Flatlining Browns

Capt. Miick fighting a brown

Water temperatures along Oswego County’s Lake Ontario shoreline are heating up. Late last week, they ranged from 46 to 52 degrees in eight to 14 feet of water. The brown trout came in, and boy, were they hungry.

“Spider, the browns started their spring thing in shallow water,” claimed Captain Rick Miick (www.trophydreamcatcher.com; 315-387-5920) on Monday of last week. “The weather calls for rain tomorrow. If it comes down hard enough, that should warm things up to around 50, putting the browns on a hot bite.”

“I’m heading out Wednesday morning. You can tag along, if you’d like,” he invited.

Launching at Pine Grove (head south from the NY 3/ NY 13 intersection for about a half mile, turn right and continue for a few hundred yards to the launch), we motored out of the Salmon River and turned south.

Rick set out planer boards and ran Smithwick Rogues on the outside lines, Michigan Stingers on the inside.

Run-off from the previous evening’s rain turned the lake into a study in brown: the inshore waters were murky, streaked by tributary plumes that were almost chocolate. In fact the water was so muddy in the morning, I tried talking the captain into fishing a little deeper, say 12 to 15 feet.

“Nah, they’re in close. They’ll find the lures,” he retorted, confidently.

It took a little while but he proved right. A four-pound brown nailed one of the Smithwicks as we ran through Grindstone Creek’s dense, brown plume.

Excited–and rusty after winter’s absence from open water–I kept the rod high as the fish neared the boat. Bad move: it shook its head and the hook came flying at me.

After gently lecturing me in the value of keeping the rod tip down when the fish comes into the motor’s turbulence, and slowly backing up to lead the fish into the net, Captain Miick good-naturedly re-set the line and we were back in business.

A few hundred yards later, another rod tripped. This time everything went smoothly and we landed a four-pounder.

The action stayed pretty fast for the next hour or so. We landed four cookie-cutter browns, all about four pounds, and lost another; not because of something we did wrong, but because the fish hit the spoon when the line was stopped as we made a turn and no one was expecting it. There we were, joking around and the drag starts screaming. By the time Miick reached it, the rod went flat. We know it was a brown because it jumped, flipping us a fin in derision as it got away.

The browns will stay close to shore, in anywhere from six to 12 feet of water as long as temperatures remain below 56. After that they’ll slowly follow their preferred temperature deeper and deeper as the weeks drag into summer.

For a complete list of Oswego County charter captains go to http://visitoswegocounty.com/fishing-hunting/fishing/charters-guides/.

Casting for browns from the pier at Selkirk Shores State Park

Capt. Miick holding our first cookie cutter brown of the day

Capt. Miick setting the lines