In summation...Many Lake Ontario captains and veteran rec anglers have fine-tuned their presentations and are very successful with those divers. Here at the Oak we know of several who have gone this route: three staggered downriggers, one core (occasionally two) and two divers. One key here is bracketing those divers, say 240' and 260'...whatever. Footnote: there are some tournament anglers out there who use a complicated four diver set-up. However, that's the time when fun becomes hard work (plus tangled lines and lots of cussing).
Capt. Bob Songin (aka CBS) added that the same procedure could apply to your downrigger balls...parallel cruising closer and closer to shore with various settings. He also mentioned the implications of how the amount of wire out depends on how much your spool is filled...such as a full spool, half full spool, etc.
Western Lake Ontario's Dynamic Temp Changes...Where and what on the Lake Ontario thermal bars, thermoclines and upwellings (authored by Tim Bromund from LOTSA)...Click Here
Spin Doctor...It's not often that a lure as good as this comes along. Several experts out here at the Oak find the dipsey diver to be the most effective program for this hot weapon. Diver colors vary, as well as do the Spin Doctors, but the hottest Spin Doc colors seem to be white on white glow with a no-see-um or purple passion Action fly and mountain dew with monkey puke, seaweed or pickled sunshine. Use the front hole on the head of the blade for your 6' or 7' leader to the dipsey (faster trolling speed, smaller diameter roll for the Spin Doctor). For the back hole (tail fin end), attach a 20" or 22" leader to the fly. Several top Captains use slide divers 40' ahead of the rig. Check your leaders and terminal rigs often...there's lots of toothy creatures out there now dragging around unwanted hardware and flies. Sometimes bad luck, sometimes neglect.
Depth Of Water...We've received quite a few e-mails asking for a conversion chart for latitude numbers to depth of water...Click Here.
Downrigger Tip...The following technique will result in less false strikes, less missed strikes and will give you more solid hookups...have good releases that you can really tighten down. Then reel down on your rods when setting up 'til the rod tips are much closed to the water than the usual setup. One, a tight release and razor sharp hooks will give you many more good solid hookups...bury that barb. Two, it also eliminates a considerable amount of slack line after a strike...and as you all know, slack line is a big no-no.
Familiar Bite Rig (courtesy Capt. John Oravec)...This rig has the visual, plus scent advantages. Thanks, Capt. John.
"Some thing that I started doing to spice up my shark take on my G-Flys goes as follows... I take a Familiar Bite [Tm] Alewife and fillet it. I trim the fillet to the shape of a baseball pennant [a long tapered triangular strip of "meat"]. I tie the G-Fly on a traditional squid rig [ie: 50 lb test Trilene Big Game clear mono, two 2/0 beak / squid hooks]. I then impale the sawbelly strip on the two hooks leaving the tapered end to flutter behind the G-Fly. I use the green glow fly in low light and the seagrass or alewife when bright. The dodger is chrome with a strip of glow pearl and one strip of electrical tape each side [my spook]."
Here's a link to an outlet near Buffalo NY for the Familiar Bite...Click Here.
Slide Divers...When you hear of action with divers on the VHF radio, remember...they are using slide divers much of the time. Here's a brief description of one way to use them...a potent stealth weapon for your arsenal.
At the Oak, they are available at Captain's Cove and at Narbys. Black is probably the favorite color out here, with clear running second. They have rings and a dial system like the regular Luhr Jensen Dipsey Diver. They also have almost the same dive angle as the regular ones...with 20 lb. wire, close to 2 to 1. The key advantage is you may run as long a leader as you desire...35 ft. to 40 ft. is popular, sometimes 50 ft. to 60 ft.
8 ft. to 9 ft. of fluorocarbon leader should be attached to a small barrel swivel on the end of the main line after being threaded through the release and slide diver. We believe 20 lb. Seaguar Fluoro rates pretty high as leader material. The swivel prevents the diver from sliding all the way to the fish or lure after a strike. Many times, two can be run, one off each side and with one deeper than the other.
We'll go into a little extra detail here. Instead of a barrel swivel on the main line and a ball-bearing swivel on your lure, tie main line to a Cabela's Deluxe Coastlock Ball-Bearing Swivel with welded ring (same quality, but half the price of Sampo)...CD-11-5612 black, size 1, and to your leader, attach Cabela's Premium Duo Lock Snap CD-11-3061-508, 5/8", black. This is a refinement and gives more of a kick to your spoon. Lures could be spoons, flasher/flies, dodgers or cut-bait. However, spoons predominate.
Wire Slide Divers...When running wire slide divers, just make sure you have 50' of good mono ahead of your swivel, 9' of Seaguar and lure. Place your slide diver on this 50' section...now you may use a 20' to 50' dropback, whatever, from where the wire will start. We attach the wire to the mono by cutting the end off a new Coastlock ball bearing, saving the solid ring (the ring easily passes thru your level wind and will never break). Attach both the wire and the 50' mono to the ring (or small 30 lb. barrel swivel). For the wire, attach using small crimps purchased along with your 30 Lb. wire. Tie the mono to the connector with an improved clinch knot, using a touch of Super Glue to both the mono knot and wire crimp...play it safe. A lot of us like 20# clear Big Game or 20# Ande. Wire slide divers are use frequently, however, when the silvers are above 50', many anglers opt for the mono slide diver...trying for spread, rather than depth, often even going to the #3 setting.
Wire Slide Diver Update...If that BB solid ring won't go thru a small tip-top, squeeze the ring into an oval shape or use a high quality smaller barrel swivel.
BTW, in reference to the slide diver, several Captains have one set up with wire and the second one with 30 lb. smoke FireLine. The 50 ft. extension is still required for this one also, as the locking device won't hold on the slippery FireLine.
On the FireLine/slide diver combo (thanks to Mike Diel and Kevin Targel for hi-lighting a FireLine detail)...When using 30 lb. test FireLine with your slide diver, a long 50 ft. extension is not necessary because of slippery line slippage. Just flip or rotate the small pinch point tubing 180° in either direction and lock into place, setting the latch arm into the jaws. So, instead of straight thru path for the FireLine, it has a zig-zag.
Howie Flies...(Courtesy Capt. Ernie Lantiegne)
- use 20-22 inch leaders this time of year (mid-July thru August)
- use 30 lb. test main line
- the stiffer the leader the better..., 50 lb. Maxima Tournament Silver or 60 lb. Stren Hi Impact fluorocarbon
- fish the dodgers 20-40 feet back on the riggers and on an 8' leader on the wires
- don't hesitate to fish 5 dodgers at once on the riggers. I also like to fish two more dodgers on wire Dipsys, two on thumpers, and a couple of additional Dipsys with spoons. All this commotion seems to really crank up the fish
- you'll find that there are days when the fish don't seem to want the 5-dodger spread, but it still stirs them up, and you'll catch them on the wires
- I keep my riggers spread about 10 feet with the deepest the shortest
- don't be afraid to let them spin occasionally, put the pedal to the metal!!
- an erratic troll with changes in direction and speed catches more fish
- don't be afraid to fish a spoon or two with the dodgers
- in steelhead country, a red #0 dodger with a copper/blue Howie can be deadly, they also like white/pearl dodgers and a white/green Howie
Improved Leadcore Set-up...(courtesy of Joe Yeager from LOTSA)
"The guys in Michigan feel the Church Walleye boards are the best for cores. They have stronger releases which will hold the line and run in rougher water than yellow birds, offshore planer boards, etc. will. They keep them on their lines after the strike by half hitching a rubber band to their line and putting the open end of the rubber band in the swivel off the end of the board. Upon a release (fish or boat popping it) the board hangs off the rubber band free of any drag in the water. Snap off the rubber band in the boat and fight the fish board free. We haven't had much of a chance to try it out yet, but lots of positive feedback on it from Michigan."
Yellowbird Cores...(Courtesy Capt. Dave Siegfried of "Tracker Charters")
Remember, we talked about "Fortune" pulling cores off planer boards and doing well...however, way too much work and trouble. The hottest new set-up "Tracker" has is to pull his twin cores off Yellowbirds...10 colors, knot at the water with favorite spoons (when fish are 45' to 55' down)...adjust length of line out to how far down the fish are. We asked ourselves why we hadn't thought of that. Clear water, fairly high fish, spooky fish...that's why the spread cores and long leaders off the riggers. Rubber bands are used to strengthen the release. His backing is FireLine so he uses a split shot to prevent the line from slipping out through and past the release. Experiment with bird distance out...at least 50'.
June Transition Period...If you wish to track and predict it..starting the 1st of June, examine your surface temp map and on the western end notice the areas within 2 to 10 miles off shore that have tight gradient lines. Those are your productive fish holding temp structure areas. As the month goes by, those productive areas progress eastward, leaving a few usually barren pockets and widely dispersed gradient lines (aka tough fishing). Surface temps mid to high 50°s. Once past the Oak, they can move east fast, even to the far east. What is it exactly? Simply put, it's the short time period between the last of the major breaks (thermal bar) and the beginning of the thermocline...usually, around the 1st of July, of course depending on the weather (sun, temperature, wind, currents, etc). An example of this change to the thermalcline would be to motor out to 200' to 400' in early July, drop in and with your deep temp probe find the temp 46° down 70', 56° down 55' and a nice productive 15', 10° spread...hopefully with bait and silvers. If not, go into your search mode or watch the Charter Captains (a lot quicker).
Mup Rig...It's simple and sometimes deadly. On one or two deep rigs, usually just the bottom rigger. Use this set-up...thread a black Add-a-line release on to your mono which comes off your fishing rod before you tie on your swiveled spoon. Then hook up and position your target spoon 10' to 12' back behind the ball. Then lower the ball just below the surface of the water keeping the Add-a-line release device in your left hand with the mono sliding thru it. Stop the ball when it is 5' below the Add-a-line. Snap on your 6' leader (a swiveled larger attractor spoon) and jerk the leader to lock it into place. Then lower to desired depth (46° for kings). The current hot set-up, now and last season, is a lazer ladder backed Mini Streak target spoon trailing a Pirate 55 lazer spook just above and ahead of it. This set-up is wide open for spoon experimation, as long as the trailing target spoon is ALWAYS below, 5' or 6' behind and smaller....Photos (courtesy Tim Bromund)
Planner Board Towline Tip...If you have ever used 200 to 500 lb. test Superline and a bungee cord in rough water and had one pop free, try some 200 lb. test Ande mono (no bungee). The stretch of mono is very forgiving, like a heavy rubber band...no sudden shocks to those big double boards. We know of two two anglers who used the same mono line and never had a break off in 20 years. Use silicone spray on it...the releases slide down quicker.
Leadcore Depth Adjustment With Lead Weights...It's important to run your leadcore presentations in the prime zone. (BTW, the prime zone is where most of the silvers hang out in their preferred temp.) Where the ten color leadcore is spliced to the 40' to 60' fluorocarbon leader, using a #16 rubber band on the fluorocarbon, attach a 4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz, or 10 oz. lead weight (occasionally a 12 oz. to 16 oz. when they're 80' and deeper). When reeling in your fish, stop at the dropper and yank off the rubber banded weight. If a little rubber goes on your reel...no sweat, just remove it on your re-setup. Here's a chart that gives the approximate depth of a lead core compared to the downriggers.
Refined leadcore and weight program (Courtesy "Buc-a-roo")...Capt. Ron Penna runs twin leadcores, both off outriggers. For fish 70' to 90' deep--10 to 15 passes past the knot, plus 8 to 12 oz. leadweight rubberband halfhitched to the 40' to 60' florocarbon leader ("Buc-a-roo" likes Vanish, Seaguar is highly rated) where it is spliced to the leadcore on the lure end. When the weight comes in to the boat, just rip it off and keep reeling. BTW, Capt. Ron uses 27# test leadcore with the florocarbon leader to the lure and makes sure he has a full 275 yd. spool of 20# test smoke FireLine as backing and then splices on his leadcore. Two reasons for this: first, the FireLine is very thin and cuts the water for greater depth; second, he used to use mono backing on the core, but had many core lines cut off when a screamer king took off on one of his riggers, went under & up and sliced them off. However the FireLine is very tough and won't cut.
More Details On Leadcore Rod, Reel & Line Set-Up...(courtesy Duane Jones "3 C's")
I can only tell you what has worked well for me. That being, the use of a Penn 330 reel, Daiwa Heartland X 10 1/2 foot rod, used in a Big Jon heavy duty rod holder. The line that I put on as backing was Cabela's Ripcord 30# test of 400 yards. This thin diameter line allows for a greater amount than would be possible with a mono line. Splice on 27# leadcore using an albright knot with a minimum of 7 wraps and then secure with Sure-Lok knot glue. Spool on 10 colors and then attach a leader of 20 lb. test mono, using a lead of 50 to 100 foot. The way to attach the mono is to pull the sheath off the leadcore approximately 6 inches back. Snip off the lead and then insert the mono back into the sheath. You then simply tie 3 overhand knots approximately 1 1/2 inches apart starting from the back and moving forward so when you end up the last knot is about 1 1/2 inches in from the end of the leadcore itself. Then spool on a desired mono lead. This setup when used can be extremely effective. If the temp and targets are down deep, greater depth can be achieved by using an additional weights such as 6 to 16 oz., simply half hitched with a rubber band at the first knot, and then removed as it approaches the boat. On a relatively flat lake the same rig can be used with the use of a planer board for greater coverage, attached with a heavy duty Offshore release. This is a way back fishing technique. When we hook into what we consider a major, we will often clear this line first for obvious reasons. Many, not only off the Oak, but elsewhere, are using this rig. So when we are navigating around our fellow fisherpersons, let's be not only wary, but also courteous of a sudden turn behind someone else's vessel. For they are trolling over 300 feet behind them or even greater. This rig does require an extra degree of work, but one that is often worth doing. We refer to this rig as the Widow Maker and the first time you take a savage hit on this rig, starting this far behind the boat, you'll see why. BTW, The leadcore does pull back rather easily. Make sure when you insert the mono leader that it butts up against the lead in the sheath itself. The weight, that if added, is at the end where the mono lead meets the leadcore. On Lake Ontario I normally like to run spoons such as a dolphin (green or Penna), laser or gold spook or especially in direct sunlight a watermelon, just to name a few. The use of a clean teaser (glow) with cut-bait at especially this time of year can be effective also. On Lake Erie this same rig will take many walleyes with the use of a crawler and harness. Most measure the length of line out by referring to where the knot (Albright) is at in relation to the water. Such as knot at the water or 5 to10 passes past the knot. Remember on a hit where it was at and then duplicate.
River Trolling For Kings...(courtesy Duane Jones "3 C's")
A tip to those who may be limited to trolling the creek September thru mid October. Slow troll to 1 mph or slower. Use a J-13 in orange or chartreuse on a flat line when traffic allows. Pull 2 Ping-A-Tees on 2 riggers just below the surface. When trolling the creek, the lines will often get fouled with grass and such, but it can often be explosive. The area between the Yacht Club and Captain's Cove is the one to target. Use a heavy duty snap. One thing that must be mentioned is, as you know, the kypes are developing at a rapid rate, so although the hookups may be high, the landings may be limited. It's fun anyways.
Drop-ball Rig For Kings (inside waters)...(courtesy Duane Jones "3 C's")
It consists of a Daiwa dipsey rod 9 foot in length, using 30 lb. mono. With this use a Big Jon jettison release 20 to 30 foot lead with a 12 to16 oz weight. Fishing in 60 to110 feet of water, put this rig in free spool with clicker on to eliminate any backlash. Let out until one feels it hit bottom. Pull in 3 to 5 feet on counter of 47LC. Use a dodger and squid or Howie (flasher with reversed tinsel fly). As long as one stays on the same line, on occasion you will pick a few mussels, you are putting this rig within a few feet of bottom, often aggravating a strike from bottom hugging fish. Simply watch rod tip to ensure on occasion that it is tapping bottom. I run this right down the middle with an open rod holder on my Cannons, this allows for clearance on the sides for a leadcore or diver rod.
Dodger/Squid/Bait For Kings...(courtesy "Troutman")
A few days after Labor Day, Capt. John Oravec's party took 5 of their 7 kings on this presentation. On the inside waters, run the deep rigger close to bottom with a dodger/squid 20' to 40' back and 2' to 3' off bottom. Slow down from cut-bait speed to dodger/squid speed to eliminate short hits. What made it work was a small slice of cut-bait on the squid hooks...a combo that can be deadly at times.
Trolling Speed Info...Many have asked about trolling speeds...here are the basics. First, as 95% of you are aware of, the proper lure speed is very critical. Flatlining speed is a no-brainer, everyone has a surface temp-speed gauge and you eyeball your lure at the side of the boat before letting it back into trolling position. The tricky part is that down speed, where it's easy to have it too fast or too slow and worthless. It's easy when you have electronic down temp and speed capability. This is too expensive for a lot of fishermen and frequently malfunctions...check around for the best units. If you have this unit, you don't need to read this. The biggest reason one can be messed up down deep is the constantly changing currents we have out there. They are caused by various wind directions and intensities, besides the natural currents. When you hear speed mentioned on the VHF, it's almost always down speed at the ball. Here are two methods to use if you don't have the electronics. If you are isolated from the other boats that are consistently netting fish, experiment with speed while keeping track of your downrigger cable driftback (misleading sometimes because of occasional strong currents just under the boat and a little ways down...more reliable is the bend in the dipsey rods because of the much thinner wire). Remember, each direction could be different because of those currents. When you start taking fish, remember the angle of the cables and your surface speed. The sure fire method when you're near those trollers with lots of action, pick one out and troll broadside to them for a few minutes and note the surface speed. Of course, this is when they're in their fishing mode, not when they have slowed down to net their catch. The better boats, many times, have a certain compass heading for the most productive results. For a few minutes stay abreast of them, at least 100 yards away so you don't crowd them. Once again, each direction could have a different speed. BTW, some spoons are more speed forgiving...cut-bait and dodger/squid speeds are touchy. Also, check with your fishing buddies on the VHF
Flea Tip...Several top Charters are battling those creatures by using 150' of 30 lb. clear Big Game, then they blood knot an 8' leader of 20 lb. Seaguar fluorocarbon. This works fairly well...then have two spare rods ready to go. When reeling in your fish, shake the line in the water a few times, land the fish and re-set with a spare rod. Then on the rod and line just used, remove the lure and slide the fleas off and re-tie.
Alternate trolling program...Another set-up that produces targets in fairly calm water...The usual 3 or 4 riggers, 2 divers and then what takes those bonus big guys. Planner board off both sides, 40' or farther out, on each one a single mono dropball rig using Big Jon jettison releases 20' to 30' ahead of your spoon or cut-bait. The weights...use either 8, 10 or 12 ozs. and run 300' back. This presentation is always advisable to use when you have your own area with little traffic. This is close to what we had in here a month ago, but eliminated...two set-ups on each side are too much trouble and not necessary.
Proven Rigging Technique...One of the more effective programs for all silvers...This is simple, but has been one of the best programs this and past seasons. Stagger three riggers in the prime zone, sometimes with the lowest one a mup rig. Two divers, usually with a #2 setting, mono in the spring, wire for the rest of the season. Here's where those bonus fish come from...2 leadcores, with or without weights (depending on depth desired), run off outriggers. If you don't have outriggers, run a planner board off only one side 40' to 60' out. Use a black offshore release with the jaws wrapped shut with a rubber band for solid hook-ups. That's for your first leadcore, run the second off the boat like you usually do. BTW, the anglers who tried the previous two ski, four line set-up found it too time consuming and a wild king would destroy a lot of gear. Of course, keep the ski in the boat in choppy seas. This program provides tangle free, no cut-offs, trouble free (usually), but very effective presentation...more is not always better.
Slide Divers...these have "angle out" settings close to a regular Luhr Jensen Dipsey. They have a trip mechanism that allows you to put out any length of leader you desire. 35' back is commonly used. One of the best colors you can paint it is a flat lead gray, like lead cannonballs. Some put pink fluorescent tape on top. The big advantage of this set-up is distance back (from diver to lure) in our usually clear waters. Frequently, your high riggers are 20' to 40' down and 25' to 35' back...this set-up duplicates them, but off to the side.
Speed-Tuning Spoons...(veterans already know this) To run your Pirate 55s at a 2.8 to 3.3 clip (during June, July and August, many times kings like 'em at this speed), place your spoon on a flat surface, belly down and using your thumb, press down a little near the hump at the rear of the blade. This flattens it just a little. For real slow trolling, like for scraping kings off the bottom in maybe 50' to 70' of water, or perhaps an add-a-line above a dodger, do the reverse. On a 66 or mag, bend a little more cup into it. For 2.6 to 3.1 speed trolling the 44, merely replace the small #1 treble with a 1/0 treble. They shouldn't spin back there, they should dance around. The "Buc" and "Fortune" like the #1 treble at 2.2 to 2.4 speeds; they're correct...slower speeds call for that #1 for the best medium-slow action.
July & August Upwelling Tip...After a N/E Blow or steady east wind for a day or two, when the kings out front in 100' to 400' and the lake turns over or when the temp slowly rises in the water column until it's around 46º to 49º in aproximately 60 fow near bottom...the following method has worked many times. Speed troll (about 3 knots) the inside waters in the 50' to 100' depths of water. Put four silver hammered Pirate 44s on your riggers 20', 30', 40' and 50' down. They must be 60' to 70' back (all back the same distance) and have 1/0 trebles on your 44s (very important), your speed has to be 2.9 to 3.2. The best area is from the Pump House west to the umbrella tree east. First one in gets the cream, after it gets crowded, forget it.
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