KISS the fish

How many times have you heard the old saying that's shortened up to the acronym KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid? Time and time again, hunters and fishermen have a tendency to over-think a situation when the best approach may very well be to stick with the absolute basics. For Capt. Jacob Joseph of Youngstown, a second generation charter guy om the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, that’s the best advice he can give to anyone starting out with fishing these popular waters…or anywhere in the state for that matter.
“I was mentored by my father, Capt. Bill Joseph and a close family friend, Capt. Dave Elliott, ever since I was two years old,” said Joseph in discussing his approach to fishing. “I kept hearing the phrase ‘keep it simple’ and it was a very hard concept to grasp – especially with all the new state-of-the-art equipment and tackle that's available today. I would walk into a tackle shop with my dad and my eyes would open wide at all the new flashy spoons and stickbaits. In the end I would look over and watch my dad purchase an old-school dodger with a green squid. Ever since then, I try to remember to keep it simple whenever I can. Time and time again, I am successful on the water, especially for salmon and trout, by keeping it simple.”
Keeping it simple in April and May means locating the warmest water possible which, in turn, will attract the baitfish. “I’m seeking out 45- to 50-degree water inside of 100-foot depths,” says Joseph, who just started up his “Jiggin’ Jake’s Charters” this year, hoping this will attract the food for the predator fish – salmon and trout.
With the clear waters of the lake, he doesn’t like to put too much tackle into the water. Two downriggers and two dipsy divers will usually suffice, adjusting depths, boat speed and lure selection until he gets his first strike. Then he adjusts his program accordingly.
Early in the Lake Ontario fishing season, he likes to run flutter spoons and his favorite three include Kevorkian, Natural Born Killer and Greasy Chicken Wing color patterns to start things out. When running spoons off the 'riggers, he makes sure to run at least 30 to 40 feet of line off the ball to compensate for the clear water conditions. As far as trolling speed, he doesn’t look at the electronics. Instead, he looks to his downrigger cables.
“We deal with a lot of current around the Niagara River, so by making sure the cables are angled back you know you have adjusted for that current accordingly. I like to hear the cables singing, just like Dad taught me," he says.
Of course, there’s nothing better than time on the water to figure out where the fish are and what they want on any given day, and Jake is addicted to fishing these Great Lakes waters. Whether it’s fishing in the river, fishing in the lake or fishing in the streams (yes, he’s a stream guide, too), Jiggin’ Jake is a fishaholic, and that's certainly a bright spot when it comes to fishing’s future. We are losing too many of the “old timers” and seeing the next generation of angler arrive on the scene to serve as stewards of these fine resources is important. They are also the ambassadors of the fishery as they educate other anglers to the same basics that helped to make them successful as well.
KISS me, you fishing fool!
If you’d like to contact Jake for any reason, he can be reached at 716-531-1898. Check out his Facebook page at
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