By Ryan Chelius
Each year, thousands of anglers flock to Oswego County, NY for incredible and diverse fishing experiences. Whether it’s trolling for salmon on Great Lake Ontario or swinging flies for steelhead on the legendary Salmon River, visitors are sure to leave Oswego County with memories of beautiful scenery and world-class fishing experience.
Located on Lake Ontario’s southeastern shore, Oswego County offers excellent fishing throughout the entire year. With more than 50 licensed charter captains operating out of marinas in Oswego, Mexico Point, and Port Ontario, there is no shortage of opportunity. Visitors of all ages can enjoy a half or full-day charter trip targeting a variety of different species.
In spring, anglers and charter captains move into shallower depths closer to shore to target brown trout. Trolling is the main method to catch browns during springtime, and anglers have the chance to fight and land trophy size fish! In fact, the NYS record brown trout – at 33 pounds, 2 ounces – was landed near Oswego.
As summer approaches, anglers shift their focus to salmon. Lake Ontario holds healthy populations of both Chinook and Coho salmon, as well as brown trout, lake trout, rainbow trout, and the elusive Atlantic salmon. Anglers head out to deeper depths and are often rewarded with beautiful fish, sometimes over 40 pounds! Given the various species available, it would be unusual for anglers to not reach their limit on most days.
A variety of trolling methods are used to catch salmon during the summer, including downriggers, planer boards, and wire lines. These techniques are extremely precise. Anglers and captains take the wind, depth, weather, location, and many other factors into consideration when trolling.
The excitement of a downrigger releasing and the reel screaming as a salmon fights with every ounce of its body is second to none. Trips often start in the dark at the dock to make sure lines are in the water as the sun rises. There is a collective anxiousness in the boat as everyone awaits the first bite. When it comes, the anxiousness is replaced with adrenaline, excitement, laughs, smiles, and, of course, fish!
As the summer begins to wind down and temperatures drop, the action is just starting to heat up on the famous Salmon River in northern Oswego County. Each year the Salmon and Oswego rivers host a migration of thousands of Chinook and Coho salmon who make the journey back to their spawning grounds. Soon after, the highly sought-after steelhead follow the salmon, feeding on their eggs and other aquatic insects.
The Salmon River also provides a unique opportunity for anglers to have a chance at an Atlantic salmon. Although rare in many places, Atlantics are more common in this sportfishing mecca.
Fly fishing, Centerpin fishing, and Spin fishing are the most common methods of targeting salmon and steelhead on the river. Anglers can also drift the river with licensed guides at multiple boat launches. There are numerous public access spots along the river, as well as private access including the popular Douglaston Salmon Run. The salmon run occurs from mid-September through October, while the steelhead fishing picks up in late October, running until April.
Oswego County has no shortage of trophy bass fishing between Lake Ontario and Oneida Lake. Anglers can also pursue walleye, perch, pickerel, and other species across the county. Smaller Lake Ontario tributaries produce additional opportunities for steelhead, brown trout, and salmon.
Visit Oswego County for your next fishing adventure and be sure to leave with an exciting experience and countless memories! For current fishing reports and visitor information, go to www.VisitOswegoCounty.com or call 1-800-248-4FUN. To explore other options in Northwest Illinois, visit www.VisitNorthwestIllinois.com.
Last modified: August 10, 2020