Image used by permission from @ontheflyfish
Lake Ontario And Summary
This past week has been some of the most productive in the last few weeks. Even the days that were not great in terms of weather seemed to yield really nice fish up and down the river. Due to the holidays, there were more anglers but anglers were spreading out. Hopefully, these reports are helping anglers not to just congregate only in a few spots on the river but to move around and find more secluded fishable spots.
From the lower part of the river to the top anglers are reporting fresh fish. Fish that are not acting like the fish of January but more like November fish that are full of fight. Anglers reported they were hooking up with fish, but many were losing them due to the strength and vigor of the fresh fish.
Here are four technique tips for winter steelhead fishing on the Salmon River from guide George Zervos @ontheflyfish. George specializes in fly fishing and is a thoughtful and generous guide who is full of knowledge but also is easy going and loves to share his knowledge with clients and other anglers on the river.
1. Control your drift and slow it down. Remember that the water on top is faster than in the feeding zone. Most of the time, slowing down the drift will usually make it more of a natural presentation.
2. Remember that the take in winter is very soft. In winter, it’s important to be hyper-focused on your fly line or indicator, and if there are any changes to the drift of the fly line behavior, then you may have a fish on.
3. Set the hook low and toward the left or right of you towards the bank. Your hook set should be a sideswipe from top to bottom.
4. Side pressure. When fighting fish, remember that side pressure is the most effective way to fight steelhead. Using side pressure, you can change sides to keep the fish confused, which will tire the fish faster.
This past weekend was very productive, but this coming weekend is going to present some challenges for anglers. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict how the fish are going to behave due to the warm-up. Today it is currently in the teens, but starting tomorrow, it is going to quickly warm up and reach into the fifties over the weekend. Additionally, there is rain expected for the weekend. Some are predicting heavy rains; thus, the power company has begun to raise water levels. Currently, the water level is 1200 CFS for release and running at 1600 CFS. Today at 5:30, it should go up to 1600 CFS for release, which means the water will probably be running at 1800 CFS or so tomorrow. It is important to keep an eye on the water levels for safety.
As of this writing, there is a flood watch for Oswego County, so keep checking the weather and water levels.
Douglaston Salmon Run
The previous week saw a change from the melancholy at the Douglaston Salmon Run. The anglers that reported were much happier as the weather was a bit nicer and fish cooperative. As the water will be going higher, look for fish in the soft water by your feet and the side channels.
Keep an eye on the DSR website, depending on water levels they may close.
Pulaski and Town
Reports from anglers varied in Town, but again from Little Black Hole to Upper Staircase, and Long Bridge was the most productive. Anglers were generally happy in the last few days. As for this coming weekend, some of these areas may not be as accessible due to higher water but look for fish in the small offshoots. Anything that in normal water levels is laces high will be now knee-high, which could hold fish. Remember, steelhead are efficient; they do not want to be fighting the current. They want to be in a place of safety and ease of food collection.
81 to Altmar
Fresh fish have been reported from 81 to Altmar all week. Fish are spread out all over the river, and one of the most underfished areas is the middle of the river. Lots of stretches where there is nice water for steelhead that have no drift boats going by or anybody else there.
For this coming weekend, the upper part of the river will have many of these small creeks or offshoots that will fill up with water, and fish will go into these waters. Be careful and mindful as you cross these small creeks cause you could be walking over fish.
Please be safe out there.