The downside to the remarkable fishing opportunities is that everyone knows about it. It's not uncommon to have the good pools surrounded by 30-50 fisherman all day long with a steady stream of drift boats floating through. Each parking lot is filled to overflowing with cars from everywhere you can think of. The town is buzzing with activity, mostly centered around the fishing. For a small town like Pulaski, the salmon run is a BIG DEAL!
Mention the Salmon River to most fly fisherman and they wrinkle their nose and snort "Isn't that where they snag salmon?" Well, yes, it is. However, it is now illegal to snag salmon, and NY's government continues to refine it's laws and enforcement policies in an attempt to rid our waters of this practice. No longer do you have to be caught putting a foul hooked fish on a stringer to be fined. Now you can be ticketting for *attempting* to snag a fish, whether or not you actually hook one. Granted this legislation can only be as good as the enforcement backing it up, but it is an attempt to get the message out that snagging is not something to be tolerated.
Peak salmon season
Although I do occasionally fish the river during the summer for smallmouth bass and juvenile salmon, I don't start fishing with earnest until September, when the Chinook run is well underway. Most of my fishing is concentrated in the upper third of the river, where it's is smaller and more easily fished with fly tackle. During the peak salmon season which is roughly mid-September to mid-October, I fish exclusively in the two "Flyfishing Only" zones to avoid entanglements with anglers in the lower pools. These fish can take a lot of fly line and backing before they can be brought to shore (if they can be at all), and I've found that you have a better chance of getting room to battle a big fish when surrounded by fly anglers who are sympathetic to your predicament.
Chuck and duck
When I first started fishing the river, I spent all my time using a setup commonly referred to as "Chuck and Duck". The combination of a long leader, a heavy weight (slinky), and a thin running line are used to propell the fly toward the target. It's not flyfishing in the true sense, but it is extremely effective at probing deep pools for fish that hug the bottom, as salmon often do. In fact, I've found that the "chuck n duck" method with fly tackle is more effective than using spinning tackle because the cast can be placed more precisely and the drift can be controlled much better. Not only is it an effective fishing tactic, it's also the best way to fish in a crowd when you don't have room to cast or work a drift, but still want to use flies and fly tackle. Although it's not my favorite way to fish, I have no qualms about rigging up a slinky when the conditions are not suited to other types of fishing.
The past few seasons I've been moving more and more in the direction of traditional fly tackle. A floating or sink tip line, little or no weight on the leader, traditional wet flies and nymphs, and real honest-to-goodness fly casting. I can't say that this is more effective that chuck-n-duck, but I do enjoy the act of
casting a line and leader uninhibited by lead shot. The trick is to find spots where fish will hold where you can reach them with traditional techniques. Often these spots are are the heads or tails of the deeper pools. Even the pocket water between the pools has a couple secret spots that will hold a fish or two. If you want to hook fish with floating line techniques, you have to leave the crowds, the pools, and the concentrated fish and seak out those little niches. It's a risk, because you're leaving the relative security of the big pools where you know there are fish, but the rewards can be substantial.
A Schweitzer/Joergensen Publication
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