Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Saturday October 29, 2011

Decided to head below the Trestle for the AM session and to also check out the river from last year’s floods. Surprisingly, I had the whole flat to myself for most of the morning. A few trees/branches were down that I didn’t remember from last year, but they didn’t seem to be a problem for swinging some flies. The only problem was I forget to put a few skaters in my box!!
Started out just above the uppermost tree that was in the water and began working downstream. I had only been in the water for about 30 minutes, looked upstream and saw an empty plastic soda bottle floating downstream. I focused on my cast and began the next swing when I heard I nice boil, just upstream of me. I look towards the noise and see the plastic soda bottle bobbing up and down inside the rings of the boil. Nah it couldn’t have been, did it really come up and hit the bottle? I’ll never know but the timing was awfully coincidental if it rose to something else.
I worked down the run and couple of other fly anglers did the “elephant walk” into the run below me so they could fish a grand total of 15 minutes before heading elsewhere. Oh well, at least they gave me a little room to step down and swing. A few more fish boiled here and there and I really wished I had my skaters. On to the next run. Isn’t that a Jay-Z lyric? Hit the choppy water and decided to put on a purple conehead Swarn-a-Bugger with a pink egg bead in front of the fly but not pegged. I also had on a 3.9 ips poly leader with 12lb fluoro for the tippet. Started working down through toward the next bend and a guy came down the trail and spotted some salmon near the bank. Tuna stick in hand….ah you know what’s next. Anyway, he starts waving to me and giving me signals about the number of kings he sees moving up, then he does it again a little while later. I was casting to the far bank and he was barely in the water because the kings were so close, so I kept working down. About the time I was almost down to him and ready to ask if I could keep working downstream in front of him, the concoction was on the dangle and bam!! A hot little steelhead starts thrashing around and makes a nice run. I played him out mid stream and tailed him so I could get the fly out, but he flopped away. I lead him to shore and the guy was nice enough to take a quick pick even though it was a skipper. He was real nice and we chatted for a bit about the river, I bummed a smoke from him, then he took off to get his brother to bring him back to the spot where he was trying to snag salmon. I fished a little longer then headed out for lunch.
After lunch I went to the 2A bridge area to fish and to wait for my buddy Paul to get done with his guide trip. My friend Jessica was there, so we fished a run together and took some pictures of each other tossing out some line. Jessica left since she had been there for a while, so I decided to stay and keep fishing until Paul arrived. I went up to the Compactor and it was empty so I hopped in at the top and started doing the steelhead waltz. I decided to try fishing a bit deeper and switched to a 6.1 ips polyleader and put on a copper Irish Crayfish…..basically a poor man’s General Practitioner.
Nothing happened through the top end of the pool, but I was eager to get to the slick tailout. I got one quick tug that pulled some line out of the reel, but no hook up. I kept fishing my way down the tailout and I was almost to the end and WHAM!! The line was ripped out of my hands and the rod starts bucking heavily. A nice chrome comes flying out of the water, then jumps again…..I try to get the line tight… awesome cartwheel…..reel reel reel….one last jump and it was gone…all in about 10-15 seconds. Man what a rush that was. I just stood there chuckling trying to replay it all in my head. Paul had floated by a little earlier so I headed downstream to meet up with him. Paul and I went to Pineville to share a run and fish the evening session. Paul hopped in the riffs so I decided to start in the tailout since no one was around. We fished hard for about an hour and a half but didn’t have any solid tugs. Paul had one pluck at the fly and not long after he had a tug while stripping in line for the next cast. Neither one got hooked though. I only had one half hearted tug, but it was a great time sharing water with a good friend. We left at dark while the few kings that were around started doing there thing.

Sunday October 30, 2011

Fished around Pineville the next morning and I was surprised about the lack of a crowd in the area I selected. There were two other guys there that I met on Friday as well as a driftboat in the head of the run, but there was plenty of room down below them. I asked them if I could hop below them and work my way down and they said, “Sure!! Go for it!!”
It was a fairly chilly morning and the river looked very cool with the sunlight hitting it and the steam coming off of it. It almost looked like it was on fire so I took a few pictures. One of the guys above had one on, so it was good timing for everything.
I played around with a few different flies but it wasn’t to be. It was nice to work a long stretch of river on a beautiful day. My friend, Jessica, was also there so we had some water to share but we couldn’t connect with anything. On the way out we spotted about 6 hen Turkeys working their way through the woods. I tried to get a picture but they were on the move and not stopping for any amount of time. It was neat see and a good ending to the morning session. That afternoon we decided to go the Trestle area to find some steel and meet up with my friend Nate. Jess had already arrived and went downstream so I hopped in the area that I was at Saturday morning. Shoot!! I forgot to put in a few dry flies. The fish were boiling here and there too. I went back to the 3.9 ips polyleader and tried the Irish Crayfish plus a few other flies, but I couldn’t get a grab. Nate and Jessica were heading up the trail at that time, so I told them about the fish boiling. Nate had some Muddlers so he riffle hitched one and started skating it down the run. I thought he was going to get one, but it didn’t happen. Nate had been in that section of river for a few hours so he decided to head somewhere else. Jess was ready for a break as well so she went back to her truck. I kept fishing and covering water but I couldn’t get a tug. My Dad was on his way up so I decided to head back to Whitaker’s to have a coldy and get the grille ready. Perfect timing!! My Dad arrived just as I got back, so we went to the store and picked up some Turkey sausage to make some sandwiches…MMMMM.

Monday October 31, 2011

Jessica decided to head to the 2A area in the morning so I did the same. I got the Compactor before her and it was empty so I put the 6.1 ips polyleader back on. This time a purple Mahogan was tied on and put to work. Confidence in place, I began at the head and worked my way down.
About ten minutes later, Jess showed up and got her rod strung together. We chit chatted as I kept fishing since I was getting to one of the sweet spots. There wasn’t any need to bomb out casts past the main flow so I kept it fairly close an stayed focused. Second swing through the sweet spot and I feel a nice solid bump so I drop the loop… we go!!! The drag starts singing and a gorgeous steelhead came thrashing to the surface. It made a few short runs, but stayed fairly close and fought deep for the most part. The steelhead did make one nice jump and I could see how clean and how deep the body was. “Nice Fish!!” I said out loud as I kept up the side pressure. After a few minutes the chrome was tuckered out and I had it in the shallows for some quick photos. Jess was on point and ready with the camera. I think we barely took a minute to get a few good shots and the steelhead was back into the run. Yeah baby!! That one made my trip, everything else was a bonus after that.
Dad arrived a little later since he took it easy in the morning, plus he needed to get his license. They stayed up top and I worked my way down to the tailout. I decided to put on a Drake Wing which is a Francis Francis pattern and one I tied for Michael Radencich’s upcoming book. It looked to cool not to fish and the Wood Duck wings really brought it together.
I managed to get one more tug in the tailout but that was it. It was good pull too, but the hook never found purchase. Oh well, Dad and I headed out early to meet our buddy Dave who had just gotten into town. On the way back to the truck I could tell the water was lower than it was a few hours ago. Got to Whitaker’s and found out the power company dropped the flow to 335 cfs……DAMN!! Once Dave was settled in, we all decided to head up to Pineville to fish a run we all like. It was a little crowded so I started above everbody while Dad and Dave headed downstream around a slight bend where I couldn’t see them. About a half hour later, they are coming up the trail laughing their asses off and my Dad yells, “You’re not going to believe what just happened!!” I waded out of the river so I could hear better and get all the details. This was Dave’s first afternoon with a brand new spey rod he had just bought at a great price. On about his fifth or sixth cast he hooked a big steelhead and fought it to the shore. As he was guiding it to my Dad, the top of his rod snapped in half!! The fish took off but he was able to get to my Dad, but as they were just getting ready to get a picture, the hook broke and the steelhead took off out into the river. What are the odds of all those things happening his first afternoon out, and that quickly as well? Dave went back to the room and got another rod, so my Dad and I went upstream to find some room. With the water being dropped mid morning it seemed like some fish were caught at in between spots and had to high tail it to deeper water. Which I also think triggered some other fish to move since they were being pushed by new fish entering their zone. I decided to skate a dry since quite a few fish were jumping, splashing, and boiling, but I couldn’t make it happen. It sure was fun though!! Dad and Dave stayed in the riffs below me and they each had a tug or two a piece, but they couldn’t seal the deal. All in all, a fun and eventful evening. We headed back to the room and Dave made chicken and Rice with Picante sauce. It was delicious!!

Tuesday November 1, 2011

After breakfast in the room, we thought that 2A would be a good place to for the morning session. My Dad and Dave hit the north side and went upstream. I stayed on the south side to head up to the compactor. Loren was rigging up with a client for the day so we shared some water and I stayed out of their way. I asked Loren if it was okay if I skated some flies through the very tailout and he said, “Sure, no problem.” I skated an orange foam back fly for a good hour and worked the tailout hard. It wasn’t to be so I headed up to the head of the run since Loren and his client were about halfway down the run. With the low flow I opted for 3.9 ips poly leader and tied on a non-descript purple and blue soft hackle spider like fly. No takers for either of us, so I decided to hit the fast water below the compactor and keep working my way downstream. I fished through the pockets in the riffles and got to an area I like that always looks promising. I’ve seen other methods take steelhead out this area, but I have never had success there. Regardless of past attempts I always get excited when I’m in “good water,” even if it isn’t the best for swinging flies. Laid out a cast and let a nice belly form in the line and the fly began to swing through the top of the run. The sun was at my back and I was watching the end of the fly line when I see a flash of silver in the area where my fly would be swimming. Then I feel the thump, so I let go of the loop, the line comes tight and a hot little dime bright chromer jumps and thrashes around the riffles!! She was just big enough to take a little drag, so she tired out quickly and I landed her mid stream. The barbless hook came out easily and she was on her way. After that I headed downstream of the 2a bridge and worked that whole run and the run below the island, but no more hookups. All in all an awesome morning and the weather was great….to good for this time of year. I met up with Dad and Dave and we headed back for lunch. For the evening session I decided to head to the Trestle area and fish all the way down to the Refrigerator and see if the floods had changed anything. I started in the slow water up above and Dad and Dave headed down to the riffles. Not much was happening there in the low flow and a bunch of people showed up so I went downstream and hopped in above Dad and Dave. I went through once with a married wing fly known as “Twilight,” which is a Mark Waslick pattern found in John Shewey’s book. About halfway down the run I checked the fly to see what it looked like and the darn wing had pulled out but the roof was still on. Damnit!! Might as well finish out stretch with it anyway. Just above the bend the fly hit the water and started swinging, had a nice tug and did a no no…..i set the hook instead of dropping the loop. I had the fish on for a few seconds, but it ran right at me and I couldn’t keep the line tight so the hook came free. DOH!! Oh well that’s how it goes sometimes when I’m not focused.
I was determined and wanted to give the stretch another try before heading around the bend so I headed to where I like to hop in. I decided to put on a different married wing this time I called the “Ugly Duckling,” since some things didn’t turn out how I would have liked. I worked some line out and was swinging away enjoying the day. Not long after I started my second pass, there was some commotion in the water on the far side of the bank. Most likely a king chasing another fish away from its bed, so I made the cast to the far side a couple of feet above the spot where the commotion was and hoped for the best.
The fly just started swinging and the line was ripped from my hand and the drag starts singing. A small steelhead comes flying out of the river and kept a nice bend in the rod. He played hard in the fast current a fought extremely well for a fish of his size. I quickly played him out and led him down to Dave who was ready with the camera. A couple of quick photos and he was back on his way to hunt eggs. Yeah baby!! My first steelhead landed on a married wing!!
I kept the ugly duckling on for the rest of the evening as I worked my way down to the refrigerator hole. I had three more plucks with this fly in the smooth water but couldn’t get a hook up. The guys above me were hooking up as the sun got off the water and I could see steelhead moving through, but I couldn’t get a yanker. It was getting dark so I headed up the mucky hill, thumbed it and two guys were nice enough to give me a ride down the dirt road. The driver put the hammer down and started flying down the road and I told him about the pot holes. He said it’s alright as he is dodging them left and right. All of a sudden a deer hops out in front of us, but the driver didn’t see it so I spoke up. He jammed on the brakes and came to a sliding halt, missing the first deer and the three others that crossed afterwards. After they dropped me off I found out it was a rental car. No wonder he didn’t care about the pot holes or the muck I got on the seat!!

Wednesday November 2, 2011

We started at the Pineville area and fished a nice set of riffles all morning. I went down through first with a no name married wing I tied. It was a nice crisp morning with plenty of sun and the pinkish colored fly looked great in the water….at least to me anyway. I had one quick pluck but couldn’t get a solid take. .
Dave had one on and off real quick and my dad didn’t have any takers. I decided to head above them a little ways to fish the gut and into the tailout with a topping winged fly I called “Steelhead Spirit,” since it was a spin off of one of Blackers spirit flies., and.
My buddy Paul/Fish Tech had came down from the run above and was following me down through the good water. I was into a good casting rhythm and working my down the run enjoying the sun and the occasional flock of birds that were flying overhead.
After one of the casts, the fly landed in the water and maybe drifted two feet when I see a big snout come up out of the water. I say to myself, “That looks like it was right where my fly is.” A second or two later I feel my line get heavy so I let the loop go and when the line came tight I swept the rod downstream to set the hook. After that it was an arial top water show. This huge king comes flying out of the water heading to the near shore and lands on its side throwing water everywhere. He then turns and heads back into the middle ripping up the water slashing and cartwheeling. I had no control of this salmon whatsoever and was hanging on enjoying the show. Next thing I know I’m into my backing and then some as the king heads out of the hole downstream into the riffles. I’m glad I had my running cleats on and off to the races I went following him. I was able to get all of my backing back onto the reel, but there was still a lot of running line out. I didn’t want to follow this fish too much further downstream, so I cranked the drag down and put the screws to him. He turned and came to shore so I yelled to Dave, “Grab him if you can get him!!” Dave put his rod down and went to grab the king and said, “Holy shit that king is HUGE!!” All I could think of was that car commercial. The king was still green and took off before Dave could tail him. My tippet broke and I lost the fly, but it was the most awesome, short lived battle, I ever had with a king. Who said a king won’t take a fly? Right time, right place, right fly I guess

Thursday November 3, 2011

We started at Pineville again and fished the same riffles we did the previous morning. I figured, what the heck, and fished the same married wing that I started with yesterday as well. About 45 minutes later As I was working my way downstream, I saw some branches move in the woods on the far side of the river. I didn’t see anything so I kept casting and working my way downstream.
Maybe 15 minutes had gone by, and about 8 Turkeys show up on the bank directly across from me!! They stood there for a minute looking at me like they were trying to figure out their next move. One of them took the lead and walked upstream a few feet, hopped of the bank and flew across the river about 15ft-20ft away from me, and landed on the other side.
I had one half hearted tug after working through one time so I decided to go all the way down the south side of the river and start below the bridge. I checked out the depth near the abutment and it was rather deep, so I went around it and hopped in on the downstream side.
I worked downstream through the flat water, hit the riffles and kept going. The changes were subtle, but noticeable. The sort of thing you have to see firsthand rather than from afar. I learned a few things and noticed some people I knew on the far side, so I waded across and watched one of them land a nice steely. We had a nice conversation about the changes in the river, the amount of people, and of course the steelhead…..and maybe a few other things as well. I hopped in below them after I asked if it was ok and enjoyed the rest of the morning session. Some kings were around sliding here and there, and it was fun to watch. I didn’t see any steelhead, not did I hook any, but I found two nice floats!! I think my collection is up to about 10 now. After lunch I took a stab at trying to find my buddy Geoff, and new just the place to try. My hunch was close to being right and a quick phone call confirmed that it was him upstream of me. We talked for a bit and decided to get back to fishing!! I had two plucks in the run and Geoff had two as well. I kept going downstream and he tried again with another fly and it paid off!! I wasn’t there when he landed it, but I could hear the commotion. After that I decided to head to 2A to meet up with my Dad and Dave for the rest of the evening. The water was a bit shallow and didn’t have much push either so 2A was better area for swinging. I told Geoff where I was headed and took off down the road. I fished some open water here and there around the big holes and was even able to work through the old abutment. Geoff was there as well, but neither one of us could earn another tug. Who knows how many fish moved to take a peek though!! Maybe tomorrow.

Friday November 4, 2011

We all went down to Douglaston in the morning with the hopes of fresh chrome but it was not to be. I forgot how depressing the low flow was when down at that section of river. That’s just my opinion though. People everywhere didn’t help. I counted 18 people in the meadows alone with another 10 above and below that run. Heck, if I want to fish in a crowd I’ll head to Altmar. So that’s what I did!! I made it back to the DSR lot at 9:30, hopped in my pollution machine and headed to the land of dark horses to do a little reconnaissance to see how the river changed from last year. Even though I didn’t hook anything that morning it was nice to be able to fish the tailout of the schoolhouse and the tailout of the wires. I saw plenty of fish hooked and the atmosphere was rather cool, with a large group being guided. Mission accomplished, time for lunch. I met up with Dad and Dave and they had left the DSR as well due to the crowds and lack of push in the flow. They had gone to 2A bridge, but didn’t hook up with anything, although they did see a few hook ups. We all decided to head to the Pineville area for our last evening of fishing. It was a good choice because it seemed the fish were fairly active and some fresher fish were moving through as well. It was a little crowded up top so I headed downstream to the next run and found some room. The guys across stream were hooking up consistently floating beads, sacs, and flies, but I couldn’t get a touch. I switched flies and sizes of flies a couple of times but no tugs for me. It was about an hour before we had to head back to the truck, so I went back up to where Dad and Dave were. Dave had lost 2 steelhead with his single handed rod and nymphs and my Dad didn’t get touched swinging. I hopped in above Dave and put on my cheater fly….tungsten conehead purple Swarn-a-Bugger with a pink bead in front of it that was not pegged. I had on a 3.9 ips polyleader and the combo worked pretty good. A bit ugly to cast and turnover with a mid belly line, but it worked.
On about my 12th cast or so I felt a nice hard thump that pulled the loop out of my fingers. The rod was throbbing as the steelhead came up to the surface and flew up into the air. After the splash landing he took off downstream a short ways, stopped and started coming upstream right to my feet. He got into the shallows and I was ready for the next run. He took off again, running and slashing at the surface as he went downstream.
After that the fight was close to shore in a deep slot. He rolled around and changed direction a few times, but he was about tuckered out so I lead him shore and I landed him in the shallows. Dad and Dave were ready with the cameras so they took a few quick shots and Mr. Steelhead was on his way back to deeper water.
It was a little past 4:30 at this time and I said, “Hmmm, end on a good note or fish a little while longer?” My Dad said, “End on a good note.” So that’s what I did. I watched Dad and Dave fish some more and saw some steelhead jump and splash, but that was it for the trip. All in all it was another great time in Pulaski, NY fishing the mighty Salmon River. We had a wonderful time at Whitakers cooking out for lunch and dinner, having some drinks in the evening, and sharing some laughs. It was also good to see old friends, make some new ones and share time on the river with all of them. Tightlines till next time!!