First Snow on the Salmon River

By Spider Rybaak
Migell Wedderburn, Pennelville, NY, with a nice steelie he took in the catch-and-release section of the Salmon River on a home-made, egg-pattern fly.
Lake effect snow warnings kept crawling along the bottom of the screen while I watched Syracuse University’s basketball team trounce George Washington on December 10. Up to a foot was predicted to drop in the “snow zone,” a band running between northern Oswego and southern Lewis Counties.
First snow always excites me. After that, it progressively loses its appeal as winter drags on, so that by March snow’s the last thing in the world I’m dreaming about. But right now it’s kind’a magical, bringing memories of Christmases past, sugarplum fairies, fun–but useless–stuff like that.
So the next morning me and Susan headed for Pulaski to feast our senses on what promised to be one of this winter’s nicest, most scenic days—maybe get a chance to nail a steelhead, too.
Stepping out of the door, we were disappointed that a dusting of pure white wasn’t carpeting the neighborhood. A crinkly skim of ice etched the water in the bay out front (we live on Oneida Lake), but that was all the frigid autumn night left behind.
We got on I-81 and headed north. Snow was absent all the way to Parish. Suddenly, spots of whitebegan punctuating the countryside. Nothing exciting, yet, but the spots grew into pockets…pillows…sheets. By Tinker Tavern Road, a foot of snow blanketed the world in cold, hard innocence.
We got off the highway and headed south on NY 13. The storm turned the area into a winter wonderland…in autumn.
Natives expect—indeed, love—the effect extreme cold has on Oswego County. Winter comes early and stays late, drawing trophy trout into the Salmon River, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers to the Tug Hill’s vast tracts of snowy woods, photographers and artists to some of the most beautiful snow-draped, December scenery you’ll find in the Northeast.
So c’mon up some time this month and get an early taste of winter.
Susan Rybaak snowshoeing on first snow at Salmon River Falls, December 10, 2011.
Snowy Shoulders: Salmon River in Pineville.
Unidentified angler and his steelie; Ellis Cove.