Should I float the Salmon River?

Anyone think it’s worth freezing on a NY state river for steelhead this winter? Guided float is 300$ for two people….

I am guessing you mean to float the Salmon River…

It is always worthwhile to float a river and see it. But you may learn that the river isn’t the best in the world to float, and here are a few reasons…

First, watch the flows. A friend offered me a float on the SR about 3 years ago, and I declined because the water was so low. He came back with a migraine from all the rocks he collided with all day long.

Second, the Salmon River is filled with snagger goons. They get hostile at boats…

That may actually be a reason to go.

But you should ask your guide about goons, and what to do if the goons attack your boat and attempt to board like Somali pirates.

Ask if he has bear spray for the goons.

Finally, the best reason to drift any water, in my opinion, other than to see the river, is to head hunt.

Dry flies and targets.

Steelhead patterns are eggs sacs and nymphs, and are most effectively fished using short line techniques. So you’ll be casting 15 feet from the boat, with a leader gobbed in split shot. Drift boats allow stealth and subtlety in the approach to a target and the presentation…

Once you drop anchor on the SR, your split shot and weighted nymph is gonna present with all the subtlety of a bowling ball.

And it will catch fish… Because steelhead are moving fish… Migrating. Your cast doesn’t spook them from a lie…

The SR is combat fishing, and the drift boat isn’t gonna be popular with the goons who are there to catch dinner.

There are good fisheries that are pretty much untouched in New York. There’s a guy named Joe Goodspeed who is whacking muskies on the Allegheny and Susquehanna and posts about it on Facebook. Those are wild fish.

This year, lots of the steelhead are diseased. They have a thiamin deficiency, or a vitamin b deficiency. Apparently they are eating too many alewives, which is interfering with their ability to absorb nutrients. This apparently is a common type of problem in stocked fisheries, where dietary issues haven’t been coped with for millions of years by fish who have historically shared the same ecosystem…

The fishing has been ok, but its worth knowing all the details before you settle on a destination…

Now let me try to make an argument for going…

Steelhead from the great lakes are fuckin crazy game fish.

Of course, the fishery isn’t real…

But the question of whether to go is sort of like asking about cocaine or perhaps whether or not to try ecstasy… Never done any of that stuff myself…

But you could ask me whether you should try that synthetic shit…

And I might reply, “The feeling you get from ecstasy, it isn’t real… What you need to do is fall in love, and experience the authentic, natural high that you get from the real thing.”

But geeze, it sounds kinda fun and I hate to be a killjoy….

Same goes for steelhead fishing from the Ontario tributaries.

It ain’t real…

But it is a helluva experience, and you only need to do it once or twice to get it out of your system, and then never again.

That was some argument, as I have been on both cocaine and ecstasy binges, several times at once and though do not recommend them,  don’t necessarily regret them either. 

That being said, I am facing the same dilemma as all fishermen now in winter: how to wet a line in the highest temperature with least amount of time with the least amount of money and have the highest chance of a good fish, or at least a story. 

So,  where do these thoughts leave you? 

The Salmon River is always good for a story.  

When I was a kid, I smoked a laced joint that scared me away from all things synthetic for nearly 2 decades.  During that time, I got extreme straight edge… I wouldn’t even take aspirin or fish for stocked trout.


Go to the Salmon River, but it could be, ahem, a bad trip.

The other winter option is esox.  Pike and muskie.

The Housatonic holds pike and I guarantee if that river aint frozen over you have a chance.

Although chasing Housatonic pikes in winter will be quiet and likely uneventful.

The Salmon River will be a blast.

The Batten Kill fishes well in the winter for trout, if you’re looking for tranquility and authentic, traditional trout fishing on fabled water.

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