Lake Ontario out of Sodus Bay 10/19


It’s been nice having some days off to go fishing. I used to fish Lake Ontario a lot for smallmouth bass, mostly during the recent heyday from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s. My buddy Terry and I would count our bass catches in “10s”. It wasn’t anything special to land 30 or 40 keepers in a day. Once I think we hit 100, but I can’t remember for sure. Things have changed a lot since then, mostly due to the presence of millions of gobies, but also likely due to some weak smallmouth bass year classes. Reports on Lake Ontario smallmouth fishing on the south shore have not been good this summer, but stuff like that doesn’t discourage me. I like a challenge! My friends that fish with me don’t have it easy. I went alone today, but my buddies usually aren’t subject to easy fishing. It’s rare that I call a friend up to go “pound some fish” – they’re generally coming along for “research” and exploratory missions i.e. the same stuff I do on my own. So in October that generally means no Keuka laker jigging or Skaneateles bass fishing – I don’t “practice” what I already know for the most part.

Things weren’t easy by any means today. I got to Sodus around 10 am, after leaving the house with air temps at 32 degrees. My engine’s water outflow hole was frozen shut; that took a while to thaw out. I was hoping there wasn’t an impeller problem. There wasn’t. I talked to some perch fishers – they told me that the bite’s been slow. One angler reported seeing some big Kings in the bay yesterday- right around the bay bridge. I got onto the lake and was greeted by west winds around 10 mph. 2′ to 3′ waves. I made a 10-mile run to Pultneyville – some of the best south shore structure on the lake and started fishing at around 11:30 am. I worked from the shallows out to around 30′ of water – using tube jigs and dropshotting. Zippo. I had a couple light pecks from gobies – that was it.

Unfortunately I didn’t have all day – I teach classes at 6:30 pm, so I needed to be heading back to the dock by 3 pm. As I worked my way east, I started marking some baitfish. I did see a couple gulls cruising along too. I set up an alewife tube and started working that. In fairly short order I had a few big smallmouth bass chase in the tube as I wound it in. I was hoping some trout would be around, so instead of hopping in the tube, what I do is hop it a few times then crank it in – that’s when the bass chased. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them to hit. I tried some jerkbaits too. Things got interesting when I heard a fish jump a few cast lengths away. Mid-October in Lake Ontario with 55 degree water temps? That wasn’t a carp! I motored out with my trolling motor and made a few casts with my X-rap. I stood in awe as I watched a school of around 1/2 dozen to 10 brown trout from around 3lbs to 10lbs follow in my lure! It was exciting – very reminiscent of the casting I occasionally do from shore or my boat around FL tributary mouths. These fish would have been fly-fishable. They never hit, but I got them to chase a few more times. In a couple weeks these fish should be right around the creek mouths, and I’m hoping to be back with the fly-rods. No fish hooked for me today. But I was so excited watching those fish chase me, you could have heard me yell half-way to Toronto! Great fun fishing, poor catching! The bay water looked good and I’ll bet the pike and bass were hitting.

If all goes as I hope it will, I’ll be getting out on Waneta for pure-strain muskies, possibly Chautauqua/Lake Erie, Otisco Lake a few more times, and maybe even Oneida. I’d love to fish the St. Lawrence River too – esp. for muskies. We’re blessed with a lot of great fishing around here – I feel like I haven’t scratched the surface yet. I’m also looking forward to some pike fishing on Cayuga and Conesus (and I still haven’t given up on Seneca) and then winding November down with plenty of Skaneateles and Cayuga Lake trout/salmon action. Stay tuned!