By Troy Creasy | 09/20/2013
I’ve been catching salmon on the Salmon River for the past few days, but compared to this time last year there’s just a fraction of the fish. We had a bunch of real early fish and are kind of in between runs. Right now we have fish trickling in and are expecting a nice run of fish any day now. Don’t get me wrong there’s fish in the river right now. There’s just not big numbers and they aren’t everywhere.
Normally, I’d be able to tell you what we’d need to bring fresh fish in, but after the wild things that have gone on this spring and summer I’m thinking conditions mean nothing. We don’t know what to expect. I can’t even guess what’s going to bring these fish in. Think about it. Thousands of salmon came in the river in August and we never get big runs then. The water is too warm.
Over the years there’s things that make the fish come. Normally, when we get a big blow or a rain they come. If you want to get technical a lot of these fish seem to be in temperature – out in Lake Ontario. They are still in the cold water that the Chinook like. We had a whole bunch of northwest wind that drove the fish down to 140 feet where the temperature they desired is.
Our charter fleet is on these fish, but that 140 feet is about five miles offshore and the salmon don’t want to swim through five miles of warm water to get to the river. When that temperature gets in closer to shore they’ll scoot right in. Until they get a little closer to shore, however, it’s harder to say when they’ll come in. But who knows we could get a cold spell, the temperature in the lake will change and all the fish will come in tomorrow. I don’t have a crystal ball, like I wish I did.
The good news is I think there’s still fish out there. The boat guys are still getting them. And, one good thing about this year’s run is the fish are big, at least three to four pounds larger than last year. The size of the run isn’t a large this year, but last year’s run was out of hand. I don’t know if we’ll ever see another run that big again.
We can expect to see a lot more 30 pounders than we generally see. I haven’t seen anything near 40 but we are seeing big, solid fish. Once the big run comes in we’ll have good runs of kings through mid October. By late October our salmon are getting pretty ratty.
I use many techniques to catch fish. However, for the low water that we have right now honestly I’m using flies, egg sacks and some plugs. In this lower clear water the big chunks of skein don’t work. You have to finesse the Salmon River fish right now. To do so I’m using chartreuse and pink egg patterns and egg sacks. When I use flies, however, I dip them in Pautzke red Nectar to add scent.
I use egg sacks because they are smaller than the big chunks of skein and by using them I always have the opportunity for early trout. I’m de-skeining the eggs and curing them in Natural Pautzke FireCure and placing them on Mustad 37132 No. 8 hooks. When fishing the egg sacks I’m using 15-pound Maxima Ultra Green as my mainline and 12-pound Maxima fluorocarbon as my leader.
I’m also running plugs right now. Luhr Jensen K-14 Kwik Fish K-14 in Grinch have been best, but any silver, green and yellow or silver/chartreuse and gold are also working in the clear water. I’m also running M-2 Yakima Flat-Fish in the Jell-O, silver chartreuse and silver and purple. This is all for clear water. I don’t use a lot of braid on the river. I’m running 20-pound Maxima Ultra Green right to the hook.
Unless we get significant rain or color in the water I wont be changing techniques. However, if the water flows do increase I’ll be using skein under a float. If that happen I’ll turn to the pink FireCure.
Editor’s Note: Troy Creasy is the former publisher of Lake Ontario Outdoors. He operates High Adventure Sport Fishing. For more info on his Upstate New York Salmon River fishing trips please visit http://www.highadventurefishing.com/.