With approximately 231,000 Coho salmon stocked into Lake Ontario yearly, this sportfish ranks fifth in the NYSDEC Lake Ontario stocking program. The size of mature Coho Salmon in Lake Ontario can range in weight from the mid-teens to 20 pounds and trophy fish weighing in the low to mid-20’s. Although the Coho salmon is an important species in Lake Ontario tourism and the sportfishing industry, most anglers catch them in the tributaries during their spawning runs. The New York State Lake Ontario Coho salmon record is 33 pounds 7 ounces and is from Lake Ontario from the Port of Oswego.
Although Coho’s can be encountered at any point in our Lake Ontario season, we usually catch some while Brown Trout fishing in April and early May and then again during our summer salmon fishing. During July, we will catch Coho’s while fishing offshore on Lake Ontario when we are chasing Kings over deep water. Again, our techniques generally include downriggers, wire dipsies, and copper rods. I focus on finding the preferred temperature range of the fish based on the location of the thermocline and the location of bait. On any given day, we could be as close as a mile or two from Port in 100 feet of water to 7 or more miles out on Lake Ontario over 600+ feet of water.
Since the Coho follow the same general staging pattern, in August the fish are getting closer to spawning, they begin to stage closer to shore like the Kings. This is in preparation for their spawning run up the Lake Ontario tributaries. They will generally be found within a few miles of Port in Lake Ontario depths ranging from 300 feet to as shallow as 80 feet of water. Fishing techniques remain the same as our deepwater fishing using the downriggers, dipsies, and copper lines.
During September, the staging fish are even closer on Lake Ontario and most of our fishing will be from 150 feet of water to the Harbor as the mature Coho begin to enter the Oswego River for their spawning run.