Salmon River Reservoir: Island Bass

One for the Spider
Hailing from Hawaii, it’s only right that Pat Miura would be drawn to the Salmon River Reservoir (a.k.a. Redfield Reservoir): It’s loaded with islands and largemouth bass.

One of only a handful of guides who specialize in fly-fishing on Great Lakes tributaries, Pat’s notorious throughout the Northeast for his uncanny ability to catch trophy steelhead on streamers and nymphs. If there’s a chromer in the area, come winter, summer or high water, he’s gonna nail it. The guy’s blessed with unbelievable instincts for locating the beasts. It’s like he’s directly descended from them.

So I was really surprised to hear Pat loved largemouths. I called him one day in May to ask him to show me how he catches the Salmon River’s summer-run landlocked Atlantic salmon and Skamania. He mentioned he had just returned from a Florida vacation in which he caught numerous bucketmouths, including an eight-pounder.

So I bit.

“You ever fish for bass in Redfield?,” I asked.

“All the time, he replied. Why, you wanna try it?”

I couldn’t believe my ears: “Yup!”

So we went several days ago. Launching at the Jackson Road Public Access site (9.5 miles east of Pulaski, off Cty. Rte. 2), we headed southeast.

Islands began popping out of the water like we were in the St. Lawrence River. I mean, depending on the water level there are, maybe, 20 to 30 of them, a lot for an impoundment that’s only about six miles long. What’s more, none has any buildings. In fact, there’s no development at all along at least 90% of the waterfront, maybe more. The feeling’s about as close to “Adirondacky” as you can get without leaving Oswego County.

Next thing I know, the boat’s stopped and Pat’s casting a Rapala Husky Jerk. In a blink, he’s fighting a 13-inch smallmouth. Not big by any standard, but it fought like it was aiming at becoming a local legend.

I grabbed my pole. Before I can tie on a jerkbait, he’s landing another one. By the time I finally managed to cast out, he was landing his third cookie-cutter smallmouth.

And that kind’a surprised me; according to the experts, bucketmouths are supposed to rule Redfield Reservoir. But smallmouths made it into the system several years back, found the habitat good, and are holding their own.

Still, we came for largemouths. And Pat produced, in spades.

“Redfield Rez is tough,” claims Pat. “It’s never the same. It’s different from one day to the next. The main reason is that water is drawn out for power generation, causing the water level to change constantly.

“Fish structure: depth changes, stumps, rock piles, and any other cover you can find,” he advises. “The most important thing to look for if you want largemouths is weeds.”

When he found some, we started nailing bucketmouths. We caught and released about 20 (he accounted for at least 18), mostly on jig and pigs and Flukes, but YUM Dingers produced for me.

Knowing the reservoir has some nice walleyes, I baited one of my spinning outfits with a Berkley Power Grub and worked it on bottom whenever we came to a drop-off. I didn’t get any “eyes” but I landed a bunch of rock bass, some weighing close to a pound.

Salmon River Reservoir has loads of public access. Cty. Rte. 2 offers bank fishing at Little America, on C.C.C. Drive, about a mile east of the access site mentioned above–launching a boat, even a car-topper is difficult because of the spot’s steep terrain. Brookfield Power Company runs a day use area complete with launch site, bank fishing and picnic facilities on the north end of Dam Road. The hamlet of Redfield boasts a boat launch and handicapped access shore fishing off Cty. Rte. 17, and there’s a cartop boat launch and shoreline access on Cty. Rte. 17, just south of the bridge.

While Pat Miura specializes in fly-fishing, he’s also available for bass and pike trips. Contact him at 315-777-3570.

Some Redfield islands
Pat with our first bucketmouth of the day.
More islands
Pat gets another
American territory
Casting a Fluke into Redfield Reservoir’s shoreline structure.