Friday, October 1, 2010

Salmon are In…and They’re Huge!

Notice: Given the recent weather conditions, the Salmon River and the Oswego River have become extremely dangerous. We urge anglers to consider fishing techniques other than standing directly in the water, such as fishing from streams, piers or driftboat, until the high water levels subside.

Normally, the last week of September sees waves of kings and cohos climbing the rapids of the Salmon River to spawn. This year the runs are on time but there’s one noticeable difference: the fish are the biggest they’ve been this century.

And that was expected. Fish that were taken from the tiniest Great Lake over the summer were huge compared to recent years. A lot of 35-something pounders were landed, including a 39 lb. 8 oz. fish that took America’s Fall LOC Derby. Better still, the Great Ontario Salmon Derby, a Canadian tournament sponsored by the Toronto Sun, was taken by a 40 lb. 2 oz. fish caught in July. The fish were so big, rumor had it charter boat captains were whistling “Happy Days are Here Again.”

I called some bait shops the last weekend of the month and they all reported the river was loaded with fish. One, under condition of anonymity, claimed so many fish were taken right in the heart of Pulaski, Main Street’s sidewalks were coated in a layer of fish slime.

I had to see that. But I couldn’t break away from other commitments until Monday night.

I got to Pulaski around 5 p.m. Parking on the shoulder on the side street heading to the ball park, right where US 11 banks west before crossing the Salmon River, I strapped my corkers to my sneakers (in case the sidewalks were slimy, you see) and headed for the bridge.


Salmon are everywhere in the river.


There was only about a dozen guys fishing on both sides of the crossing, but what the river lacked in anglers, it more than made up for in salmon. They were everywhere. I saw anglers fighting salmon, salmon frolicking on the surface in the Village Pool, and salmon climbing the rapids just upstream of the bridge.

I went to the Ball Park and the story was the same. Anglers were stretched out in comfortable distances from one another along the stream. Everywhere I went, someone was fighting a fish.

Kings ranging from 15 to 30 pounds made up the vast majority of fish I saw on stringers. But cohos ranging from 10 to 18 pounds were strung up with em in many cases…and that’s big for the species.

Again, that shouldn’t really surprise anyone, considering the world record coho, a fish indigenous to the Pacific Ocean, came out of the Salmon River several years ago.

All the salmon activity has spurred steelies into action. Several anglers I talked to, including PA resident Kurt Kmetz (see photo), have been catching steelhead ranging from 5 to 10 pounds on streamers like egg sucking leeches.

Thankfully, the unethical behavior spawned by snagging practices that were encouraged in the 1970s and early 1980s is a distant nightmare. There are fewer guys running up and down the river swinging hooks at everything with fins, and ethical anglers are reprimanding those who still try, so the fish have calmed down and are remarkably eager to hit a fly.

This world class salmon fishing is playing now through the middle of October. Get there early to claim the good seats.

PA resident, Kurt Kmetz, holding a 25-lb. king and a 15-lb. coho.


Village Hole

2 comments:

William said...

How's the river holding up now after all the rain?

William said...

Any updates after the rains?