Salmon River Steel: Shimmering beneath the Surface

By Spider Rybaak
Raritan, NJ, native Seth Correa with his 12-pounder taken at Altmar.
In terms of temperature, the past few weeks have been pretty much like any other November on the Salmon River. The one notable meteorological difference is that rainfall has been lower than average. And that makes arm-chair anglers worry the stream isn’t high enough to spur self-respecting chromers to storm in to feast on all the salmon eggs laying around.
But steelies aren’t bothered by such petty human anxiety. Indeed, even though the power company has reduced discharges from the reservoirs a couple notches because of low water, the lake’s chromers still have enough wiggle room to run the stream.
Busy surf-fishing for walleyes on Oneida Lake the past few days, I’ve been hearing all kinds of negative reports from guys standing next to me. One even claimed “the Salmon River is just a trickle of its former self, not fit for fallfish.”
Say what???!!!
So I went up last week to see for myself.
Boy, was he full of it. The water was running at about 335 CFS, lower than most gung-ho steelheaders would like, but still enough for the fish; and they were all over the place.
In Altmar, anglers stood shoulder-to-shoulder in both the fly-fishing only section and the regular regulations area. While the fish weren’t exactly tumbling over one another to hit the baits, the steady chorus of “fish on” echoing over the river indicated the bite was decent.
In Pineville, the action was even better. I watched several anglers land nice steelies.
Fish were hitting everything but the kitchen sink (one fella’ fished a large, white streamer he called the kitchen sink without catching anything). Tiny glo bugs and egg sacs, “chuck-and-ducked” in pockets, the heads of pools and along the edges of the current were effective.
Recent rains over the past couple days will raise the Salmon River and its tributaries enough to draw massive quantities of fresh steelies.
The stream’s floor is very slippery. Wear traction devices, a flotation device, polarized sunglasses and a wading staff for safety.
In addition, the water’s getting very cold. Falling in can result in immediate shock. Protect your upper half by wearing fabrics next to your skin that’ll keep you warm even when wet: polyester, wool or silk. Wear Wrangler’s Fleece lined jeans under your waders to keep your legs toasty.
Autumn Steel
Mike Vitalone does brother Matt one better with this impressive nine-pounder.
Matt Vitalone, Rome, NY, holding a five-pounder he took in Pineville.