SEASON – Spring and Fall
TACTICS – Open water casting from the boat to schooling fish (spring and fall), Drifting the Lower Niagara River with eggs and crankbaits (fall) Walk and wade the Lake Ontario tribs (fall)
SIZE – lbs in the high teens but fish over 20lbs are common
HABITAT – open water and Lake Ontario tributaries
THE BROOKDOG PERSPECTIVE…
In the 1960s, New York introduced Pacific salmon, primarily Chinook and Coho, to Lake Ontario in order to boost the sport fishing economy. This was the birth of salmon charters in the Buffalo Niagara region.
Both known on the west coast for their size and voracity (the Chinook being the larger of the two often tipping the scales at over 20 lbs), these fish have lived up to their reputations. New York State maintains this vibrant fishery by stocking over 250,000 salmon fingerlings annually on designated Lake Ontario tributaries.
Like their steelhead cousins, these fish roam the depths of Lake Ontario feeding on smelt, alewifes, and other baitfish and stacking on pounds in the process. When these baitfish move to the shallow waters of the lake to spawn, the salmon follow and present exciting opportunities to hook a beast in open water.
Also like steelhead, they begin their spawning run in the early fall when the water in the tributaries cools down – about a month earlier than the steelhead. These huge fish stack up in Lake Ontario tributaries and the Lower Niagara River. It is early in the run that these fish become a target for casting, drifting, and fly anglers.
One of the differences between steelhead and salmon is that after the spawn, salmon die, making this window of opportunity short lived. When you hook up with a fresh fish – your drag will scream and so will you. Don’t worry, we’ll be there for moral support and to net the fish afterwards.