Derby’s Abound with King-Kong Salmon and Big Walleye

When that first kiss means so much!

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for August 21, 2019 from Destination Niagara USA

What a week!

It’s been a flurry of activity, starting with three derbies at the same time last weekend.

The Reel Alewives of WNY won the Reelin’ for a Cure ladies tournament last Friday with this fine catch of salmon. They were fishing with Capt. Bob Cinelli of Cinelli Sportfishing, aboard the “White Mule” out of Olcott.

The Orleans Rotary Fishing Derby ended last Sunday, leaving two derbies left going into this weekend – the Fall LOC Derby that ends on Labor Day and the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey that ends on Sunday, August 25 at 1 p.m. It’s still not too late to enter either.

First to the fishing.

Hats off to the Reel Alewives of WNY, these ladies won the Reelin’ for a Cure Tournament out of Olcott and Wilson last Friday. The team, fishing aboard the White Mule with Capt. Bob Cinelli of Newfane weighed in a 6-fish limit of 114 pounds with a big fish of over 25 pounds. A total of 36 boats competed in this year’s event, all lady teams from 4 states.

Stephanie Pierleoni (second from the right) was the organizer of the Reelin’ for a Cure ladies event and they placed 4th overall among the 36 teams who competed.

Out of Olcott, Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Thrillseeker reports that mature salmon are highly scattered with all of the wind changes. Salmon can be caught from 50 to 500 feet of water. Good steelhead can also be found in deeper water where conditions are more stable. Fishing should only get better. With winds out of the south or southwest, look for mature kings to begin staging.

Ann Swanson with her 25.33-pound king salmon to earn the top catch for the Reel Alewives of WNY team.  You could say it was love at first bite!

Out of Wilson, Capt. Alan Sauerland of Instigator Charters had the pressuring task of producing some fish for governor’s Andrew Cuomo of New York and Ned LaMont of Connecticut on Tuesday morning. They managed to catch a few steelhead and the crew lost a 20-pound salmon at the back of the boat when the fish jumped out of the net. At least, that was the way Sauerland told it. They were fishing 8-10 miles out.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo (L) and CT Governor Ned LaMont show off their Wilson steelhead from Tuesday. They were fishing with Capt. Alan Sauerland of Instigator Charters.

In the Niagara River, Blake Kowalski of Tonawanda was bottom bouncing with a worm harness near Strawberry Island, managing to catch 3 walleyes and a few smallmouth bass. Then he hooked into something big. He wasn’t quite sure what it was until it was near the end of his 2-hour battle – a big sturgeon. It broke his line just a short distance from his boat. What a battle.

In the lower Niagara River, walleye action continues to be good, both in the river and on the Niagara Bar. The leading catch for the Walleye Division of the Fish Odyssey is a 10-pound, 10-ounce fish reeled in by Vincent Gebczyk of Niagara Falls using a harness. Leader for the special Southtowns Walleye prize for largest walleye caught by a member is Bob Patterson of Niagara Falls with a 9-pound, 10 ounce lower river fish. Lots of room for improvement for the adults and the kids in the Fish Odyssey. Check out www.fishodyssey.net for details or to register. It ends Sunday at 1 p.m. You just have to register prior to fishing.

Everyone had fun in the tournament!

The Fall LOC Derby runs thru Labor Day with a $25,000 Grand Prize. The early Grand Prize leader is Codey Allen of West Seneca with a 33-pound, 8-ounce king salmon caught out of Olcott. Top steelhead is a 15-pound, 6-ounce Olcott fish reeled in by Nick Dougherty of Lockport. Leading brown trout right now is 15 pounds, 13 ounces caught by Bruce Raggi of Farmington while out of Wayne County. Remember, no fishing license is needed if you fish in Lake Ontario or the lower Niagara River thru Labor Day.

The winner of the $4,000 Grand Prize in the Orleans County contest was Julie Schaeffer of Sligo, Pennsylvania with a 29-pound, 6-ounce king salmon caught out of Point Breeze in Orleans County. Top brown trout was a 13-pound, 3-ounce Point Breeze fish caught by Georgia Barkdoll of McConnellsburg, Pa. Keith Tessier of Hilton took first place in the lake trout category with an 18-pound, 4-ounce fish. Top steelhead was a 17-pound, 15-ounce fish caught out of Olcott by Laurie Jankowski of Sloan.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director
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Destination Niagara USA, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Wind and Waves, High Water and Reverse Current – Lake Ontario salmon still slam baits when you find them!

  • 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
Captain Mike Johannes, On-the-Rocks Charters, says matching lure colors to create color sets can make a fish-catching difference at times. 

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.

Captain Mike Johannes shares thoughts for the Lake Ontario forage base and fish-stocking levels with NYSDEC Fisheries Chief, Steve Hurst (R).

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.”

Big fish, big net – needed for the most common catches of the huge fish that anglers catch in Lake Ontario.

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.

Big rig reels with efficient gearing systems are the norm for big fish catching.

“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.

Sharing lunch at the Live Edge Brewing Company, Steve Hurst (L) and Captain Frank Campbell (R) listen attentively as big-fish champion (22-pound king), Andrea Czopp, shares her fish-catching secrets. She whispered, “Dramamine…it works for me!”

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: toughduty@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish-Catching Fun in Comfort on Lake Ontario

  • Lower Niagara River, Wilson Harbor and Olcott Harbor ALL Provide Easy Access to Big Ocean-sized Fish
  • Boat Trollers and Pier Casters both SCORE on Fall King Salmon
  • Charter Fishing from a Boat is FUN, Affordable and Comfortable

By Forrest Fisher

Whopper steelhead are among usual late summer catches when your lure and feeding time for the fish are in-sync, as they were for Rick Updegrove the last week of August. Forrest Fisher Photo

With water levels slowly returning to normal, late summer on Lake Ontario means fishing fun at nearly every port of angler access, from shore and boat. 

The end of August is the start of peak fishing for King Salmon, but steelhead, lake trout and other cold water species also add to the reel-sizzling, fish-catching fun.

Fishing out of Wilson Harbor with Charter Captain Bob Cinelli aboard his aptly named “White Mule,” a 36-foot Tiara – ask him how that name came to be, was a simple day of fishing pleasure.  The boat is big, bold and beautiful.  Rest room below decks, sleeping compartments…nice.

The fishing rigs aboard “White Mule” are brand new models of time-tested rods, reels, lines and lures.  Cinelli only uses the best and he should know after more than 30 years of fishing experience on the “Big-O.”  Daiwa 4011 hi-speed reels, Heartland rods, Big Jon downriggers, 20-pound test Ande monofilament lines on the downriggers – tipped with Seaguar fluorocarbon leaders, copper line for use with the giant “Otter” planer boards, and the sharpest hooks on his select set of favored spoons. 

Fishing with friends Mike Norris, Rick Updegrove and John Syracuse, we all took turns landing King salmon and steelhead.  Our trip started early at sunrise and we were back to port at noon or so, with plenty of fillets for the smoker. 

The big question for many anglers is how to fish and with what. What color? What spoon? How Deep? Charter captains often have ALL THOSE ANSWERS.  Forrest Fisher Photo

North winds over the previous few days had started a small turnover offshore, but that did not hold up the fishing action with Captain Bob, as he revised the fishing program to find the winning combination to find King Salmon and steelhead.

We started out running lines at 30, 40 and 50 feet down using downriggers with 8-foot sliders, diving planes off copper out 100 feet, all with some variation of green-colored spoons in 125 feet of water.  To find the hot fish, we slowly trolled out to 300 feet and then back shallower, looking for active fish on the feed.  Back and forth Captain Bob moved us around, then we found active steelhead off the planer boards and riggers.

Just like fishing for marlin in the ocean, steelhead in Lake Ontario fly out of the water.  Up, up and away. The fish not only soar above the water, they swim fast to the left, to the right, and then right at you.  When that happens, you need to test your shoulder and arms for durability, and turn the reel handle very fast.

I had a nice steelhead on, it was my turn when the port side Otter board with the copper line jerked free with a jolting, rod-throbbing pulse as it exited the line release.  We all thought it was a King as John hollered, “Forrest, you’re up!”  I vaulted from my seat to take the rod from first mate, Nick, and moved to the padded rear railing on the boat.  A very safe and adequate spot to lean on as the fish was battled back to the boat.

“How much line is out Nick?” I asked. “About 400 feet, just keep reeling, you’re doing just fine.”  Rick joined in the verbal fun, “Feel that burn Forrest?!”  How did he know?  Indeed, my shoulders were on fire.  How could this be? I was being worn out by a less-than-monster fish.  Mike shared, “Hang on to him, it looks like the biggest one so far.”  Easy for him to say.  Then John added, “If you’re tired, I can take the rod.”  I didn’t say anything, but was thinking, “No way John,”…I’m not sure I even heard that. 

Maybe I was just hearing voices in my subconscious state of fish-fighting mindset? 

Nope, on the other hand, these are what fishing friends are for.  Heckling.  Bantering.  Funning.  A few minutes later, my arms really were actually getting numb – 400 feet of copper is a LONG WAY, but we landed the fish just fine.  I turned to grin at “my friends” not saying a word about my frozen arm joints.  It was 65 degrees out and I was forming sweat on my brow.  

Love this fishing!

John added, “Imagine how that guy felt yesterday that caught that 51-inch King, 39 pounds – 3 ounces, to take the lead in the LOC Derby?” He was not making me feel any better.  “Honestly,” I returned, “I cannot imagine that.  I think you might need to share the rod with your friends in that case.”  John grinned and said, “Hey, that’s what fishing friends are for.”  

We were having a great day.

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Success is a double header with some high-flying steelhead.  L-R: Mike Norris, John Syracuse, Rick Updegrove.  Forrest Fisher Photo

Over the course of the morning trip, we had 12 releases and this was a “SLOW DAY” according to Captain Bob.  My sore shoulders did not agree.  I gotta start working out harder.   We caught lots of “shakers,” the term for young-of-the-year King Salmon that weigh 2-3 pounds.  The future fishery. All were released unharmed.

This fishing trip was fun.  Maybe the best part of such a trip is that when four guys head out to fish this way in total comfort with the latest gear, hottest lures, a captain that can navigate and a first mate that coaches you along the way, and it’s affordable.  

“Leave the dock at sunrise and back by about 12-12:30 with four guys,” Captain Bob said, “Our usual pricing is not expensive at $150 apiece.  $25 more each and you can fish the whole day.”  Unreal.  Affordable fun.  We all chipped in to tip the first mate.

A lot of us spend that much on just one good fishing reel (I do). 

My new view, I’m getting older – save time, save money, fish with a charter.  Not only do you get to fish with the best gear and fish with friends, you go the hottest fishing places at the best times and someone else cleans your catch! Then you  just head home for the freezer with all of your healthy dinner meals for the next few months.  

Need the right sensor gear to catch fish? Sonar, radar, surface water temp, water temp at the ball, boat speed, and a radiotelephone to phone home are all part of the half-day fish trip.  Forrest Fisher Photo

If you’re looking to do this, you can contact Captain Bob Cinelli Sportfishing directly by calling 716-860-5774.  You might also learn a lot about the lake, the fishery, the forage, the predator fish, invasive species, why the fish are able to be caught on certain lures and bait, the Lake Ontario water level, issues and more. 

Captain Cinelli is the chairman of the Niagara County Fishery Advisory Board.  He has the inside line on what’s happening on Lake Ontario and the Lower Niagara River.  And with the hottest fishing.

Fish on! Who’s up?!