Capt. John Kopy holding a trophy rock bass
Oswego County's anglers are like their peers everywhere; they can't keep a secret. For instance, they brag about the Salmon River's legendary coldwater fishery. Come summer, they'll tell ya all about the landlocked Atlantic salmon and Skamania runs that make the river the best summer trout fishery east of the Mississippi.
But when it comes to the Salmon River's warmwater opportunities, something strange happens -- mum's the word. It's not that they don't know about it. It's more mercenary than that. They wanna keep it to themselves.
You see, the slow moving, weed-lined water in the stream's estuary and the narrow channel right at its mouth, offer some of the best warmwater fishing in the county. Northern pike commonly go 15 pounds, smallmouth bass average three, and panfish reach bragging-size.
Even back in the 1960s, when the fishery was threatened because of lamprey eel predation and water pollution, Selkirk was one of the best bets in the state to catch trophy smallmouth bass and northern pike.
So when my good buddy, local fishing guide John Kopy (315-387-6343) called a few days ago to see if I wanted to try my luck in this wonderful web of habitats, I jumped at the chance.
I don't have to tell anyone how iffy, even by New York standards, the weather has been lately. When we started out, a cold front sat on the water, sprinkling a fine mist that gave the waterscape an enchanting air. By the time we motored up to the NY 3 bridge, the sun was out and you could feel it burn the fog off the water.
While shifting meteorological events enhance the beauty of the scenery to man, it makes the fish clam-up and dive for the deep.
However, we managed to eke out some exciting encounters.
Unfortunately, they were all short strikes, connected to the line just long enough to tease us. Just as John or I had our hands in the water to mouth Mr. Bronzeback, he'd spit the bait right back at us like it was bad meat.
Still, Kopy managed to land a couple for photographic purposes.
Equally important, he lead me to the biggest rock bass I've caught so far this year. One was a staggering pound and half.
This area is notorious for huge rock bass. Unlike the lake's other bays and ponds, where they come in to spawn and leave right away, the estuary holds monsters year-round. They'll hit all the usual suspects, but the most exciting way to take 'em is off the surface with a popper.
Huge sunfish and a few crappie are also available.
With its ample weed beds, cattail mats, emergent weeds, sunken and exposed timber, the estuary is ideal northern pike territory. They'll take a large minnow, spinner bait, or buzz bait.
To look at it, you'd swear the estuary's marshy areas make for great largemouth bass action. Yes and no. Bucketmouths are rare in this water. However, when you get one it's usually big enough to write home about.
Bronzebacks, may more than twice this size, rule the Salmon River's estuary all the way to the mouth.