By: Joey Usher
I grew up in Southwest Pennsylvania trout and steelhead fishing and have never caught a salmon in my life. Hoping to scratch it off the bucket list a buddy and I drove seven hours to the Salmon River in Upstate New York on Sunday to try and change that. I’d heard that some salmon were in the river, but the bulk of the run hadn’t arrived yet.
Keep in mind I’ve never even tried to catch a salmon before so I’m a newbie, but I did arrive with the most important thing necessary to catch salmon: bait that I’m confident in. We swung by a local bait shop in Pulaski and purchased salmon roe the morning before we started fishing. I mixed Red & Orange Fire Cure and headed down to the river to try my luck. My bait looked good.
I’ll be honest, I hooked a dozen a fish on Sunday, but didn’t get all of them to the bank. Why? Well, the local shop told me it was imperative to use light line. They mentioned a huge amount of fishing pressure was blanketing the river and forced the salmon to become line shy. Dropping down to eight-pound test got me a lot of bites, but I did lose a bunch to rocks. We got snapped off a lot.
We fished the Town Hole and Black Hole in Pulaski and hooked all the fish in the mouth on eggs. The key for me was using marble size pieces of Fire Cure skein on a size 6 Gamakatsu octopus hook. The locals mentioned large pieces of skein weren’t effective because of the immense amount of pressure. In the Town Hole there was at least 150 people fishing and another 75 people on the bridge watching and waiting to get a spot. It was crazy, but I’m ready to go back. We did all our fishing from the bank.
It didn’t take long to learn that you need the skein to be near the bottom to get bit. The salmon were in the deep pools and the runs. In the morning the fish were spread out, but as the day went on and the sun hit the water they retreated to the holes. However, as evening arrived the salmon started to move again. The water was far warmer than I expected, which explains why the bulk of the run hasn’t taken place yet. Most of the fish are still in Lake Ontario waiting for cooler water.
I’m hoping to head back to the Salmon River in the next few weeks. Like everyone, I’m watching the weather and aware that small storms will bring the salmon in slowly and a big run will bring all the fish at once. Meanwhile, there’s fish in the river now and I had a blast catching them on skein. This was a learning trip for me and a blast. I’m sure glad I came with good bait and talked to the locals. Both were difference makers.
Editor’s Note: Joey Usher operates SWPA Fishing. For more information please visit https://www.facebook.com/FISHSWPA.