Saturday, September 29, 2007

And The Salmon Run-- Slowly

Salmon River Puiaski NY – The cool weather has helped to bring water temperatures that down to the low 60s. As for the rain we've had the last couple of days, the water flow is still at 100 CFS. It is going to take several days of hard rain to bring the river levels back up to normal flow. Salmon are now finally spreading out through the entire river. Most of the fishing pressure is still concentrated in the lower portions of the river, from compactor pool on down river. If you are looking for an out of the way spot to fish, try mid river on up river.
The last couple of days we have seen a slow but steady trickle of Chinook salmon. Due to the low water conditions, the salmon are slowly working their way up River. It will take four to six days, instead of the normal two to three days for the salmon to make it to the hatchery. This slower pace up river is provide, more fishing opportunities, one positive side effect to the low water conditions.
We are definitely overdue for a big push of salmon. I suspect this could have any day, most years we seem to get a good run of salmon on or about Columbus Day weekend.
Productive flies; I've found that I had to use several different patterns throughout the day, depending on light conditions. At first light, big dark colored bunny leeches were very effective. As the day wore on, size 4 pink and purple comets, black and brown Mr. Rubber Legs, and of course black and silver woolly buggers. As I always say when in doubt fish a black stone fly, in sizes from 10 to 6.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


We have already started to catch Steelhead the last few days. This is early for Steelhead. Generally speaking, on the Salmon River Steelhead start to show up and decent numbers by mid October. Hopefully, this is a good sign of things to come, and help to confirm some of the positive reports that I've been receiving from the lake fishermen.
We have been catching Steelhead when fishing for Coho Salmon. Steelhead and Coho Salmon always like to run together. So, this means that we are catching Steelhead with a wide variety of flies.
Fall is when the Steelhead are at their best. Chrome fresh from the lake, they are as strong as they are going to be. Several months from spawning and good fall water temperatures, Steelhead at this time of year are very receptive to a fly. Fall Steelhead fishing is Steelhead fishing at its best.
The Salmon river water temperature has been in the warm side the last few days. By mid week we should be getting some cooler weather and rain. This turn in the weather should improve the fishing. The Salmon are overdo for another good run of Chinook Salmon. Hopefully the cooler weather will trigger a run of Salmon and maybe a few Steelhead.
Note: I still have some days available in mid October for fall Steelhead fishing. You can contact me through the fly shop, the number is 585-352-4775 or you may try contacting me on my cell phone number is 585-233-0436. Service along the river is poor. If I do not answer, leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Coho Bonanza

I know of no other way to describe the fishing we experienced on 9/20 and 9/21 other then call it a Coho bonanza. These were two days of intense runs of Coho Salmon. These runs of Cohos Salmon were as heavy as I have ever experienced. Normally, the run will only last for an hour or two. However the last two days the runs were in full force, when we reached the river first thing in the morning, and did not slow down until late afternoon.

The Coho Salmon were showing one of their more interesting migration behaviors. This is sometimes called a retreat. When a Coho Salmon will run up river a short distance and then all of a sudden turn tail and run back down river. This behavior pattern was very prevalent the last two days. Why they do this? Who really knows for sure. My personal theory is that the low water may have heightened this behavior. Possibly, the Coho Salmon need a little bit more time to get accustomed to the low water conditions. The best part of this behavior is that it did not affect the aggressive biting reputation of the Coho. We would catch Coho Salmon as they ran up, and then we caught them again when they retreated back down river. Almost like recycling a run of fish.

One interesting fact about strong runs of Coho Salmon, is that Steelhead always seem to run with the Coho Salmon. The last two days, we did catch our share of Steelhead. The biggest Steelhead was caught this past Friday morning, 9/21 weighing approximately 16 pounds. It is good to see decent numbers of Steelhead for a change. Hopefully this will continue.

Productive flies; I've found that I had to use several different patterns throughout the day, depending on light conditions. At first light, big hot pink bunny leeches were very effective. As the day wore on, size 4 pink and purple comets, black and brown Mr. Rubber Legs, and Dave's SA.

The low water - well what can I say? The salmon do not know the water is low and they are starting to run. It is taking longer for them to work their way up river. This is more fishing opportunities for us. The fish are adjusting to the conditions so must we. Yes we need rain, but the reality is for this fall the rivers are going to be low. In the end it is time to fish.

I still have dates available in October for anyone who would like to try their hand at Salmon fishing. You can contact me through the fly shop number is 585-352-4775 or you may try contacting me on my cell phone number is 585-233-0436 cell. Service along the river is poor. If I do not answer, leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Staying low

This is not just the water level, but the salmon fishing as well. I knew the salmon would migrate up river very slowly this fall, but I am surprised at just how slowly. All my fishing so far this fall has been from the compactor pool down through the bottom end of the DSR.

On 9/17/07 the DSR reported a strong run of both Coho salmon and Chinook salmon. The run on this particular day was made up of mostly Coho salmon. This was the first significant run of salmon of the fall. The following day 9/18 found these fish spread out between the Paper Mill and Compactor pool. Normally Coho salmon will run the entire river within 24 hours. However with the low water this year it looks like they will take three to four days to make it up to the hatchery.

Because of a bright sunny weather, I have been having my best fishing from early morning to about noon, and then again from 4 o'clock until dark. As I mentioned in an earlier article, it's best to take a break during the mid-day when the fish are inactive.

The productive flies are as follows; black and brown woolly buggers, Mr. rubber legs and black stone flies.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Attention: Lower Flyfishing Area Closed

ATTENTION: THE LOWER FLYFISHING AREA WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL OCTOBER 15TH, 2007. Due to drought conditions the fall Salmon River base flows of 335cfs have been reduced to 100cfs. The Lower Flyfishing Area is a staging area for fish as they prepare to enter the NYSDEC Salmon River Hatchery. We need to ensure that adequate numbers of fish will enter the hatchery to meet egg quotas.

It is good to see that the department is paying attention to our fisheries. For a lot of people this will be disappointing. However in the end, it is what's best to maintain the resource. Besides, the upper fly fishing zone will remain open and we still have over 13 miles of river to fish.

Fishing conditions for Salmon River on Friday 9/14/07 remained constant, with a 100 CFS release. However, the water temperatures continue to slowly improve. Water temperature was 64 degrees. There was a light run of salmon that came into the lower portion of the DSR. The Salmon do not venture far up river, and seem to have stopped at about the spring whole or the Josh pool. The Salmon that ran earlier in the week are now spread out between the ballpark and route 2A.

As I've been saying, concentrate your fishing efforts in the pocket water and in the heads of the pools. Once the Salmon start to migrate up river they will be seeking out any deep pocket to rest in. Productive fly patterns have not changed except we have had to drop down a size or two.

Note: even though the water levels are low, the salmon do not know this and are still going to run. This will be a good opportunity to get some instruction in fishing in low water conditions. The way things are looking this is going to be status quo for the fall. I have openings next week for September 25th-27th. If you're interested you can contact me through the shop 585-352-4775 or contact me on my cell phone 585-233-0436.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Favorite Time Of The Year

Cool nights, cooling water temperature, light fishing pressure, and enough fish to make it fun. Despite the low water, this is my favorite time of the year. Despite the rain we had the water flow is still 100 CFS. Yes- the water is low, but some how the salmon are still finding there way up river.
I fished the Douglaston salmon run Monday 9/10/07. The water temperature that morning was 67 degrees; I saw about 25 to 30 Salmon running through the lower DSR, at the clay hole. By late morning, I moved up river and found good numbers of Salmon holding in the pocket water for the given conditions. Because of the low water, the salmon were very spooky. I found that once I had located a salmon, I needed to stay way off the salmon while I fished to it.
Productive fly patterns for the day were; black woolly buggers size 6, black stone flies size 8, Dave SA size 6, Mr. rubber legs black size 4. As the day wore on and the cloud cover cleared, smaller fly sizes needed to be use, because of the bright sunny conditions.
Later this week the weather forecast is for cold nights and cooler days. This will drop the water temperatures quickly and may trigger a run of salmon. Let us keep hoping that the rainy weather will continue. Because the ground is so dry it is going to take a lot of rain to get us out of our drought conditions, and bring the river's flow back to normal.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Waiting For An Excuse

The Douglaston Salmon Run reported a good push of Chinook Salmon on 9/5/07. Despite the conditions, the salmon will run. It is still early and the water flow at the Salmon River continues to drop. It is now at a 100 CFS. WE NEED RAIN!! Add to this, this weeks hot weather. The salmon fishing is going to be a no go. There may be some help coming with the weather next week. The forecast is for cool nights and day time highs in the lower 70's. There is a lot of Salmon out in the lake just waiting for an excuse to run. A drop in water temperature or a slight rise in water flow will do it.

If you have not read my last post 9/01/07, 'Low Water Salmon Fishing 101', I recommend you do so as there are a lot of good tips for fishing in the low water conditions we are experiencing now.

Note; I have dates open for late September early October. This is prime Salmon fishing time. If you're interested, contact either myself or the fly shop. The shop number is 585-352-4775.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Low Water Salmon Fishing 101

It looks like we're going to have a fall of low water conditions. For us being fly fishermen, Salmon fishing in low water is not a big deal. All we need to do is adjust to the conditions.
A big part of this adjustment is our equipment. Starting with rods. For one-handed rods I prefer a 10-foot eight-weight rod set up with a matching weight forward fly line and 10-foot leader. For two-handed rods, 12 1/2 to 14 foot eight and nine-weight rods set up with matching floating lines and leaders 12 to 14 feet long. Remember, we are fishing in low water conditions and most of the salmon that we'll be fishing to will be in less than 3 feet of water. We will find ourselves fishing a lot of pocket water. This is where a standard weight floating fly line and leader works the best. Leave the heavy sink tips behind for now.

Reels: this piece of equipment does not change much. We still need a dependable reel. What I look for in reels is a good solid drag system and a solid frame. In reel capacity, I'm looking for enough capacity to hold the appropriate fly line and approximately 150 yards of 30 pound backing.

Fly selection also needs to be adjusted for the low water conditions. In normal conditions, standard salmon wet flies in twos and fours are about the ideal size. During low water, fly sizes generally need to be brought down to size 6 and 8. The size for egg flies will stay the same. Low water conditions are always accompanied with bright clear days, so earth tone colored flies are the way to go. The water may not be deep, but when you are fishing pocket water a fly needs to get down quickly. Ironically, because we find ourselves fishing pocket water more than normal. Bead-head flies and flies tied with beadchain eyes, such as comets are now more productive.

Other considerations; concentrate your fishing efforts on early mornings and evenings. At these times of the day, the salmon are more active and in better biting mood. Mid-day is generally not all that productive unless there is good cloud cover. If the Salmon are not active, take a break.

Pick the spots and Salmon that you intend to fish to carefully. This may sound silly but, put yourself in the salmon's situation. You have just left the security of the lake where you had several hundred feet of water under your belly and 100 feet over your head. You are now in a river where you're back is often out of the water. You have no cover, you are exposed, you feel vulnerable for the first-time since leaving the rivers as a pare. Are you getting the picture? Spooky! Most of the salmon you will be seeing in the pools and flat water are not going to be good biters. That pocket water that I have been talking about earlier is where we will find most of our biters. Low water means less cover for the salmon, and cover means security and comfort. Good pocket water will always have some sort of broken surface to it. This is cover that Salmon are seeking. More now, than in any other conditions, we need to be concentrate our fishing efforts in spots where there is sufficient current to cause a riffle effect on the surface. These spots become more important to us as the morning light becomes more intense on the water surface.

This is one of the biggest mistakes committed while fishing in these low water conditions. That is standing too close to the fish. Stay back and cast to the Salmon. In low water conditions, I generally try to stay at least two and half to three fly rod lengths away from the Salmon. At this distance, I can move all I want and not disturb the salmon. Keep in mind that a Chinook Salmon's first line of defense is to use camouflage to hide, make like a rock. This means you can have salmon all around you and they can be so spooked that they will not bite. Just because they're sitting there does not mean they have been spooked.

Presentation, hey, come on, I’ve got to keep something for myself. Just like the rest of the fishing we do and how we present the fly. This is more important than the fly that we tie on the end of our tippet. When you are struggling to get a bite, do what I do. First, consider how well you are presenting the fly to the fish. Then, consider the fish themselves. Are they in a biting mood? Have the fish been put down by fishing pressure, or they just plain shutdown for the day? Keep in mind with tributary fishing, sometimes you need to leave fish to find fish that are willing to bite. Only after this, do I consider the flies that I am using.

Keep these few tips in mind and you'll quickly learn, that for us fly fishermen, low water conditions are no big deal.