LOTSA 2022 Salmon School

LOTSA 2022 Salmon School

Attention Great Lakes Salmon Fishermen! The Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Association (LOTSA) is proud to (once again) host its well-known in-depth Salmon School on Saturday, February 19, 2022. This highly acclaimed school, now in its 13th year, has become the premier Salmon School anywhere in the Great Lakes. What started out as a local event now attracts many diehard salmon anglers from around the Great Lakes and Canada attending. The School, coupled with all the trout and salmon exhibitors at the Greater Niagara Fishing Expo (February 17 - 20), makes this a "must attend" winter event for many.

Each year the intense class is enhanced based upon the input from those who attended the previous School. Based upon that input, Capt. Vince Pierleoni (Lake Ontario west end and north shore), Capt. Russell Gahagan (Lake Michigan) and Capt. Brian Garrett (Lake Ontario east end) have been selected to be the main instructors for the 2022 School. The School again will be targeted for the experienced Lake Ontario Salmon Fisherman as Vince, Russell and Brian will do a "deep dive" into the specific tools and techniques they utilize to make them consistently successful chasing Kings. The focus will be on the 3 main (open lake) Lake Ontario Salmon fishing periods (May, July, and August) and dive into the more technical aspects for each of these months relating to location, the "right" water, deep-water King tactics, locating and catching offshore Kings and on fishing "meat" among many other tactics. This instruction will include some detailed video footage which should help the learning process.

Salmon School Details

The overall School consists of seven hours of detailed Salmon catching instruction. The registration price of $85 includes free admission to the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo for all 4 days, your 2022 LOTSA Membership, a hot buffet lunch (or alternative for dietary needs) on Saturday with beverages available throughout the class and a "goodie" bag consisting of the "go to" baits of the instructors. The School begins on Friday Evening (6 to 8:30 p.m.) with an opening presentation by the Instructors and a "Social" that provides attendees the opportunity to meet and interact with the instructors in a casual setting that includes free drinks and light food. This is also a great opportunity to meet your fellow attendees and build up your all-important network of fellow anglers you can communicate with both before and during your outings on the Lake. On Saturday, check in begins at 7 a.m. with the instruction starting at 8 a.m. and completing at 4 p.m. The School wraps up on Sunday morning (8:30 to 9:30 a.m.) with an hour-long open Q&A session with the Instructors covering any remaining questions that you may have.

The class (and Expo) is held at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls in a "state of the art" conference room with a large screen, stage, good seating with tables and a good sound system that all make for a comfortable venue throughout the day for everyone attending. Given the quality of what you will be taught, the hot buffet lunch, the Friday night "Social", Door Prizes, "goodie bag" and free pass to the show for 4 days, it is a terrific value and a great way to start your 2022 season.

The Salmon School is not meant for novices of the Lake Ontario fishery. It is a "hard core" salmon class targeted toward providing the "experienced weekend warrior" / Tournament Angler with additional insights and details to improve their catch in the limited time they have on the water. As the Great Lakes continue to change and become a much more challenging fishery, knowledge is often the difference between having a couple of bites or having steady bites throughout the day.

This is a custom class built from the input from the attendees on what is most important to them to cover. It is not an "off the shelf" class for the masses. Each attendee will have the opportunity to submit their most important questions/topics that they want covered in the class. The instructors will then use this input to customize the curriculum to cover these particular areas. This will allow the instructors to limit the questions during the School and make sure that they cover all of the details that they have prepared.

The instructors have a huge amount of on-the-water experience trolling for trout and salmon along with a proven tournament track record of high placement in the most prestigious tournaments over many years. They are a much diversified set of instructors and will provide a class full of insights and details that no one single instructor would be able to provide. They are all skilled communicators and very well known for sharing their fishing knowledge and daily fishing trips with anglers to help them to be more successful fishing the lake. Each brings their own unique set of trolling skills, techniques and knowledge to the class. Given the depth of the knowledge base of these instructors and their proven ability to educate anglers, we expect this school to be another high quality, comprehensive, in-depth, information-packed event that our attendees have come to expect year after year.

The School sells out every year as many of the attendees come back year after year - which is the ultimate testimony to the value of attending the school.


Captain Vince Pierleoni

Captain Vince Pierleoni

Capt. Vince Pierleoni owns and operates THRILLSEEKER Sportfishing and Team THRILLSEEKER. In addition to a full time charter boat operation, Capt. Vince and Team THRILLSEEKER fish all major tournaments on Lake Ontario. Capt. Vince is a Pro Staffer for Cannon, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Dreamweaver, Fish Hawk, Costa, HUK, Okuma, A-TOM-MIK, Live Target, Slide Diver, Gambler Rigs and Bay Rat.
Vince grew up in Greece, NY and has never lived more than 8 miles from Lake Ontario. While biking to Lake Ontario ponds and bays in the 70's for Pike and Bass, Vince lived the emergence of Salmon on the scene, and the subsequent transformation of Lake Ontario.

Vince played a role in developing a lot of the tactics and strategies commonly used today. In 1983 NY Sea Grant conducted several organized "Summer Salmon Searches" as it was believed that Lake Ontario Salmon could only be found and caught in Spring and Fall. Vince was the only angler who found and caught Salmon, landing a King and Coho in July. Capt. Vince started his Charter business in 1984.

Capt. Vince has been dedicated to Lake Ontario fisheries and has volunteered his time since the mid-80s sitting on various boards and panels. In the past he has served on the Orleans County tourism board, and the NYSDEC Lake Ontario Fishery Congress. Currently Vince serves on NYSDEC Lake Ontario Sportfishing Task Group, the Lake Ontario Bi-National Discussion Panel, and the Niagara County Fishery Development board. In 2017 Vince was given the "Pinky Robinson Memorial" award by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs for dedication to Great Lakes Fisheries. When COVID hit in 2020, Vince volunteered to take over the lead of the Olcott Pen Rearing project to make sure that it took place with all of the restrictions due to COVID.

Capt. Vince has refined his tactics and approach to Lake Ontario Salmon and Trout fishing over the years. He feels that by participating in all major Tournaments, he understands what it takes to quickly locate Kings and then put the right program together to consistently catch them. This is one of the skills that he is looking forward teaching to the Salmon School attendees. Capt. Vince, his clients, and Team THRILLSEEKER have hundreds of placings in derbies and tournaments. Here are just some of them:


1988- 1st place, Niagara Pro-Am
1991-1st place, Niagara Pro-Am
1995- 1st place Rochester Pro-Am
1995- Champions, Lake Ontario Challenge Cup Series
1998-1st place Niagara Pro-Am
1998-Champions, Lake Ontario Challenge Cup Series
1999-1st place, Niagara Pro- Am
2000- 1st place, Oswego Pro-Am
2000- Champions, Lake Ontario Challenge Cup Series
2001-1st place, Niagara Pro-Am
2003-1st place, Oswego Pro-Am
2003-Champions, Lake Ontario Challenge Cup Series
2005-1st place, Oswego Pro-Am

2006-Champions, Lake Ontario Challenge Cup Series
2008-1st place, Spring KOTL, St. Catharines, Ontario
2008-1st place, Tightline Shootout, Bluffers Park, Ontario
2009-1st place, Niagara Pro-Am
2012-Grand Prize Salmon, Summer LOC
2012-Grand Champion, Redbone Niagara Challenge
2013-1st place, A-TOM-MIK Invitational
2014-Guide to Grand Champion Angler, Redbone Niagara Challenge
2015-1st place, Niagara Pro Am
2016-Champions, Lake Ontario Challenge Cup Series
2016-Champions, Canadian KING OF THE LAKE series
2016-Champions, Canadian KINGS CUP
2016-Champion Canadian King Cup
2020-Grand Prize Salmon Fall LOC Derby Winner


Along the way Capt. Vince and Team THRILLSEEKER have set Tournament records for 1 day point totals in 3 different formats. 5 Salmon-Whitby, Ontario 2010, 6 Salmon-Oswego A-TOM-MIK Invitational 2013, and 12 Fish-Oswego Pro-Am 2013.

Captain Russell Gahagan

Captain Russell Gahagan

Russell is one of Lake Michigan's winningest tournament fisherman on the Tournament Trail. Russell manages The Reel Shot in Sheboygan, WI. He has specialized for years in helping educate fellow fisherman on what is the new and hot tactics and tackle on the market. Russell's experience in fishing goes beyond tournaments with over 1,000 charter fishing trips under his belt and 4 years of walleye tournament experience. Russell's passion for the industry makes him one of the best tools a fisherman can use to put themselves in a position to catch more fish.

Captain Brian Garrett

Captain Brian Garrett

Capt. Brian Garrett has been fishing Lake Ontario's southern shore since he was 10 years old. With that passion for fishing, he attended college majoring in Aquaculture and Aquatic Science. For the last 16 years he has been operating Tall Tails Sportfishing Charters out of the Eastern Basin. Oswego Harbor has been Brian's home port for the last 9 years with time spent each spring fishing the waters off Niagara County. Brian balances a career in environmental engineering and his charter business. Given this, he is able to understand the challenges of the recreational/weekend fisherman in finding and locating fish for a successful day on the water. Brian focuses his time on the water fishing for Salmon and Trout.
When Brian isn't chartering, he and his Tall Tails Team are competing in Tournaments and Derby's along the south shore. They have won the Oswego Pro Am twice in the last 6 seasons. Along with that, they have earned many top 10 placings in many other events stretching from Henderson Harbor to Wilson.
Brian is also very involved in the fishery away from the water. He is the President of the Eastern Lake Ontario Salmon and Trout Association. He also sits on the DEC Lake Ontario Focus Group and the DEC Bi-National Committee.

Brian represents these companies on his boat: Scotty Downriggers, A-TOM-MIK Trolling Flies, Blood Run Tackle, ENGEL Coolers, and Tactacam.

So, signup early so that you are guaranteed a seat to avoid being left out in the cold. If you love to fish the Great Lakes for Kings, this is a great way to "Kick Off" your 2021 Season. Where else would you want to be in the Great Lakes on a Saturday in January than learning how to increase your catch from 3 expert Captains, sitting in a comfortable venue talking salmon fishing with a room full of individuals with the same common interest that you have? Tickets are pre-sale only and have sold out every year (mid-November sellout for the 2020 School). Signups will open in early September 2020.