- Matching Lure Sets can make a fish-catching difference!
- NYSDEC Fisheries Chief Steve Hurst wants more public input on fishery issues
- Wilson Harbor, Olcott Harbor…provide safe access to Lake Ontario monster fish
By Forrest Fisher
In the world search for outdoor fun, salmon fishing with new friends aboard a 39-foot well-equipped boat can light a fire for unstoppable conversation. That’s true, even when the wind is kicking up 5-foot waves. My dad always told me, “It’s not about the catching, it’s about the fun and being there.”
Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said, “I’m learning so much!” The word-sharing for learning more about fishery issues and becoming a good fisherman couldn’t have been any better during a recent fish trip with legislators and press representatives on western Lake Ontario from Niagara County. High water is an issue for Lake Ontario right now, but the group of about 30 folks, in total, discovered that the fish really do not care about water levels.
King salmon (Chinook), brown trout and steelhead live far offshore in summer and their only concern is finding forage and feeding when they’re hungry, which is quite often. Our group went to Wilson Harbor, but looking there, you might never know high water was an issue (near Sunnyside Grill area), as save-the-harbor efforts in Wilson by a private concern brought in new docks and new fill, those efforts made the high water seem non-existent.
With a nasty wind from the east, we headed out of the marina and about 10-miles north. It was rough but doable. Captain Mike Johannes (716-791-3646 ) and 1st mate, Randy Jasulevich, made running the boat named “On-the-Rocks” and trolling 10 fish lines seem like easy work. It’s not, of course, especially under high wind and wave conditions, but they were trying hard to put us on fish. Captain Mike’s big boat handled the surf with no issues at all and we enjoyed a “County Fair” sort of shallow roller coaster ride for a few hours. It was relaxing too.
For the first time in quite a while, the best part of the trip was a simple conversation. We talked about fishing, changes in the NYSDEC, free fishing licenses from now through Labor Day for Lake Ontario anglers, fish management policies on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario water levels, the new NYSDEC inland trout initiative, the new focus on bringing more women to fish with families, the Conservation Fund Advisory Board (CFAB), the NYS Conservation Council, the NYS Fish and Wildlife Management Board, our 12 NYS fish hatcheries, the success of the Niagara River musky population, radio telemetry studies of tagged fish species, the future for youth fishing programs and so much more. Thanks to Steve Hurst, Chief of NYS Fisheries with the NYSDEC, who was aboard with us, everyone had a chance to share thoughts and a bit of banter, too. It was a great 6-man/2-way session for educational outreach in its finest form. That’s one major goal for Hurst, “I want to bring the public into the picture more often, then provide details of changes to be made based on public input and science.”
Dave Godfrey, the legislator for Wilson/Cambria/Wheatfield, provided a simplified rationale for management of the Lake Ontario water levels, all based on his 60-years of white-beard experience with the lake. Assemblyman Angelo Morinello shared a summary of positive changes and improvements underway in Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, and Lewiston, all quite impressive.
“Fish on!” Captain Mike hollered out. Dave Godfrey jumped up. 1st mate Randy hollered out, “Reel, Reel, Reel!” The rod was bent over from 12 o’clock to the gunnel at the back of the big boat, the rod was throbbing with a king salmon in a sort of bob and weave pulsation, and with a hard pull. Just then, “Uh-oh, what happened?” said Godfrey, “He stopped pulling, darn, I think the fish is gone.” A quick check by Captain Mike showed that during the battle, the line had apparently hit one of the other down lines and with such a big fish on, the line snapped. “Not your fault!” Said the captain, “There are plenty more out there!”
We all learned lessons in setting dipsy divers, mag-divers, use of wire-line, downriggers and slider leaders, leader length, flasher-fly combo’s and spin-doctor/tinsel fly rigging tricks. Wow! What a day!
Coming back to port, the biggest fish from Wilson Harbor was caught by Jonathan Schultz fishing with Captain Hank Condes aboard Blade Runner Charters. The biggest fish from Olcott Harbor, a 22-pound king salmon, was brought in by Andrea Czopp while fishing aboard Tough Duty with Captain Tim Sylvester. Both Schultz and Czopp received a handsome trophy for their mastery with rod and reel. The most unusual catch – awarded for landing a fish hooked by the tail, was made by Becky Wydysh, also fishing aboard Tough Duty. To a crowd of cheering and fun-filled jeering, Becky was presented with the “Golden Boot Award.” She accepted with a big smile.
The friendly competition among the six charter captains and the Niagara County legislators and public officials concluded with a tasty lunch at the nearby Live Edge Brewing Company, a microbrewery located just five minutes away from the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott. The fun event was hosted by Bill Hilts Jr. and Dr. John Syracuse in conjunction with Niagara County Fish Advisory Board.
For more info on vacation guides, fishing charters or accommodations, call 1-877-FALLS-US or visit www.olcott-newfane.com or www.niagarafallsusa.com. To contact Capt. Mike Johannes at On-the-Rocks Charters, call 716-791-3646 or email: ontherockssII@aol.com. To contact Capt. Tim Sylvester of Tough Duty Sportfishing Charters, call 716-417-2455 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.