Oswego County, New York, October 19-20, 2007
Jin and I were in New York to fish the Douglaston Salmon Run (DSR), a privately owned fishing area just outside of the town of Pulaski, NY, in Oswego County with local fishing guide Greg Liu.
The DSR is considered to be one of the best stretches of fishing water on the Salmon River. Steelhead and salmon on their annual migration from the Lake Ontario waterway pass through the DSR first, so they've seen the least amount of fishing pressure. However due to the ongoing drought in the northeast water levels were extremely low when we arrived, running at 130 cubic feet per second (cfs) on the first day and rising a bit the second day to 185cfs after some brief showers the night before.
Last year when we fished the Salmon River at the DSRthe water was running between 1200 to 1500cfs, so this low water event has concentrated the fish into a smaller area, forcing them to travel in the deeper channels and pools which in some areas were no more than a foot deep.

The temperature was at an abnormal 72 degrees and we needed none of the heavy thermal underwear we brought for the trip. I wore a light shirt and pants and brought a light windbreaker in case it rained.
101907srcombo.jpg picture by mikescatchreport

On the first morning, as we were walking across the DSR , we could see salmon and Steelhead pushing upriver, their backs and fins sticking up out of the water leaving a wake.

Greg lined us up and Jin hooked up to an angry silver torpedo that shot past me so quickly I had to jerk my line out of the way before we got tangled. It left a whitewater wake as it pulled line upriver and Jin was quickly into his backing. Unfortunately that fish pulled off after a short fight but Jin soon hooked up again and landed a nice chrome steelie.
I also got into a few fish but could not get a good hook set on them so they pulled off after a few seconds on the line. I was also very dumb--after having a hook partially straighten on a fish I bent it back into shape but I was thinking all the time that I should cut it off and put a fresh fly on the line. figured I'd drift it a few more times then change it. Wrong. I hooked up with a nice salmon on the second drift and after a brief fight it straightened the hook. Again. My fault. A very stupid move, not switching out a flawed lfly when I had the chance.

Greg tied on a salmon fly and we hunted for the bigger Kings coming up the DSR. I hooked a few but the hook set was not firm and the fish pulled off. Greg said the jaws of the salmon are changing as they come upriver to spawn, becoming harder and longer with a pronounced hook beak and teeth (kype) so I needed to really bear down on the take and stick it to the fish hard to drive the hook home.

Jin caught another steelie in a nice deep hole he staked out upriver from where Greg and I were fishing. Greg moved up to help Jin, who was running upriver with some hot chrome on the end of his line. In the meantime I decided to move in and poach at Jin's spot. After two casts I had my own Steelhead and an answer to a question I asked Greg earlier--would a Steelhead eat a salmon fly.

Rain began to fall in the afternoon and continued through the night. The following morning the flow had risen to 185cfs with overcast skies and cooler temperatures.
Fishing was slow. Greg brought a couple of extra rods so we wouldn't have to switch leaders back and forth when fishing for salmon or steelhead. There were a lot of other anglers on the river but not many were seeing any action.

Greg took us to one of the runs and positioned me for a shot at a salmon. He pointed out that the fishermen downstream of us were standing in one of the salmon runs and that diverted the salmon up our way. Sure enough, a big one soon showed up and after many casts I had a firm hookup.

It was like fighting a bus. All you could do was hang on and try to keep the fish away from snags and rocks. After a five minute fight Greg netted the fish and I had a decent salmon.
DIRECTIONS: The Salmon River is located just off I-81 at the exit to Pulaski, NY, which is about 30 minutes outside of Syracuse.

EQUIPMENT: We used 7 and 9 weight rods with special weight-forward steelhead/salmon lines and heavy leaders with large indicators and lead shot. We used various types of egg flies--most tied by Greg. A bit of advice--if you're tying your own flies be sure to use beefy hooks. The Steelhead and salmon in this area will straighten any hook that is too soft. If you forgot to pack anything or experience an equipment malfunction there's always Whitakers fly shop.