Every year the anticipation for salmon season is high and as we inch closer to the “big run” we always wonder how good of a year its going to be? In early June I took a charter out of Oswego, NY with our good friend Captain Kevin Keller of Fish Chopper Charters. We had nonstop action from the moment we put the first rod in the water until we called off the trip by late morning with sore arms. Typically, when you have great numbers of salmon that early and throughout July and August it tends to lead to an above average return year in the river. Since then the lake reports from charter captains around the eastern basin of Lake Ontario have been incredible, with large numbers of fish and larger than average fish size. Although there are many tributaries to find salmon throughout September and October we consider our home water to be the world famous Salmon River in Pulaski, NY.
Each year the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation stocks both King and Coho salmon, which will return to spawn 3-4 years later. The wild card on how many fish will return to the river can also depend on the natural spawning that occurs each fall. In my opinion this is one of those years where we had a high rate of successful natural reproduction from 3-4 years ago. There are many factors that lead to great natural spawning years and high returns, many of which are hard to pin point. Typically, higher than average water flows during the spawning timeframe leads to less angling pressure. When you combine less angling pressure and higher than average water flows when the smolt swim back to the lake you have a recipe for success. Predation from other fish and birds play a large factor in this equation, but when everything works out in favor of salmon spawning and smolt survival you have big numbers of returning fish!
Many people associate salmon fishing with crowded, shoulder to shoulder rivers using barbaric tactics to fight these fish. However, over the last couple decades I’ve seen a great transformation in the way anglers respect the space of each other in addition to their angling methods. There are always a few bad apples in the bunch that ruin the experience for some but you can say that about most anything in life. Having fished the Salmon River in Pulaski, NY for over 30 years I can honestly still say I look forward to the return of these fish in the river and everything that goes along with fishing for them. My advice to you if you are inexperienced or have never done this is to take a walk away from the crowds and carve out your own little piece of salmon fishing paradise. Personally, I would rather fight or land a few fish or nothing at all than be crowded amongst hundreds of other anglers. If you are experienced or a veteran of this fishery take a couple minutes out of each trip to educate and help others be successful.
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