Monday, December 6, 2010

Lake Ontario tribs - a fishing gold mine!

Most of us have read about and many New Englanders have made the drive west on I-90 to partake of the fishing in the Lake Ontario tributaries, the Salmon River around Pulaski, NY being one of the the most famous. FFNE regular Matt lives in the Rochester, NY area and sent me an email with commentary and pictures about fishing some of the smaller tribs. Here is an extract of his report. (The name of this tributary is not mentioned to avoid "spot-burning" but there are probably 20 or more rivers that fit this description.

"In years like this one, where there is enough water, the fish disburse throughout the system and will stay in the creek all winter. We will catch them again in the Spring when they drop back to the Lake. It is mostly big brown trout and fall run rainbows, which in the spring will be augmented with steelhead coming in to spawn. The season begins in late October when the Chinook run and spawn, creating an orgy of salmon eggs. The browns and rainbows come in following the salmon eating the eggs. We catch fish on small egg patterns (10-14s) usually under a strike indicator with a little weight added. It is mostly sight fishing to specific fish or pods of fish. The male browns show up first and we see them fighting for territory on gravel. The fishing is best when the females come in to spawn. Spawning is unsuccessful for the salmon and the browns, but the rainbows and steelhead that get up to the cooler headwaters do successfully reproduce. The Atlantics are quite new—seeing more of them each year for the past 4 years. The theory is that they are from Ontario, which is now stocking solely Atlantic salmon on their side of the Lake. The charter captains will never let NY stock only atlantics because their business is dependent upon trolling for big pacific salmon in the Lake in the summer—but we do stock some Atlantics as well.

Once the spawn is over-usually about Thanksgiving—we catch these fish with big streamers either dead drifted or on the swing (much more fun). No subtle takes but a lot more prospecting in deeper pools."
Matt, thanks for the reports and pictures.  You might see me out there next November!


  1. I took a trip up there a few years ago in December, and had a great time with steelies and browns.

  2. Did you fish the Salmon River, or some of the smaller tribs? I fished the Salmon River in a snow storm in December a few years ago. Hooked and quickly lost a couple hot steelhead and landed some nice browns.

  3. We fished the Salmon. The hookups were unbelievable. I'm a small stream guy, but thats one big river I love.