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Anglers target Sodus Point for big Lake Ontario brown trout

  • This trio of anglers discovered how productive it can be targeting brown trout on Lake Ontario fishing out of Sodus Point, N.Y.
    This trio of anglers discovered how productive it can be targeting brown trout on Lake Ontario fishing out of Sodus Point, N.Y.
Published April 26. 2014 09:00AM

SODUS POINT, N.Y. - Spring-like weather is finally springing along the shore of Lake Ontario in New York State, which means those anglers who seek the best opportunity to take a trophy brown trout are making their annual pilgrimage to Wayne County, N.Y.

For those unfamiliar with the area there is no better way to get information than by contacting Chris Kenyon in the county's tourism office. He not only can provide suggestions for lodging and restaurants, but he knows fishing - especially to these waters, which he has fished his entire life.

In addition to promoting the attractions and history of Wayne County, Kenyon is also an outdoors writer and has spent a lifetime fishing the area. And of all the types of fishing the area has to offer, none is better than spring charter trips out of Sodus Bay for brown trout on Lake Ontario.

Sodus Point is recognized as having one of the best year-round fisheries for brown trout, and is so good in the spring that some charter captains from both the Eastern and Western basins of Lake Ontario rent dock space for a few weeks in the area to target the big browns. Located between Mexico Bay to the east and Rochester to the west, this area is considered to be the most eastern harbor of the Western Basin.

In reality, Sodus Bay is more like a mid-way basin between the Eastern and Western basins and is unique onto it self. Local captains begin charters as soon as possible in April, when browns can caught outside the break wall of the harbor in depths as shallow as five feet.

"Shallower water and big football browns that's pretty much what we're known for," Kenyon said. "All along Wayne County waters it's shallower, so the water warms up faster here, which means it brings in bait fish closer to shore and the browns follow."

That assessment is confirmed by data from the New York Department of Conservation's annual Lake Ontario Fishing Boat Survey, which showed that Lake Ontario anglers had their best year of combined trout and salmon fishing ever in 2012. Chinook salmon catches have been on a steady rise for the past decade, while last year's brown trout fishing was the second-best since records started being kept in 1985.

What makes this even more impressive is the fact that the number of boat trips was down almost 20 percent from the previous five-year average, which means anglers were actually more successful than ever. According to Kenyon, sport fishing is also a big economic driver in Wayne County, with anglers spending an average of more than $400 per person on top of the fees for guides and charters, and more than half coming from Pennsylvania.

"A lot of guys come here for the brown trout because the action is a little faster and it's close to shore," Kenyon said. "With the salmon you're going after the 25 pounders, but you're trolling longer times for them.

"With the browns, you're 10 minutes out of port and you're setting up when they're around. It all depends on what you want to catch, but pretty much late spring, you can get the whole mix of species the lake has to offer."

Another plus for those looking to escape the all-too-hectic pace of everyday life is that chain motels and golden arches have yet to blight the landscape. As a result, there is no better choice for lodging than staying at one of the many bed-and-breakfast establishments.

Of these, none has more to offer than the famous Maxwell Creek Inn, a historic 1846 cobblestone house that was part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. There are five rooms in the main house, but groups may find it more convenient to stay in the large stone building that was once a grist mill.

Kenyon was able to put together a mid-week trip that included these attractions and more - suggesting some outstanding local eateries - and also set up fishing charters with two excellent captains. Dane Brown operates "Get-A-Way Charters," and Andrew Grisenthwaite operates "Broad Horizons Guide and Charter Service," and while brown trout was the target species, both days produced mixed-bag trips as some steelhead, king salmon and lake trout were also caught.

All in all, it was the kind of fishing trip that keeps bringing anglers back to Sodus Bay .

For information on fishing charters and lodging in Wayne County, N.Y., access the county's tourism website at www.waynecountytourism.com; for information on Broad Horizons Guide and Charter Service, access the website at http://www.broadhorizonscharters. com, for information on Get-A-Way Fishing Charters, access the website at http://www.getawayfishingcharters.com; for information on lodging at Maxwell Creek Inn, call Belinda McElroy at (315) 483-2222.

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