The trip started off with all of us meeting at the Pennsburg Diner for Breakfast before hopping on the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike to head north to Pulaski. Before dad and I arrived at the diner, Dave had put one of his stoneflies on the table and the waitress completely freaked out and almost spilled the pot of coffee. She came over to see what we wanted and we all had a good laugh.
With our bellies full, we hit the highway (2 vehicles) and set the cruise control…….destination Pulaski, NY……the land of steel, snow and the beautiful Salmon River. During the ride we cracked jokes through our walkie-talkies, played funny music, burped, farted and all the other wonderful things that start off a great fishing trip. We didn’t see any deer during the ride but we did see a few Turkeys when we got around the Cortland area.
The trip went fine and was the usual 5hrs and we arrived in Pulaski around 11:30. Perfect!! Enough time to check in at Whitakers, get unloaded, grab lunch at Arby’s, gear up, and hit the river for an afternoon of fishing. Dave and Joe made their way to the Upper Fly Zone to see if they could find some room in one of their favorite spots. My father and I decided to head to 2A bridge area since it was close and we know the area well. We walked up to the Compactor Hole in search of a willing player that would come and grab a swung fly.
I started off first at the head of the Compactor on the south side of the river. I was rigged with a 10ft polyleader that sinks 4.9 ips, a 3ft long 12lb tippet of fluoro connected to a Purple Mahogan spey fly that did well for me during a previous trip. While my dad rigged his spey rod I took it slow to try to get into a good casting rhythm for the week. About halfway down the run I felt a light pluck where I have had takes before, but I struck too soon and never let the loop go, so it wasn’t to be.
Dad had started working the run with a 13’-0” mono/fluoro leader, 12lb tippet with a purple Swarn-A-Bugger on the business end. He was doing well with his casting and swinging while I worked down to the tailout. I returned to the top of the run, and on my way I jokingly asked him, “How many did you get?” He said none, but he had a pluck shortly after he started. Cool! He didn’t think it was a fish, so I reminded him of the water temp (34), and that what he felt was probably a steely or brown flaring out his gills, trying to suck in the fly. Sometimes they crush it, other times they lazily move for it and don’t overtake the fly. That’s why it’s good to hold a loop and let it go when you feel those “plucks.” It’s tough for them to suck in 40ft-80ft of line that is tight due to current and tension.
I began to work down through the run again and two driftboats anchored up on both sides of the Compactor Hole. I fished down as far as I could, then decided to talk to the guys in the driftboat on our bank. I asked them if they had any luck plugging and they said they got one which I saw in the boat. I also noticed some trout beads so I shot the shit with him about them, rigging, how the steelies shy away from sacs and take the beads, yada, yada, yada……
After our conversation, I headed downstream and told my dad I was going down river to fish the run at the old trestle, just above 2A Bridge. Switched the fly to a dark minnow like tube fly and began to step down the run. Used it for a little while, but I wasn’t feeling it with that fly so I changed to a black and blue Boss, which is very similar to a Comet. Kept moving down the run slowly since it was starting to get dark and this was going to be the last spot of the evening. Just above the abutment in the slow water (south side) the line swing until it was directly below me, so I let it dangle a few seconds. Just as I began to lift the rod and start the next cast, the line came tight and the rod started bucking as a steely or brownie rolled on the surface and spit out the fly. I figured that was it for the evening so I reeled in and met my dad back at the truck. He didn’t get any more takes, but it was a nice afternoon of fishing. It was time to see how Joe and Dave did, get some dinner, and make a game plan for tomorrow.