Record-breaking fishing on Lake Ontario

Fishermen like Nick Lee and his customers have reeled in record-breaking amounts of salmon and trout per trip from Lake Ontario this season, according to state officials.

“This will go down as the best salmon and trout fishing on Lake Ontario in history,” said Lee, owner of Good Times Sportfishing.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced the catch rate for salmon and trout fishing combined from April to June was a record-breaking 6.3 fish per boat trip, a 37.5 percent leap over the previous five-year average.

“Rates are likely up due to favorable water temperature and wind patterns,” said Lori Severino, public information officer for the DEC, in an email.

Lee said the anglers aboard his boat hooked 12 salmon and/or trout in about 85 to 90 percent of his trips, meaning four people per trip caught an amount equal to the state limit, or three per person. Lake trout has a limit of two fish per person, Lee said. The charter captain launches into the lake from the mouth of the Salmon River in Pulaski.

“To take out six customers and catch 18 salmon in most years is really, really special,” he said. “Not catching the limit, it’s kind of exceptional” this year.

Anglers have broken the record for wrangling chinook salmon in particular with a record-breaking 3.5 fish caught per boat trip from April to June, exceeding the previous five-year average by 227 percent, according to the DEC. Fishermen last year caught 96,226 chinook, or king, salmon and harvested 53,871.

Robert Gregory, owner of Trophy Angler Charters, said he and the anglers who boarded his boat have predominantly caught chinook salmon when fishing around Stony Point, Henderson, and Galloo Island, Hounsfield, out in the lake, although they have caught some Coho salmon.

“The salmon have been around all summer, which has been unusual,” Gregory said, adding that salmon typically appears in the lake later in the season.

The catch rates for brown trout, coho and Atlantic salmon exceeded their previous five-year averages, but no records were broken. Catch rates for rainbow and lake trout were down from their previous five-year averages, according to the DEC.

Severino said the reproduction rates of salmon and trout have not been determined, and the amount of bait fish they eat is not up this year.

Ron Stein, who owns of CR Charters, said he believed natural reproduction may have played a role in what he described as a tenfold increase in salmon catches.

The amount of trout snagged this season was about equal to last year, both Stein and Gregory said.

“Trout’s always good,” Gregory said. “Brown trout has been good this year.”

Stein said the hike in catch rate for trout and salmon has aided his business, as more people have called in to book trips. The fishermen aboard his boat catch eight to 10 fish per trip on average, although catches at times have reached 16 to 18 per trip.

“This year has been exceptionally good,” he said. “Probably as good as I’ve seen it in 10 to 15 years.”

By the #s

Catch rates for Lake Ontario fish species from April to June in number of fish per trip:

¯ All trout and salmon species combined: 6.3 (37.5 percent above the previous five-year average)

¯ Chinook salmon: 3.5 (227% above previous 5-year average)

¯ Atlantic salmon: 0.04 (73% above previous 5-year average)

¯ Brown trout: 1.7 (38% above previous 5-year average)

¯ Coho salmon: 0.3 (22% above previous 5-year average)

¯ Rainbow trout: 0.3 (49% below previous 5-year average)

¯ Lake trout: 0.5 (66% below previous 5-year average)