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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Welcome to Captain Experience.com

CaptainExperience.com

It has occurred to me that as I add to my library of fishing blogs I may have created a cyber fishing "magazine" of sorts, or perhaps it is a blogazine. It is a little different than conventional publications in that I am the author of all the input and thus any opinions are all mine be they good or bad. My intent is to provide information that I hope will be interesting to those of you who choose to participate in a quality lake ontario fishing charter experience. Whether you are a "hardcore fisherman" or a occasional angler, my blogs will cover items that are relevant.

I feel it is in your and my best interest to keep you informed regarding the goings on within the Lake Ontario fishery. Maintaining a quality salmon and trout fishery is at the apex of the "what's important" scale. If you are coming to fish you should at least have a pretty good idea as to what is going on within the fishery. Therefore, I choose to cover items that have a very direct impact on just what you might expect when you join us on our charter boat. I believe it is nice to know what is going on whether it is water level situations, stocking issues, regulation proposals and a myriad of other related subjects that might have a very direct effect regarding the quality of your charter trip.

   There are probably thousands of web sites devoted to charter fishing. All of them include hanging fish pictures, contact information, personal claims of glory, boat photos and all of them look real nice, my site included. But how do you really know the difference between services. Actually you don't since the data is basically the same from site to site. Oh sure some sites have a more appealing look than others, however, when you scrape through the "glitz" they are all the same. I feel my blogs say something about me and my charter business, and I hope you agree. Information is nice, but good, pertinent information is even better. Here is an example of information that might be of interest to you.

    The NYS Dept. Of Environmental Conservation, (ENCON) has announced that sport fishing venues in Oswego County will be receiving $5,000,000.00 to be spent on the following projects within the county. Did I say 5 mil.? The funds will be portioned as follows: 2.2 million to study and upgrade trout and salmon production at the Salmon River Hatchery, $500.000 for Salmon River bank improvements, and $100,000.00 for new aquariums and displays at the Salmon River Hatchery, including an underwater camera to view migrating salmon as they return to their place of birth. This is going to be an eye popping view for those visiting the Hatchery during the spawning run.
   
    In addition, ENCON will purchase a state of the art fish marking system for 1.5 million and provide $100,000 for a new "I Love NY Great Lakes Fishing" brochure. This is fantastic news for our fishery and its future. It is a tremendous commitment to maintaining lofty fishing standards, and as a user of the fishery it is great news for you. The funds come from an environmental damage settlement with the Occidental Petroleum Company. ( remember Hooker Chemical and Love Canel?, BINGO!) The American Sport Fishing Association estimates that Great Lakes fishing in NYS generates 370 million in annual revenues and generates over 3,000 jobs. Now that is a pretty big industry. How many 370 million dollar industries have abandoned upstate NY for other places such as Asia, and its Pacific Rim countries? I can think of a few. Our fishing industry will remain viable as we sail into the future.

    I take the time to bring you news like this because you are important to my success. I like to write and believe it or not some have told me that they like my efforts. "Ain't that a hoot?" 
    
    As I have said many times, "it's great to be a Lake Ontario troller." Stay tuned, because there is more to come! Seems like I need to come up with a name for my blogazine. We'll see.

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 4:18:00 AM

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Trolling and Trawling

It is still dark when I pull into the marina. As I walk to my boat I can see and hear the familiar sights and sounds of fishing vessels getting ready to leave their moorings and chug their way to the open waters of Lake Ontario. Having fished these waters for two plus decades, the rumbling murmur of the awakening fishing fleet is music to my ears.  In a few minutes the marina will give up many of her fishing battlewagons as they head out in search of a productive day of angling pleasure. To me, the excitement and anticipation never seems to wane, and as our boat clears the harbor walls and powers up for a cresting dawn cruise to the so called "promised land," I realize I am one very lucky individual.

     It won't be long before we throttle back to trolling speed and lines are lowered to desired depths and the quest to hook up one of the many lake monsters begins. The VHF radio crackles and the cell phone rings as the search begins and information is distributed to the fleet from one boat to another.  Soon one of our bent over rigger rods thumps a couple of times, snaps toward the sky and just as quickly rolls down to the water with a pulsating crunch.  Fish on time has commenced. Yes sir, another great day of Lake Ontario fishing is about to unfold.

     Select the right tackle, choose an acceptable color, lower it to the right depth, troll at the right speed and the fish will come. Oftentimes the fish will come easy, sometimes they are quite elusive, but sooner or later they will cooperate and fishing turns to catching.  One thing is certain, Lake Ontario fishing is great, and all you have to do is load the lake with stocker sized fish, let them feed and grow, and fishing will be forever wonderful. That is all it takes!  Isn't it?

     While all this trolling stuff is going on, in another part of the lake, two well equipped fishing vessels are getting ready for their day of fishing. What these boats catch or more importantly don't catch will have more impact on sport fishing success than all the tackle and fishing prowess that money can buy.  These vessels are the research explorers manned by crews that include skilled scientists. Their goal is to gather and interpret data that can be used to provide the foundation upon which fishery management decisions can be based and implemented. Rest assured that without their efforts we would probably not have our wonderful trout and salmon fishery as we know it today. This past 2005 season was absolutely fantastic and when nature cooperates good things happen. To the mix we must add the benefits of good science that translates into good results. What I mean by this is if we did not control the predators (salmon) in relation to the available food source (alewives) nature would not be in a position to work her magic. A reduced energy source in the form of a reduced supply of baitfish translates to smaller salmon in both size and numbers of fish. In the case of our outstanding 2005 season, nature was assisted by quality management decisions.

     For over two decades the 65' US Geological Survey vessel Kaho operating out of the Lake Ontario Biological Station in Oswego and the 46' New York State DEC vessel Seth Green operating out of Cape Vincent have trawled, set gill nets and conducted sonar scans in an effort to learn just what is going on within Lake Ontario’s food web chain. The Kaho effort is headed up by Bob O'Gorman, Station Supervisor, while the Seth Green operation falls under the guidance of DEC veteran Steve LaPan who is the Lake Ontario Unit Leader.

      In the seventies and eighties the lake was in a phosphorus rich, fairly stable state and trawls indicated huge bait populations resulting from a healthy food chain existence. Spikes in the biomass of available predator food would occur mainly due to nature’s weather patterns, everything seemed just fine. There was plenty of food available for plenty of fish. The mantra was, "put em in, take em out."

     Then a series of eco-events occurred that transformed the lake from a stable state to one dominated by change. We entered a new era, featuring the invasion of exotic species, coupled with a drastic reduction in phosphorus levels. The first culprit was the zebra mussel which in a few short years caused major alterations in the distribution of food sources in the water column and reduced and even eliminated certain basic elements of the food chain. Finally, in the mid- nineties we faced possible disaster unless we took action. While anglers and fishery managers argued over solutions, it became clear that stocking reductions were necessary. Lake Ontario simply could not sustain life as it had in the past. Were it not for the findings of the research guys and their willingness to take an unpopular stand, I believe a fishing season like we had in 2005 would never have occurred.

     All I can say today is kudos to the research guys and gals. Were it not for their findings, our fishery could have been reduced to a pittance of what it is today. Once upon a time they were the bearers of bad news; today they are responsible for the good news. We catch fish because the scientists catch fish, interpret the catch data and provide information so that fishery managers can make decisions based upon scientific fact. . Fishery management decisions based on emotional issues or acquiescing to special interest groups generally provide poor results. (Decisions of this type do occur from time to time.) Decisions based on sound science and accurate data provide the best solutions. The scientists will mention zebra and qugga mussels, spiny water fleas, fishhook fleas, ruffe, and gobies. They will tell you of the reduction in phosphorus levels. They will point to the lakes stability in the 70's and 80's and will show how the exotic creatures have destroyed that stability. Today, their job has been made more complex as change after change sweeps across the water. The job didn’t get any easier, it got tougher.

     Recently Bob O'Gorman attended a European conference of fishery researchers from all over the world. Bob's Lake Ontario ecosystem is small when compared to the vast expanse of oceans many of the scientists were studying. All of their efforts were related to commercial fishing programs and how to keep them healthy. Many of the attendees were dumbfounded to learn that Bob's research was to support a sport fishery with no commercial implications. That seems to be unheard of "over there."  This is one more reason to be thankful for the state and federal commitment to our sport fishery.

     In the future, when you are fishing and  see one of the research boats be thankful they are there operated by crews dedicated to providing us with a quality fishery.

As you snap that photo of that 25lb king, think about the scientists up to their elbows in alewives or smelt, determining their weight and fat content so that future stocking levels can be based on accurate data. When that 40' wide x 10' high net is dragged over the bottom and hauled to the surface the analysis begins. If the net is fat with fish or empty due to lack of fish, the data is just as valuable since where fish are is important and where fish aren't is just as important. It is a complex scientific endeavor based on a volatile ecosystem seemingly in constant change, adding to the difficulty of the task facing the research effort.

     I have often wondered about what lies on the bottom of our lake. Besides living creatures, what a collection of inanimate objects the lake must possess. We know there are missing airplanes and ships lost in storms. Could there be trunks laden with treasure and valuable artifacts from days past? What other mysterious and exotic pieces have sat on the bottom for hundreds of years awaiting their resurrection? Consider if you will a few of the treasures captured by the trawling nets of the Seth Green and the Kaho. Bob O'Gorman of the Kaho lists his treasures as a toilet and a commercial washer/dryer combo. How romantic is that!  Steve LaPan reports that the most unusual treasure brought to the surface by the Seth Green was a brassiere in size triple D. Now that is quite interesting when you compare the purpose of a bra to fishing research. Both have goals of holding up, stabilizing, supporting and pointing things in the right direction.

Happy Catching!

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 4:40:53 AM

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

It Takes All Kinds

The other day, a news channel aired a segment about animal rights blowhards’ opposition to fishing. It seems that they are distributing printed materials that are being given to children. The material suggests that Daddy is bad if he fishes and kills innocent creatures. Daddy is in effect a murderer.  One can laugh at this tactic, but it clearly shows they have not given up their quest to force their way of life upon us...

     Several years ago I attended a Lake Ontario fishery meeting about the status of the fishery. As the meeting progressed I was shocked to learn that not all in attendance had the same fishing interests. My jaw just about hit the floor when a person told how he could care less about the trout and salmon fishery. He wanted better perch fishing. This wasn’t an ogre looking guy with green hair and a persistent drool; no, he looked like me, except for the green hair.

     What I am attempting to point out is that within our sporting community there are many differing factions with many different interests and desires. I like to troll; well actually I love to troll. I would not go fly fishing ever. Not interested in it, think it is boring and would never shop at Orvis. (Just kidding)  Bass fishing is not for me, but you could get me to throw out a worm and bobber, sit back with my feet propped up and a cool one standing by. Sometimes one fishing faction will get ”in the face” of another, causing rifts that have a tendency to divide. It is this division that can be exploited. This could be the case with proponents of catch and release and catch and eat. One should not be favored over the other. Both should be considered as acceptable fishing philosophies.

     Now one thing is for sure, while there are many ways to fish and many opinions on which is most revered, the common denominator is that it all falls under the category of fishing. If you are a fisherperson, (politically correct terminology) who cares about your method of choice. Anglers are what we are! We practice our sport in many different ways, but when you take off our boots we all are the same. (Sort of).

     That is how we must defend and look to improve various fisheries. It is a series of give and take gestures that are based on sound fishery management science. A dab or two of emotion is OK, however, science based decisions must prevail. Want to keep fishing a sport as we know it today? Then look at the whole picture! Be an angler first!

 

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 4:40:06 AM

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Catch and Release

In the past several years the “Catch and Release” craze has grown in popularity. While I certainly agree that releasing fish is a nice idea, it seems to me that some C & R proponents have elevated the practice to that of a mystical experience. I am sure you have all heard the term, “a fish is too valuable to catch only once”. Again while C & R is a noble practice, catch and keep is certainly another approach that is also very acceptable.

Sometimes I think about which practice is more humane, catching and eating or catching releasing, catching it again and releasing, and on and on and on.

If you “google” catch and release you will find dozens of write-ups on the practice. Just about all articles agree on one thing, and that is that catch and release will result in mortality if fish aren’t released quickly and properly. Survival rates increase when fish are landed quickly and do not suffer severe hooking injury. Survival rates decrease when light tackle angling techniques are employed and minute long photo shoots are held. So what is my point? If you catch a limit of two fish and keep them both you will have killed two fish. If you practice C & R and catch and return 20 fish (which practically everyone says they can do) and 10% do not survive, 2 fish have been killed. Different practice, same result Why not apply similar guidelines to catch and keep and catch and release by placing a limit on both methods.  I think that would be fair as both fishing practices would be allowed to catch a specific number of fish resulting in a true all around conservation effort. It might entail a larger limit for C & R, but at least there would be a sensible cap on the amount of fish caught and the resulting amount of fish killed.

I’ll bet everyone agrees with my thoughts on this. YEAH RIGHT!!!!

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 4:39:06 AM

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Why I Do This

I have been fishing Lake Ontario waters for a long, long time. Sometimes I ask myself, especially when I am fishing and have to get out of bed at 3AM, why am I doing this? Surely I could pick a vocation that allowed me to sleep later, or avoid the hot sun or a driving rainstorm. I wouldn’t have to crawl into the bowels of my boat to change the oil on a weekly basis, or scrub, clean and repair as needed. There would be no need to change line or tie new flies as often as I do. Oh boy, life would be a lot easier.

A lot easier?   Well perhaps, a lot better, no way Hose`. You see, fishing is what I do, and I don’t plan on changing my lifestyle anytime soon. Running a charter boat for nearly 25 years has kept me happy and involved in a lifestyle that I would not change for anything. I enjoy the challenge, the adventure, and the company of my wonderful customers. From time to time during the fishing season I might get tired, but never do I get tired of fishing.

So you see, I am pretty darn lucky to be a charter boat operator where I can constantly hone my fishing and personal skills so that my customers receive nothing but the best.

It is all about you, Mr. and Mrs. Customer and I am truly fortunate to be of service.

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 4:37:41 PM

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

We Are Ready

Pre launch boat preparation was completed a few days ago and the boat is now in the water awaiting our first trip on April 15. The next few days will be spent loading fishing gear and reinstalling our electronic navigation and sonar instruments. Every season I tell myself that I do not need all of the tackle I think I need and I vow to reduce the boxes of spoons, stick baits flashers and dodgers that I carry. However, as good as my intentions might be, I just can not leave anything behind. Even though the lower cabin of the Dixie Dandy is the seasonal home to some lures that have not been in the water for several seasons, you never know when they might be needed. I mean come on, what if I get a call telling me that the blue/pink striped version of the “wonka rattler” is hammering the fish. If I did not have a few on board, I would be devastated. One must be prepared, should the day of the “wonka thing” come again, even though it has been 10 years since its glory days. I guess having all that tackle on board is like a security blanket.

      I have been reading a lot of fishing articles looking for some new hot setups for the coming season. There are tons of good “how to” articles out there, except for one thing, the disclaimers. What do I mean by this? Well, for example, one article sang the praises about using small lures, the mini spoons were just what the doctor ordered when all else failed. Now here is the disclaimer, the small lure program worked great except on days when the fish wanted bigger lures. Huh, I thought small lures were the key? Well on certain days they were, on other days they were not. Another story about fishing in bright sunlight sang the praises of black and purple colored lures as a real killer, except when it did not work so well and in fact worked better on overcast days. What fishing articles present is a suggested scenario. What the angler must do is determine which scenario is working best on a particular day. It is about constant adjustment until a steady bite is achieved. Put a lure out and leave it out all day is nice if the fish will hit it; other wise it is 10 minutes in the water and if no action occurs, it’s time to change. It can be a lot of work. If you are on a charter and the action is slow and the crew is not constantly changing set ups, you are on the wrong charter.

     This year the Oswego Marina is being renovated. A new bath house /rest room and laundry facility will be built on the north side. That is the side where my boat is docked. The south side already has a new sea wall, and new docks will be installed in a few days. The south side will also receive a new state of the art fish cleaning station and a new deck and well lighted roadway. Oswego Marina is going to be a first class facility, one of the nicest on Lake Ontario.

    Yes sir, good things are occurring within our fishery and its infrastructure. It won’t be long now until the most famous words in Lake Ontario trolling are spoken,” Gentlemen start your downriggers”. Vha-room, vha-oom. YEAH!!!!!!

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 4:44:01 AM

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