Most of the fishermen during the salmon run use spinning
outfits. Unlike Steelhead and Brown trout the King Salmon
do not "take" as well. Although they are in the river
to spawn and feeding is their last priority, these fish
will strike out of aggression when they are fresh from
the lake and have not seen many flies. Once the fish
have been in for a long period of time they tend to not
strike with the same aggression. There has been controversy
about fishermen "lifting" salmon. "Lifting" is when they
try to snag the fish, which is an unfortunate part of
the entire Great Lake's fishery. Snagging has been outlawed
and game wardens patrol the river to issue fines to anglers
that are caught violating the rules that govern this
fishery. Check all the Special
Regulations before fishing. If you do not understand
the regulations, there are many shops in the area that
will explain them.
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Another factor about the salmon run is the amount
of fishermen it draws to the river. It is not uncommon
to see anglers shoulder-to-shoulder for a hundred yards
in a likely hole. A few popular fly patterns for the
salmon are large krystal buggers, egg patterns, and
estaz flies all tied on extra strong hooks.
Steelhead are what most fly fishermen come to the Salmon
River for. The steelhead average eight to ten pounds
and fish over twenty pounds have been caught. They can
be in the river anytime from late September to May. There
are also summer run steelhead called Skamania which are
not as dependable but can be in the river during the
summer months providing that water conditions allow it.
Steelhead are very aggressive, especially from October
to late November, because they are in the river to feed
with the abundance of salmon eggs available and optimum
water temperatures. This is also a good time for them,
because the weather near the Great Lakes is still tolerable.
Estaz flies, egg sucking leeches, woolly buggers, and
yarn eggs work best this time of year. Winter Steelhead
fishing from December through late February can be very
productive and also very cold. Make sure to bring along
plenty of warm clothing if you go. Temperatures will
drop below zero and lake effect snow squalls can pop
up at any time. At this time generic nymphs, small black
stone fly nymphs, and small egg patterns work best. Remember
that the winter fish tend to be more lethargic because
of the extremely cold water temperatures. Fish slow and
look for some of the softer seams where they do not have
to fight strong currents. March through April is a good
time for steelhead as well. Like the fall the weather
is generally more tolerable then during the winter months.
The fish at this time of year are generally less active
then during the fall and are there more to spawn, athough
they will feed and the fishing can be excellent. Starting
around late April and May the steelhead will drop out
of the river back to the lake. This is a good time to
fish for drop-backs that are extremely aggressive after
spawning. They need to feed and will take dries, streamers
and wet flies (spey flies) eagerly.
Coho Salmon, also known as Silver Salmon, can be in
the river anytime during the fall from September to
December. They are more aggressive then the King Salmon
and will strike eagerly at a fly (especially the males).
Cohos are hard fighting acrobatic fish similar to steelhead.
Most people do not come to the Salmon River specifically
for the coho salmon fishing, but come across them while
fishing for other species.
Brown trout can also be in the river along with the
Steelhead. The best time for browns is usually from
late September to early December. The brown trout migrating
into the Salmon River from Lake Ontario are very large
averaging five to eight pounds and browns to fifteen
plus pounds have been caught. Steelhead flies will
work effectively on the brown trout.
The Salmon River is made up of churning pools, deep
runs, riffles, glides, and pockets. The river bed is
mostly slate and gravel and cleated waders are necessary
to keep your footing. Water conditions on this river
can change rapidly (within minutes) with the water
releases used for generating power. If your not familiar
with the water be smart and pay attention to changing
conditions. The upper end of the river is made up mostly
of deep pools and runs and is generally less swift.
Below Route 81 the river picks up speed on its way
to Lake Ontario. This area is made up mostly of hard
pushing pools, glides, swift runs, and pockets. The
upper end of the Salmon river near Altmar has two fly
fishing only sections. Check the special regulations.
Fishing in the vicinity of Altmar can be good since
the fish tend to hold up well there. This area can
also be very crowded so remember that the fish entering
the Salmon River are migrating in from the lake and
can be anywhere in the river. Below Altmar the river
flows through pools such as School House, Wire, Ellis
Cove, Trestle, Sportsman's, Compactor, Papermill, Ball
Field, and Black Hole as well as many others. Below
the Black Hole the river enters the Douglaston Salmon
Run which is an area you need to purchase a permit
in order to fish. This area is excellent and offers
angling for fish fresh from the lake since it borders
the mouth of the river. These fish tend to be less
selective and will eagerly take a well presented pattern.
Overall there is approximately 12 miles of very productive
water to fish. Some areas tend to hold fish better
then others but remember that they are migrating fish
and have to get through one area in order to get to
Access to the river is generally easy. There are numerous
designated access points as well as other areas to
pull over and fish. Routes 13, 11, 81, and 2 as well
as other roads provide access to the river. Fish an
area and move if your not successful. Sometimes its
a matter of finding the fish. Other times it may be
waiting for the water temperatures to warm enough for
them to take. Either way be patient with the fishery.
The opportunity is there to hook or catch a good number
of large fish. If you put your time in you will most
likely be largely rewarded!
The Salmon River is New York State is a famous fishery
for migratory Salmon, Steelhead, and Brown Trout. Every
year anglers flock to the river from all over to try
their skills with these powerful acrobatic fish. Steelhead
have been known to empty anglers reels in a heart throbbing
battle to escape being caught within seconds. If you
plan on coming to the Salmon River, it is within 5
driving hours of New York City and Montreal, located
along the Southeastern shore of Lake Ontario. Many
anglers come from all over the Northeast and Canada
for the opportunity to catch a "fish of a lifetime."