Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More to Come

By Spider Rybaak

Ryan of Mayfield with a chromer he took at Ellis Cove.

Sour grapes have been grumbling--loud enough to be heard above the rapids, in fact--that the king and coho runs on the Salmon River ain’t what they used to be. Truth of the matter is the runs are as good-- some say even better--than ever. Problem is, the salmon seem to be evolving, getting smarter.
Fran Verdoliva, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Special Assistant for the Salmon River claims: “By last week, the hatchery has taken 3.9 million chinook eggs. Typically we only get 3 million per season.”

That suggests roughly 25 percent more fish are making it to the hatchery than usual.
“A lot of fish are moving at night,” claims Verdoliva, adding “each morning, the hatchery is loaded with ‘em, and has been all season long, so far.”

They’ve been running in daylight, as well.

“There was a pretty substantial run last month,” says Verdoliva. “We had a major run the second week of October and last week, too,” he continues, “and right now [October 20] the hatchery is overflowing with cohoes.”

And there’s more good news. “Everything was running progressively slower than people are used to,” says Fran, indicating there’s more to come.
As a rule, the major runs are over by now. Still, fresh fish will charge the river in spurts into mid-November, and late-maturing individuals will continue heading for the hatchery for the rest of the month, even into December.

The browns and steelhead are on schedule, too.

“There’s more steelhead here than salmon,” claimed an angler at Ellis Cove last Sunday, just as two kings porpoised at the end of the pool he was fishing. He had two nice chromers on a stringer to back up his words, rising kings notwithstanding.

And that’s the way it was throughout the river. Some kings were on stringers above Pineville, but the vast majority was catching steelies and browns.

Currently, your chances of catching eitherspecies are pretty equal. Football browns are common right now but will peter out by the New Year; Steelies will start dominating soon.

Like life, the only thing certain about this fishery is change.  And while some target a specific species and actually feel disappointed when they catch something else, most guys are more appreciative, feeling king, coho, brown or steelie, doesn’t matter: they’re all worthy opponents.

The egg sucking black stonefly Ryan used to nail his steelie.

Warriors on the mend to come to Altmar

Project Healing Waters, a national organization dedicated to treating America’s casualties of war through fly-fishing, will hold one of its events on the Salmon River, November 1, 2014.

According to Fran Verdoliva, organizers expect to host soldiers from Fort Drum, and disabled veterans from places like the Syracuse VA and the Vet’s Center in Binghamton.

Professional guides and other highly knowledgeable volunteers will help wounded veterans from the Vietnam War right up to the conflict in Afghanistan catch the fish swimming around in their dreams.

For more information, contact Verdoliva at the Salmon River hatchery, 315-298-5051.

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