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Hot Steelie Action on the Salmon River

By Spider Rybaak

Typical October-run steelie.

Anglers have been catching steelhead in the Salmon River for most of October. Like the stream’s flow, however, they only ran in trickles. 

Until last week’s rains changed everything. As water levels rose, massive quantities of steelhead poured upstream. They were still coming Sunday night, and the whole river is loaded with ‘em.

And they’re huge. Fish weighing in excess of six pounds are more common than smaller ones.

And fight…? I watched three fish get hooked at once in the rapids at the head of a popular hole in downtown Pulaski. After spending the first few seconds stubbornly struggling against the flow, they all jetted back into the pool. Guys standing along their path had to hop, bend–including backwards–duck, dodge and jump in a surrealistic dance to get out of the way. Back in the hole, the fish started leaping, porpoising, tail-walking, making the water look like it was boiling over with molten silver.

These fish are fresh, boasting olive backs fading into speckled, chrome-plated sides that’ll temporarily blind you if the sun reflects off them and strikes you in the face.

And careless…they act like they’re still in the safe, open waters of the lake. I watched several slide effortlessly upstream along the edge of the river, in water that barely covered their backs. I don’t know if their gutsy strategy was evolution or just plain luck, but– to my amusement and surprise–they snuck past the gauntlet of anglers focused on the middle of the stream.

As the week progresses, things should only get better. You see, Hurricane Sandy’s heavy rains will raise water levels further. As Oswego County’s rivers rise, they’ll penetrate deeper into Lake Ontario, drawing even more fish upstream—and that includes skinny creeks like Grindstone and Little Sandy, maybe even Deer Creek, and brooks like Orwell and Trout.

One man’s perfect storm is another’s opportunity for a wall-hanger. So don’t be a victim, go fishing instead. The time is ripe for the fish you’ve been dreaming about to come into your life.

The steelies just kept on comin’.
This steelie hit a tiny glo-bug the size of a trout egg