Monday, November 5, 2012

Salmon River Trip Report - October into November


After Allen, Chauncey and myself got back to Rochester, I packed my gear up and headed over to Pulaski.  It was going to be an interesting weekend since hurricane Sandy was on her way up the coast.  I was also unsure of when my Dad and our buddies were going to arrive since they were going to play it by year with the hurricane. 

Due to hurricane Sandy, a few poeple decided to stay home so they cancelled their trip with my friend and guide, Paul Conklin.  Considering the predicitions of what was to come along the coast, I'm sure we would have cancelled the trip too, if we were in their shoes.

Paul and I decided to take advantage of his free time so we hit river and floated from Pineville to 2A bridge.  Boy what a difference a few days makes!!  When I was at Oak Orchard we were fishing in T-shirts, now I had on a few extra layers to stay warm.  Honestly it was still a bit balmy for Pulaski this time of year so we weren't complaining.

It was a slow morning at the first area we stopped at although we could see some steelhead splash every now and then. Paul was the first to hook up and all I heard was his old hardy screaming.  I look downstream and see a pretty hefty steelhead going nuts as it jumped a few times.

I hustled down to him and got my camera out to take a few pics.  This steelhead was truly ticked off and did not want to play nice at all.  Paul would gain a little line to work him upstream, but the steelhead would turn around and take another run.  Paul did his best but the steelhead won when the fly pulled loose.

Paul took a little break so I went back to were I was and tried to get back in the groove of using a 13ft spey rod.  My timing was a bit off but it was nice to lay out some line and feel the tension of the swing in my fingers.  Paul took a few cool pics as well!!

Things started to warm up a bit from the morning, but the steelhead just didn't want to cooperate.  We could see them as we floated over them and even saw a bunch run by at one area, but I guess the raise in water flow had their minds on migrating and moving upstream while they had the chance.

Since things were slow Paul gave me his gopro camera and I put it on the end of a telescopic pole he had brought along.  I was holding it down close to the water as we went over some small rollers and then sort of scanned the camera around while we floated.

At one point, I almost got caught on camera going overboard head first!!  Hey!! Where did that rock come from.....jack!!  Even though the fishing wasn't hot, it was one of the best days I've had on the Salmon River in a long time.  I hope we get to do it again soon Paul!!

Monday 29, 2012 & Tuesday 30, 2012
Nothing good happened for any of us on these two days although we did enjoy our time all day long.  As usual we had brought our little grill and a hot plate to cook lunch and dinner.  We also had plenty of laughs each night and made the most of our trip.

Wednesday 31, 2012
 In the AM all of us went to the 2A Bridge area and decided to split up. It didn't amount to much so we all came back to the vehicles and headed to the room for an early lunch.

After lunch my Dad and Dave decided to head up to Pineville and Joey went to the Sportsmens hole.  Joe and I did a little walking to get away from the crowd and I set him up in a nice run that he had yet to swing flies through.  A fish boiled as soon as we got there so that got Joe's attention right away.  He rigged up a new fly and I hiked upstream about a 1/2 mile to get to some water I like.

Upon arriving at the area I chose to fish, I found out that there was a guide in a drift boat with clients at the top of the run.  No big deal, there was plenty of room below them in the next stretch.  I figured I might as well put on a fresh piece of tippet as well as a different fly to swing.  I selected a slinky dink in black and blue with an irridescent blue peacock feather wrapped as the collar. As I rigged up one of the guys hooked up with a nice bright chromer, but lost it after a short battle.

I had began working some line out and covering the water in close to shore before stripping more line out.  Nothing happened so I worked my way downstream after a few casts and got into a rhythm.  I was almost down to the tailout when I got hammered.  Oh boy!!  This feels like a pretty good one!! Then nothing at the end of the line. Damn!!  Oh well at least I got a tug on a pattern I haven't used before.

By this time the boat had drifted down stream out of site so I checked my tippet for nicks and made sure the hook was still sharp and not damaged in any way.  Since it was open up top, that's where I went and figured out a way to fish the water since casting room was at a minimum.  Even though there were other people fishing the water a little while ago, I felt confident since they were drifting flies and egg sacs, and I was going to show them a meal on the move.  I also made sure to let the water rest for a bit, instead of hopping in right away.

I sat down and slide off the bank as quietly as possible since there was some good water very close to shore.  I snuck upstream about 10 yrds to tuck in against a fallen tree that was right where the riffle started. I also looked around to see how much casting room there was and where there would be a clear rod path during the cast.  Since I only had the poly leader and a foot or two of line outside the rod tip, I could do a reverse single play.  I was having fun with the switch rod, and this particular spot really showed me the value of a shorter rod.  A 13ft rod would have never been able to work in this location.

I made three casts and swung through the pocket closest to shore, then i stripped out a few more feet of line to cover more water and the rest of the seam that was downstream of me.  On the second cast after stripping more line out, the line came tight and a hot steelhead was going nuts.  While this fish was raising heck, I was watching the tip of my rod and dodging tree branches.  At the same time I was looking for a little open slot to land this fish.  Lucklily the steelhead stayed close and didn't head into the little log jam below me.  After alot of thrashing around at my feet which sprayed water all over me, the steelhead calmed down and I was able two get two quick pictures of her.  Thank you sweetheart!!  You are the nicest one of the year so far!!

There was about an hour and a half of sunlight left so I started back down the trail to see how Joe made out and if he got his first steelhead on the swing yet.  I was about 150 yds away and I happened to look up at the same time Joe set the hook and raised the rod.  I could see the rod tip dancing so I ran down the trail to help Joe land his prize.

I made it to Joe just when he needed a hand and we landed a nice little steelhead.  I thought it might have been his first steelhead on the swing, but when I asked him he said, "THIS IS MY SECOND ONE CHIPPER!!"  We took a break on the bank and Joe told me everything from beginning to end.  It was great to hear about his success and how everything came together for him.  Welcome to the club Joe!!  There is no turning back now!!!


Thursday 1, 2012
We fished mid river in the morning and explored a few areas but there wasn't much to report.  Even the other anglers in the area we were fishing didn't have much luck either.  We gave it our best shot and covered plenty of water, but we all had a growling stomach and were ready to head back to the room and enjoy lunch.
After lunch Joe and I decided to go back to the area we were the previous afternoon.  I'm pretty sure we both hoped to have a little success like yesterday. Joe stayed in the area he liked and hiked upstream.

Upon arriving at the area I wanted to fish, I found out that there were two other guys at the top of the run.  No big deal, there was plenty of room below them in the next stretch.  I figured I might as well put on a fresh piece of tippet as well as a different fly to swing.  I selected a slinky dink in brown and orange with two small orange glass beads on the trailing wire. As I rigged up one of the guys hooked up with a nice bright chromer, but lost it after a short battle.

I slid off the bank and ducked under a small tree limb to get into casting position.  I literally had just the polyleader out of the rod tip and a foot of fly line.  On the second cast the fly hit the water and swung about two feet, then all of a sudden my line comes tight and it starts getting peeled off my reel by a steelhead running downstream as fast as he could.  I am enjoying the show when he turns around and starts coming right back upstream as fast as he went downstream.  Reel, reel, reel, reel........come on keep the line tight I kept telling myself.  He then turned right at me and came right to me feet and I lost all tension in the line.  Game over.  Wow....well that happened fast.

The other guys had left so I went back upstream where I landed the steelhead yesterday.  I did the exact same thing as yesterday except the fly was the brown and orange slinky dink.  It was almost like deja vu except the ending didn't work out in my favor.  On about the fifth cast I get hammered in the exact same spot as the day before.  The steely came up an rolled and for some dumb reason I set the hook again, which really turned into me pulling the fly out of the steelheads mouth.  Doh!! You dummy!!  Oh well, having two fish take on the swing isn't too bad for one afternoon.  At least they are approving the fly of choice.

Little did I know that the steelhead had some more action in store for me.  I moved downstream to where I started and had hooked and lost the first steelhead, figuring I would let the water above rest for a bit.  Nothing happened on the first couple of swings in close, so I started working out some more line to cover more water. Maybe 15 minutes had passed and I was letting the fly hang on the dangle while I was watching some hawks fly by.  WHAM!!  What the!? I am landing this one!!  Luckily it was a small one and came in rather quickly since I horsed him to shore. 

I checked the watch I had hanging on my bag and I had to make a decision of whether or not to stay and fish or head back down to where Joe was fishing.  After the quick action I had been getting, I decided to stay.  No need to find fish if they are already in front of me.

I retied a new piece of 12lb tippet on to the end of my polyleader and tied the same fly back on the end of the line.  I didn't make my way that far downstream so I walked upstream a few feet and started over again.  Nothing happened on the shorter casts so I worked out plenty of line to cover as much water as possible.  I got to where I had just landed the previous steelhead and the fly is just about to swing through a small little seam about 45 degrees down below me and I start getting that feeling that something is going to happen.  The fly swung into the seam and held there for a second, then it swung out of the seam and     KA-PLOW!! This lady was hot and put on one heck of a show.  I think she was out of the water just as much as she was in water, and if she wasn't jumping she was thrashing and rolling around near the surface.  It was one of funnest fights I've ever had the priviledge to be a part of even though I was just holding on, trying to keep up with her moves.  Even at the end of the fight she was so hot that she beached herself, got the hook out on her own, and released herself all in one motion!!  I was laughing and just shaking my head in amazement. 

I had about 20 minutes left now, so once again I put a new piece of 12lb tippet on along with the same fly and started where I did before.  Still smiling from ear to ear I began to work the line out again and proceeded to cover the water.  I checked my watch....10 more minutes before I need to head down the trail. I made another cast, the fly landed and moved about 2 ft when I felt I light bump on the line so I set the hook.  HOLY CRAP!!  It's another this really happening?!?! This one decided not to jump and only thrashed on the surface a few times.  The rest of the fight was spent pulling hard against one another.  This steelhead looked to be about the same size as the one before, but felt like it had more weight.  This one was a bear to land because every time it came close to shore it would motor back out in the current and sulk.  Finally I got her into the soft current and took a quick pick and let her on her way.

Wow!! What an afternoon on the mighty Salmon River.  That was 5 steelhead on the end of the line in less than 2 hours.  Even though I didn't land them all it was an incredible experience in such a short time. 

Friday 2, 2012
Since the morning didn't produce any takers, Joe and I decided to head back to where we were the day before to see if we could have a repeat performance.  I hiked up to where I wanted to fish and put the slinky dink with the orange beads back on the end of my line again.  I also had a new piece of 12lb tippet tied on so I was ready go!!

There were a decent amount of guys around and a few boats came thru as well, but nobody was hooking up.  It was pretty raw outside and I'm sure the extra fishing pressure during the morning hours had something to do with the fish not wanting to "play."  There was a few more hours of daylight left and there had to be a few fish around, so I kept working my way down the run.

I fished through the area I had did so well in yesterday and didn't have a take so I kept on going.  I was getting down to a little area where the run gets a little shallow then drops off into a deeper cut before the next hole begins.

The fly hits just above the tip of the island in the shallow water, then starts to swing down through the deeper cut.  I hold on to my loop and keep focused on the swing and the speed of fly.  Doink.....drop the loop and nothing came tight.  I take two little strips of line to get a little loop back and WHAM!!  The line goes shooting out of my fingers and then the drag starts spinning.  A nice steelhead comes up to the surface and puts on a little show and then heads downstream some more. I slowly make my way down past some fallen timber and navaigate my way into a safe landing area.  The steelhead played rather nice and came right over to the shore in the slack water.  I had gotten my camera out during the fight so as soon as he calmed down I took a picture, popped the hook out and let him back on his way!!

Not a bad way to end a trip!!  See you after Thanksgiving Mr. and Mrs. Steelhead.


  1. Frank it was a awesome day and some great laughs!!!

  2. Great post Frank! I like the looks of those jointed flies!
    ~Fish Tech