From February to April can be some of the most enjoyable fishing on Lake Ontario if you enjoy light tackle and have access to a small boat and/or the mouth of a stream flowing in to the lake. I’ve had some of my most fulfilling freshwater moments sitting in a 12 foot tin boat that was handed down to me by my grandfather, watching the ice structures on the South shore with my dog, catching brown trout, coho salmon, and the occasional rainbow trout.
With water temperatures below 40 degrees this time of year, safety is a must with this type of fishing – stay close to shore, wear boots that you can kick off if needed, and obviously have flotation devices on-board. But those same cold waters create pockets of slightly warmer water that contain fish, and lots of them. By paying attention to the wind/wave conditions, looking for changing water color or even spotting groups of diving ducks in pockets of water can lead you to a world class fishing experience.
While you can troll through those pockets of water, I have grown to enjoy casting into those areas instead. Using anything from small metal casting spoons, small minnow imitation plugs, and even jigs, you can catch fish after fish if you find the right pocket of water.
The official LOC derby starts May 5th this year, but there is plenty of good fishing to be had prior to that. There are some other derbies that take place prior to the LOC, one somewhat popular but private contest that takes place somewhere between Oswego and the Niagara Bar has been held each year since 2001. But you don’t need a derby to get out and fish this time of year, just get out there.
Photo depicts a brown trout caught by author (Name not provided to SportsXpress) in March.