Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Frozen Chosen

There is really only one way to shake a winter fishing jones. Distractions like sliding down the side of a mountain, reading fishing rags, heading to sportsman shows, and drinking can only go so far to cure the winter blues. The only real tonic is to step into the river. 
Fat Nancy's- If they don't have your bead, you don't need it.
For the Northesterner, the Great Lakes provide a good outlet for cabin fever-crazed anglers during the dark months. Winter steelheading on a Great Lakes trib is not a fairweather sport. But if you hit it right, and catch a break in between the lake-effect snows and sub-zero cold fronts spilling down from the Canadian arctic, it's unlikely that you will be disappointed with the fishing.

If you head to Pulaski, NY consider a stay at Whitaker's. Rooms sleep three, and go for around $75 per night. They rent Korkers, which you are going to want unless you have a pair of rubber soles with some pretty aggressive traction (i.e. cleats & studs).

It beats the Super 8, but doesn't have the waffle iron and fruit loops at the free continental breakfast. It does have a really kick ass fly shop in front of the log cabin "motel" that carries just about anything you forgot to pack, including your NY fishing license (that goes for $15  per day) and a good assortment of flies. For breakfast check out Timbers Diner, just down past the Dunkin' Donuts on Port Street. They serve up some solid breakfast grub (on the greasy side, of course) and the waitresses are more than happy to fill up your travel mug with coffee for the road. 
Whitaker's Sport Shop and Motel
As for the fishing, river access is pretty easy to figure out. Public access areas are well marked with big parking lots and river maps that are readily available at most fly shops (including Whitaker's). Another good fly shop to check out is Melinda's in Altmar. They will give you the low down on the bite, and they are a spey junkies dream come true with a ton of two handed rods, lines, etc... They also carry some pretty cool, hard to find tying materials that you cannot find around here (custom dyed electric blue goose biots anyone?).

Getting Tight.
The Prize.
Fish can be taken on the dead drift or on the swing. Long rods are the weapon of choice. Ten footers and 11 footers will help you roll (or spey) cast heavy rigs and allow you to make big mends for drag control. An 11' 6 wt. switch rod is a good choice and is light enought to protect tippets in the 4 to 6 pound range.

Salmon Rot- Got Flesh Flies?
The Big Bend.
For flies, egg patterns such a glo-bugs and estaz are a solid choice, and pegging beads under indicators make a good rig. Just be aware that you cannot fish the hook below the fly in the lower fly fishing only zone of the Salmon River (located in Altmar), so pegging is not an option there. And don't ignore the bugs. Stoneflies, caddis, as well as general and steelhead style attractor nymphs are all going to produce hookups when presented properly. 
Frozen Fish(erman).
NY Buck. That blew up my reel.
If you are looking for winter solitude, the Salmon River probably isn't going to be your scene. But if you've got the itch to wet a line and feel the tug, it's pretty hard to beat.

Have fun out there.


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