A different way to fish salmon and trout

Frank Campbell With Lake Trout Copy

Salmon and trout fishing on Lake Ontario jumped off to a good start because of the mild winter we experienced and the fact that there was little ice on Lake Erie. Kings showed up in early April all along the lake and with the unseasonably cool spring, they have been hanging around for fishermen to catch.

Of course, the traditional method for catching spring kings is to troll the shoreline (right now in 50 to 120 feet of water) with spoons, stickbaits or flasher-fly combos. No problem there. Action has been fast and furious.

A quick call from Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters to say he was heading out to the Niagara Bar because the wind was going to be 7 mph from the west was all it took. We met at 7 a.m. at Fort Niagara, but there was a problem. The wind was 15 mph out of the northwest. Weather forecasters often lie when it comes to fishing conditions.

Not to be denied, we motored out of the mouth of the Niagara River and tried to find areas that were not as bad as where the wind greeted the river current. Using the traditional method of employing a three-way rig that is the go-to set-up in the river and off the mouth, Campbell attached a 3.0 MagLip plug called “Keeper.” we tried to drift with the wind, bouncing bottom with an ounce of lead.

The wind was switching. We decided to use the trolling motor to go into the wind but with the current, heading north to the iconic green buoy marker – one of the best identifying marks for specific fishing locations in the area. That was where Campbell was the day before, catching king after king with his kids. We could not make it there on this day – too rough.

Spring salmon fishing in May is prime time for the Niagara Bar and Campbell cannot share this with anyone this year because the charter fishing industry was deemed non-essential. That is another story for now.

Before Campbell threw that MagLip on, he did one thing to it. He doused the outside with Alewife Scent from Atlas Mike’s. It was not long before I had the first fish of the day, a big lake trout. I caught 2 more before Frank put scent on his lure and almost immediately, he had the first salmon of the day, a small king. Ten minutes later I had a small Coho salmon. We had 2 other rods out, but without scent.

Before our 2-1/2-hour photo shoot was over, we had 5 lake trout, 2 salmon and a smallmouth bass under terrible conditions. Of that catch, only one fish hit a lure without scent on it. We had 2 lures that did and 2 that did not. The experiment worked.

Before we headed in, though, Campbell pulled out his casting rods and decided to rig some up with Strike King Magic Goby tubes. The jigs that went inside the tube were a new design – Rapids Scent Keeper heads that allowed you to put scent onto the jig itself and hold it inside of the tube.

Once we were rigged, we did a few minutes of casting, but the brisk winds and cold fingers got the better of us and we headed into the launch ramp. In that short amount of time, we had 3 hits, but no fish. We will save that for a future blog because the bass are snapping right now, too.

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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