Salmon River Spring Steelhead Bite in Full Swing

By: Troy Creasy

Overall our steelhead season was slow and tough in Upstate New York. Our numbers are down. Fortunately, for us on the Salmon River we have the hatchery and it’s keeping us fishing now. This is drop back season and there’s a lot of drop backs in the river now. It’s safe to say there’s any many fish in the river now as there was in November. In fact, there could be more than we had in the fall. I credit that to the high water we had for a couple weeks that brought in some spring run fish.

The weatherman is calling for record heat in a few days, which can affect fishing. However, if the temperature stays cool and the water stays in the low 50s the steelhead will remain in the system for another month. Many years we catch them up until Memorial Day. Meanwhile, when it raises to the mid fifties the steelhead will make a move and head to Lake Ontario. When the median water temperature in the Salmon River gets above 53-54 the bite will be over soon. The water temperature is in the mid 40s now.


When fishing for drop backs the action is faster then what we face with winter steelhead. These fish eat. The state law says you can keep one fish, but we throw them all back. While steelhead can be good to eat, spawned out fish are not. They are soft and don’t taste good. Recently (in the past week) we are boating seven or eight a trip. For this year that’s incredible. Last year we would have landed 14. It’s still good fishing, though and the average fish is running about six pounds.


There’s been an increase in the number of Atlantic salmon caught while steelhead fishing. I’ve caught four this spring. They are about three to four pounds, but I’ve heard of some 10-12 pounders. They’ve increased the stocking program of Atlantics and they are stocking to show up in our rivers. It’s been fun to catch a few. With that said, I’ve been back on the water a month and only caught one brown. There aren’t many around.


The fish are spread throughout the entire system and will be for the rest of the season. There’s steelhead top to bottom too, meaning the entire river is holding fish. Forget about fishing the deep, slow pools. They are in the fast stuff now. Fish anywhere you see pockets, riffles, deep cuts and bubbles.


I’m using lots of egg sacks. I’ve been fishing some worms (fake and real worms), beads and egg sacks filled with Natural BorX O Fire cured eggs fished in blue and pink sacks. Chartreuse was working, but the water has cleared and we aren’t using that color anymore. It’s a fun time of year. We can catch them with lots of methods.


Editor’s Note: Troy Creasy operates High Adventure Sport Fishing. For more information on his Salmon River drift boat trips please visit or