20170521-ts-sp gateway outdoors Ontario 3

Lake Ontario boasts some of the finest salmon and steelhead fishing in the world.

Photo courtesy of Paul Czarnecki

Lake Ontario boasts some of the finest salmon and steelhead fishing in the world.

Easy to say. However one charter Captain I know and trust has been fishing the Lake for decades. To say the least, Paul Czarnecki has a darn good idea of what Lake Ontario is capable of producing.

Captain Paul Czarnecki is a fulltime professional charter boat captain and fishing guide. Early on in his career Paul divided his time by conducting charters on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. That situation has since changed. He now conducts charters exclusively on Lake Ontario.

When questioned about the quality of Lake Ontario, Paul was quick to respond.

“Lake Ontario boasts some of the finest salmon and steelhead fishing in the world,” Captain Paul said.

Paul went on to say, “Right now in the early season we will generally boat “Kings” weighing up to 22 pounds or so. Later in the summer it will not be uncommon bringing in “kings” between 18 and up to 30 pounds. In addition to salmon we catch brown trout along with lake trout.”

Springtime on Lake Ontario generally means fantastic brown trout fishing. Brown trout are found along much of the shoreline. The warmer water along shore or at tributary mouths attracts baitfish, which in turn attracts the brown trout.

As the lake begins to warm, the brown trout start moving farther off shore.

Rainbow trout, or steelhead, are usually found higher in the water column than the other trout and salmon, generally above the thermocline. Rainbows are oftentimes seen leaping out of the water in their attempts to shake free from the hook, often even before the angler realizes he has a fish on.

When it comes to Atlantic salmon, they are less numerous in Lake Ontario than the other salmonids. Chances of boating an Atlantic salmon are best when fishing for brown trout.

Lake trout are native to Lake Ontario and prefer colder water than the other salmonids. They are often called the “bread and butter” fish for charters because they are generally more predictable than the other species.

Chinook salmon, or “king” salmon, grow large, fight hard, and are much sought after. Generally this time of year the western end of the lake is the starting point for the salmon fishery. As spring changes into summer, the salmon fishing shifts towards the eastern end of the lake.

By late summer the kings begin to stage off tributary mouths across the lake as they prepare for their fall spawning run. During the spring, the salmon can be caught closer to shore as they follow baitfish into these areas.

As the salmon begin to stage off the river mouths in late summer, plugs begin to become a popular bait choice.

Coho salmon, or “silver” salmon, typically don’t grow as large as king salmon but are tremendous fighters for their size.

Cohos tend to be found higher in the water column than kings, and they seem to be less wary of boats and downrigger weights.

Cohos are usually caught earlier in the spring than the kings. Anglers targeting shallow water brown trout in the spring generally pick up some cohos. Like the

kings, they begin to move farther off shore as the water warms, but they return to mouths of the rivers in late summer as they prepare for their fall spawning run.

With so much to choose from, beginning right now and continuing through spring until fall, Lake Ontario is a great fishery to spend time on. And that’s where going with a charter Captain like Paul Czarnecki can really pay off.

Water temperatures and depths, combined with a wide variety of lures and knowledge of the lake, is an important factor to successfully boating fish while on Lake Ontario.

Captain Paul added, “Lake Ontario’s Chinook salmon boasts the biggest fish of all the Great Lakes. This is the second year in a row that water temperatures remained a bit warmer over the winter months. As a result, the fish continued to feed later in the year. I look for the fish to be somewhat larger this year. And from early catches, the fish are bigger this time of year than two years ago.”

Recently I spent time on the lake with Paul fishing from his well-equipped boat, “The Free Spirit”. While weather conditions were not in our favor, the fish finder

marked an impressive number of fish lurking below the surface.

Paul commented, “If the wind were not blowing out of the east, chances are we would have had enough fish on the lines to keep us busy all morning.”

If you’re want to catch big fish and have more than your share of fun doing it, consider fishing with Captain Paul Czarnecki.

Capt. Paul’s extensive knowledge of the species, his professionalism and attention to detail, make him one of the best charter captains on Lake Ontario. But if you’re looking to charter a trip, don’t hesitate. After all, Czarnecki is a popular charter captain.

“Right now the weekends are filling up fast, but if you can fish mid-week, my schedule is a little more open. We offer half and full day fishing charters,” Paul said.

When booking a charter, Paul will provide all the details on what you will need to bring. Also if overnight accommodations are needed, like most charter captains, they work with local fisherman friendly motels and bed and breakfast facilities at reasonable rates.

To book your trip call Paul directly at 716 390-0085 for all the details. Also check out his facebook page at Free Spirit Sport Fishing or go to FishFreeSprit.com

And when you go, take along a big cooler, because if the fish are really hitting, you’re going to need it.

Clearfield County

Youth Field Day

Youth field days provide youngsters with exposure to a wide variety of outdoor experiences.

In many cases mentoring today’s youth in the ways of conservation often begins at home. That’s a good start. However more than ever, a broader perspective to the outdoors can and is being provided. With its roots in the Youth Field Day concept, several conservation camps will be taking place. Right now a number of Youth Field Days are accepting reservations to join in on the fun.

Youth Field Day events across the region include: June 3rd Camp Mountain Run, in Clearfield County.

In Jefferson County on June 10th at Reynlow Park an event will be conducted. The Mosquito Creek Sportsmen, near Frenchville in Clearfield Co., will host an event on the same day.

In Oil City the Izaak Walton League will host an event located near Seneca on June 17th.

Camp Coffman, near Cranberry, will host an event in Clarion County on July 15th. Another event will be held on the same day at Chapman State Park, near Clarendon.

In August on the 5th, a Youth Field Day event will take place in Forest County near Marionville.

To sign up for any of these events or check on seats available, log onto the PA Game Commission’s web site. Click the “Education” box at the top of the page. In the dropdown box click on “Youth Programs” then click on the box labeled “Field Day” Programs. Signup is quick and easy. Registering a youngster to take part in any one of these Youth Field Days can play an important part in a youngster’s introduction to the field sports.

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Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, an active member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net

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