Codey Allen reigned supreme in this year’s Lake Ontario Counties Fall Salmon and Trout Derby. The resident of West Seneca, Erie County, caught a 33-pound, 8-ounce king salmon while fishing out of Olcott on the opening day of LOC’s premier event.
The derby, which began Aug. 16 and concluded Labor Day, attracts anglers from far and wide. The amazing part for Allen is when he caught the fish that landed the $25,000 grand prize.
The charter captain decided to head up to Lake Ontario and fish the afternoon of Aug. 16 aboard Lake Affect, his 22-foot Lund Baron Magnum. On board were his girlfriend, Kimberly Blake, and his grandparents, Donald and Susan Mullen, all of whom also hail from West Seneca.
“The lake had flipped over after a couple days of east wind,” Allen explained. “We were just looking for some stable water and headed out 10 miles, straight north of Olcott. We found 52 degree temperatures 48 feet down, over 510 feet of water, and we stacked baits on either side of the thermal break. That was when we had three rods go off right around 6 p.m.”
The group managed to bring in two of the three fish, both 20-pound class salmon. Allen was still fighting the big boy, a king salmon that hit a Michigan Stinger spoon in green, black and white behind a dipsy diver set back 140 feet on a No. 2 setting.
“We were lucky to get the fish in,” Allen said. “It screamed out line. I could have sworn at one point it was on the bottom with 500 feet of line out and straight under the boat.
“During the fight it was tangled in a copper line we had out, and it also wrapped around one of the downrigger cables when it got closer to the boat. We were able to weave the rod around and through to bring the fish to the boat. Just as we netted the fish, some 45 minutes later the line broke.”
Clearly, Lady Luck was with them.
The catch left Allen checking the leaderboard daily throughout the derby. The closest call came on Aug. 24, when two king salmon were weighed in from the eastern basin of the lake: a 32-pound, 15-ounce fish caught by Dave Trachte of Sandgate, Vt., while fishing in Mexico Bay, and a 32-pound, 12-ounce salmon reeled in by Steve Engle of Oswego while fishing out of Fair Haven. They were caught within a half-hour of one another, and weighed in personally by derby organizer Dave Chilson at two different stations.
Those fish placed first and second in the Salmon Division, with Trachte’s catch (it’s the biggest salmon he’s ever caught) earning a check for $5,500. Engle took home $2,000.
Trachte was fishing with Bruce Carroll of Maryland, Otsego County. He decided to run a bait that he had gotten for his birthday two days before, an A-Tom-Mik Twinkie rig in green and chartreuse behind a Dirty Goose spin doctor. After losing a couple of fish, he replaced the hooks. He put the bait out 210 feet back behind a diver set at a 2.5 setting. They were fishing over 175 feet of water in their 25-foot Carolina Classic named Sailbad when the fish hit.
Engle was fishing in the Fair Haven Challenge with his son, Stephen, out of their 36-foot Bertram named Hot Rod. They were trolling in 115 feet of water with an A-Tom-Mik Shinster Twinkie meat rig behind a Golden Boy Kingfisher flasher, 95 feet down on the downrigger when it went off at 9 a.m. It took about 15 minutes to bring the fish to the boat.
Not taking any chances, they ran it straight into the weigh station at Screwy Louie’s.
In the Rainbow/Steelhead Division, it was another Olcott fish that took top honors. Nicholas Dougherty of Lockport was fishing in the same general area as Allen on the second day of the derby, over 500-foot depths, with his brother, Christopher, also of Lockport, and his father, Thomas, of Niagara Falls. They were enjoying a banner day out of their 22-foot Triumph Chaos named Thor’s Hammer II, as they caught over 20 fish and hooked up and lost over twice that many.
At 9:30 a.m., they had a fish hit they thought was a salmon. When they finally netted the fish, they realized it was a big steelhead that would tip the scales at 15 pounds, 6 ounces. That lunker held on for the duration of the derby, earning a check for $2,750. The lucky lure was a Purple-Glow Moonshine spoon, fished behind a dipsy diver that was set out 88 feet back on a 1.5 setting.
Runner-up in the division was another novice angler who had never fished the lake before. Keith Blanchfield of Auburn was fishing with charter captain Ryan Davids of Backlash Charters out of Sodus Bay, straight out of the chute in 250 feet of water. Using an A-Tom-Mik Pro-Am fly behind flasher, they were trolling a dipsy diver 190 feet back on a No. 2 setting.
“It fought like a salmon,” Blanchfield said. “We lost another steelhead that was even bigger than what we had.”
In the Brown Trout Division, Bruce Raggi of Farmington was the leading angler with a 15-pound, 13-ounce catch. He was part of a group that included Scott Libihoul of Clay, Rick Redsicker of Ontario, and Don Swain of Canandaigua. They were aboard the Salmon-illa, a 25-foot Pro Line. Raggi, who had been involved with some overseas contracting, was asked by the others to go fishing during his break from work. He’d never fished in a derby before, and he’d never caught a brown trout before.
A check for $2,750? Not bad for a first-timer.
The winning brown came from the waters between Peaville and Bear Creek off the shores of Wayne County. They were targeting 55 feet of water, picking up browns and kings. This fish hit at 10 a.m. as they trolled a UV green-glow A-Tom-Mik fly behind a Pro-Troll 8-inch chartreuse flasher, 150 behind the boat.
“We thought we had a small king on,” Raggi said. “As we were getting ready to net the fish, we realized it was a big brown trout and got really excited.”
It took him about 15 minutes to reel in the prize catch.
In addition, Libihoul caught a 13-pound, 11-ounce brown trout that placed ninth overall in the division, and 11-year-old Connor Vogt of Ontario won the Junior Division with a 12-pound, 10-ounce fish he caught while angling with the Salmon-illa crew one day. All were caught in the same general area using “secret” Michigan Stinger spoons.
It was interesting to note that only 10 ounces separated first from fifth place in the Brown Trout Division. The second-place catch, a 15-pound, 9-ounce brown hauled in by Kyle Jezler of Endicott, was caught at 7:45 a.m. on the final morning of the derby while fishing with Vic Minotti of Hotliner Charters out of Oswego. It knocked Kim Hubert-Bickel of Newfane into third place with a 15-pound, 7-ounce Olcott fish.
Find the complete leaderboard from this year’s fall derby at loc.org.