Monthly Archives: October 2021

Brent Crow Wins

Alabama’s Brent Crow Surges to Win Toyota Series Championship Presented by Guaranteed Rate on Pickwick Lake

Alabama Pro Wins by 4-Pounds, 1-Ounce, Takes Home $235,000

COUNCE, Tenn. (Oct. 30, 2021) – The final day of the Toyota Series Championship Presented by Guaranteed Rate at Pickwick Lake was a come-from-behind story for pro Brent Crow of Hartselle, Alabama , who after starting the day in 10th place brought a five-bass limit to the stage Saturday weighing 23 pounds, 1 ounce to vault to the top of the leaderboard and claim the title of 2021 Toyota Series Champion and the $235,000 top prize. Crow’s winning bag gave him a 4-pound, 1-ounce margin-of-victory over pro Mikey Keyso of North Port, Florida, who weighed a five-bass limit of 15 pounds, 3 ounces on Saturday, for a total of 48-1, good for second place and $50,000.

Saturday’s final weigh-in marked the finale of the 2021 Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. season, which featured thousands of anglers from around the world competing for millions in cash and prizes.

Crow finished Day 1 of the competition in 28th place with a mere 13 pounds, 7 ounces on the leaderboard. He leapt 18 spots after Day 2, narrowly winning a tiebreaker against veteran angler Randy Blaukat of Joplin, Missouri to slide into the top 10 and qualify to fish the final day. Crow began Championship Saturday with 29 pounds, 1 ounce, before laying down the hammer with the heaviest bag of the tournament to upset the field and bring home the win.

“This is the biggest tournament I’ve ever won. I’m not trying to make a living tournament fishing, but when the schedule fits, I fish,” said Crow. “Once I realized the Toyota Series Championship was on Pickwick in the fall, I knew I needed to qualify for this event. I had some schedule conflicts with fishing the Southeastern division, but the Northern division schedule was appealing and looked like it would work out perfectly.”

The Alabama pro opted to fish the Northern division of the Toyota Series, competing against a slew of tough anglers to qualify for the championship, despite his lack of experience on the fisheries in that division.

“Those lakes are all awesome and full of fish,” said Crow. “I guide full-time down south, and the Northern schedule had events in July, August and September, when guiding is slower in my area. That also meant I didn’t have to battle the summer heat.”

Crow said he went into the Championship planning to fish below the Wilson Dam, but was dismayed the first few days to find the area wasn’t performing as well as he’d hoped.

“I’ve been fishing here and guiding for many years and fall is usually the time of year I fish the tailrace,” said Crow. “I purposefully didn’t go check it out in practice because I didn’t want to get in my head about whether or not I saw other anglers up there, or if the fish were biting good or anything that might spin me out.”

However, Crow said when he went up there the first two days of the event, he was discouraged to see the fish weren’t biting at all.

“They were running a little too much water out of the dam for me to do what I wanted to do, so the first two days I basically struggled and squeaked into the top 10 catching spotted bass,” said Crow. “I have a few places I can count on to catch big spotted bass, and I weighed in seven spots and three smallmouth the first two days, which saved me.

“I noticed last night that they weren’t going to run as much current out of the dam as the past two days, so I knew there was an opportunity to really catch them there on the final day.”

With a hopeful heart, Crow ran up to the dam again early on Day 3.

“I pulled up and checked the levels and when I saw the release level was at 35,000 (cubic feet per second), I knew it could be good,” said Crow. “I got out where I needed to be and made the first cast and the next hour was just chaos. I either caught one or lost one on every cast.”

Crow said if he could have written out exactly what he wanted to happen on Championship Saturday, it would have gone exactly the way it did.

“I probably wouldn’t have lost as many as I did, but I anticipated I’d be able to get a big bag under those conditions and thankfully everything worked out perfectly for me today.”

Crow said he’s put more effort into qualifying for this championship than he has any other event he’s fished – effort that was certainly not wasted as it resulted in nearly a quarter-million-dollar payout for the Hartselle native.

“The money is great, but it’s not all about money,” said an emotional Crow. “All fishermen have pride in what they do, and it feels good to be recognized, especially by your buddies. My phone has been lighting up all day with calls and texts from friends and fellow fishermen – most of them better fishermen than I am. It’s a great feeling that everyone is supporting me and taking the time to congratulate me today.

“There have been a lot of great fishermen that have won this trophy, and I’m probably nowhere near the caliber of most of them but I’ll take it,” finished Crow.

The top 10 pros at the 2021 Toyota Series Championship on Pickwick Lake finished:

1st: Brent Crow of Hartselle, Ala., 15 bass, 52-2, $247,500
2nd: Mikey Keyso of North Port, Fla., 15 bass, 48-1, $50,000
3rd: Greg Bohannan of Bentonville, Ark., 15 bass, 44-8, $40,000
4th: Cody Nichols of Fayette, Ala., 13 bass, 43-0, $35,000
5th: Jeff Reynolds of Calera, Okla., 13 bass, 38-13, $30,000
6th: Todd Castledine of Nacogdoches, Texas, 12 bass, 37-1, $14,000
7th: Chris Digino of Dallas, Texas, 11 bass, 35-4, $13,000
8th: Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas, 11 bass, 33-8, $12,000
9th: Barry Graves of Bobcaygeon, Ontario, 11 bass, 32-5, $21,000
10th; Aaron Johnson of Shreveport, La., 10 bass, 30-0, $10,000

For a full list of results visit

Overall, there were 27 bass weighing 88 pounds, 14 ounces caught Saturday. Three of the final 10 anglers brought in a five-bass limit.

Scott Parsons of Rogers, Arkansas weighed in three bass totaling 12 pounds, 12 ounces, Saturday to win the top Strike King co-angler prize of a new Phoenix 518 pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard engine, with a three-day total of 12 bass weighing 35-8. Second place went to co-angler Daniel Lutz of Las Vegas, Nevada , who weighed in a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 33-9, good for $12,500.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers at the 2021 Toyota Series Championship on Pickwick Lake finished:

1st: Scott Parsons of Rogers, Ark., 12 bass, 35-8, Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat w/115-horsepower Mercury outboard
2nd: Daniel Lutz of Las Vegas, Nev., 10 bass, 33-9, $12,500
3rd: Jason Sandidge of Centerton, Ark., 12 bass, 30-10, $10,000
4th: Matt Hummel of Lancaster, Pa., 11 bass, 28-15, $7,500
5th: Rod Mackinnon, III of Middletown, N.Y., 10 bass, 26-7, $5,000
6th: Charles Dubroc of Hessmer, La., seven bass, 24-6, $4,000
7th: Mason Chambers of Galena, Mo., 10 bass, 23-12, $3,500
8th: Ray de Jong of Harare, Zimbabwe, eight bass, 22-1, $3,000
9th: Allen Neal of Whitley City, Ky., seven bass, 18-8, $2,500
10th: Nycholas Swanson of Waterloo, Iowa, five bass, 18-2, $2,000

The 2021 Toyota Series Championship Presented by Guaranteed Rate at Pickwick Lake was hosted by the Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The three-day, no entry fee tournament featured a field of 198 pros and co-anglers from around the world, competing for a top cash award of up to $235,000, plus multiple contingency bonuses.

The 2021 Toyota Series Championship Presented by Guaranteed Rate will premiere on the Outdoor Channel at 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 15, 2022, with additional airings to follow on the Sportsman Channel.

The full field of anglers competed on Days 1 and 2 of the event, with the top 10 pros and top 10 Strike King co-anglers based on cumulative weight from the first two days continuing to the third and final day. The 2021 Toyota Series champions were determined by the heaviest three-day total weight.

The 2021 Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. consisted of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division. The highest finishing pro from each division at the championship claimed a $10,000 bonus.

For complete details and updated information, visit For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. via social media outlets at Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube .

About MLF5
MLF5 is part of MLF, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization. It provides anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money across five tournament circuits featuring a five-biggest-fish format. Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with offices in Benton, Kentucky, MLF and its partners conduct more than 290 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Zimbabwe.

MLF tournaments are broadcast on Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network, MyOutdoorTV, Discovery and CBS Sports while MLF Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros to the world’s most avid bass anglers.

What Are Some Fall Inland Fishing Tips?

Fall Inland Fishing Tips
Chuck Long Arkansas GFC Northeast Regional Educator, Jonesboro, AR
from The Fishing Wire

JONESBORO — As the temperatures drop and the leaves change color, the thoughts of most outdoors fans turn to the pursuit of deer, ducks, squirrels and other game. Fishing is put on the back burner, but the changing seasons and dropping temperatures will spur many fish into a feeding frenzy that can lead to some of the best angling days of the year.

As waters warm in the early months of the year, fish are spurred to the shallows looking to spawn. Initiated by water temperature, this move to the shallows can occur at different times for different species, thus providing target species at different times. But during the fall months, all these species are driven to congregate by the need to feed before winter sets in. This provides anglers with a possible mixed bag on any given day. Fall fish are there to feed and their voracious appetites make them great targets for a day on the water.

The fall feed occurs on lakes, rivers, streams and creeks and each one provides an angler with great opportunities. These fish will also fall for a wide variety of baits, thus allowing an angler to be successful with their favorite style of fishing.

Fish in large, clear-water upland impoundments often follow large schools of shad. These shad are also trying to feed before winter sets in and can be found on long points, drop-offs and brush piles. Small crankbaits can be good, but the fish might also hit spoons or even topwaters. Perhaps one of the most overlooked lures for fall fishing is a 3-inch paddletail grub. Fished on a ?-ounce jighead, a smoke or pearl grub will catch most any fish in the lake, including bass, crappie, white bass, stripers and even an occasional catfish.

All sorts of fish fall for a simple white grub. In smaller lowland lakes, the fish tend to venture toward shoreline cover. Cypress trees and brush piles, especially those that might be in a little deeper water are often used as ambush points by hungry fish. Smaller lakes provide a little more targeted fishing, so lures like a jig and pig and spinnerbaits can produce bass. Crappie in these lakes will fall for the standard crappie jigs in a color appropriate for the water. In clearer water, natural colors like smoke and pearl will produce, while dirtier water may call for a red or black with chartreuse. A 1/16-ounce jighead with a jig in the 2- to 3-inch range will be very appealing to a crappie trying to beef up for the winter.

Flowing waters offer their most interesting fishing of the year as the leaves change and begin to fall. Many species of fish that inhabit rivers and streams will begin to feed aggressively and often stack in large numbers in the same general locations in search of food. A very important tool in fishing a river is being able to read the river and its current flow. Falling leaves can provide a great clue of likely locations to cast a line. As the leaves fall and settle on the water’s surface, they will flow downstream with the current and these flowing leaves will tell an observant angler exactly where to cast. Eddies, backflows and current breaks will be evident by the actions of the leaves on the surface, thus indicating likely locations a fish could be using as an ambush point.

A white or white/chartreuse spinnerbait is a tried and true lure for river bass in the fall. Targeting eddies and backflows with a jig and pig or a creature bait can also be very effective. Once again, the traditional crappie jigs will catch papermouths and a variety of other species, but a step up to a slightly heavier jighead and a slightly larger profile jig can be very productive. A black-and-chartreuse jig fished slowly in an eddy or behind a current break can fill a cooler with river crappie.

Whether it be a river or lake, fall is a great time to be on the water. Not only are the fish actively feeding, the crowds have dwindled and the scenery can be spectacular.

For Arkansas fishing spots, check out under the “Fishing” tab and also see the weekly fishing report.

Trophy Florida Bass Tests Angler Weight Estimates

The “Eyeball Challenge” for Trophy Florida Bass Tests Angler Weight Estimates
From The Fishing Wire

Nearly 900 anglers completed the final round, and the results were quite revealing: on average, anglers were off by plus or minus 2.22 pounds per bass in estimating weight from photos. Even the top 5% of all guessers — the A-pluses at the head of the class — were only able to shave their error down to plus or minus 1.35 pounds of the actual weight.

How big do you think this bass is? Ten pounds? Seven? Twelve? A unique study by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) along with partner, Bass Pro Shops, recently revealed that guessing right is harder than you think — whether you are an experienced bass angler, fishing guide or even a bona fide fisheries biologist. The Eyeball Challenge arose from FWC’s TrophyCatch program, which collects data from anglers on bass eight pounds or larger for use in fisheries management and conservation. The core requirement for submission is a photo or video of the entire bass on a scale with the weight reading clearly visible. And, every trophy bass must be released.

“Given the very specific submission requirements, I’m still a bit mystified whenever I get the ‘That bass isn’t 10 pounds!’ comment on one of our posts,” said biologist and TrophyCatch Facebook Manager, John Cimbaro. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from looking at thousands of bass photos, it’s that the same fish can look very different depending on how the picture is taken and how the fish is held. A hero shot of an angler holding a trophy bass up is usually the best-looking photo for a Facebook post. But the fish-on-scale photo is the one that matters for the research program and that’s the photo l point a doubting commenter to.”

The Eyeball Challenge asked anglers to estimate the weights of bass in three separate challenges, each with a series of photos. Each bass was weighed by a biologist with field scales to ensure accuracy. The Eyeball Challenge culminated in August with Round 3, which featured 24 individual Florida bass. Nearly 900 anglers completed the final round, and the results were quite revealing: on average, anglers were off by plus or minus 2.22 pounds per bass. Even the top 5% of all guessers — the A-pluses at the head of the class — were only able to shave their error down to plus or minus 1.35 pounds of the actual weight.

Does fishing experience endow anglers with weight-guessing skills? Eyeball Challenge participants told us if they identified as novice, intermediate or avid anglers, and they provided the number of years of bass fishing experience they had accrued. Interestingly, statistical analysis indicated that there was no performance difference among the three levels of anglers. Technically, increased years of bass fishing experience translated into improvements in guessing bass weights, but in practical terms, it takes anglers a lifetime of fishing experience (60 years) to gain only about .5 pound of accuracy over inexperienced anglers. The bottom line is that no matter how good you are at catching fish or how long you’ve been fishing; a variety of factors makes it hard to accurately guess the weight of a fish from a photo.

One key result from the Eyeball Challenge was that how an angler holds his or her bass in a photo makes quite a difference in how we perceive it. Half of the bass featured in the Round 3 challenge were held out toward the camera, at arm’s length. The other half were held much closer to the angler’s torso. As anglers might guess, there was a highly significant difference in anglers’ ability to accurately guess the weights of bass in the two groups. Anglers were much more accurate at guessing weights of bass held at arm’s length but had a slight bias toward overestimating those bass. For bass held close to the body, anglers underestimated those bass by over 1.25 pounds on average. For more details on the study, visit

“It’s now scientifically proven—If you want the best photos of your catch, hold that fish out toward the camera,” said biologist Drew Dutterer, who helped design the study. “If not, it may be impossible to convince your fishing buddies just how big that bass really was!”

The TrophyCatch program has been popular for not only allowing citizen-scientists to contribute their data, which anglers report is their primary reason for submitting catches, but because industry partners such as Bass Pro Shops provide rewards for participation. To register for TrophyCatch and learn more, visit For more information about the TrophyCatch program, email Laura Rambo at

Plugging for the Chetco River’s Giant Salmon

How Can I Catch Salmon Plugging for the Chetco River’s Giant Salmon

By Buzz Ramsey for Yakima Bait
from The Fishing Wire

If you crave big fall chinook, one that might tip the scales at 50 pounds or more, now would be a good time to plan a trip to Oregon’s Chetco River. Located on Oregon’s southern coast (near Brookings) the Chetco hosts a run of fall chinook that peaks in early to mid November, making it a destination for anglers from throughout the Northwest and beyond.

According to professional-fishing-guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, 206-388-8988, the majority of the salmon returning to the Chetco River consist of 4-year old chinook which average 20-to-25 pounds. However, twenty percent of each out-migrating year class of salmon return as 5-year old fish that average 35-to-40 pounds; with some bouncing the scale at 50 pounds or more. For example, while guiding clients on the Chetco River over the last dozen years Andy has netted at least one salmon at, approaching or above 50 pounds each and every season. His largest to date is a 65-pound monster taken during the later portion of the 2011 season.

Originating in the Siskiyou National Forest, the Chetco flows for 55 miles before reaching the Pacific Ocean. The Chetco is unlike many other Pacific Northwest rivers as there are no dams obstructing the salmons’ pathway to their spawning sanctuary.

The river hosts a strong, self-sustaining wild run of fall chinook that according to ODFW can number as high as 15,000 returning adults. In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife supplements the wild run with an additional 125,000 fingerling size chinook that are liberated in the lower river. Being of hatchery origin these fish are fin-clipped prior to release and tend to stage low in the river, where released, upon their return as adults.

The Chetco offers excellent access for bank anglers thanks to the City of Brookings and state of Oregon owning a large section of the lower river. Called Social Security Bar, this nearly two mile stretch offers free public access to bank-bound anglers that plunk Spin-N-Glo lures, sometimes in combination with bait, from shore when the river is running 3,500 CFS or higher, and drift and float fish for salmon when the water is lower.

In addition, the Chetco offers drift boat anglers’ excellent access with several put-in and take-out sites available. The most popular drift is from Lobe Park to Social Security Bar, a 5-to-6 mile float, which according to Andy Martin contains about 15 deep salmon holes. The next launch site is a private, pay-to-play launch called Ice Box. There are two launch sites above Ice Box that are located within the National Forest and go by the name of Miller Bar and Nook Bar. Nook Bar is the upper most launch and marks the upper deadline for the keeping of salmon.

The two fishing methods that dominate the drift boat fishery include back-bouncing bait and back-trolling plugs. Salmon egg clusters rigged in combination with a Corky Drifter are what the back bouncing crowd use. According to Andy Martin, the most popular Corky colors on the Chetco include rocket-red and green-chartreuse. When the water is on the high side those bouncing bait will switch out their Corky for a Spin-N-Glo threaded on their leader above a bearing bead and baited hook. A selection of 1-1/2 to 4 ounce sinkers is what’s needed if you are planning to back-bounce bait on the Chetco.

The other popular fishing technique is to back-troll salmon plugs. According to Andy Martin, salmon size plugs work especially well on the Chetco and account for the majority of the giant salmon taken in his boat. The plugs Andy employs most often are the 4.0 through 5.0 sizes Mag Lip, size M-2 FlatFish, and 5.5 Hawg Nose FlatFish. When it comes to determining what size plug to choose, it’s all about the water conditions.

The Chetco, like other rivers up and down the coast, is heavily influenced by rainfall. It’s the onslaught of storms originating over the Pacific and later hitting the coast that causes rivers to rise and subsequently drop when the rain subsides. Salmon, smelling the fresh water, migrate into rivers from the ocean each time the rivers come up and bite best as water levels drop and clear from each rain storm. A big rain event can make the Chetco River unfishable and not clear enough to fish for four or five days. When the water first drops and clears is when the catching is at its best.

According to Andy, the ideal height for the Chetco is 3,000 CFS (Cubic Feet per Second) and the river is considered low when it drops down to 1,200 CFS or less.

What Andy has learned over his many years of guiding is that he can catch salmon using plugs when the river is as high as 5,000 or at times even 6,000 CFS, providing the water is clear enough to see two feet or more into it. When the Chetco is dropping from a high water event, it’s the clarity of the water Andy closely watches.

This is a time when he employs the large salmon plugs that dive deep like the Hawg Nose or 5.0 size Mag Lip. The fast actions these plugs provide when back-trolled not only catch fish but their frantic action can shake the leaves off that strong winds can sometimes blow into the river. As the river continues to drop and clear, all the way down to 1,200 CFS, Andy reduces his plug sizes down to an M-2 size FlatFish and/or 4.0 size Mag Lip.

Although you can take your own drift boat, fully guided salmon fishing trips are available from guides should you decide to try your salmon luck from a boat. While the number of guides residing in Brooking is somewhat limited, this popular fishery draws professional guides from surrounding towns like Grants Pass, Medford and Gold Beach. There are several guides from California that work the Chetco too, so don’t limit your guide search to just the Brookings area.

The chinook limit on the Chetco is currently one salmon per day, and no more than five per year. Current regulations require you to stop fishing after catching your one adult salmon. And while your daily limit can include up to five jack salmon (salmon measuring between 15 and 24 inches) you must catch them prior to retaining an adult salmon.

Tackle, bait, shuttles, and fishing info can be obtained at Riverside Market, 541-661-3213, which is located along the lower Chetco near Social Security Bar.

Lake Oconee and Lake Martin Results

In the Sportsman Club Classic, 11 members fished for eight hours to land 33 keepers weighing about 67 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and one person zeroed.

Preview of these tournaments

Kwong Yu won with five at 14.03 pounds and had a 5.78 pound largemouth for big fish. Niles Murray placed second with five at 9.03, my five at 8.45 pounds was third, fourth went to Raymond English with four at 7.98 pounds and George Roberts placed fifth with four weighing 6.69 pounds.

At Martin we pay back each day like they were one day tournaments. We had 37 fishermen and we landed 291 keepers weighing 354.81 pounds in 17 hours. Two people didn’t weigh in a fish but there were 46 five bass limits.

On Saturday I won with five at 10.54 pounds and Kwong Yu was second with five at 9.96 and had big fish with a 3.10-pound spot. Tom Tanner had five at 9.95 for third and Doug Acree placed fourth with five weighing 8.36 pounds.

On Sunday Tom Tanner won with five at 9.65 pounds and Kwong Yu, on roll, placed second with five at 9.47 and had big fish with a nice 4.16-pound spot. Lee Hancock was third with five at 8.08 and Billy Roberts was fourth with five at 7.37 pounds.

I should have gambled and made the long run! My five weighed 5.87 pounds and did not place.

Overall, Tom Tanner won with ten weighing 19.60 pounds and Kwong Yu had ten at 19.43 pounds for second and big fish of 4.16 pounds. My ten weighing 16.41 pounds was third, Lee Hancock’s ten at 14.22 pounds was fourth, Sam Smith placed fifth with ten at 13.64 pounds and Raymond English came in sixth with ten at 13.12 pounds.

We are already looking forward to the Martin trip next year!

Pacific Salmon Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries

Tipf for Pacific Salmon Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries

Editor’s Note: Here’s a great guide to the run of jumbo salmon now entering the rivers of New York from Lake Ontario, from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
from The Fishing Wire

The two species of Pacific Salmon found in Lake Ontario are the Chinook and coho salmon. Chinook salmon grow larger and are more heavily stocked then the coho, with approximately 1.7 million Chinook salmon and 250,000 coho salmon stocked annually in Lake Ontario and its tributaries by New York State. When salmon return to these tributaries in two to three years as adults, they weigh 8 to 30 pounds and offer a unique and exciting fishing experience.

Typically, the tributary fishing for Chinook and coho salmon begins in early-September and runs through early-November, with the peak often occurring during the first two weeks of October. Having success with these hard fighting fish requires using the right gear, flies, baits, lures and then presenting them in the most effective manner. Safety is also a concern when heading to these waters as most of them are large and can be difficult to wade in. Each of these topics will be discussed in more detail below to help get you started chasing these hard fighting fish.

Where to Go

Some of the more popular salmon fishing tributaries are:

Black River (PDF) (511 KB)
South Sandy Creek (PDF) (592 KB)
Salmon River
Oswego River
Sterling Creek
Genesee River (PDF) (601 KB)
Sandy Creek (PDF) (661 KB)
Oak Orchard Creek (PDF) (485 KB)
Eighteen Mile Creek
Lower Niagara River

Coho and Chinook Salmon

Coho and Chinook salmon are spawned at the Salmon River Hatchery during the month of October. The eggs hatch out in late November through December. Chinooks are stocked as 3 inch fingerlings in May or June. Besides shore stocking, some of the salmon are also pen stocked. Pen stocking is a cooperative effort between the NYSDEC and area sportsman groups. Pen stocking allows recently stocked fish a chance to acclimate to their new surroundings and offers some protection from predators. Fish and feed are provided from the NYSDEC Salmon River Fish Hatchery while the sportsmen’s groups build and maintain the pens and feed and take care of the fish for approximately 3 weeks. The fish are subsequently released into the stream or bay. This pen stocking program has been very successful. Shortly after stocking, salmon “smolt” imprint on the scent of the stream before migrating downstream to the lake. Coho are stocked as either pre-smolt fall fingerlings at 10 months of age (4½ inches long) or as 6 inch yearlings at 16 months of age. The life history of the coho salmon requires that they stay in the streams for at least one year before moving down to the lake. Once they reach the lake, salmon grow rapidly on a diet of alewives. Chinook salmon returning to the rivers where they were stocked range in age from 1 to 4 years. Age 2 and 3 fish make up 90% of the run and will weigh between 15-25 pounds. Mature coho salmon return to spawn as age 2 fish and will average 8-10 pounds.

Maturing Pacific salmon begin to “stage” off the river mouths from mid-to-late August. By early September some fish have usually started to trickle into the tributaries. The peak of the run when the best stream fishing occurs is actually a rather short 4 week period. On rivers whose flows are controlled by hydropower dams, such as the Salmon and Oswego, this peak period normally occurs from mid-September through mid-October. On other salmon streams across the state the timing of the runs is more dependent on rainfall. Generally salmon will enter these streams somewhat later with the peak occurring in mid-October. Once Chinook and coho salmon enter the streams, they are no longer feeding. Their bodies are undergoing rapid physiological changes and their sole purpose left in life is to spawn. While they are not actively feeding, they do exhibit several behaviors which make them vulnerable to traditional sport fishing techniques. One of these behaviors is aggression or territoriality, and another is their attraction to fish eggs or egg shaped lures.


Fly Fishing

Fly rods of 9-10 feet long for line weights of 7, 8, or 9 work well for salmon. Reels with a smooth disc drag are recommended to stop runs and tire the fish. Reels should have large enough capacity to hold at least 150 yards of 20 pound test backing. The backing should be fluorescent colored so you can see where the fish is running and so other anglers can see you have a fish on. Full floating lines are best as they allow better line control. Leaders are normally in the 8-12 foot range. For the butt section use a 6-8 foot section of 10-15 pound test line. At the end of this attach a small black barrel swivel. This serves as an attachment point for the tippet section and a dropper for split shot. The tippet section should be 2-3 feet of 6-10 pound test, depending on conditions.
Spin Fishing

A medium or medium heavy action graphite rod 8-9 feet long will allow you to keep line off the water, detect the strikes and play the large fish effectively. Reels should have a smooth drag and the line capacity of at least 200 yards of 12-15 pound test line. A 2-3 foot leader of 8-12 pound test line is also recommended though not required. Using a leader will save you some tackle and time. The leader being a lighter pound test will break, theoretically, before your main line when snagged. That way you only lose your fly or bait and save your weight

Effective Flies and Baits

Three basic types of flies are used to catch Pacific salmon when they are in the rivers. These are egg imitations, wet fly/streamers, and stonefly/nymphs. Tie your flies with materials that have a lot of action, color, and flash to attract a salmon’s attention and aggravate it into striking. Larger size flies work better earlier in the run in the lower sections of the river. Switch to smaller sizes when fishing for salmon that have been in the river for several days or in the upper areas. Heavy fishing pressure or low clear water would also call for smaller flies and lighter leaders. Use patterns that are quick and simple to tie because you will be losing a lot during a day’s fishing both on the bottom and fish that break off. Fly fishing is one of the most successful methods of catching Pacific salmon because of the unlimited combinations of colors, shapes, and sizes that can be created in the fly.

Some wet fly/streamers patterns to try are: Wooly Buggers hook sizes #2-8 in black, olive, purple, chartreuse, flame or orange; Mickey Finn sizes #2-8; black bear green butt sizes #4-10; comet style flies sizes #2-10; and marabou streamers in various hot colors. Good egg imitations are glo-bugs or estaz eggs hook sizes #6-8 in chartreuse, flame, orange or hot pink. Both work well and are quick and easy to tie. You can also try stonefly/nymphs size #4-10. Carry some tied with hot colored flashy materials like estaz and krystal flash, as well as more natural colors like black and brown.


Salmon eggs are one of the top producers, and both preserved skein eggs or loose eggs, tied into sacks the size of a dime or nickel with nylon mesh, are fished dead drifted through runs and pools. Artificial eggs come in a wide variety of styles and colors with some being impregnated with scents. Other good egg imitators are 1-2″ twister tails or tube jigs, small pieces of sponge, and plastic beads.


Pacific salmon are fish that stay on or near the river bottom as they migrate upstream. You want your bait or lure to pass at eye level to the fish just off the bottom. They generally will not move up in the water column any distance to strike a bait. Salmon often show their presence by porpoising or rolling on the surface of the stream. It is not understood why they do this but they rarely strike when they are surfacing so concentrate on keeping your lure near the bottom. If you fish a large pool, concentrate on either the head or the tail-out. Deep slots or runs along banks, behind logs, or boulders that break the current are other places to try. Another area where salmon seem to strike well is in the upper spawning areas of a river. Once the Chinook and coho have established nests or “redds,” they become very aggressive and territorial. This is especially true of the males which fight each other and drive off young trout or minnows invading their space.
For the greatest success, you want your fly, lure, or bait to be presented in the first 6-18 inches of water off the bottom. To do this properly, you will almost always have to add weight to your line. The secret to success is to use only the minimum amount of weight necessary to keep your bait in that narrow band of water just off the bottom. Too much weight causes your rig to hang up on the bottom, resulting in lost tackle, a loss of sensitivity which limits your ability to sense when a salmon has hit your bait, your rig to drift unnaturally, and will often spook the fish. Not enough weight will cause your lure or bait to float by too high in the water column where it will not interest the salmon. Use removable split-shot sinker and carry at least 3 or 4 different sizes and constantly adjust the amount of weight depending on the type of water you are fishing. As your rig drifts downstream, it should only occasionally tap the bottom. Rarely will salmon smash the fly or bait or strike hard. Often the fish just grabs the fly or bait in its mouth, and your line will simply stop, hesitate, or dart forward slightly. There are two basic methods of presenting a fly, bait, or lure to a salmon. One of these is the “dead-drift” and the other is the “wet-fly swing.” These methods can be used with either fly fishing or spinning tackle.

The Dead-Drift

The basic aspect of this method is getting your fly or bait to drift along as naturally as possible in the current just off the river bottom. You can use egg flies, stoneflies, spawn sacks, or artificial eggs. It is an effective method in pools, runs, or spawning riffles. Position yourself across from, or across and slightly upstream from, where you can see salmon or where you think they are. Move as close to the fish as possible without spooking them. Cast up and across stream at a 45 degree angle. Have just enough weight on your line or leader to get the bait down to be near the bottom 15 inches of water. As your rig drifts back towards you, raise your rod towards the vertical position to minimize the amount of line on the water. When the rig has drifted down to directly opposite your position, your rod should be almost vertical. As the rig passes you, turn your upper body to follow the drift and slowly lower the rod until the line and rig are directly below you. During the drift, concentrate on the point where your line enters the water and feel with the line and rod tip. Watch for any hesitation, upstream movement, or tug on the line. Using as little weight on the line as is necessary and as light a pound test line as possible gives you the best sensitivity to detect the take of a salmon.

The Wet-Fly Swing

This method works best in areas of moderate current speed such as runs or riffles. You can use streamers or wet flies. Position yourself upstream from where you can see the salmon or where you think they are holding. Make your cast directly across or across and slightly upstream. The object is to get your lure to sink until it is just off bottom, drift downstream, and then swing in an arc passing directly in front of the fish at eye level. The streamer imitates a small fish intruding into the salmon’s territory and triggers an aggressive response or territorial defense. This is especially true when the salmon are on a spawning bed. Often it requires many casts, each passing the lure in front of the fish, before it becomes annoyed enough to strike

Fighting and Landing Salmon

After the hook-up, get all your loose line back on the reel as soon as possible. On the first long run, hold the rod tip up, and let the reel’s drag do the work. It should be set tight enough to put some pressure on the fish but not strong enough to break your leader. After the initial run, pressure the fish as much as you can. If the salmon makes a long run downstream, you usually have to follow it and try to get below it. You cannot drag a large fish back up river. The ideal situation is when the fish is running upstream where it will be fighting both the current and your drag. Chinook salmon can be landed by grabbing the narrow area just forward of the tail. With a coho you’ll have to wear a wool glove or the fish will slip out of your grasp. The best situation would be to have a partner stand below the fish with a wide mouth net. Try to be a good sportsman and be courteous to others. If a fellow angler hooks a salmon nearby, be prepared to reel in and step back out of the way.


Many of the rivers that have Pacific salmon runs can be dangerous to wade in. Rapidly rising water levels, slippery rocks, deep drop-offs, and strong currents are all things the angler should be on the look-out for. The sight of a school of huge salmon moving past has been known to cause some fishermen to lose all caution and get themselves in trouble. To make your trip safer and more enjoyable always follow these precautions:

Wear spiked footwear to insure firm footing.
Carry a wading staff.
Wear polarized sunglasses to detect wading hazards and spot fish.
Wear a wader belt or flotation vest.
Be cautious and don’t cross the river if you are unsure of depth or speed of the current.


For current regulations specific to the tributary you are fishing, please review your Great Lakes and Tributary Regulations section of your fishing guide.

Wild vs. Stocked

Natural reproduction does take place in some of the tributaries and thanks to the purchase of an automated fish marking trailer (Autofish) in 2008 we are starting to understand to what extent this adds to the fishery. The Autofish is capable of adipose clipping and/or applying coded wire tags (CWTs) to salmon and trout at high speed and accuracy. To determine the proportions of wild and hatchery Chinook salmon in Lake Ontario, all Chinook salmon stocked by New York and Ontario from 2008-2011 were marked with an adipose fin clip. Percentages of wild Chinook salmon in Lake Ontario varied by year class and age, and among regions from 2009-2015. The wild study was completed in 2015 and overall, wild Chinook were an important component of the Lake Ontario fishery averaging 47% of the age 2 & 3 Chinooks harvested in the lake.

The Salmon River in Oswego County is, by far, the most famous New York stream for Pacific salmon fishing. It is stocked more heavily than any other stream to insure that enough fish make it back to the Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Altmar for spawning and egg collection. The Salmon River also has a high percentage of wild Chinook salmon. The estimated percent of wild Chinook salmon in the Salmon River, also varied by year during the marking study, but overall approximately 70% of angler-caught Chinook salmon (excluding age-1) are believed to be wild.

For more information on Lake Ontario research, please view Lake Ontario Fisheries Unit Reports.

Ten Days Fishing on Oconee and Martin

Ten days in a row are almost too much of a good thing. I left September 30 to camp and fish at Lake Oconee for three days then left there and drove straight to Lake Martin for seven more of the same. Ten days fishing and 12 nights camping are a lot for an old man!

Results for Oconee and Martin

It has been about 20 years since I camped at Lawrence Shoals campground on Oconee. It is a Georgia Power Parks campground and has excellent facilities with nice big shaded campsites and a clean, modern bath house.

I fished Friday and Saturday practicing for the Spalding County Sportsman Club Classic on Sunday. I caught only three keeper bass, spending most of my time on the water looking at deeper cover and scanning docks and grassbeds. After all, nothing I caught on Friday or Saturday would count in the tournament!

One fish did clue me in to a small pattern that worked pretty good in the tournament. I cast a weightless Trick worm to the edge of a grassbed and got a backlash. While I was picking it out the worm sank to the bottom and sat there still.

I learned long ago to lift my rod tip slowly after letting the worm sit like this, and sure enough, my line started moving out from the bank when it got tight. I set the hook on a good two-pound keeper. For some reason it seemed the fish did not want to chase a moving bait for me.

In the tournament I started out casting a topwater bait to a seawall but got no bites. But my first cast with the Trick worm to the same spot, a bass 13.98 inches long picked it up and took off. Although it was not a keeper, it told me to fish the Trick worm.

That pattern worked fairly good and produced a limit. Of course, the tournament was won on a moving topwater bait!

I got to Wind Creek State Park Monday afternoon in the pouring rain. The park was crazy – some huge group was having a “family” get together and their registration tent and vehicles completely blocked the parking lot you have to go through to get to the campground.

I finally got to my reserved campsite and sat there for 30 minutes in the rain. I watched folks try to put their tents back up, many had collapsed from the rain, and watched others bail out their tents then move them to higher ground. Experienced campers probably would not set up a tent in the lowest spot in a campsite in the rain.

Although the campground was extremely crowded and the park police seemed to abandon all rules, like no more than two tents or two vehicles to a campsite for the week, it was not too bad.

A few years ago I was camping in my van and Al Rosser came over early one morning, set up his small tent by my van and we went fishing. About the time the rangers got to work one of them called me, made us come in and take the tent down. I am not sure why they didn’t enforce any rules this past week like they always have in the past.

I had a decision to make. I like to make a long run first thing in the morning on Martin, about 25 miles one way, but do not know that area as well as I do the area around Wind Creek. I have been fishing the Wind Creek area for 46 years and exploring the other area for only three.

I drove over and practiced three days on the other end of the lake. I did not catch much but on Wednesday I landed a three-pound spot, a three-pound largemouth and four other two pounders. That encouraged me, ten pounds a day will usually do very good in the tournament.

I made the long run Saturday morning and a boat was sitting on my best spot when I got there. But I managed to catch a limit in 30 minutes and landed three good spots on topwater before heading back to the Wind Creek area.

Oddly enough, when I got back I landed a spot on my first cast that culled one fish from the other end of the lake, and culled one more time before weigh-in. That made me decide to not make the run Sunday morning and I guess it turned out to be a mistake.