Friday, March 22, 2013

Flies and beads: Pathways to a steelie heart.

By Spider Rybaak
Rick Miick (L) and Stan Oullette with a 10-pound steelie taken on a orange bead in the corner Hole.

Global warming seems to have been put on hold again. At press time, March 22, more than half a foot  of snow clings to the banks of the Salmon River, and the weather forecast calls for more snow showers over the next few days.

But what’s bad for weather forecasters is great for Salmon River anglers. Currently, Brookfield Renewable Power is releasing about 900 cfs from the lower reservoir. Despite being more than twice the level it was just a week ago, the river is running at a pace steelies find easy and safe to negotiate; a flow anglers with average skills can ply productively.

Rob, one of the owners of Fat Nancy’s Tackle Shop on NY 13, just across from the Pulaski exit of I-81 (877-801-3474), says the water is still very cold but there’s a lot of fish in the river nonetheless.

All the usual suspects are producing: Egg sacs, 3-inch Berkley floating trout worms, beads, Streamers and Spey flies.

Trout worms and eggs sacs can be chuck- ‘n-ducked, but work best when float-fished. Spinning tackle will do, but centerpinning equipment is best.

If you’re still in the dark about centerpinning, it involves a single-action reel whose spool rides on a centerpin so it to spins effortlessly, allowing your float to keep in perfect time with the current. The rod can run anywhere from 10 to 15 feet. Its length allows you to keep the line off the water--and avoid drag--for great distances, a plus if you’re into “hero casts.”

“Beads are the most productive baits in the pinhead’s arsenal,” raves Capt Rick Miick ( , 315-387-5920). The man taught me how to centerpin, and has produced a popular DVD on the subject.  “When you float fish beads, 30-hit days are common,” adds Miick.

Spey casting flies is a little less productive but so much fun, if you try it once, chances are you’ll be hooked for life.

Migell Wedderburn, a native of Pennellville, says: “I don’t do regular fishing anymore. It has to be Spey and nothing else. I have learned Spey fishing is beautiful and you can fish a rocky bottom easily and not get hung up.”

He’s even developed his own nymph he calls the Death Ray.

 “Spey casting instructor and fly-fishing guide Pat Miura (315-777-3570;, an angler respected by his peers and clients alike, says” the drug is the tug.”

And he’s right. Even a 6-inch Fallfish feels like a trophy trout when it strikes a fly swung across the current on Spey casting gear.

But you don’t need a double-handed rod to Spey cast. A regular 8-wt. reel loaded with floating fly line and a sinking leader, and a 9-foot fly rod will do in a pinch.  Simply roll cast a brown or olive wooly bugger across the current and let it swing downstream.  When  the bow in the line starts straightening out… hold on.

Migell Wedderburn's Death Ray

Migell Wedderburn, a nice steelie, and the Death Ray hanging from the roof of its mouth.

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