Salmon River winter

lookard

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Hi guys, I am heading up to the Salmon river on Jan 17 and planning to fish the whole day Saturday and Sunday. It will be my first time to this river and I am super psyched! I have fished the Madison river in YNP for the fall run of browns and I am kinda prepared for the cold (I hope).

I was wondering what flows would be too high to wade fish since I am planning to euro-nymph.

I've tied up a bunch of flies pat's rubber legs, magnetos, egg suck leeches, eggs, and small black stone nymphs. I've read from browsing the old threads here on the Salmon river that caddis nymphs are good as well. I was wondering what color are the caddis nymphs? Also, if there are any other flies that you'd recommend?

I also like to hike in and away from the parking spots to find the fish. I see from the map that there is a large gaps between some of these parking spots, and I am wondering if you can just hike along the river? Are most of the land around the river up from the DSR publicly accessible?

Thanks guys!
 

eastfly66

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I as up there about a week ago , same flows as now , 750 at the dam , 1150 at Pineville and had no problem wading for what I needed to do with a 2 hander. I think you should be able to find spots and wade out far enough to nymph but the water is moving at a pretty good clip. Yes , you can hike most of the river.
 

flytie09

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lookard....you can wade the Salmon River up to about 2200 CFS. It is rarely if ever that high and averages 350-1200 CFS at Pineville in January so you will be fine in that regards. Check the Salmon River Pineville USGS website for flowrates. This is where you can look at real time, peak mean, and median flow values. I can say whatever you do....bring good pointed studs (Korkers).

Seeing how you're from MA...you know cold and how important layering is. I don't care how well you layer clothes or if you have a heated suit...you're not going to want to wade beyond your knees for any extended period of time. And Pulaski, NY is the heart if the Tug-Hill and could get absolutely hammered with lake effect snow. Unlike anything you would see anywhere. We're talking 1+ foot accumulation in an hour...so watch weather reports and stay away if a nasty storm is headed that way. You can always travel West away from it if you had to....and I won't name smaller tribs as this just isn't right. Some research on the NY DEC website and a DeLorme map will give you all you need. Looking at extended weather report.....it will be cold 24 deg F highs and 12 deg F lows with no snow noted. For now......

There is also a strong possibility that there will be snow on the ground. This makes walking very difficult. You could get fancy and bring snow shoes......but I've never resorted to such extreme measures personally and would just be a hindrance. NYS several years ago purchased long term land easements along the Salmon River on both sides from landowners and National Grid Power Company.......so public access is as good there as anywhere. I would say for the 13 miles from the estuary to the upper fly zone...that 90% of it has a path and public easement. Respect public property and landowners of course......but you have the right to walk along the river bank unlike many places. The DSR, Tailwater Lodge, Little Salmon Lodge at Altmar Bridge and a couple spots here and there are the few exceptions.

In January.....I wouldn't worry about crowds or having to walk miles to your favoriate spot. The place is a ghost town in Januray and you will have your pick of spots. Look at major parking lots from below the hatchery to the Trestle and you can be on the water in a good spot all to yourself in less than 15 minutes.

As far as Euro-nymphing. I personally wouldn't target the technique. You can high stick or swing flies through deeper runs with nymphs and streamers using mono leaders and some weight or swing with thicker skagit heads and sink tips........but I can't see Euro technique...let alone in January. I would use the flies you tied up (stoneflies, caddis, ESLs, mini intruders, jumbo nymphs) and plan to swing them with a skagit head and 10' of T14 sink tip .....some call swinging nymphs ....swymphing....I call it deadly and you will have far more success and cover more water than Euro nymphing. But that's me and how I do it.

As far as what kind of caddis are there? I don't know the latin name other than that I call them about a size 12 green cased caddis. You squeeze them and a green gob squirts out. This or any similar variation will work.

Cased Caddis.jpg

Good luck and be safe!
 

okaloosa

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I once put on my snowshoes and made the long walk to the trestle hole in the deep snow in the early 80's....i had it all to myself the whole day during a snowstorm...believe me, the solitude and fishing was so incredible I did not feel the cold at all that day..and I had no clue what layering was back then nor ever heard of breathable waders.....just keep a shovel in your car if its snowing because the plows will sock you in.....we expect a detailed report when you get back!!!!
 

lookard

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Thanks guys for all the information! I will tie up some of those caddis nymphs.

I also have a 9ft 8wt with a section of T-8 in front to swing streamers. I will definitely give swymphing a shot. I also have a 200g opst skagit head to use with my nymphing rod.

Most guys at the madison river were also swinging flies/streamers for the browns and rainbows, but I really enjoyed fishing the euro nymphing technique. I am probably not as confident with the swinging game so I don't use that technique as much. I do use heavy streamers on the euro rig to swing flies sometimes and they work really well for me to clean up after nymphing up stream.

I will definitely bring a shovel. I drive a car... still saving up for a 4runner.
 

flytie09

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Swinging for steelhead is about the easiest method of fishing there is. Once you wade past all of the lingo and jargon that confuses things.......it's simple. That and the fact you will lose far fewer flies vs traditional or Euro nymphing. The Salmon River has alot of jagged slate/shale bottom especially on the lower river, submerged tree limbs/roots, 50# braid and perfectly placed boulders...bottom bouncing nymphs all day is a tackle sellers dream there.

Add a bag of kitty litter to your setup and you're golden. Now go get you some steelhead!
 

flytie09

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That was a good one with Greg. The Fly Fishing Consultant (aka Rob Snowhite) has an annual pilgrimage to the Salmon River in NY. He has a 10+ year running podcast with all kinds of fly fishing experts with some entertaining randomness. Once a year he does one for his Salmon River trip. Some have been quite hilarious, others insightful, and others....where I think it was him and his crew hogging up all the good spots when I as up there. He offers some good tidbits on where to eat, basic setup and where to fish if you listen hard and learn key landmarks and background markers in his pictures. He and his crew are swymphers.

I wish he could get more local area guides and shops interviewed. Greg Liu and Dirty Bill are the only ones so far that have agreed to do his podcast. I'm not aware of any others.

Rick Kustich has done a few interviews also on podcasts. One with Dave Stewart at WetFlySwing and April Vokey on Anchored..and I know he has fished the Salmon River, NY alot among the other tribs around where he lives in Western NY.
 

ddb

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Do yourself a favor and research thermal shock for early indicators that you are heading for trouble and watch for them.

Been there, done that, and it can sneak up on you. You can drift mentally and lose the bubble if it goes too far. That's bad news.

Once you see the early signs, get out of the water, exercise immediately -- running in place in waders works-- til your core temp rises, and then get off the river to serious warmth. It will take a long time for your extremities to shrug off the deep cold.

ddb
 

lookard

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Here's the report.

The trip was great! I hooked up 3 times but didn't land them. =(

First fish was hooked up on size 10 emerald shiner (bent the hook after a decent fight and the fish even jumped twice out of the water). Need to tie on 2x strong hooks next time. Lots of people were float fishing that spot and covering water. But since I was euro-nymphing, I was able to target a short deep hole where I hooked up in front of a hidden strainer (loss 10 flies in there).

Second fish was hooked on Devin Olsen's magneto. Lost him after a short fight after it went a little down stream of me. Perhaps my drag was too much? Or a lousy hook set.

Third fish was on the swing with a size 16 tungsten eggstacy in fl yellow. I was ahead in the fight at first. Keep him sorta in front of me and in control. But then it headed to the fast water and in a few seconds I was into my backing. The fish popped off. Lesson learnt. Gonna use the same fly but tied in a large hook next time.

My buddy hooked up the first day at this spot with the magneto as well. It was a crazy fight but we've managed to land him. I've learnt from all the video I've watched in preparation that you should steer the head first into the net and that is absolutely right. Also, its much easier to land the fish with a big net. My friend had a fishpond net, which made landing extremely difficult. Good thing I had the largest frabill trout net. It measured to 23 inches.

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We were standing in the water all day long. My buddy's wading belt froze solid so he couldn't even get out of the waders to pee until it warmed up enough in the car to melt the ice in the buckle. On sunday, the parking lot had about 3/4 inches of snow and my car couldn't get out. I've got to thank the 5 other anglers from 2 other vehicles who came to help us out. Really great guys. Didn't manage to get their names as we were all focused on the pushing and clearing of snow in front of the car. The shovel came in handy.

Also, we found out that another angler (one of the 5 who helped us out) landed 9 fish that day. Amazing! Should have explored the lower fly zone. We covered water from Altmar North parking lot down to Ellis Cove. I can see why swinging flies is attractive. There are some long runs that looked rather featureless on the surface and it was difficult to find spots to specifically target.

In the meantime, as I save up for the 4runner I should get a set of snow chains for the car!

Thanks again for all the tips and suggestions guys!
 

okaloosa

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great report...I told you that shovel would come in handy ;)
4 runner with 4 wheel drive will do the trick..I am on my fifth!
too bad you didnt get the chance to pick the brain of the guy who caught 9.....
long drive from Queens to Pulaski! but I bet you cant wait to get back!
 

flytie09

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Good to see you guys had a good time and had some luck.

I'd say to not get caught up in the numbers game when steelhead fishing. It will drive you absolutely nuts. Trust me........That's simply a losing proposition and not what it's about. This will simply come with time. There is no magical spot, bait or technique. Presentation, being able to read water, know the various bottom structure and where fish are going to be at various times of the year is what it's all about.

3 hookups your first time out is pretty darn good in my mind. When they make their first run....you just have to let them go.
You also have to apply side pressure with your rod but don't horse them in and like you learned....carry a big net.

:thumb:
 

lookard

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Now that the snow chains arrived. Maybe I'll get some maxtraxs as well. I definitely can't wait to get back. Probably the holiday weekend in Feb.
 

lookard

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Going up again this Friday evening. Hoping to land at least 1 in the net this time! The flow is much slower than before.
 

lookard

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Wife and I left NYC late and got to the salmon river around 1am.

The next day she dropped me off at Altmar North and made plans to meet for lunch. As I walked downstream, there were so many anglers that I walked all the way to Ellis Cove to get started on fishing. I didn't find fish in that area. But I did walk up on a spot and saw a really large trout just hanging out. I couldn't cast to it because of the obstruction in front and above it. I tried to take a video of it, but I forgot I had polarized glasses on so that I could see it. So when I went to review that video, its was just 100% glare no amount of editing could bring out the fish.

The wife picked me up and we went to Pineville to have lunch. After lunch, I decided to start by the bridge and within a few casts. I felt a miss and eventually hooked up on a brown. Feeling good, I stayed in the area for many more casts. But it seemed hopeless. So I decided to explore. I walk downstream to try and find some other spots. But I didn't find much, so I went back up. By this time, it was getting dark so I added a large orange bobber to continue fishing for a little while more. After a few cast, I striked when my bobber went down and felt a fish. But it was not to be. I found a little fish scale on my fly. A sign!

The next day I went back to the same area and after a few casts I hooked up! This fish was much more manageable compared to the last 3 that I hooked/fought/loss in my prior trip. Winner!

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Went to get the wife and tried to make a visit to the hatchery. But it turns out to be closed for the season. Lesson learnt. Don't trust google maps dates and times. Always check the source. Anyway, we found a excellent fried chicken place at Altmar Hotel. After lunch, I went back to Altmar North. Around 5.30pm I hooked up on a nice fish and lost it when it got into the fast current on the other side of the river. I was super bummed. At the end of the day, while waiting for the wife to come pick me up, I saw the silhouette of a large fish in the shallows from the bridge when I shined my headlamp down. A mouse fly on top might work!

The next day and final day of the trip, we did some sight seeing at the Salmon River falls. It was really beautiful. Plus I was given 2 hours to fish before lunch and the long drive home. I decided to go to Ellis Cove because the lot oversees thee river so it has an amazing view for the wife. I fished around the area and the bends that look so good. But found no fish.

Decided to walk further and try that spot where I hooked up that lost fish the day before. Not long later, I hooked up. It stayed down and then swam upstream. I was palming the reel to keep it under control. Eventually, it gets into the fast water and becomes downstream of me. But I was not going to let it get off again. I waded down fairly aggressively into water that was waist height. But I made sure to steer it away from the fast water on the other side of the river. After a few tries to land the fish, I managed it and boy was it sweet.

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I had to take a long pause at the streamside just to get over the adrenaline of fighting and landing this fish. But whoooo!

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After I released this fish, I gave a few more cast and left to find the wife and lunch. Stop while I was up! Brought the wife down to the river for a short walk. Overall, great trip! Super thankful to land 3 fish!
 

okaloosa

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you dont look too happy! congrats....what fly did you use and what size?
 

lookard

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you dont look too happy! congrats....what fly did you use and what size?
Thanks!

I was using a size 14 tungsten eggstacy in fl yellow on the dropper. I also had a heavy size 12 tungsten stone on point, which I wish worked as well.

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