Category: pacific salmon-great lakes

Dear Italo, Thank you for helping me be a better fisherman! Catching fish has really helped my father-son relationship. My question is about fishing the Niagara Whirlpool with Rapala J13 for salmon. The current makes controlling the lure difficult. How should I retrieve the lure? Any advice on retrieval speed/action? How about the angel of the cast relative to current? Thank you!

Posted on August 24th, 2021

Thank you for your kind words. Glad I have been able to add to your enjoyment of fishing and with your son. The water in the Niagara River is regulated daily. During the day there is a normal flow right up until 10pm. After that they re-direct the water into large reservoirs to be used for hydro power. The redirection of flow drops the water level in the lower river by several feed. The current speed and water level continues to be lower until about 8am in the morning. At that time they allow the water to flow naturally again down the river so that the falls look impressive.

Niagara Whirlpool
Niagara River Chinooks strike the Rapala J13 all morning long.

A key is to get to the Whirlpool at daybreak so that you can take advantage of the slower current. I find my best fishing there is the first 2 hrs of daylight when the current is slower and the water lower. That lower water exposes algae covered rocks which are very slippery to walk on. Caution must be used to get close to the water. Also, when the water rises it rises fast and any item left near the water when it’s lower may get swept away. A good idea is to leave flash lights, packs, tackle, etc. at the tree line, not down near the low water line.

With regards to presentation, I cast perpendicular to the current and reel the J13 slowly as it swims with the current. With a normal 50-70′ cast it will dive down to 15′. As the lure gets closer to shore it’s important to slow down the retrieve and to also hold the rod-tip high so that the lure doesn’t swim into rocks and get snagged. Chinooks there usually hold 20-30′ off the shoreline in water 20′ deep and shallower so expect strikes within 10′ from shore. Use a moderate retrieve speed and get ready for very strong strikes…God bless you.

Make sure to check the fishing videos on our Italo Labignan YouTube channel and if you have any questions just email them to me at Ask Italo throughout our website.

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Can I fish the mouth of Jordan harbour for salmon this fall?

Posted on August 20th, 2021

You can but it’s not one of the best places since there is nothing to slow down the fish from going through. You would be better off either fishing Bronte Creek harbor or below the dam in Port Dalhousie…God bless you.

Make sure to check the fishing videos on our Italo Labignan YouTube channel and if you have any questions just email them to me at Ask Italo throughout our website.

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Hi Italo, how are you? I just wonder what kind of fishing “rod action”is recommended for strong chinook salmon? I know that soft action is recommended for trout but chinook are so strong. Is slower action also ok for big salmon. Thank you!

Posted on August 18th, 2020

Hi Angler, the action you choose will be dictated by the length of the rod. For example if you use a 9 1/2-13′ steelhead rod that is rated for 8-12 lb. test line, that rod should handle any size Great Lakes Chinooks once they enter the tributaries. If you use a shorter spininng rod in the 7-8′ length then a stiffer action is desired with a line rating of 10-20 lb. test…God bless you.

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Hi Italo I’m running 20lb mono trolling for salmon. Need the stretch I think because of how trolling rig is mounted to rubber boat. Would I get the same effect using braid and a mono bumper on the last ten feet or so. Thanks so much. Love tour show Ed.

Posted on August 21st, 2020

Hi Ed, glad you enjoy our TV shows. I think you would do best by running a fluorocarbon leader in the 15-20 lb. test range for the last 10 feet….God bless you.

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Hi Italo! I want to try my luck with staging salmon in Georgian Bay this summer / fall. Unfortunately I do not have a boat so my only option is casting from shore. I’ve read that rapala J-13s and large spoons are the best lures for the job. I have three questions that you would hopefully answer. 1.) Are there any areas you would recommend in the vicinity of Thornbury (West of Collingwood)? 2.) My local river, the Beaver River, is very shallow where is enters the Bay – would I be better off casting into deeper water that is slightly away from the river mouth or just casting into the shallow mouth area? 3.) I know that low-light is the best time for staging salmon – would you suggest early morning pre-sunrise or nighttime after sunset? Thanks and God bless!

Posted on August 5th, 2020

Hi Alex, salmon are already running up our southern Ontario Great Lakes tributaries and many are starting to stage right at the river mouths. I would suggest you cast off the piers to any of the rivers in your area. The best time to fish staging Chinooks off the piers is at night casting a “glow-in-the-dark” spoon in the 4″ size. To be able to cast far you should use 20 lb. test braided line with a 15 lb. fluorocarbon leader about 15″ long. It’s a good idea to make the connection from leader to main line using an in-line swivel to reduce line twist from fishing the spoons…God bless you.

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Hi Italo when is the best time of year to fish salmon in lake Ontario from Kingston Ont. with a smaller boat (19ft princecraft)Frank

Posted on July 3rd, 2020

Hi Frank, salmon migrate the lake throughout the season to feed. Early in the spring a majority of them are in the western-end of Lake Ontario around Jordan Harbour to the Niagagara River. Right now many are in front of Mississauga and the GTA and soon they will be traveling east towards Bowmanville and beyond. Aug. is a good month to target them from Cobourge to Bowmanville, ON…God bless you.

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Hi ItaloWe fish out of Port Delousie Marina and are wondering if you have any insight of why the salmon and rainbow fishing is so bad this year for that area

Posted on July 8th, 2019

Hi Peter, Port Dalhousie is a good launching point for both salmon & trout. My goodd friend Aldo Nava who operates www.niagarafishingadventures.com has been having a great spring/summer but he has moved as the fish move. They can be a few miles off the mouth of the Niagara River, or they can be out from Grimbsy, ON. The key is to figure out where they are and fish those areas.

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Hey Italo! In your episode on YouTube titled, “Great Lakes flasher on the prowl and delicious strips for trophy salmon and trout,” what were the artificial strips you were using with those Luhr-Jensen strip bait heads. Those soft plastic artificial strips look like something I would surely love to use, and I was wondering what company makes those exact ones, and what the name of them are. Thanks for always making intriguing and informative fishing shows, and keep up the good work, because I love watching your videos on YouTube! Thanks Italo!

Posted on November 27th, 2018

Hi Jack, thank you for your kind words. Both the flashers and cut-bait heads/plastic strips are made by Luhr Jensen , to find out where you can purchase them near you I would suggest you contact Rapala directly at (905) 571-3001….God bless you.

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Hey ItaloIs it possible to catch salmon right now casting off the frenchmans bay piers?, do we have good chances of catching numbers?If so what lure and time of day do you recomend?Thanks

Posted on September 1st, 2018

Great Lakes salmon are normally stocked near harbor mouths at the end of tributaries. When the salmon are mature and it’s time to spawn they return to those harbor mouths and eventually run up those tributaries to spawn. Not sure if any salmon have been stocked off the pier at Frenchman’s Bay. You are better off fishing off the piers at; Oshawa, Bowmanville, or Port Hope, ON.

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Hey Italo… I’m just wondering when I can start salmon fishing (when do they start running) at the Niagara whirlpool?

Posted on August 15th, 2018

Some salmon have already entered the Lower Niagara River and some have already made it up to the Whirlpool. Tough to get them to hit though because the water is warm. Best time to start heading down there is in a couple of weeks. There will be more salmon up and the fresh-run one should hit better.

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