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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Salmon fishing offers fun, excitement

Sunlight filters through the gold and red leaves bordering the river as an angler casts repeatedly to the deep water along the far shore. Suddenly there is an eruption of water as a huge fish leaps clear of the water and starts a powerful run downstream. The reel screams as the salmon peels a hundred yards of line in a single run while the angler desperately tries to slow the mighty fish before it breaks clear.
Welcome to the sport of salmon fishing. Scenes like this will soon be common for another few weeks along the Salmon River, the Oswego River, smaller tributaries, and streams all along the Lake Ontario shoreline. It is world class fishing right in our backyard and once you have experienced it, it is difficult to forget about it.
Veteran anglers are eager for the run to start in earnest but so far only a few salmon are entering the river. Warm temperatures and low water levels have delayed the spawning run so far. Usually a cold rain will trigger the movement of salmon from the areas of the lake in front of the tributaries to head up river.
However, once their biological clock indicates that the time for spawning has come, the fish will head upriver regardless of water levels or temperatures. So the best bet is to have your gear ready and check with reliable sources like Jim Dence’s All Seasons Sports Shop in Pulaski for conditions on the salmon run.
Once the run starts in earnest you can bet that anglers from all over the area will be heading for the Salmon River or other tributaries of Lake Ontario. The bigger holes like the Sportsman’s Hole or Trestle Pool and areas near the bridges will see lots of anglers lining the banks. Be courteous and pull your line or get out of the way when some other angler yells “fish on” and starts running along the bank trying to keep up with the fish on the end of his line.
The best way to avoid crowds is to fish in the middle of the week and fish early or late in the day. The first and last hours of the day are the best time to fish anyway since that is when the salmon are moving upstream. Be prepared to walk a bit to get away from the crowds. Stop at the hatchery in Altmar or at All Seasons Sports Shop on Route 13 in Pulaski to get a map of the river with convenient access points.
Although salmon do not feed when they enter the tributaries to spawn, they can be coaxed into striking out of aggression or instinct. Large flies such as Wooly Buggers, estaz egg patterns, or Comets, single hook lures or egg sacks are all common ways of taking salmon in the river. Salmon tend to hit egg sacks or artificial eggs and flies that imitate eggs. The theory is that they want to remove any competition to their own spawn.
Chinook salmon tend to travel in deep water and stay near the river bottom as they migrate upstream. Thus your bait, fly or lure should pass just off the bottom since the fish do not move up in the water column to strike. Concentrate on the heads or tails of pools, deep runs along the banks or behind the boulders, etc. that break the current. You want your bait or lure to move naturally just over the bottom. Add or subtract split shot to a dropper line to keep your lure at proper depth.
While battling salmon is definitely not a job for ultralight tackle, neither do you want the 50-pound test line and broomstick rods that some bass fishermen tend to use. Long rods help you fight the fish and also aid in keeping line off the water, preventing drag on your bait in the presentation. Most fly fishermen prefer 9-foot rods for 8- or 9-weight line. Spin fishermen commonly use a medium action 8- or 9-foot rod. Both call for quality reels with good drags and lots of capacity. The main line should be 12-pound test with a four-foot leader of six-pound test. Some anglers opt for heavier line but the key is to let the rod do the work and tire the fish.
If you have never fished for salmon in the streams you might want to consider hiring a guide to show you how as well as where. Former local resident Chris Mulpagano (387-2623) is one of the best and uses his driftboat to cover lots of river. His son Nicholas (897-0737) is following in the family footsteps and is also an experienced  guide. Jay Peck (585-233-0436) is also one of the best and is familiar with many streams along the lake.
If you don’t have all the tackle you can check for anything you need, including Korkers for wading the slippery Salmon River bottom, at All Seasons Sports on Route 13 in Pulaski. Owner Jim Dence is a local resident who is familiar with conditions on the river and can outfit you with the proper equipment as well as advice. Call 315-298-6433 for more information.
You do not need to spend $5,000 or more for a fishing trip in Alaska to experience the great excitement and fun of salmon fishing. You can do it right in our own backyard. But beware: once you catch salmon fever it is hard to get rid of it.
IFHCNY: The Independent Fur harvesters of Central New York are selling tickets on a bear hunt for the club’s biggest fundraiser. Call 750-5227 to reserve yours. The Club will be attending the Carpenter’s Brook Sportsmans Days on September 26 and 27. They will also have a Trapper Training Class on October 3 at the Pompey Rod & Gun Club.
Turkey Season: Because of declining numbers of turkeys the past few years, the DEC has shortened the fall turkey season to two weeks in both zones. Northern Zone season is October 1–14 and the Southern Zone season is October 17–30. Bag limit has been reduced to one bird. One note of encouragement is that many people have been seeing decent sized groups or flocks of young birds despite the cold wet weather last spring. Perhaps the turkeys in this part of the state are hardier and tougher, just like the people who live here.
Deer Management Permits: The DEC reminded hunters to apply for deer management permits (DMPs) this week, ahead of the October 1 deadline. Unfortunately many of the licensing agencies cannot handle the changes to a new computerized system and have given up selling licenses or other transactions.
DEC’s computerized licensing system allows hunters to immediately learn the outcome of their permit application. The likelihood that a hunter will be selected for a permit is largely based on the number of deer management permits to be issued in a Wildlife Management Area and the number of hunters that historically apply.


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