Lake Ontario out of Mexico Bay 7/28
After last week's fun lake trout trip I was looking forward to getting back onto "the Big Lake" for another shot at some salmonids. We were going to head to Oswego Harbor (for some bass too) but my buddy Terry informed me that Harborfest was taking place this week, so I decided to go with Mexico. I would love to fish out of Oak Orchard or Hamlin but that's a 2.5 hour plus drive.
I'd never been to the state launch at Mexico but it's great. You launch into the lower part of a swampy creek – kind of like Sandy Creek by Hamlin. Excellent ramp, sheltered mouth (ala Dean's Cove) and on top of that, the fishy looking creek that you launch into. Terry arrived about 5 minutes before I did and took a look at the launch. A nice bowfin was hovering right on the ramp. What a great way to start a trip! Mexico Bay looks like a great place to attempt some fly-fishing for spring browns. Lots of rock, dark areas plus some slow moving creeks that are sure to warm up early in the season and attract some nice fish.
The one thing that makes jigging difficult on Lake Ontario is the common AM chop that usually doesn't dissipate until 10 am or so. I'm sure the trollers love it but it makes it tough to slow down and use the electronics with the gain I want. Boat control is also trickier as is just standing in the boat at times! I'm a die-hard Finger Lakes guide but if I lived near the lake and guided it I would have to get a bigger boat. You'd want at least a 20'er out here – and fiberglass would likely provide a better experience. For now, I have to pick my days carefully.
I ran out to over 200' of water on the day. We checked a lot of zones. There were a few Charters/large Rec boats out – a couple appeared to be in very deep water and one or two were in shallow (likely less than 100') maybe searching for brown trout. A couple boats worked the 150' zone. The thermocline started around 85'. We worked a lot of areas with different stuff including our usual soft plastics and some Butterfly jigs. A couple times we may have had hits but nothing solid. Terry thought he had a dink on, but it wound up being a goby he hooked in 120' FOW.
Things didn't look good. After 8 hours we hadn't had a hookup and we weren't marking much. At times, Lake Ontario is like a vast wasteland – just nothing on the screen. You don't see that in the Finger Lakes. At least not nearly to the extent that you see it out on LO. But our screen started to change for the better as some clouds starting rolling in and the air got muggier. We started getting some follows and hits.
I set into a very nice fish (on a Lunker City Swimfish) and knew I had a non-laker. It hit up high in 150'. Was it a King? The fight and run started to feel like one, but then the run stopped and the fish turned. So not a King. After a great battle with a lot of turning and short intense runs Terry netted a solid brown. We tried releasing it but it was done. The hard fight in the warm water wore it out. So we kept it – it was 25" long and probably 8 to 9lbs. It was a pig. So we saved our day in the ninth inning so to speak. Some guys we met from PA were camping at the park. They nabbed one nice King this AM. But they said the fishing's been slow. There is an ominous feeling in the air around Lake Ontario. Tackle shops are closed; there are very few boats out and the ones that are aren't doing great. I talked to a woman working at the Dunkin Donuts in Mexico and she said that you can tell things are slowing down. But there are still some great fish to be caught and some great fishing to be had. The heyday is long gone.