Salmon River Steelies & Browns 2011
Sunday, November 13, saw me driving north and east to Pulaski New York to meet with my long-time friend, Gary Edwards, his son Jason, and their friend Mike Ringer, a well-known artist specializing in outdoor scenes in water colors. for a two-day excursion on the lower Salmon River. The Salmon is noted for its great runs of fall-run steelhead and browns, as well as for its runs of king and coho salmon. The river is actually named from colonial times for its runs of Atlantic Salmon, a run that it still gets in the spring. In fact, the river has a naturally reproducing run of these magnificent fish.
The river was running at about 350 cfs; a bit low, but certainly well within fishable limits. We started Monday with a bit of a slow time. Mike took a brown early on, and several other fish were hooked and lost. Then later in the day as the weather warmed, the fish turned on, and we all took nice steelhead and a couple more browns. Gary E’s brown was the nicest of the day. The steelies thought a chartreuse Roe Bug was the best thing around, and chomped it with serious vigor. Their eagerness warmed us well beyond the unconventional warmth of the 60 degree day.
The second day was a bit different. We took a couple of fish right away in the morning on a Oregon cheese Roe Bug, ands then hit the doldrums for the next several hours. A couple of fish were hooked and lost during this time, but the number of casts per fish reached epic proportions. Then, just as the day before, the fish lit up, and we began experiencing take after take on a fluorescent scarlet Steelhead Flea.
Let me explain. We rigged our leaders with a 24 to 30 inch tippet of 4 or 6 pound Maxima Chameleon or fluorocarbon, and knotted the fly to the end. One end of the knot connecting the tippet to the leader was left about 3 inches long. An overhand knot was tied at the end of this dropper, and the appropriated number of shot clamped on it. The knot prevented the shot from slipping off. This rig was fish a la the Leisenring Lift—cast up and across and lift the rod tip high so only the leader was in the water. The shot could be felt dribbling down along the bottom. As the rig passed, the rod tip was lowered to the horizontal and the fly allowed to swing across stream. Most of the hits came as the fly began to swing. I know, I know, eggs don’t swing, but the fish wanted them to.
In the last hour of the day, Gary Edwards landed a brown of about 10 pounds. I hooked and landed a very fine steelhead of about 15 pounds. Mike, not to be outdone, then hooked a big something that took him downriver; his 6-weight rod was bent into a hoop, and he could do nothing with the fish. As he tussled with this giant unseen adversary, Gary and I hooked and landed a couple more steelies. Then Mike called for Gary to bring the net. Turns out he had hooked a huge, fresh king salmon, and he had it in the shallows ready to give up. It was a beautiful fish, and certainly the largest of the trip for any of us.