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The passing ofsalmon fishing pioneer and lure designer


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The passing of a true salmon fishing pioneer, teacher, mentor and lure designer.

Sadly we lost one of the true pioneers of modern great lakes salmon fishing. Captain Joe Riefer of Condor Charters. If you did not know him, you should have if you did, count yourself fortunate. Joe and his wife/partner began salmon fishing on Lake Michigan and its tribs...Bear Creek, the Manistee and the Muskegon in the late '60s. In the mid '70s when fishing got good here they moved to Lake Ontario, specifically the Oak.

Joe was an innovator in salmon fishing techniques and lure design. He designed tested and perfected Pirate Spoons. He would spend the off-season cutting spoons and hammering them by hand. Many of the charter captains in the mid 80’s would wait in line to get one of his spoons.

There is no more productive spoon than his 44, on spring steelhead, bar none or the 06 (now the 66) as it was called on fall staging Salmon in the shallows in front of the wall at the Oak.

He taught or mentored some of the best charter captains on the lake today. His skill and knowledge of salmon fishing was unquestionable and he passed it along to many of his friends and colleagues.

Even after Joe stopped fishing, he and his wife Shirley continued to be involved by pioneering the first true successful web site for salmon fishing information on the Great Lakes, “At the Oak†which continues to be the model for a world class fishing informational web site. During the summer months as many as 1500 individuals would visit this site daily.

(Many of the new fishermen know him more for these endeavors than his fishing skills).

In Joes own words

“We admit that some of our primary enjoyment comes from doing what little we can to promote our fishery (it is world class) and especially to give anglers, from near or far, at least a starting point. Some areas we do pride ourselves on are the frequency of our reports, impartiality on Charters and lures, and above all, "tell it like it is" credibilityâ€.

We will all sadly miss Joe and his wit, and I hope you will all keep his wife Shirley in your prayers.

I know I will.

A devoted Friend and Student

Capt. Bob Songin

Reel Excitement Charters

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That is a terrible loss ;( and I am sure he is in a better place :yes: My prayers go out to Shirley and her family.

I hope that when we all catch a trout or salmon this year we take a moment to think of Joe and all that he did for our great fishery :yes:

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Capt Bob, very well said. I had the opportunity and honor of meeting Joe many years ago. He was always willing to give out any info. All one had to do was ask the question. As far as a lure designer, many targets fell prey to his Old Joes original Pirate spoons, from many who used the Pirates across Great Lakes. One of my largest kings that I have landed came on a Pirate 55 lazer spook. That continues to be one of my favorite blanks, black/silver dimpled cup. Joe and Shirleys' site- At The Oak, have cut years off the learning curve of many new comers to the Lake Ontario fishing scene with their wealth of information. They literally made the Oak , in my opinion the most open lines of communication port on the lake. So much that I feel that I owe it to back, to share any info as far as current reports, technigues, etc. It obvioulsy took much input and unselfish info, as far as current up to date happenings from the lake, from the charters such as Capt. Bob of Reel Excitement and others. But it took much effort as well for Joe and Shirley to maintain the site. I know the state will probably not hear of it, but I would like to see the west launch somehow renamed after Joe or some other way to memorialize his efforts that he brought to the Point Breeze area. Joe, you may not be here now in body, but your spirit will surely live on in many of us who have learned from your years of pioneering the very sport and passion we call salmon fishing. Shirley, please know that many of us are holding you in thoughts and prayer. -Long live the Condor-Duane Jones

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