LOTSA 2023 Salmon School

LOTSA 2023 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 18, 2023. 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 16 - 19), 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. Rob Mallory (Lake Ontario east end) have been selected to be the main instructors for the 2023 School. The School again will be targeted for the experienced Lake Ontario Salmon Fisherman as Vince, Russell and Rob 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 $100 includes free admission to the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo for all 4 days, your 2023 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 Niagara Falls Convention Center 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 2023 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
2022 - 1st place Spring "Big Boy" tournament
2022 - 1st place Sodus Pro Am
2022 - Winner of Eastern Lake Ontario cup


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 Rob Mallory

Captain Rob Mallory

Capt. Robert Mallory has been trolling since he bought his first boat at 12 years of age. Although the early attempts at trolling often resulted in many lessons learned - it wasn't long before he was consistently catching fish on the Finger Lakes of NY state. A lifelong learner, Rob obtained his Ph.D. in Semiconductor Device Physics and settled in the Syracuse area after graduate school. He balances his time between his day job as a Program Manager for Lockheed Martin and weekends fishing out of Oswego or Sodus pursuing trout and salmon aboard his vessel 'Persistence' - a 33' Tiara Open. Time on the water is at a premium and is primarily spent fishing with his wife Elaine and son Bobby, running some charters, and tournament fishing with the same crew. Rob understands the challenges and unique aspects of being a recreational fisherman or hardcore weekend warrior who has limited time on the water. The ability to find fish fast and put it all together within a few hours on the water is key to being successful each weekend and something that needs to be mastered to consistently take your fishing to the next level. He and his tournament squad - Team Angling Addict which consists of his wife and 12 year old son can be found fishing many of the east end tournaments - over the past 7 years they have averaged 4 to 5 tournaments per year and have finished in the money over 70% of the time against some of the best teams on Lake Ontario as well as placing numerous fish on the LOC board over the years.

Rob's analytical approach to trolling, attention to detail, as well as using every available tool at his disposal has helped him to hone his skills, manage variables, and stay connected to the lake even when he's not on the water in order to be amongst the most successful boats out of his port on any given weekend.