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Near Shore Brown Trout will be aggressive & Hungry After a Long and Cold Winter

The April showers remind me of the next great fishery here in Oswego County that is about to kick off, the nearshore brown trout bite. As soon as the ice clears the ramps, brave souls launch their boats in search of the first open water trolling on Lake Ontario in over six months. They are typically greeted by aggressive, hungry brown trout searching for the warmest water around.

The water along the shoreline warms the quickest. Whenever the water along the shoreline is stained or cloudy, it warms more quickly under the sun’s bright rays. On a typical day chasing early trout, you find a mix of year classes. Most of your bigger fish will be “post spawn” fish. You will be able to tell by how skinny they are, along with being more colorful. While many that you catch are on the smaller side, they are the best eating!

A typical day trolling the shore will include running multiple lines of planer boards, in-line or fixed mast style, shallow down-riggers or even just flatlines. Traditionally we will be trolling 5 to 25 feet of water without baits running in the top 10 feet of the water column.

The best baits for this time of year are stick baits and spoons. When deploying your baits, remember you are fishing very shallow and the fish will be spooky, therefore set your baits 75- to 150-feet behind the boat.

Some of the best brands include Bay Rat, Smithwick, Rapala, Michigan Stinger, and Thundersticks. Natural colors are best when fishing clear or lightly stained water, for example black/silver, goby, brown trout Ayu, diehard, green glow alewife, and tuxedo.

But when the water is roiled up, you want to get out the brighter off the wall colors such as Firetiger, citric shad, GFR, anything with an orange belly, mongoose, or Goose-n-Tonic.

While this is the rule, don’t forget there are always exceptions, don’t be afraid to send out a lure that is totally different than the rest of the spread you might be pleasantly surprised!

Don’t forget about the Salmon River.

The steelhead migration back to Lake Ontario has been slowed down by recent cold weather as well. This is going to create a longer dropback season than normal.

So pack your bags and come experience some fantastic fishing in Oswego County!!!

Stay tight and keep up the chase!
Capt. Andy Bliss

For a list of charters and guides, and current fishing conditions go to


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