Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Salmon River Revenge.

Day One.

Beginning our Thanksgiving steelhead adventure was our third ever stop at the Salmon River in Pulaski, New York. The previous two times we fished the river it was above 1,500 cfs and we didn't land anything worth mentioning. We hammered fish below 16 inches but thats not what we were looking for. When we arrived on this particular trip, the river had been operating at a steady 335 cfs for quite some time. The water would be much lower, but it still moves rather quickly thanks to the steep gradient. We decided to fish the upper fly zone in the morning just to see if we could get a little revenge on the fish that reside there.

We left home at 1:30 a.m. and arrived at the upper fly zone parking lot around 6. My sister gave me a compilation CD consisting of just Lady Gaga songs. I shrugged it off, then thought that Adam would probably love it. Lets just say that despite it's ridiculousness it became the anthem of our five day trip. Initially I could not stand the songs but after awhile the beats, melodies, and lyrics began to grow on me. I thought of the lyrics in terms of fly fishing. I wanted their love and their revenge. I was caught up in a bad romance with Steel and I needed a fix. It had been way too long. Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah, roma, roma-ma gaga, ohh la la want your bad romance. In between casts, mends, and swings that singular chorus could not escape my head. I apologize to the two other groups of fly fishermen that had to listen to us blast Lady Gaga in the upper fly parking lot at 6 a.m. and to all the hunters that might have been in the immediate vicinity.

Third Cast = First Salmon River Steel.

A Few Casts Later, a Nice Brown.

It's Going to be a Great Day.

Arriving on stream, Adam and set up shop at Paradise Hole. Within a few casts I hooked up and landed an average steelhead and brown trout. It turned out to be the only respectable steelhead we landed that day. Adam systematically caught over thirty small steelhead, trout, and atlantic salmon during the same time. I owe the fish of the day to something that I read online that said, in low light conditions chartreuse and purple are good colors to use because steelhead see them better. Let's just say that chartreuse caught almost all the fish during the day. Near the lower end of the upper fly zone, I had a long dead drift under a tree covering a small seem near the bank. Another fallen tree was in the water on the other side of the seem. The indicator dipped and I tied into a stout brown. I immediately had to go to my right into the middle of the river and systematically keep my rod and line a foot off the water to get under the tree. I crossed the river to get better leverage on the fish. It is not easy crossing the Salmon but I reacted on instinct. I was going to land the fish despite what might have happened. I landed the beautiful brown and found myself in unfamiliar territory. I was on the other side. Adam soon followed and we made our way up the opposite side and we had it all to ourselves.

Adam Gearing Up in a Prime Spot.

Bringing in an Average Brown.

Swinging Flies in a Steady Downpour.
It Rained All Afternoon.

The other side produced many memorable brown trout for the both of us. The majority of the browns were done spawning and they were extremely aggressive. They were hungry and were attacking the patterns that crossed their paths. In the beginning, we fished using indicators and executed 50+ foot dead drifts anywhere we wanted with our longer switch rods. Switch rods have really changed the way I fish in the fall. We fished this way until about noon when we started to get bored of the same routine. Do not get me wrong, I love mending my ass off steelheading. I find it an art in itself. A long cast upstream followed by several roll cast mends to stack line upstream of my indicator. As it crosses my body, the flies are in the zone and all the stacking creates a dead drift 50+ feet downstream (with additional mending of course). It slays.

Baby Steel.

Perfect Salmon Carcass.
They Smell Terrible.

However, Very Essential For the Ecosystem.

Just when we had enough of nymphing, rain began to fall. The skies darkened and a heavy mist started enveloping the fishermen on the salmon. The mist soon turned to a steady rain interspersed with several downpours. I switched over to my spey set up. Loop Opti Switch with an Airflo Compact Skagit. I was going to swing some mean flies in these perfect conditions. I worked the side channel down to a long run and missed several nice fish. Adam followed and switched over to streamers as well. The already aggressive fish were turned on by the inclement weather and we started hammering them on large grotesque streamers. Some browns didn't even wait for the swing. They flew off the bottom and erupted on these bad boys soon after they hit the water. It was incredible fishing.

A Beautiful Brown.

Sporting Dark Browns, Golds, & Blues.

In a Side Channel.

One of Adam's best moments came when he hooked a very nice male brown on a streamer I reluctantly let him use. He hooked it near the top of a section of stream that is very fast due to the high gradient. The fish carried him downstream and I followed closely attempting to document the fight. I had my own battle with all the water on the lens of my camera. Each time Adam brought the brown in close it would jolt back into the torrent and run down to the next hole. The fish put up one hell of a fight. When we finally got that one in, it put a capstone on our day. The blurry moment follows along with several other pictures.

The Battle Begins Near Sunset.

A Steady Downpour, 300 Yards of Roaring Rapids, &
One Pissed Off Male Brown.

One Last Run Downstream.
Adam Hangs On.

My Stinger Missile Scores Big For Adam.

The Adversaries Meet Eye to Eye.

One Brute of a Male.
One Hell of a Duel.

Taking A Mental Snapshot Before Release.

Average Salmon River Brown.

Average = Smitten

Struggling For The Hoist.

One Thick Female.

Adam Was Gaga Over This Brown.
Rightfully So.

Underwater Release.
Perfect Color To Blend in With the Bottom.

The 35 Dollar Reel and 20 Dollar Fly Line Halted Some Nice Fish.

Lengthy Spawned Out Female.
She Was Hungry.

Adam's Custom Egg Sucking Leech Cluster Scores.
It was Brutalized Near the Surface.

Check Out the Shitty Grin on Adam's Face.
One Proud Dude.

Very Yellow Brown With
Large Black Spots.

Battle Scars.

Caught Under an Overhanging Tree a Foot Offshore.

One of the More Memorable Browns I Caught.

This day on the Salmon more than made up for our previous attempts fishing in higher flows during off periods. We seemed to hit it just right this time and the fishing was phenomenal. The remaining four days of the trip, I kept reverting back to the Salmon and this day. It was going to be hard to top and it was not topped the rest of the trip. I cannot wait to get back up there to swing some more flies. I have a bad romance with steelhead and the only cure is more steelhead.


Matt said...

lady ga ga?

Adam said...

Lady *%#&'in Gaga...I'm still haunted by her beats...

Salmon River...Bring your "Poker Face...ma ma mama'"

Wade Rivers said...

I'm telling ya, everyone else should just get out of the business. It's already been done to perfection right here.

FoulHooked said...

sweet report! wire is the place for browns, paradise and that other run are some sweet swinging water. had a steelie shoot those rapids on me when we were up...gets your heart beating. gaga though......? you're lucky the fish didn't smell it on you.

Ms. Erdosy said...


Chris Michels said...

Awesome job, guys. You put a hurtin on those browns!

I'm pretty much gonna have to agree with everyone else on this one though. Lady gaga, hahaha.

Mark said...

@ Wade- we were just the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot

@ everyone else- look at it in context guys...we are on 2 hours sleep tops and driving 5 hours in the middle of the night, only to fish for twelve hours straight and then repeating that for 4 more days

we were delirious

those beats kept us alive in between stops & takes

plus lady gaga and steelhead go hand in hand. they are both super hot.

Adam said...

Come on Mark, our taste in steelheading tunes needs no justification. Haha...no but seriously, we did listen to a lot of disturbed too...haha.

christah said...

lady gaga is addictive