Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Salmon River in the wake of a Record February.

By Spider Rybaak

Lawn Chair for the Weary
Folks will be talking about last February for years. The daily temperature only averaged 9 degrees Fahrenheit and the month never saw the mercury rise above freezing. Add 50-something inches of snow to the equation and you come up with the wintriest February on record.

So far, March doesn’t seem to be much better. In fact, the way it’s roaring outside the window today (March 2), you’d think it’s trying to imitate last month. But the weather forecast is calling for a couple days above freezing late this week, maybe warmer next week, making it a good bet that the month will spend some of its time luxuriating under balmy March conditions-- days in the 40s and 50s.

With all that snow piled up out there, the mild weather will unleash torrents of run-off. Fortunately, the weatherman predicts moderate warming for the near future, which will raise water levels slowly, just enough to draw steady runs of fresh steel into Lake “O’s” tributaries.

The feeder most favored by the majority of chromers is the Salmon River. The fish have been coming up all winter. But the anglers haven’t. As a result, the stream’s full of ‘em—more than usual. And their numbers are growing daily.

It ain’t all rosy, however. Shelves of ice cling to the river’s banks below Pineville, and a little further down, the ice actually crosses the river.

But it’s still a great time to go for them in Altmar. The water is at perfect levels and the river is at a constant 34 degrees; cold by our standards, heavenly to chromers. Snowpack makes getting down to the river a little challenging, but well-beaten paths lead to all the popular spots.

Better hurry, though. All the snow that’s been clobbering us is gonna melt eventually. Hopefully, it’ll do so gradually, taking  the river all month to reach spring levels. And while the fishing is sure to be great then, why wait? The slow snowmelt we’re enjoying now offers loads of opportunities, and elbow room to boot.

Egg sacs and glo bugs are the bait of choice for most anglers. Fly-fishing purists are doing well on patterns like copper Johns and black stonefly nymphs. Spey casters are getting their fair share swinging brown or chartreuse wooly buggers through the current. Spinning enthusiasts working inline spinners like Roostertails slowly through pools and deep pockets are getting fresh trout, too. Float-fishermen are catching a lot on beads and 3-inch Berkley Trout Worms.

The main thaw is still a ways off. In the meantime, the Salmon River is fat with steelies just begging for your attention. Hit the stream at your earliest convenience; you’ll be glad you did.

Salmon River set in a Crown of Ice, Pulaski, NY
Steelheading last Monday in Snowy Altmar

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