Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fishing the Rapids during the Run

Coho taken in the rapids at the bottom of the Long Bridge Hole in Pulaski, N.Y.

This week marks the time to get excited about Oswego County’s salmon runs.

Oh sure, a few precocious kings and cohoes have been teasing gung-ho, big-game anglers since the end of August; but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
Thousands of kings and cohoes will rip through the rapids from now until late next month. So many, in fact, cousin Staash claims “they’ll raise the water level a couple notches.”

You can bet the fish are gon’na draw legions of anglers from all over the Northeast, too.
Inexperienced in the ways of salmon in the fast water, most of these guys will think like humans and surround the big, deep  holes,  thinking they’re  the best spots to catch the trophies swimming around in their imaginations.

The fish are sure to be there, and fishing the rapids is one of the surest ways to find them.
You see, out in the big pond salmon are accustomed to being the biggest kids on the block. They bring that attitude with them when they enter the river, aggressively striking anything that gets in their way. Their confidence quickly fades after tasting the sting of a hook, or encountering excited anglers chasing after them.

That sends most of them heading for cover in the deep pools…where they encounter more hooks and more fish. So what’s a salmon to do?

And into the rapids it goes.
An exciting way to catch one is to swing a streamer through the current. Good patterns are wooly buggers in trout colors (brown or chartreuse) and Mickey fins.

Good spots to try on the Salmon River include Pineville Pool, Long Hole, Trooper Hole, Ball Park Run and Staircase.
Don’t be aggressive. Simply cast the streamer across the river and let the current swing it back to your side…and hold on.

After all, any fly-fisher can tell you: The drug is the tug!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Estuary Perch

Stan Oulette of Deer Creek Motel; Pulaski, N.Y.

Back in the early 1960s, catching Pacific salmon and steelhead in Lake Ontario was just a dream entertained by fish and game officials and dreamy-eyed anglers, many of whom had fished out West.

To your average local angler, the targets of choice were warm-water species like smallmouth bass, northern pike and yellow perch. The estuary, the slow-moving, lower stretch of the Salmon River running from the last set of rapids to the mouth, was one of the best spots around to catch ‘em all, especially a bucket of yellow perch.

“Still is” boasts Stan Oulette of Deer Creek Motel, located on State Route 3, a couple miles north of Port Ontario. “In fact,” he claims, "it’s Oswego County’s best kept secret.”

Stan and his brother David are local experts on the lower river. With good reason: both, along with their families, love to eat fish, and perch are their favorite. 

“The estuary always holds fish,” claims Stan, “but they change with the seasons… northern pike are plentiful in the spring, bass are in all summer long, salmon and brown trout come through in the fall, steelhead in winter and spring, and perch…ahh, perch,” he goes on, dreamlike  “… they’re always around.”

The bait of choice for these tasty panfish is a minnow fished on bottom or suspended a few inches off the floor below a bobber. Squeamish anglers and those who prefer artificial lures will catch a batch by jigging a Berkley Atomic Teaser tipped with a Power Honey Worm.

An angler inexperienced in the ways of Lake Ontario tributaries would probably conclude the perch—indeed, all panfish—flee the estuary at the first sight of a salmon.

The exact opposite is true; panfish are drawn into the estuary and spurred into a feeding frenzy by all the salmon eggs and tiny life forms that feed on salmon cadavers.