By Kevin Davis | 07/08/2013
Normally it starts getting easy to catch salmon in Lake Ontario this time of year. We have warm water, good weather and easy fishing, but hasn’t been the case this spring and summer where we’ve been plagued by brutal winds, unseasonably cold weather and storms.
It’s been a real tough year so far. In fact, you couldn’t catch a salmon three weeks ago. Fortunately, we started seeing more kings the last week or two, and right now we are landing about five a trip, which is still far fewer than we’ve been seeing the past few years.
Personally, I think the trouble has been the water, and wind, of course. When faced with a huge water column holding fish you can’t catch many. Think about what’s been happening. Let’s focus on temperature. Down 30 feet it’s 55 degrees. Down 115 feet is 50.
We’ve been getting a lot of hard winds from all different directions. It’s been like a washing machine on Lake Ontario and it’s mixing the water, which keeps a thermocline from forming. When you have a 70-foot depth of water holding the fish it’s tough to target them. And, that’s just the 50-degree section. The fish could be in the 40-degree section, too, which would make the section even larger, and targeting them more difficult.
Right now, there’s one column of the same water in our area. With a column that big you can’t target anything. It’s too big of a range. As soon as the thermocline sets up it’ll pick up quick, I hope.
Historically, we have a thermocline by now. Actually, we’d have one more than a month ago. On the other hand, fluctuating weather has kept one from forming. To start to see a thermocline we need a week of stable weather. Once it starts to form I’m hoping the fishing picks up quick. If it doesn’t, then something’s wrong with this year’s salmon run.
It’s also been a terrible year for brown trout. But, we are lucky the lake trout are showing in big numbers. We haven’t had to touch them in years because we’ve always had the browns and salmon around. But, the salmon has been so good the last few years people don’t want to catch lakers.
When the weather stabilizes, which were hoping is soon; the salmon bite should get good. I think we are going to see very big fish this year. There’s already been fish to 33 pounds, which is large for this time of year. We’ll probably see fish up to 40 pounds. They are all healthy, nice looking fish, which is a good sign for the remainder of the summer.
Now that summer has settled in (at least on the calendar) my techniques have dwindled down to two. I can’t get a bite on a spoon this year so I’ve been sticking to flies and brined bait. On the slow side turns I’ll use all bait, whereas on the fast side turns I’ll use flies. When we are going straight anything can fire, but 50 percent of our bites come on turns. What we do when we mark a bunch is zigzag, which explains why I’m so detailed on slow and fast side turns.
(Above) Alewives soaking in Natural Pautzke FireBrine)
I use all Atomic Flies, mostly Green Glow and Hammer Flies. I’m also starting to use a lot of bait. I caught my own alewives and have been brining them in natural Pautzke Fire Brine. I’ll use natural while I’m catching them in the top 50 feet, which is where I’m getting them now. However, as summer progresses and they go deeper I like chartreuse Fire Brine and purple. In fact, our big fish today came on chartreuse Fire Brine.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Davis’ summer trolling excursions out of Oswego please visit catchthedrift.com