Zombie Salmon and Giving Thanks

I left the tributary rod at home.   In my hand the four weight felt like a feather.  I just didn’t have the gumption to target tributary fish. I needed to get on the water, but this time preferred an easier approach.  It felt like time to casually roll cast streamers for local trout.   It had barely rained in three weeks, since Super Storm Sandy.  I know there are odd salmon,  lake run browns and sporadic steelhead around.  Yet, the water is so low.  I can’t recall seeing this particular creek that low in late November.    I figured there’s plenty of time ahead to target post spawn lake run browns and feisty steelhead.  I felt the need to fish something simpler.  After a busy work day,  I drove to a nearby creek.  My target was local, holdover stocked brownies.  I imagined that I could lazily fish a stretch of water and convince a few gullible browns to jump on my olive, cone head wooly bugger.  If I couldn’t pick up a few fish on either a brown or olive bugger, than it wasn’t in the cards.

I carry more than my share of fly boxes and gear.  This trip, I kept it simple and only packed a streamer box.  No sink tips, only one tippet spool and a determination to fish for smaller trout on streamers.  Within the first hour, I hooked multiple browns around logjams and drop offs.  Things were looking good and my plan was working.  That is, until I unintentionally snagged a zombie salmon.  Go figure that I managed to snag one of the rare salmon left in this portion of the creek!  My stout tippet held and I beached the bedraggled fish, quickly removing my bugger.

Perhaps it was the zombie salmon slime, but that olive bugger never hooked another trout.  Snagging a remnant salmon didn’t help my angling karma.   After another 30 minutes, I couldn’t find any more takers and darkness encroached.  It’s darn tough to spend quality time on the stream after work, when it get’s dark at 4:40!

This is the time of year when the water isn’t too cold, stream browns will chase a streamer.  I had five different fish intercept my streamer today in 90 minutes of fishing.  None were over 14″, but it was visual and tactile fun.  I never got my hand on them, it was just enough to get out and fish.  If you’re looking for an alternative to tributary fish, consider slinging streamers for local browns and rainbows.  There are dozens of quality trout streams in Upstate New York that boast cooperative, late Fall streamer fish.  The water is so low that a simple 8′ or 9′ leader and your favorite pattern are all that’s required.  Regarding streamer patterns, with this low and clear water, fish seem to prefer more natural, muted colors.  It’s also important to take advantage of these warm fall days, before a lengthy cold freeze.  Once that water temperature drops into the mid thirties, fish become less aggressive.  Just try to avoid the last of the zombie salmon!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  As an angler, I have a lot to give thanks for.  If you’ve had a chance to fish recently, give thanks.  Upstate New York offers some of the finest fly fishing around.  Don’t forget to reflect upon the blessings in your angling life this Thanksgiving.  Enjoy a meaningful Thanksgiving and tight lines!

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Craig Dennison

This is Craig and I host Fly Fisher's Workshop. My fly fishing experiences include plenty of travel (Montana/Florida/North Carolina/Maine) and a few years part time guiding for trout. While I primarily target trout and steelhead, I still manage to chase warm water species and enjoy chasing stripers and bluefish. I'm a 3rd generation fly fisher trying to share the passion with my two sons!

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