Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes. Yet, at 190 miles in length, 50 miles in width, and featuring 700-plus miles of shoreline shared between New York state and Ontario, Canada, and with surface acreage of roughly 7,300 square miles, it’s still the 14th largest lake in the world.
The fifth Great Lake has an excellent reputation for offering rich and diverse sportfishing opportunities. On the eastern end, places like the Bay of Quinte and Henderson Harbor are renowned for producing double-digit walleyes. To the west, especially in the Niagara River region, it’s all about exceptional trout and salmon fishing.
Brent Bochek, multi-species fishing guide and Northland Pro Staff angler lives in Grimsby, Ont., and regularly takes clients after lake trout and salmon along the southern shore from the Niagara River to beyond Fifty Mile Point. Fishing approaches aren’t complicated, he says, but sometimes require an angler to hunt for fish.
1. From April through early May trolling stickbaits in shallow water is the prime approach. “We’re talking about 5 to 20 feet—where water temperatures are highest early in the season,” he says, “and where lakers, brown and rainbow trout, and salmon come to feed on smelt and alewives.”
The trick is to find warm water. “The best bet is to look for green water off creek mouths,” he says, “between the blue lake water and brown outflow from a creek.”
2. Lake Trout action moves to deeper water from the end of May through September. Trolling tactics are viable through the warm months, but this is also the time to break out big jigs. “Fish on calm days and focus on 80- to 100-foot depths with heavy jigs over the side of the boat,” he explains. “I go with a 7- to 7½-foot, medium-heavy, fast-action baitcasting outfit loaded with 30-pound no-stretch braid and a 7-foot fluoro leader. The braid allows for maximum sensitivity in the deep water and better hooksets.”
Bochek suggests including Northland Airplane Jigs®, Buck-A-Roo® hair jigs, and Buck-Shot® Rattle Spoons, all in the heaviest sizes available, in your arsenal. Some version of white, to represent the dominant forage fish, is the most productive color, and he recommends tipping the jig with a 4-inch Smelt Minnow, large curly-tail grub, or a live minnow. ”You may have to search with your sonar, but you can usually get some fish to go every day. And you’ve got a real opportunity to catch a 30-plus pounder.”
Lake maps courtesy of Navionics. For more information, visit:Navionics.com