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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

OSR #1-2006

   My docks are out of the water, the lake house is winterized and the Dixie Dandy is in dry dock till April 2007.  Generally, by the time my fishing season winds down in late September, I am ready for the winter break. The feeling usually lasts for a few days and like clockwork, the fishing hormones kick in and I begin to anticipate the upcoming season and the new fishing puzzle that will surely unfold.

     I recently completed an article for "Lake Ontario Outdoors" magazine which will be available in January. The article is about the explosion of wild Chinooks being spawned in the Salmon River. A combination of events has occurred, making this wild reproduction an annual affair. Scientists estimate 4 to 5 million wild ones are born each year. For more on this read the article in the next issue of Lake Ontario Outdoors.

     The first winter meeting of the Lake Ontario stake holder’s group, conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will be held in early December. As a selected member of this group of about 20 individuals, I will once again be participating in discussions which will cover possible fishing regulation changes, stocking issues, cormorant control and other pertinent issues. You can bet there will be plenty of new issues to contemplate. I consider it a privilege to be a part of this group of concerned and dedicated Lake Ontario "citizens."

     Do you remember the Hooker Chemical Love Canal pollution fiasco that occurred in the Niagara Falls area of New York State over 25 years ago? Finally, a settlement with the current Hooker owner Occidental Petroleum has been reached. The NYS Bureau of Fisheries will receive a cash settlement of twelve million dollars to be used for Lake Ontario and the Niagara and St. Lawrence River fishery programs. Starting in January 2007 a series of public meetings will be held to garner information on how to best use the money. This money is earmarked for the Lake Ontario watershed area only and is not to be used for other non Lake Ontario recreational fishery programs.

     The complicated, always changing Lake Ontario ecosystem has to do battle with the elements of nature and the situations created by man. So far the system has done quite well but one never knows what the future holds. Sound management is essential. You might say we are in good hands with   New York STATE.

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 4:44:50 AM

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Here it Comes!

Do you hear it? Hear what!---- I hear it coming,,,,,  and though it started with a whimper, it is beginning to rumble. The wave flows and grows and soon the 2006 fishing season will be upon us. That is great news for us fishermen, but perhaps only ho-hum news if your passion is curling or golf. It is fabulous news if your chosen sport is fishing on Lake Ontario waters. I fish a lot, you might fish only once in a while but because I fish a lot and because of my devotion to trolling on Lake Ontario waters, you benefit when you fish with me.

Simply put, we have experience, we have experience and finally, we have experience. Did I say we have experience? Ok I will back off, but I want you to know that when you join me on a trip, I will do all possible to insure a productive outing and a darn good time, every time.

Preparations for the 06 season have already begun.  Boat prep is underway with bottom painting, cleaning and worn cushions repaired as necessary. Broken rods have been replaced, reels refurbed and several brand spanking new rod/reel setups are ready to go. For me it is a great time, it’s like a new beginning every year. Damn, I love the feeling and it is a rejuvenating experience. There is that word again, experience.

Here is the kicker, every year the lake serves up a surprise or two. What will it be this year, will there be plenty of bait or will it be scarce. I’m betting on lots of bait. Will salmon show up in May in the Eastern Basin or will they move in later, I’m betting on a May invasion as changes in the water column have altered fish movement. For sure there will be surprises but fishing should once again be great.

With the winter generally on the mild side you can usually expect a good supply of plump baitfish to lure the predators to warm inshore waters. When those predators arrive on the playing field our fishing battlewagon will be waiting. Catching should be real good.. We are ready for the games to begin. Hope you will join us.

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 4:42:25 AM

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

To Fish or not to Fish

You travel for several hours, check into a motel, perhaps grab a bite to eat, and then hit the hay in anticipation of an early morning trout and salmon trip aboard the Dixie Dandy. It is probably still dark when you show up at the marina, full of enthusiasm and excited about the upcoming day on the water. As you approach the boat, there I stand ready to curb your excitement with the report the weather is bad, the winds are too high’ and we probably will not be able to fish this morning.

Trust me when I say that I really dislike being the messenger of bad news, however, a fish, no fish determination will always be based on safety first, then the ability to catch fish in current weather conditions, and finally will the existing conditions get worse or let up as the day rolls on. Generally we will wait out the weather for a time to try and get the trip completed if at all possible. Sometimes the winds subside and we can venture out, however often times the “blow” lasts for the entire day.  Try as we might, we just cannot provide you with the trip you deserve.

When you book for two days this gives us some flexibility in that if we do not fish one day we can fish the next. Sometimes when we are fishing on day one and we learn that the next day’s weather patterns will be prohibitive, we can stay out longer if you desire. Simply put a two day trip gives us some flexibility. I realize that not everyone can do this so we really try very hard to fish if it is possible.

On some days, whether we fish or not is totally up to you. These are the days when the boat can definitely handle the seas; however our customers for the day may not be up to toughing out the rough conditions. Generally a fish no fish decision is up to the Captain. If the captain says we will fish then we will fish. I do not assume the role of dictator when weather is “iffy”. I will explain what conditions on the open lake will be like , and sometimes venture out to open water to let you decide if you want to fish or not. You see, if want you to become a valued customer, and fishing has to be an enjoyable experience. After all, we can fish another day. That is how I run my business and it has proven to be an acceptable practice. I have built my business based on customers who return year in year out. If I take you out in heavy seas, where you get bounced around until the dreaded sea sick felling grabs you in the belly, well I don’t expect you will be back.

Anyhow that’s how I do it! Seems to work for me.

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 4:41:46 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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