Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oswego Swollen with Kings

Glen Lystash, Hardwick, NJ, shows off his hard-won trophy.

Nothing spurs ripe kings and cohos to charge into Lake “O’s” tributaries like an autumn moon washed by heavy rains.

True, Oswego County escaped the brunt of the inclement weather that shrouded much of Central New York last week (September 18-24). However, her largest river, the Oswego, drains thousands of square miles, including the Finger Lakes and Oneida Lake.  And it takes a while for all that water to finally reach the city at its mouth. When it does, it signals the salmon waiting out in the lake to start revving their fins because it’s party time!

So, Saturday morning I called Larry Muroski, over at Larry’s Oswego Salmon Shop (315-342-2778), to see if any new fish were coming in.

“Yup,” he replied. “The river’s full of ‘em.”

Larry’s a man of few words but great on enthusiasm. When I heard his tone, I knew the fish were on the move.

The lake launched this season’s most significant run on Friday. The following morning, anglers who were expecting “just decent” action by the steady numbers trickling in all week were surprised by all the fish that were present, prompting one,who was retying after a king broke off, his fifth loss in less than two hours, to complain  “These fish are so big and so fresh I can’t hold onto them.”

“I’m a 20-year veteran of the Oswego River’s salmon runs and I’ve never seen so many fish in September,” he added.

And it’s only just begun. If the past is any guide, this run will continue for the next few days, until the water drops.

But even then, fish will enter this large stream regularly for the next four weeks, at least. A good way to gauge your chances of success is to follow weather and temperature patterns: cold nights generally send new fish upstream, and so does rain.

Some browns are present, too, but I didn’t see any steelhead. Browns will bearound in great quantities all of October. Good numbers of steelhead should start appearing the second week of the month and continue pouring in through December.

For Safety’s Sake

With all this water feeding it, the Oswego River is probably the most run-of-sensitive stream in the state. Combined with the extreme fluctuations caused by ebbs and flows in hydroelectric power generation, the river can rise a foot or more in seconds…and I’m not exaggerating. Make a mental note of water levels on rocks, walls and depth gauges, how much is coming over the dam, before stepping in. If you see, or feel, the water rising, get out immediately. If you hear sirens, followed by warnings, head for shore. Finally, wear a personal flotation device—it can be a life saver.

While nowhere near as slippery as the Salmon River, the Oswego has its slick spots. Wear Korkers or similar traction devices to help you keep your footing. A pair of Polarized sunglasses helps penetrate the surface glare so you can see where you’re stepping—and easily spot fish, too.

Fulton Carp Action

On September 17, carp, another of the river’s popular leviathans, were the object of the Wild Carp Club of Central New York’s attention. Seventeen members of the group reportedly caught and released over a ton of the beaststhat day in Fulton, New York.

For more on the club, including this season’s last three events, call Jason Bernhardt at 315-427-7109;

Bobby Fuller and Jeff Proctor with an average-size king.

Donata Taylor, Redding PA, uses some fancy rod handling techniques on an uncooperative king.

Auburn, NY's, Lee Rusin with his day's catch.

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