Saturday, November 2, 2013

Huron, Ohio walleye trip. Quinte drops to second on fall trip destination, November 1 - 2, 2013

For the better part of 10 years my Fall Walleye trips were exclusively on route to Picton, Ontario on the Bay of Quinte.

I've had decent days of fishing Quinte in the past, and seen some monster walleye during those trips. 5 years ago we managed at least one in excess of 12 lbs on the boat each trip, and we knew there was no better place to mark your personal best walleye then with a black back Quinte pig.

This fall I was talked into trying something different - trip that would take me in a completely different direction. Travel west, travel in US, travel to opposite end of another Great Great Lake - Lake Erie western basin with sights on Huron, Ohio.

Before I explain why I have Huron, Ohio as my new #1 pick for fall walleye, let me provide the trip results first.

November 1 we were wired for sound at 1 am. We could partly blame our enthusiasm to load up and travel overnight, on the aftermath of eating all that Halloween candy bars only collected by the kids hours before. But the honest truth was the eagerness to begin our weekend of fishing.

The weather overnight was horrible. Winds gusted to 90 km/hour and rain was pouring down in sheets. Our drive was a 6 hour night time white knuckler with Gavin (Get-Bit Sportfishing) Ranger 621 pulled behind the truck. Rob, a good friend from Grimsby also joined us for our trek to Erie Walleye waters.

We pulled into Erie Outfitters in Ohio just outside Cleveland to pick-up our fishing license and any recent reports. Craig said- Night fishing is on fire, but numbers are still available throughout the day. "Reefers in White patterns are doing well during the day, Rapala F18's in Clown or Black and Silver are taking night-time eyes.

We rolled into Huron, Ohio at about 8am and checked into our room at the Riverside Comfort Inn. We grabbed a bite to eat, stretch our legs with a walk out to the end of the pier and then we loaded up the boat and launched at 1:30 pm while the winds blew 30- 40 km/hr offshore.

From Photo_Gallery13

We ran halfway down Cedar Point (amusement park at the end of the point) and the winds were directly off that shoreline. We trolled with the winds coming from the Southwest and started in 25 FOW and finished our pass 2 miles downwind in 32 FOW. The winds were pumping, and we had our drift-sock to help slow us down and steady our troll. It was totally fishable since we were so close to shore. We started with one side of the boat running #12 Deep Diving Rapala Husky Jerks and the other side running Reef Runners with 3 on either side - all on boards using 15 lbs test mono. The best baits began to show a pattern - deeper sets with Reef runners in white patterns were taking our fish. 4 of our 6 walleye in 4 hours of fishing were managed on using 20 ft lead, clip on 2 oz snapweight and then let out 60 more feet of line (80 in total). We estimated that would take the bait down to 27 feet trolling at 1.5-1.7 mph. We fished until 5:00 pm and boated our first 6 walleye of the weekend.

We were up for more than 36 hrs so after dinner and a few drinks, we were snoozing away with the alarm set to get on the water Saturday before daybreak.

From Photo_Gallery13

Saturday the winds were still 30 km but throughout the day turned from west southwest to northwest by noon. Throughout the morning we strengthened our spread and targeted from 18 ft down to just above bottom, and it was evident that the deeper sets down past 25 ft were the stud rods. They also were set to the board closest to the boat for efficiency and maintaining the v pattern of deepest inside. By 5:00 we were with 14 walleyes in the box biggest was 9 lbs and 3 others over 8 lbs. The other were averaging 6-7 lbs. At 9 lbs it is hard for me to suggest its a trophy, but guys we chatted with took two 12 lbs walleyes on Thursday amoungst thier 31 other walleyes they boated. The last two fall trips to Quinte seen a few decent fish around the 10 lbs mark, but a 6 fish day was considered a good day on Quinte and 6 fish on Huron is SLOOOWWWW day. After 8 hours of trolling we were looking to fill our bellies and get back out for an evening bite to finish our 18 daily fish limit and possibly find one of those double digit fish.

From Photo_Gallery13

The winds then switched out of the North and blew strong while we watched out the Brass Pelican Restaurant window. We were about to launch after dinner and then choose not to after talking to a few guys coming off the lake. Night fishing in 6 foot waves would not be cool.

While at the Brass Pelican for the openning celebration of the Great Lakes Brewery "Christmas Ale", we chatted with a group from Chicago that fishing Friday afternoon (when we were out there) but continued to fish into the night all the way to 1 am. They boated 4 in the afternoon, but at nightfall rolled into less than 16 FOW close to the peir and managed 14 more walleye. They never weighed the fish only meassured thier length. 2 were 28 inches and the biggest was 30 inches long. These walleyes are fat. That fish is over 10 lbs.

From Photo_Gallery13

Sunday morning the winds were still out of the North and we decided to make our way home.

Why is Huron, Ohio jumped over Quinte for number one spot?...

Here are the cons to Huron, Ohio;

-If the winds blow out of the North - to- North East you will be stuck watching the waves
-It’s an extra 1 1/2 hour drive from Beamsville, Niagara to Huron, Ohio over the driving time to Quinte.
-purchase a non-res license 3 day is $20 US
-unlikely you will catch a 13 lbs + walleye

Pros to Huron, Ohio;

-$3.19 gallon for gas in Ohio (that's 84 c a liter Canadian then add your exchange you are looking at 92c conservatively)
-cost of beer lol. Food is great at the Brass Pelican and you watch the guys rolling in the channel outside the window.
-$69 a night for Comfort Inn with Continental Breakfast starting at 6 am for the fisherman
-The ramp is a true marvel- It puts Mississauga’s renowned “Promenade ramp” to shame - It is absolutely beautiful. Only thing missing-fish cleaning station - which is the next planned build at the town!
-easy to pull into gas station between the short 2 minute drive from Comfort Inn to the ramp.
-6 fish per person per day - no possession limit if you are looking for a few fillets in the freezer over the winter.
-Day fishing is awesome, Night fishing is even better.
-Easy way of fishing in less than 35 feet of water with short lines and running boards close to the boat.
-Usually fishing inside of 3 miles from shore.
-Hospitality is incredible. They are so happy to have fisherman in town - Local tackle shop and local anglers are all chatting up what's hot and where.
-Its likely you will catch more fish per rod hour than Quinte. Comparison - Like fishing Blue Zone vs staggers on Lake O Salmon/Trout.

There you have it, a clear winner with all factors considered. Quinte might have your personal best waiting for you, but Huron has your personal best fishing trip waiting for you.

Shane Thombs

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Optimistic Fishers result from Soroptimist Fundraiser Charter Prize, July 24, 2013

I donate 2 charters a year for the opportunity as fundraisers for those two separate causes. The one goes to the United Way Online Silent Auction available for City of Hamilton employees to participate. The results of that charter can be found following this link…

Today was a different cause which I donated a 4 hour trip, one that I also feel is very important and that I hope generated enough moneys to help the Stoney Creek Soroptimist Club continue their efforts find shelter and support for victims of Human Trafficking in Canada. When I first heard of this initiative, I thought – Here in Southern Ontario there is Human Trafficking? My ignorance to the topic was later realized that the golden horseshoe is a hotbed for Human trafficking activities. During a Fundraiser Golf event held by the Stoney Creek Soroptimist club, Scott was the luck recipient of the fishing trip package after a family member won the prize.

The trip called for 3 persons evening trip for 4 hours, but talking to Scott, it was clear that two young kids hardly amount to the ballast of a full grown man, so we made it a 2 adult, 2 kid trip departing at 5:00 pm and fishing until dusk.

From Photo_Gallery12

After our pre-departure safety briefing, I explained to Scott, his nephew Chris, and his older son Dennis and younger son Charlie, that although we plan to catch fish, we are all unaware of how our luck would transpire. Our weather over the past 5 days has kept us from getting out on the big lake. Winds, Thunderstorms and rough conditions were the hindering factor to hunt for more salmon. Even this morning was high Northwest winds and the residual of those winds left its mark on the lake even after the winds went light by noon.

We powered up out on the lake and pointed the bow towards the West North West to venture in waters north of Fifty Point Marina. The location was after a lead from a fellow Strait Line Anglers club member who departed at 2:30 pm was already into fish and found us a starting point.

We were able to set up all the rods without interruptions and then we had our first fish- a 10 lbs salmon that hit the 10 colour leadcore off the Planerboard that was pulling a Yeck 88 M&M glow. While that fish was coming in, we had a shot on the braid diver on 3 setting out 160 pulling a Michigan Stinger gold blue dolphin, but that fish came off only seconds from the strike.

We trolled further west and out to 160 FOW where we decided to turn back in to shallower water and find the edge of the bait. The bait was in less than 120 FOW and while we made our way towards that depth we took one rainbow trout and a lake trout. Then like a light switch we reached 130 FOW and the wire diver on 3 setting out 175’ pulling a Green Dolphin and Green Crinkle fly was smokin’ with obviously a bigger salmon. Chris was on it, this time, and he muscled the 25 lbs Chinook Salmon to the boat. Everyone on the boat was ecstatic over the size of the fish that dwarfed any size fish they had successfully landed in the past.

Mark and I continued to work to strengthen the spread, but there were only a few rods that were taken shots. Againt he 10 colour leadcore takes a shot off the board and the salmon on the other end of the line burned out all the backing on the reel to the knot on the arbour of the reel. I purposely held the line to prevent the fish from pulling out any more line, know this would likely result in a break off, but the fish cooperated and turned to swim back towards us. Scott reeled fast and gained some line and then it was trickery on the wheel to turn the boat and gain even more line until Scott recovered the backing on the reel. The fish came to the boat and it was a nice Chinook Salmon near 12 lbs.

The wire diver out 175 with the Green Dolohin SpinDoctor and Green Crinkle fly takes another violent shot and again the reel begins to peel. Now back to the start of the order line, Charlie sits on the box seat and we coach him to begin the fight of his life. The reel screams out to 550 feet on the line counter and finally we start to inch the fish back. In the meantime the braid diver takes another shot and this time we have an acrobatic show with what looked to be a big rainbow. A few jumps into it and the fish comes unpinned.

By now Charlie has the fish to within 250 feet on the dial and he hands the rod over to his brother Dennis to rest. Dennis is hard at it and as the fish comes into view the rod s handed back to Charlie for the home stretch. “A nice salmon here boys!’ I said to the crew as the net scooped the fish then lifted it over the transom with straining effort.

Dennis and Charlie are beside themselves when the big wide body salmon hit the floor of the boat. At the same time a big lamprey detaches from the side of the fish and begins squirming around the floor of the boat. The boys chased it around, picking it up and taking pictures with it until they realized that they also have a big fish to have a picture taken with.

We clean the boat up a little and get back on track and bring the speed up to 2.5 mph on the down speed Fish Hawk. Temps were 45 degrees down 60 feet over 120 FOW so everything was high in the water column and we placed the rods in the zone between 40- 60 feet . They reeled in a few more smaller salmon as well as one about 15 lbs that came on the wire diver just as we were pulling lines. Final Count 2 rainbows, 1 Lake trout, 7 salmon and 4 other missed shots. Here’s the group with display of some of Lake Ontario’s finniest.

From Photo_Gallery12

Shane Thombs

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Put out the fire when the reels get hot, July 3, 2013

A father’s day gift was all that was needed to coax three generations to form a father family fishing trip. Jim invited his father Wes and son Mich to join him on a fishing trip. Wes lives in Grimsby, but both Mich and Jim live in Stoney Creek not far from where I grew up.

Jim is a long time Firefighter and had recently watched his son Mich, follow his dad’s footsteps to wear the uniform and bear the crest as a Hamilton Firefighter.

The evening fish meant leaving the dock at 5:00 pm and making our way out onto the flat lake with fog that surrounded the boat making it difficult to see past a mile. I followed my GPS plotter intently and kept a close watch over the bow to avoid any debris or headheads in the water (commonly found on the surface in recent trips).

We set down west of the Grimsby Weather Marker in roughly 75 FOW. From there we trolled outward towards deeper water and discovered that the picture on the SONAR continued to mark good schools of bait as we ventured deeper. When we hit 140 FOW all ten rods were in the water fishing, but I wanted to make one change. “Let’s set up the meat” I said to Mark as he steered the boat heading North. I matched a roller head with a piece of meat behind a King Fisher Oki 11” flasher and put that back 15 feet and down on the rigger going deep. After setting the rod we waited. Now we were nearly 45 minutes into our trip and the rods stayed still, but the SONAR showed much activity below the surface.

The flies came upon us on the boat, biting our ankles and causing curses to fly with them everytime we went to swat. Then the buzzing from fly wings was replaced by the buzzing of the Okuma Clarion as the drag sang pulling the knot the held the braid backing to the 400 feet of copper line below the surface and the rod bounced.

Wes jockeyed into position to sit at the “Box Seat”, handed him the rod and then we coached him to reel down-pull up. I suggested we share the fight between the three, and one by one the fish inched it’s way closer to the boat. Marking the copper at every 100 ft, the excitement built up to see this fish as we made it to the home stretch. The lengthy fight allowed plenty of time to turn the boat and clear the rods from one side making a path to the back of the boat clear from obstruction. This also meant that the boat would be angled back to the waters we hooked up in since we now ventured out to 180 FOW and the SONAR began to draw clear of underwater activity.

The fish comes to the net and the guys are ecstatic with its size. Collectively this fish was much bigger than any other fish they have caught. The measuring tape showed a total length of 40” but the fish was thin, on the scales it read 24 ½ lbs. A team effort, Nicely done!

The next two hours the fishing on high lines began picking away at rainbow trout and we also managed one small Chinook that came off at the back of the boat and one Lake Trout on the 400 copper. At 8:00pm I brought in one of the Planerboards since it was an opportune time to bring it in for the last hour of fishing. I was midship when Mark yelled “rigger, rigger”. I wasn’t there to grab it, but Mich was on it pulling the rod out of the Walker Downrigger rod holder and began reeling. The fish was swimming up towards the surface and we told Mich to “reel, reel, reel!” That he did and he pulled up all the slack to the point where the rod tighted up in a nice arch and then I said “say good by – that fish will be going for a run”. Sure enough the drag clicked out slowly and then began to speed up, faster and faster. The 17 lbs Trilene XT clear monofilament line was dashing off the reel. Surely the reel drag disks were burning hot, but we had the right guys on the job. Where the reel read 160 feet to begin it’s set, it now read 450 ft in less than two minutes. We turned the boat and quartered the fish off the Port side to reduce the momentum.

Again the three took turns reeling in this fish and when it came into view the Oki Flasher popped out of the water, but the fish was not to be seen. It’s dark back blended into the dark water background and it wasn’t until the fish was 15 feet from the boat when it was known to be another quality Chinook salmon. Wes was the last guy on the rod as he cracked up the fish when it took a turn toward the rigger cable and I had to handle the line to steer the fish towards the mouth of the net. It worked! The fish was netted and I hoisted it over the motor and onto the floor. Again the guys were euphoric and Wes said “ I think it might be bigger than the other one.

From Photo_Gallery12

The measuring tape showed the fish being shorter by 2 inches, but on the scales it was only 1 pound less than the first at 23 ½ lbs.

A night to remember and I’m sure a few fish stories will be shared at the Firehall.

Shane Thombs

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Maker a Laker, June 22, 2013

“When in doubt- Trout them out”, an old Lake Ontario Charter saying that has merit when the Salmon fishing bite isn’t the best. Salmon are a nomad fish species inhabiting all parts of the open waters of Lake Ontario. There are periods of time where salmon are slim pickings from reachable distances from your home port, and then there are times a short boat ride will get you in the vicinity of large numbers of black mouths (Chinook salmon have black mouths).

We target salmon as a priority, for a reason- they are hard fighting and make good table fair. Trout at times are our second option or often regarded as “Plan B”, They can be more predictable and more numerous at times. But the way we angle for trout species are not the same in all regards. Brown Trout are plentiful in the spring and we troll shallow water with body baits off planerboards, Rainbow Trout are our summer time MVP’s and we work the top portion of the water column and in some instances over the deepest parts of the lake, Then we have Lake Trout that are very prolific along the southshore, but requires tactics that run baits closer to bottom and usually presented at a slower trolling speed.

From Photo_Gallery6

Of the three trout species, Lake Trout are the least desired amoungst avid Lake Ontario anglers. They are characterized by their lackluster fighting capability, poor taste, and slimy, stinky fish that makes a mess of the boat. Like Sheepshead are to the Lake Erie Walleye fisherman, or the Rock bass to the Muskoka Bass fisherman, Lake Trout are at times, in the way of catching our sought after fish species. When I return from a charter consisting of numerous successful catches of Lake Trout, my wife is quick to point out how stinky my boat is, when I back it into the drive way. Out comes the hose!

Greasers, boots and mud chickens are a few of the favourite nick-names given to our bottom dwelling grey trout. Is it really the Lake Trout that should be disrespected? Or should we- as my Mom would say, “consider the source”, meaning look at the name caller. Southshore Lake Ontario anglers are might I say, “blessed with the opportunity to catch Lake Trout”. We are spoiled, in fact, since any poor day of fishing for silver fish, can quickly turn a near skunked trip into a few grey coloured trout on the line before long. Our spoiled nature is revelled when we talk to very well respected salmon fisherman from with home ports along the North shore of Lake Ontario, discussing with enthusiasm of catching the odd Lake Trout (like one a year) from those ports.

Differences in Lake Trout outlook from Lake Ontario trollers is divided. Even more divided are the clients in which we host on charters out of our southshore ports. To most guests, a Lake Trout is that of only a few notches less than a big Salmon for requests to catch on our trips. Most don’t have a preference to a species of fish, at all.

Today’s trip was one of those days that would make Lake Trout the real saving grace! We pressed on with our Plan A running spoons and Flasher Fly presentations at typical salmon trolling speeds and suspended higher in the water column. We managed 2 rainbow Trout on short Leadcore high lines off the planerboards, a nice fighting coho salmon on a set to mid-depth downrigger, but the Lake Trout came on deeper set rigs targeting lazy and reluctant to bite, Chinook Salmon. A rod armed with 400 ft of Copper line was stellar, taking more time to reel in a fish and set it back out, then it did to hook another Lake Trout.

Our clients for the day were thrilled, cranking in Lake Trout after Lake Trout . They claimed that they normally fish for carp and believe it to be the best eating fish. They insisted we keep the Lake Trout for the fillet knife and we splashed them into the fish box. Much of the discussion was in another language throughout the trip, but it was easy to see that these Lakers were the big hit!

Near the end of the trip, we hook into a fish that pulled 150 feet of drag off the reel that submerged 400 ft of copper. I smiled this time and Mark also grinded and we said, almost in unison, “kinger!” It was a long heavy fight and when the fish came into view it wasn’t a King Salmon after all- It was a Lake Trout. Not just any Lake Trout, but one that had a head and body girth the dimensions of the body of a full sized dog. It was massive. We quickly netted the fish and the happy laughter echoed across the lake. We weighed the beast and it pulled the scale down to 24 ½ lbs, the largest Lake Trout we have ever taken on the boat.

From Photo_Gallery12

As charter operators, Lake Trout are our “Plan B”, and after a tough bite for silver fish, the throttle goes down and the baits go down to the bottom where we bend a rod and hand it over to a smiling client. That’s what it’s all about. “Maker a Laker”

Shane Thombs

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A graduation gift from Mexico, June 20, 2013

There are times in life we look at as milestone events. Graduation from any post-secondary education has to rank as one of the top 10 milestones in anyone’s life. Andre from North of Toronto had recently graduated from police foundations program is about to embark on a career in Law enforcement. To add to the successful completion of schooling, his Granfather Margarito was up to Canada from Mexico to share in his celebration and to share time with Andre since he was free from his attention to the text books.

Margarito was nothing short of a man of much experience fishing and hunting. Travels to many places around the world had provided him many different fishing experiences. This was to be his second fishing trip on Lake Ontario fishing for Salmon. His first trip was out on a charter departing from Port Credit and he was happily welcomed to Canada with a 30 lbs Chinook Salmon, but no other fish were caught but it was enough to suggest to his grandson to try Salmon fishing and was treated for his efforts in school.

We left the dock at 5:00 pm from Foran’s Marine and the lake was with a light chop and overcast skys. We aimed North until sitting down in about 130 FOW just west of the Grimsby Weather Marker. Fishing up to this point was slow with only the odd salmon caught and Lake Trout were on the line more than they were off the line on most recent days.

Immediately into our troll the SONAR screen provided a display of the best picture we had seen since last year. Bait was “balled-up” at various levels of the water column and the fish were all over them on the graph. Lines of fish weaved up and down through the downrigger lines and through schools of bait. Activity seemed to be bursting with excitement and we stayed on our toes, arms out waiting to spring into action when a rod fires. But it didn’t occur on cue. Over and over again in our minds we said here we go, and the moment would pass as we stared focused on any movement on the rods. I was jumpy and knew the opportunity to trick a fish to bite would come sooner rather than later.

Then it happened 1 hour into our troll when we were in front of Fifty Point hump in 140 FOW. The downrigger was set to 95 feet and a 30 ft lead with a White Killer SpinDoctor with a Hammer Fly bounced and sprung. I grabbed the rod and took up the slack and tightened up on the line where I handed the rod over to Andre. I first thought – “another Lake Trout” as I turned to work on another line when I hear the reel peel and I jerked to look over my shoulder at Andre and the rigger rod maxed out. “Ahhh that’s no Lake trout, Happy Graduation Andre!”

The fish pulled some line and then turned to the boat and we managed to net the fish without much trouble. We brought it on board and it weighed about 14 ½ lbs but was as silver as a spring time Chinook with black fins and a pot belly. Andre’s biggest fish to date and his Grandfather said in Spanish, “Felicidades” meaning congratulations.

The deep set was a cue to move a wire diver down to those same depths. On a 2 setting I let out 270 feet of 30 lbs wire line to manage the diver towing a Mountain Dew/B-fly combo down to 85 feet. An hour later the wire rod pounded with a furry. In your mind you image a big king swaying it’s head back and forth with all its strength, then the rod was handed to Margarito at the same instant the rod buckled over and a constant pull of wire line peel the drag and rolled out over the guides at an alarming rate. Margarito smiled with his two gold capped teeth as he muscled the fish towards the boat. Clipping the net under the fish it was clear the night was another successful trip on Lake Ontario. Amoungst a few other smaller fish for the night Margarito’s fish was the biggest measuring 22 lbs.

Before pulling all the lines we had Andre and Margarito hold there catches as the sun dipped below the horizon.

From Photo_Gallery12

Shane Thombs

Monday, May 20, 2013

Queen Victoria Day Kings have arrived, May 20, 2013

I get to fish with some great people throughout the year, but nothing is more enjoyable then one-on-one time with my son, Aidan. Every parent knows how it feels when your son or daughter score their first goal, that same feeling is when you watch them fight a fish that is half their size, get emotional about how difficult it is to reel in and then when the fish gets in the net, the floor of the boat will not see their feet for the next few minutes as they jump up and down yelling in celebratory fashion.

From Photo_Gallery12

Yesterday was one of those days, where we launched the boat from St Catharines Marina and ran up to the New York Ontario border line off the ledge of the Niagara Bar. We set up in 190 FOW and the first fish came within 10 minutes on Glow Frog Diver, Green/Glow on Black Spinny and matching fly. This same set managed 4 kings for the day as uI stretched out the lead on the diver from 210, 220, 230, 270 ft as the day went along.

The first fish, and the rest to follow, were all on Aidan's arms to fight, unless we doubled up which happened twice with the highlight being at the end when the Rigger fired with MC Rocket down 124 ft and the wire diver fired and I was on it. 18 lbs king on the diver and Aidan tells me the reel reads 607 ft. Knowing this was the perfect end to the morning, I pulled everything and set the kicker on idle and let Aidan lay a smack down on this fish. He said, "dad all this reeling will help my wrist shot". That's a true Canadian Boy!

From Photo_Gallery12

We got his fish in the boat and he was beside himself while another boat with a family trolled past and gave him a round of applause. 21 lbs on the scale and the largest of the day!

These fish are for a MNR study on stomach contents. Also 5 of the 7 kings had Ad clips and I will send in the snouts to have them check for Coded Wire Tags.

Shane Thombs

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Grays for United Way, May 19, 2013

In the fall of 2012 I donated a 3 person 4 hour trip to the United Way City of Hamilton Online Auction. Of roughly 40 items in the auction the fishing trip was second only to Toronto Maple Leaf Tickets and the winning bid for the fishing trip was to the highest bidder Bill Jr.

I wanted to make this a great trip to show my appreciation for their generous donation to the United Way, but the fishing for salmon was dismal to non-existent leading up to our planned date with Lady “O”. I called Bill and described the situation and commented that we still can target Lake Trout (Grey Trout) or we can reschedule our trip when the fishing for salmon improves. Bill said let’s get out there and fish for Lake Trout and enjoy the day. The morning was with light winds and scattered clouds. We boated to the east side of Grimsby and set up in 80 FOW.

From Photo_Gallery12

The Cowbells and Peanuts were put on the bottom using two downriggers, the other 8 rods we ran were with baits that we would hope to find some silvers higher in the water column.

It wasn’t long and the downriggers tracing the bottom were getting bites. Bill Sr was first up, but part way through the fight he was feeling the effects of an aching shoulder and his grandson 15 year old Cameron took over and netted his biggest fish ever. The lake trout was a 5 or 6 lbs fish and I had the feeling he would have the bar set higher as we continued throughout our short trip. The next two the fish were lost during the fight. We found some warmer water that reached 53’F in front of Beamsville and there were some suspended fish that looked like they could be Salmon. We watched the rods in anticipation, but it was a no show from fish with silver sides.

From Photo_Gallery12

We turned out to over deeper water to take a look and the water went colder so we turned back to shallower water and the parade of Grey Trout came one after another and provided plenty of action for the three to go home with stories of Cameron’s personal best notched up three times.

Grey’s made the day for this United Way Charter, Thanks to Bill for his generous donation to the organization.

Shane Thombs

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Adam and High school buds; Joe and Matt hook some Lake Trout, May 4, 2013

I have known Adam in recent years at the City of Hamilton. He worked for Real-estate in the Economic Development and every once and a while I would provide some Geographic Information System (GIS) software and data support for his needs in looking up property information using City Planning data. Adam recently found work in Halton Region in a similar roll and it is always interesting to hear the comparison of notes between the two organizations. Although the municipal structure is slightly different since Halton remained a two tier system and Hamilton was an amalgamated city 12 years ago. Adam mentioned that Halton has money and great people to work with, but a ton of work to keep up with development.

Matt is an Electrician living in Hamilton and Joe lives in Toronto and working hard to get on a Police Force. The three went to High school together, and although post-secondary schooling and careers sent them in different directions, they still maintain a friendship.

The morning was the Salmon Slammin’ Tournament and the returning boats were with long faces from a slow bite. Mark Penner who was to assist with this afternoons charter returned to dock with 4 Chinook Salmon and one Rainbow Trout. The five fish managed the win in the tournament and I was eager to hear the details before we pushed off the dock.

We departed St Catharines Marina at 15:20 hrs and with Mark’s first hand morning tournament experience we headed in the direction where he managed the fish to win the tournament. We ran to the Canada/US border line on the ledge of the Niagara Bar. It was the intent to make the run into the wind and then troll back with the east wind on the stern. We sat down and began our troll with 8 lines ranging from 80 feet down to just under the surface looking for anything willing to bite. Throughout the next 1 ½ we made changes and trolled in and out from the drop off on the Niagara Bar Ledge. We marked a few but Mark said the picture changed since the morning tournament bite.

The rods didn’t move with a bite so I thought let’s get in shallow and look for a few greys to bite in the East wind conditions. We turned into 60 FOW and with a few adjustments in the rigger depths and adjust to a slower speed, the first few marks of fish on the SONAR turned into an instant strike on the downrigger set to 42 ft. First fish was reeled in by Joe and it was a 7 lbs Lake Trout that bit a Warrior Blue Dolphin Mag spoon. We broke the ice!

The center rigger traced the bottom with a SpinDoctor 8 inch and an MountDew Green Dot Magnum MC Rocket. After the boat was steered into Lake Trout grounds on the top of the Ledge, the center rigger bumped with another Lake Trout. I grab the rod and pass the rod over to Adam and the fish spits the hook.

The next change to add another presentation to the spread of lures out behind the boat was to add a full core chute rod (pulled behind the boat and not on a planer board). On it we put a Mirage Howie Fly on a ProTroll that I had customized with Gold and green dots on crush glow. The rod bent over minutes later and Adam was up for the challenge.

The fish was an obvious heavy, but we were unsure it was a Lake Trout or a lazy Chinook salmon. The pressure on the rod/line was nothing short of testing breaking strength. The fish was sounding and vicious head shakes would have everyone holding our breath and then laughing at Adam’s struggle trying to reel this fish in. When the fish finally came to within sight, there was no question this was a big Lake Trout. We scooped the fish in the net and Adam was smiling from ear to ear.

From Photo_Gallery12

The fish on the scale in the boat read 21 lbs and because I have purchased a boat ticket for the St Catharines Game & fish Derby, that makes everyone eligible on the boat to fish the derby and this fish would be one to bring to the scales. The leader after Saturday morning was a 19 lbs Lake Trout and this was looking like we had a leader at least for the short term, but their were two three other Lake Trout brought in that would set the bar very high. 29, 28, and a 25 would push Adam’s fish into a fourth place slot for the current standing.

After boating that big Lake Trout and knowing that the sun was starting into the dusk hour, we emphasised our efforts for a Salmon. We trolled out off the Ledge and then further west to in front of four Mile Point and then turned back in towards Weller Bay. We marked next to not fish until we reached 60 ft of water where we saw a few good hooks following the downrigger weights and staying with us for a little while before tailing off.

From Photo_Gallery12

It wasn’t meant to be and the salmon were left to bite another day, but long time friends Adam, Matt and Joe will have the story to tell and the memory of a worthy derby Lake Trout entry to keep for a long time

Shane Thombs

Lanny is met with blue spring skies and silver spring salmon, May 3, 2013

This would make my first trip to target spring salmon. Last weeks tournament results from participants fishing the King Of the Lake tournament were with dismal results. A slow start to the salmon fishing season is the reality, however we know that, like a light switch, Chinooks can show up and the fishing can go from tough to terrific.

This will make two days of consistent and fair weather with sunny skies and calm mornings. We launched from Port Dalhousie and powered up to boat towards Port Weller. 3/4 of the way to Port Weller I stopped to take a look, and the SONAR reveled very little but had some decent surface temperature at 49'F! We ran a to Port Weller and set up 2 riggers, 2 inline planerboards, one of which was a 3 colour leadcore with a Lymans.

15 minutes into the troll the 3 colour takes a fish. A female rainbow trout that looked like it just finishing spawning in a nearby creek with worn out fins and skinny appearance.

The next 4 hours we struggled to get another strike. We worked 50-70 FOW between Port Weller and in front of Weller bay. We worked hard on a few locations that we marked great fish that came in under the boat through the down riggers.

Then we finally got a strike, The downrigger with a Dreamweaver Spoon set 70 feet back and 27 ft down. The drag indicated a decent salmon and it came to surface a few times and then came to the net. This one went roughly 15 lbs and it's fins were black in colour and it was very shinny silver. Love those silver salmon.

From Photo_Gallery12

The turn back through the areas also caught us another salmon, but this time a coho. Same spoon, same depth, same set. Now it was noon and we watched other boat go in or continue to fish in front of Port Dalhousie. The thought was maybe the fish were in the 49'F water we discovered first thing in the morning. But we trolled all the way to Port Dalhousie and the water never reached the same temps.

Slow bite prevails this day, but a few silver fish made the trip a successful outcome.

Shane Thombs

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Splashdown in Grimsby Town, April 21, 2013


Finally, after what felt like the longest winter in recent memory, the boat was finally splashed down for the start of the 2013 fishing season. Although you can say this is a cold spring thus far, it actually is more normal than what we have been spoiled by in recent years. Last year had to been the earliest we ever seen spring, and to bring us back on par, is a bit of a shock to the system.

A friend from TSC Grimsby store; Rob, and my son Aidan joined me for this planned short fish and shakedown cruise. Aidan had his mind set to catch his first Brown Trout today, and accomplishment that would finish breaking the ice of catching all five of the most popular Trout and Salmon species on Lake Ontario. To give you an idea of his accomplishments at 8 years old and over 4 seasons trolling on Lake Ontario; his personal best by species consist of; 28 lbs Chinook salmon, 18 lbs Lake Trout, 9 lbs Rainbow Trout, 4 lbs Coho. But today we were ready to catch his first Brown Trout.

We launched from Grimsby’s Foran’s Marine at 10:00 am. Early starts are not always the best when the water is cold. Mid-day bites can be more productive and with current conditions on the lake it was likely the optimal time to hit the water for fishing. But more importantly it was the first time on the water for the boat this season, which means making sure everything is in working order. When we cleared the rocks and powered up on the lake we ran the motors and checked the gauges. ALL WAS GOOD- that feeling is better than accomplishing a 10+ fish day.

We turned the boat back to the shoreline and began our troll. Body baits went out on the boards and the two inside lines we experimented with spoons and other styles of body baits. We also tried a 0 sized Dodger and small peanut fly. Much of the baits and colours we started with were changed out by the end of our 4 hour trip.

The water was brown with much run off from the creeks and the onshore strong winds we seem to be experiencing the past few weeks. Inside of 15 feet you couldn’t see your prop in the water, but the water temps were between 42 to almost 44 degrees in the stained shallower water. This is a satellite picture that shows the amount of shoreline dirty water along the south shore. This is good in the fact that it allows fish to stay shallow under the cover of dirty water, but conversely it becomes difficult catching fish that feed primarily by sight in open water. In my experience a few techniques have helped catch fish in these types of conditions; troll slow (2 mph), use bright colour baits, look for rattles in body baits or a jointed bait that will click on every tail wiggle, and look for baits that have a greater wobble (tail wag) action.

A Bomber Long A jointed in firetiger set 100 ft behind the board on mono caught two coho. The best producing bait for the day was a Storm Thunderstick Jr Deep Diver in Hot Tiger. See picture below. It was set 40-50 feet lead and then clipped on to an inline planerboard. The action of the bait was key in these conditions which lends itself to work in theses dirty water conditions. This bait caught 2 coho, 1 Lake Trout and this Brown Trout. That’s right; Aidan’s first Brown Trout at 9 ½ pounds on the scale!

From Photo_Gallery11
From Photo_Gallery11

The funny part of the trip was Rob asking Aidan which rod would go off next. Aidan would say the rod number if we counted them from port to starboard across the back of the boat. “Number 2 then Number 5.” He was right over and over again. Rob thought he must have a special talent or skill, Like he was the next “Fish whisperer”.

It was a short trip pulling lines at 2 pm. All went well and was a fun trip and look forward to another great fishing year!

Shane Thombs

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Rainbow Trout Regulation Change for Lake Ontario, January 1, 2013

Most of you know that my sought-after specie of fish on Lake Ontario has to be the mighty Chinook Salmon. They are beasts- strong and challenging. But most of you that have shared time on the boat with me know that Rainbow Trout (Steelhead) are the most numerous in our catch tally for the day. Without Rainbow Trout our days would be a little less eventful.

This Rainbow Trout caught by Stuart last summer (2012) was the largest we caught on the boat. 16 1/2 lbs and it was released unscathed and growing even bigger and ready to be caught again.
From Photo_Gallery9

New for 2013 the Ministry of Natural Resourses announced a regulation change that would reduce the number of Rainbow Trout that can be kept by an angler. This change was spurred on, not just by a need to preserve the Rainbow Trout stocks in the Lake Ontario, but also to answer to an already conservation ethic shared by the majority of anglers on the lake. Creel census by MNR technicians at the various boat ramps around the lake, show that most anglers already keep 2 or less Rainbow Trout.

How will this change effect your 2013 charter, fishing with me? It will not! The total allowable "aggregated limit" of trout and salmon still remains 5 fish. Of those five fish, 2 can be Rainbow Trout the other 3 have to be salmon or another type of trout- like Brown Trout. I consider myself a sportsmen first, and I will continue to angle in a manor that takes this regulation change seriously.

Some adaptive techniques that I already have been using will be made common protocal this year. Things like suggesting we keep rainbow trout that are injured (lowest survival chance if released), release the healthy ones as quickly as possible Catch/Photo/Release, target locations, depths, tackle and techniques to add a salmon mix to our catch tally, and when the rainbow trout bit is hot and heavy, I will look to reduce long lines and reduce rod counts so we can get those rainbows to the boat faster and release them faster and stress free.

To read more about the regulation change see this link

As an alternate on the Fisheries Management Zone 20 Council, my comments I added to the record are copied below...

In favour of steelhead reduction from 5 to 2, not because of science, but because of the social acceptance of Lake Ontario Anglers reducing the numbers. Largely Lake Ontario anglers have expressed that harvesting five steelhead per person is not sought after and regarded excessive. Practice of selective harvest has been an unspoken rule amoungst fellow anglers and although the creel limit is at 5, rarely anglers will bring home 5 (steelhead or salmon) even if they caught more then 5 in a day. There is a social change with the vast majority of Lake Ontario Anglers. The purpose for why anglers fish, is less about keeping fish, and more about valuable time enjoying fishing. Priorities have changed with respect to the reason why fisherman fish.

In Ontario, steelhead are more so an accidental catch while targeting Chinook salmon in the near-inshore fishery. Limits with an aggregated 5 salmon and Trout total would still provide opportunity for those anglers seeking to keep 5 fish while they continue to target salmon. 2 of the five can be rainbow trout, still leaving 3 fish that can be salmon. The aggregated total will allow anglers to keep fishing (potentially change tactics to strictly target Salmon) without having to stop fishing once 2 rainbow trout are put in the cooler. Longer time on the water and a change of focus to salmon can have positive economic spin-offs.

The regulation will help the social and economics of fishing Lake Ontario. There may also be science that will prove that the change was successful in future years, currently supporting evidence through science is not sufficient enough on it's own. In policy decision making, all aspects surrounding an issue need not be overlooked. In local governments all policies decisions are questioned on three criteria Environmental (in this case it's the science of the fishery), Social and Economic. If decisions are made using only one of these criterion, then it is considered bias. I feel that the Social and Economic benefits to the proposal to reduce rainbow trout limits, are enough to support the change.

Shane Thombs