Salmon River Kings Redux

Guest Blogger: Mary S. Kuss, Life-long avid angler, licensed PA fishing guide, founder of the Delaware Valley Women’s Fly Fishing Association

I recently returned from my second annual trip in pursuit of King Salmon, at the Salmon River, in Pulaski, NY. During last year’s trip I hooked many, but landed only two Kings in three days of fishing. I became familiar with their rather intimidating size and power, but never achieved any sense of control over a hooked fish. It was simply a matter of hanging on and hoping for the best.

This year, as the date of our trip approached, we’d been very excited to hear reports of charter boats on Lake Ontario marking huge schools of salmon on their sonar units. This presaged a strong run of fish up the Salmon River. Although salmon had been trickling into the river for a few weeks, the main run had clearly not started yet. The water was too warm and the river too low.

We arrived on Sunday, September 16 to find unseasonably hot and humid weather conditions. On Monday and Tuesday our activities were limited to hiking and sweating and swatting mosquitoes. Some fish were in the river; we watched them roll and porpoise and occasionally leap out of the water. They were completely disinterested in our flies. Even the spin fishermen weren’t landing any, although there were some brief encounters which seemed more likely to have involved (hopefully) unintentional snagging than legitimate hook-ups. I began to despair of having any good fishing at all.

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The Kings and I

Guest Blogger: Mary S. Kuss, Life-long avid angler, licensed PA fishing guide, founder of the Delaware Valley Women’s Fly Fishing Association

I’ve never been fishing in Alaska, or anywhere in the native range of the King Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). And unless I hit a big lottery jackpot I am unlikely to do so. However, my home near Philadelphia is about a five-hour drive from Pulaski, New York, which is arguably the King Salmon capital of the eastern United States. And by the way, the name of this town is pronounced to rhyme with “sky,” not “ski.” I have no idea why.

Pulaski’s economy revolves around the Salmon River, and the many fishing tourists who flock there in pursuit of the King Salmon, Coho Salmon, and Steelhead that come into the river from Lake Ontario each autumn on their annual spawning runs. In most years, the salmon run begins by early-September and ends in November. Steelhead enter the river throughout the fall and winter, heading back to the lake in early-May when water temperatures rise. There have been attempts, with limited success so far, to extend the fishing season by introducing Skamania-strain Steelhead, which are a summer-run fish, and Atlantic Salmon.

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Lash the Surf – Part 2

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller, & more to come. Part 1 of this article discussed reading surf, and conditions of particular interest to fly fishermen.

What constitutes optimal surf fishing fly gear depends in part on where you are. But in general you need to be able to get your fly out past the shore break, at a minimum—far enough beyond to give it time to sink, and be worked, and be seen, before getting surfed in toward your feet on the face of a crashing wave. You’ll likely have wind to contend with too, as often as not on-shore—that is, in yo’ face. Other than a slight lateral drift, you won’t have a current to take your fly further away from where you stand–instead it will be relentlessly running back in on you, to tangle at your feet or on shallow structure to left or right. So to keep enough slack out of the line that you can feel delicate takes, you’ll need to do a lot of stripping…and a lot of casting throughout the morning.

Homemade Stripping Basket
Homemade Stripping Basket

A stripping basket is a good thing to have, again to prevent ankle-tangle that can otherwise get so bad it trips you up when waves break upon you (a shivering bellyful of swallowed salt water makes for a memorable breakfast, and one I don’t intend to partake of a second time). Stripping baskets can be purchased, and also made from plastic storage containers. Look at photos of them, plan it out, and toss one together. And don’t forget the many drain holes in its bottom, because they will fill when you least expect and that volume of water can easily pull you in completely. Some experienced surf fly fishermen use nothing but a seriously punctured bucket hooked to their belt–minimalist, but they make it work.

Continue reading → Lash the Surf – Part 2