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New York's Salmon River

To many, fly fishing is all trout, only trout; and that is very understandable.  The trout as a fly fishing game fish is hard to beat.  Light gear, relatively plentiful numbers, incredible amount of nuances to consider, they are beautiful, and when hooked acrobatic. But more and more fly fishers are taking their fly rodding aptitudes and applying them to more and more species.  For these fly rodders a good river needs to have more than one season, and more than one species.


Rivers that have great trout action, with runs of steelhead and salmon are gold to these go with the flow anglers.  A five weight light action; can easily be given up for a nine weight with a Comet on the end, followed by a seven weight with some egg patterns, handy in the vest.  One such river that satisfies these hearty all weather types is the infamous Salmon River of New York.  Twelve or so miles of relative easily accessible water, is the stuff that hall of fame rivers are made of.  Not a great secret to be sure, crowds can be alarming, it still is one place that can produce the fish of a lifetime virtually any time of year.  It is also contains some fly fishing only water, be sure and check local regulations before fishing, as legislation can be quick to change.


One thing that doesn’t change very much are the fish and the time they run.  King Salmon the up to forty pound monsters that make places like Alaska infamous can be found right in the lower 48 on this river.  Depending on the weather, water lever, etc, the runs start in September and peak in October.  Not usually the most aggressive takes in the world, they still can be taken on a fly, especially fresh in the river.  Try the early season to avoid crowds, and to be casting at the most aggressive fish on the run.   Besides Comets, Popsicles, Egg-Sucking Leeches, Flash Fly, Bunny Leeches and Krystal Buggers are excellent offering. 


As the King peter out here the come the class of the river, the Steelies; pound for pound one of the greatest fish ever to tangle with a fly.  Averaging around ten pounds these babies flat out fight.  Following the King, they are look to feed, on the abundance of eggs.  If the conditions are right, the most aggressive fish come in early Late October through November.  Favorite patterns include Egg-Sucking Leeches, Woolly Buggers, Sucker Spawn, Beadhead Flashbugger, and Glo Bugs.  As winter comes on, also try some standard nymphs especially Kaufmann Stones, Beadhead Circus Caddis, as well as smaller sizes of the patterns mentioned above.  Unlike Salmon, Steelies will drop back into the lake around late spring, and are very aggressive at this time.  Some standard trout patterns and dry flies can offer some thrilling fishing, unlike any other time of the year.


Two bonus species that generally run in the fall, are the aggressive Browns and the Coho.  While these species are not generally targeted, they can also be caught using the flies mentioned above.  Coho are more apt to take a fly than the Kings, and while they are not as big, their takes are aggressive indeed.


One last word of caution on the Salmon River, is levels can change quickly and unexpectedly, there are many areas of fast and treacherous wading, so wade with extreme care.  Do not wade to place that you cannot get back to the shoe without absolute certainty.  Also like any other cold weather fishing locations dress accordingly.

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