Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Downtown Oswego's Early Autumn Rites

Frank Pizza, a Ringwood, NJ native, holding the brown he took out of the plunge pool below the dam in Oswego last Saturday.

Late last week NY got the butt end of the hurricanes that swept through the South. As expected, the rains cooled the Oswego River down some, drawing significant numbers of king salmon, browns and steelhead into the fast water. I went up Saturday to give the river a couple yanks.

A lot of fish were in the power company's tailrace, but the water is deep and the walls high. I'm a feet-in-the-rapids kind'a guy so I went straight up to the dam.

Enough water was coming over the wall to make the going treacherous. Some guys were so excited they just ran into the current without testing the waters and ended up being swept off their feet and performed what locals lovingly call "the 100-yard bob."

Still, guys standing upright covered every rock on the island facing the west falls. The fish packed the surging water below their feet.

Everyone was nailing salmon. But the beasts were so big, the water so high and anglers so close to one another, there was no way to get to open water to wage battle. So the fish kept breaking off. The thrill of a hook up and the anticipation of landing a wall-hanger was more than a match for the heartbreak of the line snapping. Everyone kept fishing and hoping.

Groups of fresh fish numbering a dozen or two ran the rapids to the plunge pool every 15 minutes or so. For 15 minutes the only bent rods were those that were snagged on bottom, then suddenly five fish would be on at the same time.

Browns and steelhead were a different story. Averaging about eight pounds, they were more manageable and many were landed.

The vast majority was fishing ethically. Oh sure, some started out snagging, lifting and lining. But the nasty looks they got from everyone around them convinced them to fish with character.

The salmon runs will only get thicker from now until mid October. The browns will stick around for roughly the same period. Steelhead will remain from now until April pigging out on the eggs.

The best way to avoid doing the 100-yard bob is to take your time and walk by leaning into the current and sliding your feet.

Good fishing.

If you look closely you can see an angler holding the "King that DIDN'T get away".

Anglers fishing the power company tailrace in downtown Oswego.

Scene of the action at the west hole at the dam in Oswego last Saturday.

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