OSWEGO COUNTY - It’s another spectacular year of fishing so far on Lake Ontario.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation, Oswego County tourism officials and even local anglers say the fishing has continued its fabulousness from last summer and fall.
“The fishing is very good,” said Tom Burke, a charter captain at Cold Steel Sportfishing out of Altmar. “We’ve been catching a lot of brown trout and King salmon and a fair amount of steelhead and lake trout.”
He said the biggest thing is customers are happy and he said many have been coming back for a second or third trip because the fishing was so great.
“Everybody’s happy,” he said.
The state DEC said in a news release that the past few years have provided record-breaking fishing for several popular species and the 2019 season is, again, providing excellent opportunities along New York’s scenic northern coastline. In its 2019 rankings, and for the first time ever, Bassmaster Magazine named the St. Lawrence River as the top bass fishing destination in the nation.
“Our lakes and rivers are vitally important ecological and economic assets, providing opportunities for fishing and recreation and supporting many communities along the shoreline,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul during a recent stop in Clayton.
“In New York we take pride in the fact that Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River continue to be recognized as premier destinations for anglers,” she said. “Once again this summer, we encourage residents and visitors to make their way to our shores across the state for the best fishing experience around.”
“Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are world-class destination fisheries, offering some of the best fishing sportsmen and women will find anywhere for several sought-after species,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The area’s charter boat captains, tackle shops operators and marinas are well equipped and prepared to help anglers of all skill levels and abilities catch fish and shoreline communities are ready for anglers and their families to stay to enjoy all that the region has to offer. I encourage anglers to be smart, stay safe, and get out onto the open water soon.”
David Turner, director of Oswego County’s Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning, said he has heard the fishing is great so far this year. “People are having no trouble catching fish,” he said.
And if number of fishing licenses is any proof, then people are streaming into Oswego County to fish.
Turner said in 2016, a total of 30,224 fishing licenses were sold in Oswego County to non-residents. In 2017, that went up to 31,234. It increased again in 2018 to 32,821.
“Even with the high water issue in 2017, we sold 31,234 licenses to non-residents,” he said. “Those licenses were sold in almost every state and in dozens of other countries.”
He said these increases are important, especially when comparing them to Internet or phone sales of fishing licenses.
He said the number of people buying New York state fishing license online or over the phone has been steadily increasing, hitting 65,221 in 2018. But while more people are buying online, the number of people coming to Oswego County to buy licenses here also is increasing.
“That is a good sign,” Turner said.
Charter captain Bob Pultorak, who runs TK Charters out of Oswego with his son Tom, called the fishing “excellent” this year.
“Lots of salmon and brown trout,” he said. “Fishing has been strong.”
The fishing charter captains and people with their own boats have again been fighting the high water on Lake Ontario this year. Water is so high that some people have not been able to get their boats into the lake. The city of Oswego closed its marina — used by several charter captains — due to the high water.
“Some people have had to make some adaptations and change dock levels so people can get to the boats,” Turner said. “Some captains have people putting on boots to cross the standing water to get to the boats.”
Pultorak said the water is going down some now. “We can see our docks now,” he said July 11. He thanked the crew at Oswego’s East Side Marina for helping keep the docks in shape so the boats could continue to make it out onto the lake for fishing.
The DEC news release states while lake levels are expected to remain high in the foreseeable future, recent history has proven that fishing in these waters will remain first-rate. In 2017, when lake levels were also at record highs, the DEC’s angler assessment surveys reported that fishing quality for trout and salmon ranged from good to excellent. Chinook and coho salmon fishing quality was among the highest in decades and rainbow trout fishing quality was also high-increasing nearly 50 percent from a dip the two years before.
Chinook salmon are often the most sought-after gamefish, angling success reached record levels in 2018, and outstanding fishing has continued in 2019. Fishing for brown trout and Coho salmon was excellent in 2018, with catch rates 38 and 21 percent higher than their respective, previous five-year averages.
Atlantic salmon represent a relatively small portion of the Lake Ontario fishery but catch rates for Atlantic salmon last year were 73 percent above the previous five-year average. In 2018, the newest state record walleye was caught in the St. Lawrence River and joined 10 other state record fish species caught in the region over the years. Anglers can expect continued good fishing this summer and fall.
Go to http://visitoswegocounty.com/fishing-hunting/fishing/fishing-report / for up-to-date fishing reports. Go to http://visitoswegocounty.com/fishing-hunting/fishing/charters-guide / to find information on fishing charters and guides.