2016 is dead and gone—-thank goodness. Now let’s take a look at what 2017 has brought us so far. We started with a very mild winter with little or no snowfall. But then the rain started and forgot to stop until Lake Ontario has reached the highest level I have ever seen. All of our shoreline was devastated and our marinas were under water for the most part. The only good news this spring was that Bald Eagle Marina re-opened under new ownership and they have floating docks.
You’ll remember that last year the DEC said that because of 2 cold hard winters recruitment of bait fish, alewives, was way down and they cut some of the chinook stocking to compensate for it. It turns out that there seems to be an abundance of bait in the lake and with the warm weather this spring this year’s recruitment was excellent. We lost even more stocking when we were hit with very warm water temperatures in Oak Orchard River and the pen reared chinook program had to be scrapped and those fish were direct stocked. With pen reared salmon having twice the survivability as direct stocked salmon, this equated to a loss of exactly what was put in.
Spring fishing didn’t look all that good but with the problems our marinas were having meant that a good number of boats didn’t make it to the water until later into the spring, closer to summer. Those that did make it in enjoyed some of the best spring brown trout fishing that has been seen I quite a few years both in numbers and size. Lake trout fishing during this time period was also good to very good and the number of Atlantic salmon caught so far this year was up, again both in numbers and size. This just goes to prove that fish don’t know that we are experiencing high water conditions.
As more boats got splashed and the lake warmed up a bit fishing pressure and catches were on the rise, especially good catches of chinook salmon. An interesting thing is happening in that flasher/ fly combinations are out producing spoons this year at a greater rate than ever before. Could this be the new trend? The Army Corps of Engineers says that Lake Ontario levels should drop about 7″ by the end of July which will be a great relief for both lake front home owners and marinas alike. But like so many predictions, I’ll believe it when I see it.
What will the remaining portion of 2017 bring for the fishery is anyone’s guess but at least for now, fishing is good and the lake level is dropping. Hope you all have a fantastic second half of the lake fishing season and save catching the big one for the derby.
Orleans County Tourism Dept.