Fishing Life: The Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Association

Posted by Chris Larsen on 29th Jan 2021

Fishing Life: The Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Association

The Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Association(LOTSA) was founded in 1978 and is focused on educating and recruiting new anglers to the Lake Ontario fishery.  We recently interviewed LOTSA President Joe Yaeger for the Great Lakes Fishing Podcast. Yaeger is a longtime Lake Ontario fisherman that is passionate about passing on the sport to new anglers.  “LOTSA is an organization that’s been in existence for about 40 years. It really took off when the salmon came to Lake Ontario. It’s always been about education. It was put together to educate the fishermen, promote the fishery, work with the government to get more launch access and those kinds of things.  40 years later we’re still doing the same things. Education joe-yaeger-salmon.jpghas changed over the past 40 years with techniques, tools, and knowledge that we now all have. But it’s just as much sought after now as it was 40 years ago.”

LOTSA is a fairly large organization but it continues to emphasize the feeling of community among anglers.  “We’ve got about 500 members year-over-year. Most of them are rec anglers, weekend warriors. Everybody now understands how important the ability to network with other fishermen is, both during the week as you’re watching the weather and once you get on the lake… being able to talk to other guys and know if they’re on fish and what they’re catching them on, what speed they’re going, and all those kinds of things.  It’s absolutely crucial to catching fish consistently.”

Yaeger believes education and cultivating relationships is vital to growing the association and the fishery as a whole.  “We do about six meetings a year and all of our meetings are education oriented. We’ll have a speaker come in for every meeting and talk about an hour or hour and a half with questions.  We get a good crowd and a lot of relationships are built during those meetings. One of the meetings is on the dock, on the back of someone’s boat. And we do a lot of things to promote fishing together.  We have a LOTSA Tournament we run. We get around 50 boats to enter. It’s a low-payout, low-cost tournament so everyone can get in. On Friday(before the tournament), we do a pre-fish tournament which is free.  It’s meant to encourage people… Everything we do is trying to encourage people to network, meet people, and make new friends.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of LOTSA for Yaeger is seeing people grow up in the sport and continue to fish throughout adulthood.  “People bring their kids. The kids grow up. Now the kids have boats. We see a lot of that take place over the course of the years in LOTSA and that’s really what the club is about.”

lotsa-logo.pngYaeger sees organizations like LOTSA as vital to continue and expand opportunities for Lake Ontario fishing.  “We’re all giving something back. None of us were taught in school how to fish Lake Ontario and catch kings consistently.  We had to learn from someone. Most of us didn’t learn it from our parents if they’re my age. That fishery didn’t exist. So we had to learn it from guys that knew a little bit more about it. I think that’s the most rewarding part… that passing on, getting more people involved with the fishery, seeing the new guys get involved as guys age out.  You can only do that fishery for so long, running a boat in pretty tough conditions. At some point you say “enough is enough” and I want to go on another guy’s boat because I can’t manage my boat anymore. We do a lot of that.”  

While a boat is necessary to enjoy the best Lake Ontario has to offer, Yaeger says getting started isn’t as difficult as many people think.  “Our fishery is often within about a mile or two of the shore. So you don’t need a 30-foot Tiara. You can fish it with an 18-foot open bow walk-through windshield, couple downriggers, and a couple of divers.  Frankly, we have guys that go between walleye and salmon on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario all the time and some of them don’t even have downriggers. They’ll just fish divers and copper and they do very well.”

To hear the entire conversation with Joe Yaeger and learn more about the Lake Ontario Salmon and Trout Association, press play on the audio player below.  

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