Friday, September 30, 2011

The Returns are Here Again

Salmon Update: This season's largest run of kings entered the Salmon River Wednesday night, September 28. They're still entering the river as of this update, 11:30 a.m., Thursday morning. With rain predicted straight through the weekend, they should continue pouring in until the beginning of next week.

Owen Baxter, and his dad Don, of Boonville, N.Y. show off a Salmon River king

All the rain we’ve been having lately has spurred salmon into running Lake “O’s” tributaries a little early this year. In fact, enough fish entered the Salmon and Oswego Rivers in the first week of September to raise angler excitement to peak-run levels. And while a lot of guys got early thrills, these initial fish haven’t put a dent in the regular runs. Which, are just getting started.

Within the last few weeks, major numbers stormed the Salmon River (the Oswego always turns on a little later and should pick up this week). Anglers have reported tackling with near record numbers of kings and cohos.

Fortunately, for fish and fishermen alike, decent rain at regular intervals coupled with forecasts for more, means river conditions should remain almost perfect and stream banks and bottoms should be full of both for the next several weeks.

While Mother Nature is doing her part to make the angling experience more enjoyable, we are also realizing better conditions as the NYS DEC has been diligent in their efforts to eliminate lifters and snaggers from the environment.

“Now that lifting, lining, whatever…aren’t fashionable anymore, the chances of catching a clean fish are better than ever,” says Sean Rae, a Syracusan who fishes the river. “I’ve caught two today; neither one had wounds or hooks in its body.”

All the usual offerings are producing. Plastic eggs still seem to be the bait of choice but a lot of anglers are tossing flies, egg sacs and sponge to good effect, too.

What’s more, folks targeting early steelhead with everything from beads and Berkley Floating Trout Worms to yarn flies are finding their offerings are luring a lot of salmon.

Good numbers of fish are available throughout the river. Indeed, they’re stacked like cordwood below the bridge in Altmar.

The stream’s population of salmon should remain relatively consistent throughout the day for the next month or so as Brookfield Power continues to help balance the ebb and flow of natural precipitation. You see, the power company has agreed to release a steady stream high enough to draw and hold the beasts throughout the spawning season, a partnership that almost guarantees your trophy will be there waiting for several weeks to come.

For Safety’s Sake

The Salmon River is one of the slipperiest in NY. Wear clean Korkers or similar traction devices to help you keep your footing. A pair of Polarized sunglasses should be worn to help penetrate the glare so you can see where you’re stepping—and easily spot your prey.

Spawned in the Tug Hill Plateau, the Salmon is very sensitive to run-off and can rise quickly. Make a mental note of water levels before stepping in. In other words, note its location on a large object like a rock, bridge abutment, root ball or windfall. If you see, or feel, the water rising, get out immediately. Experts advise wearing a flotation device—it can be a life saver.

A hen coho taken by the author on September 21. 

Triple Deuce Charter's Matt Rubley, a Pulaski native, admiring a large male coho he took on September 21. 

Fishing at Ellis Cove on the Salmon River 

Watching the fish from the bridge in Altmar 

Stanley Cole of Snowcamp, N.C. fly-fishing for kings in the catch-and-release section of the river in Altmar.

Ron Haney of Altmar, who lost his right arm in an accident, shows how he fishes for kings

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