone runs different stuff and if you search the board you will find all kinds of examples.

Speeds will vary with wind and current but generally you want to run between 2.4 and 3.0 at the ball.

I can't give you specifics about the east end right now because it changes daily. Just keep you eye on the reports here to give you a general idea what to use and where to go.

You are going to want to use 30lb mono and 30 lb wire. When the fleas start to show up braids and lighter mono will just collect the fleas and make the fishing impossible.

Good luck.


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I started this 4 years ago and I still feel like I'm looking down a fire hose. There is a lot to learn; as soon as you think you figure something out, the fish toss you a curve. I have a few suggestions more from a learning strategy angle than specific tackle:

1. Walk around the marinas and look at how other folks set up their boats. Pay attention to rod holders on gunnels and transom. Think about how you will set rods, fight and land fish and keep things from tangling under water.

2. Go out on a charter for a crash course in Lake O trolling techniques. Ensure you find a charter with a captain or mate willing to answer questions. Tell them your needs - to learn versus filling a limit. The money you spend for the charter will be repaid in the future by better buying habits. You'll avoid wasting money on items you soon realize you should have forgone.

3. Cheat your rigger rods versus stacking multiple rods. This doubles your hooks in the water for the same number of rods. Use fixed or sliding cheaters or mup rigs.

4. A good 4-rod set up to learn with is 2 DR rods and 2 dipsies (wire or braid line). The braid might be easier to start with because it is more forgiving of operator technique. I'm adding a thumper this year after 4 years of DRs and dipsies. In my opinion, it is better to become a journeyman with each type of trolling technique than to start as an apprentice on all at once. Rifle vs. shot gun theory.

5. Tackle and techniques differ substantially between Browns, salmon and steelhead. Terminal tackle colors, sizes, speeds and depths vary by species to different extents. Your equipment will be multi-taskable with some exceptions on lighter line for Browns but your terminal tackle and how you run it will be different. I recommend you target 1 species first so a. you don't get confused and miss-apply lessons from 1 species to another, b. don't get frustrated by spotty results across the board, c. spread cost over time d. speed your learning curve.

6. Get on boats with other experienced fish'in men. Get them on yours! You will learn much more, more quickly.

7. PLine is GREAT stuff but in my opinion, the FloroClear is better suited for main line duties versus the Florocarbon. The FloroClear is a coated or co-polymer line designed for main line applications. I use the FloroClear exclusively on my river salmon rigs, Brown rigs and walleye rigs.

8. Lake O trolling can be very expensive when starting. I recommend you start with several default colors on flashers/flies: whites/greens/blues. Spoons, well you can spend your entire 401K or IRA on spoons if you’re not careful. Again, consider targeting 1 species first to control expenditures. You will find some spoons will take everything, Orange Crush, NBK, Kevorkian, Chicken Wing come to mind. A good piece of advice I accepted is to always buy 2 when buying a new spoon. You'll learn the reasons why as you gain experience. Employ a means of identifying your spoons such as a labeled spoon box. You will hear lots of radio chatter discussing what spoons folks are catching fish on. It doesn't do a novice any good if you tossed out the spoon package without annotate the name in your box. This will greatly speed your learning curve. Understanding the lingo is critical to learning from others. Also, you'll feel better at the cleaning station when you are able to reply like a pro to the inevitable question of "what did it take?" Much more macho to quickly say "it took an NK-28 Dirty White Boy, 70/90, back 30 feet at 2.7" than something like "this black and green kind of spoon but I don't know who made it".

9. Save the graduate level issues for the future after you have gained a more solid foundation. There are topics that will fry your mind as you try to learn this addiction such as: single or treble, ring or no ring, skirts in or out, tape, speeds of different brand spoons, flashers and dodgers, scents or clean, glow or not. Listen to these topics but don't become maniacal about chasing each one until you build your foundation better. Most of these types of issues center on opinion or shades of gray and you need a bit of experience to separate the wheat from the chaff.

10. Important things to keep in mind:

a. Speed: you need to move the lure through the water within a specific speed range to get the action that will entice. There are strong currents down below and you need a means for determining their strength. Probe, thumper, blow back or a radio/cell phone call to someone that will tell you the current. Other than that, match the speed of other boats and vary your speed till you find what works. North-South trolls work well because the current is more East-West. This results in your GPS or surface speed being closer to your down speed.

b. Depth of the fish: fish/finder, thermocline or strikes will give you the info for that. Be attuned to what's happening. Remember, just because you aren't seeing fish doesn't mean they aren't there. Your F/F has a small cone so the fish must be almost under your transducer to show up. 95% of the fish I catch don't show on the F/F. They take the dipsies or move in from the outside to the riggers. Fish look up for chow, not so much down. Your tackle should be above or at their depth not below. You will get some to move down for a strike but best to be at or slightly above them. Oh yeah, you need to know the depth of your baits, Get dipsy charts, and use your F/F for your balls (50kHz works best) or get a probe.

c. Temperature: This relates closely to depth. Try to determine down temps. Use a probe, listen on your VHF (or ask). Set the sensitivity on your FF to detect the thermocline once it settles in.

d. Tackle colors, types and sizes are less important than the big three: speed - temp - depth. Agressive fish will hit a beer tab if it has the right action and it's in the right depth and temperature zone.

11. Gather the strength to stand in front of a group of strangers and say, "Hi, I'm Joe and I'm addicted to trolling the Big O."

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Excellent advise! A few points of clarification:

Dipsy Rods - Cost effective rods? How to rig them properly? No experience with Dipsies. How do you properly spool wire? Do you use backing? How much wire is needed? 300'? 450'?

Cheating Rigger Rod - One ball bearing swivel on each end? How long should the leader be? What do you use on the cheaters? Spoons / Flies?

What is the reasoning behind using 2 Dipsy's as opposed to stacking a rigger? Seems this is very common, I'm just curious why that is the case.

Any ideas on where one can put in on the Big O in the Mexico bay area?

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T7, for what it's worth I stack two rods on the riggers and use fixed cheaters as well. No problems so far. Wire dipsy setups are awesome and some days they take the most hits. When I have more than two guys on board, I run two stacked rigger rods with fixed cheaters(on each rigger) and two wire dipsy rods. Dipsys are easy to use and very effective! Most guys spool up with 1000' of 30lb. wire, as do I. Good Luck! Tank.

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Thanks Mountain Goat.


Probably lots of ways to do cheaters, but I use a swivel only where it clips around the main line. The lure end gets a coast lock or similar of an appropriate size for the targeted fish. The cheater leader should be no longer than what you can land a fish with. When the fish hits the cheater, it will slide down to the other spoon or swivel/bead/etc. until it stops. This means that if you have a spoon on the main line behind a swivel and, let’s say a 6 foot leader, your cheater can use the same leader length with no penalty. If your main spoon is tied to the main line, the cheater leader will slide to the spoon and you will be limited by your rod and net reach. Select your cheater leader length in response to how you set your main spoon.

I wouldn't use a flasher/fly in either location with a cheater because of the FUBAR you'll get when you take a hit. The flasher can make a goat rope out of your line as the cheater and main line converge in front of the fish, then around the fish and then above the fish as he swims away after being knocked of by the whirling dervish in its face.

Dipsies vs. stacking rods. In all honesty, I tried stacking rods twice. Didn't work well for me. Seems like the planning and steps necessary to get them set and down takes nearly the same amount of work as planning the Normandy invasion. Sliding cheaters are simple. 1. set your main rod and lower it, 2. attach the slider and let it sink. Simple as pie. Fixed cheaters are only a small bit more work but you control their distance from the main lure.

If I can run 4 rods, it will always include dipsies. They increase your swath through the water and get your tackle away from the man-made disturbances (props, bags, balls and cables). I'm sensitive to tangles because I usually fish with my wife meaning I get all the tackle rigging and rod setting duties. She gets to fight and land fish. I can't risk stacked rods with cheaters on each as Tank does for fear I’d be in the back of the boat all day with bird’s nests. Maybe I don't understand them but, when it comes to 4 rods, they'll be the 2 DRs and 2 dipsies. For 6 rods, I go to another set of dipsies or in-line planers (even more width to my swath). That's me but, it may not be the go-to choice for others. The only things I stack on my boat are the cheese slices on my sandwiches and the fish in my cooler. Don't play poker on my boat though because I do "cheat".

Mexico Point State Launch is a great launch. I don't know the cost. It is a 50 yard idle to the Lake. Mike's Marina and Salmon Country have launches - give them a call. I don't know prices or policies but they are both about a 1 mile idle to the Lake (all no-wake zones). So, all-in-all, I recommend the State launch (these are all on the Little Salmon River).

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This is phenomenal advice! I'm planning on heading up for a Saturday morning launch and I look forward to trying the Big O out.... Are there certain radio frequencies that are used by fishing fanatics? I'll shoot for launch at the Mexico Point State Launch. I must say I fish with my wife as well, and I feel your pain on the tangle patrol.

Need more info on the Dipsey. Rod / Real suggestions? Nothing too expensive since I'm only a recreational fisherman. Wire suggestions? what can I fish off the dipsy? Where do I get Dipsy charts or how do I figure out how deep they're running? It makes a lot of sense, just need more direction. Thanks much for the great advice.

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I sent you a private message.

Channels 68 and 5 are popular in the Oswego area while Mexico seems to lean more to 78, 9 and 68. I'm on 78 in Mexico.

FishUSA.com is a great source for trolling supplies. I buy much of my stuff from them. Daiwa Heartland dipsy combos with Daiwa Sealine SG47LCA reels go for $119.00. If you are setting it up for wire, ensure you also buy a twilly tip. I just bought a thumper rod from them along with Malin 30# and a twilly tip kit for $170 to my door. Tom at A-Tom-Mik (http://www.atommiktrollingflies.com/dip ... _combo.htm) will ship you a rig ready to fish for a little bit more. He sells Eagle Claw rods but the reel will be the same. Additionally, Tom's rigs will come with the tip installed, wire loaded and a swivel tied on. (the only complaint I have with A-Tom-Mik is that his web site is about the most illogical lay out I've ever seen, very chaotic and difficult to find things (it’s got to hurt sales)).

Do a search for wire and dipsies on this site and you'll find lots of threads about selecting equipment, loading the wire and employing the rigs. You can run any type of tackle off them, flasher/fly, dodgers, spoons, meat, spin-n-glows. I don’t know if a cow bell or lake troll would work though. That would put a significant bend on the rod and stress the holder and gunnel.

FishUSA.com has a great reference book "Precision Trolling, Big Water Edition" for $24.95. A reel jewel (pun intended). This gives dive charts for all dipsy sizes for 3 line set ups, 30# wire, 30# braid and 30# mono. It also gives depth charts for jet divers and lead balls for thumpers. Don't confuse this book with its sister edition, volume 2 which just lists dive charts for specific plugs, not the dipsies.

As you start accumulating rods and reels, I suggest you start buying only line counters for the first dozen (see, this is an expensive addiction). I guess I'm only kidding but I do suggest your 1st handful of rigs be counters. They cost a little more but you can use them in any position in your spread. You will find them useful on your DRs for a variety of tactics. (lead and copper rigs not included here, they have different considerations and equipment, this is one of those graduate level issues I referred to earlier). Heck, I’ve got 12 rigs on my boat and I’m not pulling copper or lead yet. I guess I’m looking at another 5-6 rigs in my future. I started buying non-counters for my DRs and counters for my dipsies only to realize the counters offered me greater flexibility on my DRs.

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i have fished oneida my whole life and last year tried ontario for the first time. i did manage a few salmon but really dont' know what i'm doing. there is some great advice here. everyone seems to say that you can't lve without a down speed and temp, so i bought one. i got the cannon one. it works well, but i don't know what i'm looking for. how do you know when you hit the thermocline? and should the lures be above it or below it? thompsn7, if you don't have one of these things you will get talked into buying one so you should just get it over with.

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Perhaps I'm getting a bit too granular, but what size and color of Dipsy goes with 30lb steel? Does the rig go, dipsy tied direct to main line, snubber (optional), 48" leader, dodger/fly or spoon? I'm getting the book referenced above to give me more direction on overall presentation.

I'm going to head to Mexico Bay on Saturday morning and try my luck. We'll be heading to the State Boat Ramp near Mexico. We'll be needing to find a good tackle shop, and could use some direction. Any ideas on places open early, as I understand the need to get out by 5:00am.

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Jon's Little Salmon River tackle shop should be open at that time. He is located just east of the road down to the Launch. Depending on where you are coming from, you will go by it coming from Pulaski way or go just past the Mexcio Pt Road if coming from Oswego Way. If I was heading out sat. I would hook up with you and show you my rigs, but other commitments have me off the lake. Good Luck, heard the browns are starting to head back into the bay, and the kings should be up off the plant real soon. Good Luck.


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Yup, that'll work provided that you use a quality snap swivel on your main line. You can use a longer leader to the F/F or spoon. It's limited by your reach when landing fish. Bring the dipsy to the rod tip and see how much reach you have from tip to water. If you go longer, you will create a challenge at the back of the boat when netting. The variables are the length of your rod, the distance from your deck to the water and the length of your net handle. You will get the feel for it once you start.

You can test your variables using the dipsy without anything attached. Tie it to your line; let it out while trolling your boat. Reel it in as if it were a fish and try netting it. The greatest distance back that you feel comfortable netting it will establish the maximum limit you want your fish to be from your boat. That distance will be the combined distance of your snubber, leader, flasher, fly and fish. Sounds like you will have 2 people on board so you don't want to be walking to the bow to take in excess leader. It is a WA but that is not the best way :lol:

Size 1 or magnum dipsies will work great, both with rings. Dipsy color is another of those graduate level/personal opinion issues. Several good charter guys I know keep it simple though; all black or all clear. You can spend a grunch of money buying all colors and sizes of dipsies but in my opinion, stick with 1 or 2 colors and spend your money on different colored flashers, dodgers and lures. Might be a good idea to have 2 colors and assign them to a specific side of the boat. They are set (by you) for a specific side of the boat. Black to port and clear to starboard may help you remember which one is set for which side. You only need to buy 1 more than the number of rods you will use (always good to have a spare on board).

Jon's Little Salmon Bait & Tackle is about 100 yards north of the turn off to Mexico Point launch. It is at 221 State Route 104B in Mexico right on the Texas border (I love these names). He opens early and will have everything you need for trolling riggers or dipsies. Call in advance for his hours, 315-963-7800. Say "hi" to Bo for me.

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Made it out in the morning for a while but the storm blew us off the lake. Looking forward to getting ASAP. Did anyone do well in Mexico? The people I spoke to had a few early knock offs but nothing too spectacular. I assume the low pressure from the storm didn't help the bite.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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