Before that bruiser-sized king salmon bites, and even before a Chinook grows to monster dimensions, the rearing process takes well-planned time and a good growing environment for the fish to get that gigantic.
Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA) member volunteers each year cooperate in a DEC Trout and Salmon Pen Rearing Program at Olcott Harbor and Oak Orchard Creek.
Since the pen-rearing project began, almost a half million salmonid have been raised each spring in four rearing pens set up at Newfane Marina. A similar program is conducted at Oak Orchard in Orleans County.
Fish reared in these pens and released after growing and acclimating to local water conditions are said to have survival rates four times that of fingerling fish directly stocked into feeder streams or open waters.
To support these rearing-pen efforts, LOTSA holds a day-long Fishing Expo and Flea Market at the Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Building at 4487 Lake Ave. (Route 78) in Lockport each year.
This year, an expanded program goes from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 26, with seminars set for 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Each Expo draws an increased number of charter captains, tackle manufacturers, tackle shops, and specialty exhibitors along with a slate of informative seminar presenters.
The morning clinic focuses on many aspects of basic trout and salmon trolling for rookie or beginner anglers interested in the fundamentals of catching the big fish Lake Ontario increasingly offers each season.
The afternoon Kids Fishing Clinic is a popular presentation, which usually fills early. Parents and caregivers who would like to have their children participate in this clinic -- useful to the adults as well as kids -- must register in advance. Go to the Web site lotsa.org, hit the "Kids Class Registration" tab, fill out the form as soon as possible and hit the submit tab.
The flea market area attracts exhibitors from major manufacturers to the smallest, start-up lure and gear makers from the area and afar. Vendors offer a vast variety of new and used fishing and boating gear items for sale or demonstration, things that could not be found in big-box stores or in brochure and on-line catalogs.
Among the exhibits will be a king salmon mounting done by expert taxidermist and Charter Captain Paul Czarnecki of Tri-State Taxidermy. The 41-pound, 15-ounce Chinook, caught by an angler aboard Capt. Bob Stevens' charter boat Sunrise 2, took a flasher/fly rig run off a Dipsy Diver run 55 feet down over 90-foot depths off Oak Orchard on Labor Day weekend. The Lake Ontario Counties Derby was on that weekend but, a typical big-fish-during-contest story, the angler was not entered in the LOC Derby.
Hear details on this and many other fishing success stories from licensed charter captains and seasoned veteran Lake Ontario anglers willing to share fishing tales, tips and tricks during this event in the Cornell Coop Building.
All parking is free, admission is a $5 donation to the LOTSA Pen Rearing Project adults. Youths ages 16 and younger are free. Plan to spend more time than anticipated; there will be lots to see at the LOTSA Expo and Flea Market next Sunday.