Steelhead fishing improved the past week. The run off brought in fresh fish and caused fish movement. While some of the larger creeks/rivers are now discolored and nearly blown out, fish are present. Smaller creeks are less chocolate colored and will clear more quickly. Look to small tributaries for immediate fishing. Once this snow gets melting, it may take up to a week or more for some fisheries to be viable. Some of the largest systems (Genny, etc) may take more than a month. If you scout around, you should find fishable water with greater numbers of steelhead.
I managed to fish twice last week with considerable success. My best trip was to the Salmon River during one of the warmer afternoons. When I arrived to the Salmon River, there was plenty of angler traffic and pressure. Just before dinnertime, crowds thinned out and I nearly had an entire side of a run to myself. I could fish and drift wherever I wanted. That’s not always the case on popular pools in March. Over the course of several hours, I enjoyed fine fishing with dark stonefly patterns. I fished a 10′ flourocarbon leader with an 8 lb tippet. I likely experienced fewer hook ups due to the heavy tippet, but also gained greater confidence actively fighting fish and keeping them out of a riffle downstream. The bite really turned on late afternoon, as I hooked upwards of 10 fish. I didn’t land them all, but my best fish was a corpulent chrome hen, measuring 32″. It was a treat to catch lightning in a bottle and to dance with so many fish over a short period of time. Experiencing a gorgeous sunny day on the water with cooperative steelhead was also a great way to shake off the cold of Winter.
Lastly, I wanted to share a concern about angler etiquette. Last week, at both rivers (Oak Orchard and Salmon River) my ears were repeatedly berated with the F-bomb. While I wasn’t involved in any of the discussion, I was close enough to be repeatedly exposed to the F-bomb in a casual conversation, as well as an ugly argument between two anglers. In the first case, an angler was casually chatting with two friends as he narrated a story (in front of a boy). Call me prude, but my ears wince when I hear the F-bomb used as an adjective with such frequency. Mom-thanks for putting that soap bar in my mouth when I swore in 8th grade! In the second case, both anglers were territorial over a particular run and they were swearing back and forth for a two-minute span. Between these two incidents, I must have heard the F-bomb two or three dozen times.
Our fisheries in Upstate New York are precious and they experience substantial angling pressure. Sometimes, there is competition around limited resources, or access. It’s not reasonable to think that you will be the only angler fishing the Archery Pool-Oak Orchard this time of year. Nor will I begrudge a guy for cussing after he loses a trophy fish (I still remember loudly swearing after losing a nice tarpon that I fought for 30 minutes in downtown Miami, years ago). At the same time, it’s imperative that we respectfully share space and strive to provide a pleasant angling experience. Fishing is a great way to blow off some steam and to de-stress. There are better, more civic ways to vent, or to communicate than relying upon the F-bomb. Let’s remember to treat our waterways and fellow anglers with respect. Vulgarities don’t enhance the angling experience and are something kept best away from the river.
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