Since I got my Malibu Kayaks Stealth 14 last year and had a plastic vessel capable of going onto big water, I’ve been eager to take it out into open water to deep-troll for some of the salmon and trout species that are abundant in Lake Ontario. I got my chance yesterday when a couple of my fellow Western NY Kayak Fishing Association friends, Andrew and Jude, caught the trolling bug with me. Andrew and Jude had gone out on charters the week previous and had a general idea of recent reports about where the fish were.
Other than what I have read about trolling in Lake Ontario, I had no experience or idea what to set up or how to set it up. So, I took an old Quantum baitcast Bill Dance catfish combo that I had laying around and converted it into a trolling rig. I put a detachable line counter on the rod and spooled it up with 200 yards of 40# Sufix Performance Braid, tied on 001 Luhr Jensen Dipsy Diver, added a snubber with a 6-ft 8# fluorocarbon leader, and tied on a 4-in dimpled trolling spoon by Northern King Lures. I made sure that I brought along my fish finder and gps unit so I could pay attention to depth and speed.
Jude was already out on the water when I launched from Sandy Creek at about 5:30pm and joined him about 1.5 miles out in 60-100 ft of water. Andrew joined us soon after and we soon commenced to trolling side-by-side in a half-fast manner.
The first thing I noticed, to my amazement, was that I could actually see the thermoclines on my beat-up old Humminbird PiranhaMax 160 fish finder. I really had no idea about how deep my Dipsy Diver would go with braided line, but I had read about a general rule of thumb to let out three times the amount of line as the depth you want to go. So, I let out 180 ft of line, set the drag, and commenced to paddling. We spotted baitfish and marked some fish 60 ft down in about 80 fow. After a couple of ~300-yd passes in 80-100 fow, I felt a tug and my drag started letting out. I grabbed the rod, popped the Dipsy, and reeled in to find that my 8# leader had been snipped off clean. This time, I tied on a 20# Yozuri Hybrid leader and a new lure and trolled about 100 yds before I got the next hit.
Despite my general skepticism about having any success on my first time out, I had a fish on and managed to boat a King Salmon. It was a dink, but legal (barely), and my first salmon ever. What a beautiful and brilliantly colored fish! Jude told me that it appeared to be a wild-bred fish because all of the stocked fish have their adipose fins clipped. I released it after Jude photographed us.
I set back up and trolled halfway through my second pass before I got another hit. This time, I could tell it was something bigger. This fish was a bit more of a fighter and I was surprised to see that I had a lake trout. Not my first lake trout, but what a strong fish! I must have been trolling deeper than I thought, because these guys are generally found closer to the bottom.
We wanted to get back to shore before dark, and while I had a couple of what I thought were hits on the way back, I reeled up nothing else. Though I spent about 3.5 hrs on the water, time spent actually fishing was much less and I am very pleased with the success of my first attempt to do this type of fishing. I love to paddle, and I found that I could easily keep my trolling speed between 2.2-2.5 mph that I’ve been told is ideal. I can’t wait to get out and try again!