Lake Ontario out of Oswego 11/16


One thing that’s been on my to-do list for awhile has been getting out on Lake Ontario in the fall – basically the last week in October through the first two weeks of November, and checking on inshore trout action on the fly-rod. When I lived in the Rochester area, creek and river mouths were my favorite places to fish when trib levels were low. We’d generally fish “lazy-style” i.e. egg sacks tied up with marshmallows (kind of like they do at Skaneateles Lake with nightcrawlers) for steelhead and the occasional brown or laker. We’d lay the rods on the pier or wade and hold them, keeping our bails open. It was a matter of waiting for a bite and subsequent run. This fishing was best when the lake levels were high, and we’d fish Webster Park, the mouth of Maxwell Creek, Irondequoit Bay outlet and the mouth of the Genesee River. It was also good around Hamlin. A few hardy souls do fly-fish the lake and troll for steelhead during the late fall. Reading Ernie Lanteigne’s great blog reminded me of this opportunity – he has an article on trolling in late fall for steelhead.

I’ve seen schools of nice browns along structure, usually in 12′ to 40′ of water in October around the south shore of Lake Ontario and while bass fishing around 10 years ago my buddy Phil landed an 11lb brown while casting a Rapala after we both had some hits from browns and had seen some surfacing. I’ve also seen other salmonids chasing baitfish around these areas. The tricky thing now is finding a good boat launch – the lake remains super-low, and with the short days we now have, there’s no time to waste driving from launch to launch. So I decided on Oswego, even though I’d probably have rather gone further west or north.

The launch there is great right now and another 3 boats went out on Friday. I worked some shallow areas and some places along the breakwalls with my streamers and never saw a fish. Conditions were very good- bluebird skies with a light onshore breeze, though it didn’t get really steady till later in the afternoon. The great thing about a day spent fly-fishing is that it’s never a waste of time. I looked at it as casting practice with the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Ontario in late November. You’d be hard pressed to see more picturesque sunrises and sunsets than you will here during the late fall and winter.

I managed to spend a few hours out in deeper water checking the electronics and dropping some jigs down. Lake trout are now out of season in Lake Ontario, but bass are around and so are other salmonids. I had a few hits and had some suspended fish showing interest in my jigs. Most likely steelhead this time of year. Gobies were still abundant and hitting too. Water temps were around 46 inside the harbor and 48 to 49 out in the lake. Talked to two out of the three other boaters that had gone out. One just trolled for an hour or two on a “shakedown” with a new boat and didn’t see anything. The other guys do this trip around this time of year annually and generally have good steelhead fishing. They picked up two – one just over legal size (21″ is legal) and one under.