Salmon River, Pulaski, New York, November 4-6, 2017
A few days after Halloween, Jin and I arrived to fly fish the Salmon River in Pulaski, New York. Little did we know that the river would play a cruel trick that would leave us with no steelhead treat.
We met guide Greg Liu at Whitaker’s fly shop and he delivered the bad news. With recent heavy rain in the area, and more on the way, the local dams were quickly trying to lower an already high water level. The Salmon River was raging well over 3000cfs and expected to rise, our scheduled fishing at the Douglaston Salmon Run was not going to happen (the DSR closes if the water level is too high).

However there are many other places to fish and high water or not, we were going to give it our best shot. We pulled on the waders and headed out to the river as a light drizzle began to fall.
There wasn’t much we could do about the high water situation except fish hard. Jin was already swinging a fly through some soft water near the bank when a stranger suddenly appeared out of the forest. Wearing neoprene waders but carrying no rod, he asked a lot of questions about fishing then quickly disappeared down the trail. He stopped behind Jin and carefully watched him fish before the forest swallowed him up. It was a strange and mysterious encounter.
Suddenly, on his fifth cast, Jin got a strike. The fish tore off down the Salmon River and for a few seconds we thought it would break him off on a fallen tree. The high water prevented him from following the fish downstream so it was stand and fight. Avoiding all the snags and strong current, Jin pulled the fish close enough to the bank for Greg to net it.
We broke for lunch to warm up, then fished hard for the rest of the afternoon. We talked to several anglers from New Hampshire in the parking lot at another location and they told us the fishing was tough. As we turned to leave they mentioned that something strange had happened in the morning and they were kind of “creeped out” by a stranger who suddenly appeared and asked pointed questions about fishing before disappearing back into the forest.

The following morning we arrived at Whitaker’s but Greg told us not to wader up. He pointed at the water level board and it was way to dangerous to fish anywhere. The dams had the spillways wide open and fishing for steelhead in this sort of situation just was not worth it. We decided to terminate the trip and head for home, but also made plans to possibly return to fish the Salmon River at a later date.

DIRECTIONS: Fly into Syracuse Hancock International Airport or, from Virginia, just follow I-81 for a seven hour drive north to Pulaski, N.Y., which is about 30 minutes outside of Syracuse.

EQUIPMENT: We used single hand, spey and switch rods with steelhead, skagit or mid-belly lines, sink tips, heavy leaders and a variety of egg patterns, streamers, and nymphs from size 2 to 12.