Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

With March here it won’t be long and it will be drop back season. After the Steelhead spawn in the Salmon River, New York they drop back down stream returning to Lake Ontario.  These fish have spent the last couple weeks spawning and need to feed heavily to regain there strength. This can be a very exciting time to fish the Salmon River.

One of the most popular ways to pursue these big hungry fish is pulling plugs from a drift boat. Lures such as hot shots and jointed Rapala’s are the most popular. I would recommend the jointed Brown Trout Rapala in size 11. This time of year you can see many of the guides rowing their drift boats through the deep holes pulling plugs.

If you want to fish plugs on the Salmon River but don’t have a drift boat or want to hire a guide there are a couple options. One is to use a small inline planner board such as a hot shot planner. These attach directly to your line and will take your lure out into the current. Depending on the brand you use you will most likely need 2 planners and switch based on what side of the river you are standing. It is always a good idea to have a couple extra in the truck just in case your line breaks and you loose one.

You will want a bait casting style reel and I would recommend using a heavy main line such as 15 pound test or a braided line. This way you will be less likely to lose your planner. You will then tie to a swivel from which you will want a 8 or 10 pound fluorocarbon leader. If the water is high (over 750 cfs) you can get away with a bit heavier leader line.  Your rod should be a 8 to 9 foot medium action casting or trolling rod.

Position yourself at the head of a pool or deep run. You will let the line out slowly keeping slight tension on it in order for the planner to work its way out into the current. Be prepared for a strike as your lure is running out into the current. Once the lure is out in the current you can let line out and reel in line to move the lure around in the hole. The other option is to let the lure hold in the current and take a step down stream every 15 to 30 seconds until the lure reaches the end of run. If you have a run to your self you should let the lure run through the hole then walk back to the top and start over with the lure further away from you.

Another option for fishing plugs on the Salmon River is to use a spinning rod and cast Rapala’s in the runs and pools. You will want to position yourself slightly upstream of where you would like to fish and cast just across just down stream of your position. Then reel your lure back to you against the current. You will want to be swinging lure across the pool. This will allow you to cover the most water possible. After you have made a few casts with out a strike take a step down stream and cast again. You will want to work the pools just as the Spey fisherman swinging flies do. You are essentially doing the same thing with a lure.  As with using a planner board you should start at the head of a pool and work your way to the tail out. This technique is especially effective for fishing slow deep pools where the planner board would be difficult to fish.

If you are unfamiliar with the Salmon River I highly recommend hiring a guide to take you down the river on a drift boat. This will allow you to learn which runs and pools hold fish this time of year. You will also see what lures the guides are using. You will likely also find that you have such a great time it is well worth the price of the guide. I have many repeat customers that feel the money it cost to hire me and use my gear is well worth it.

Weather or you choose to do it your self or hire a guide one thing is for sure, once you fish for drop back steelhead on the Salmon River you will want to come back year after year. These fish are aggressive and strike hard.  Good luck this spring and see you on the water.

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October is time to target monster Salmon in the small waters of Oswego and Jefferson counties. There are many great streams in the area that support large runs of these amazing fish.
Fishing these waters requires a change in approach and gear from fishing the larger waters of the area.

First the change in gear that will need to be made. Many people fish heavy line and weight when Salmon fishing on the Salmon, Oswego, or Black river. This is unnecessary on the big rivers and will not work on the small waters. These streams are often shallow and clear. The Salmon will see the heavy line and shy away from it almost every time. I recommend fishing no heavier than 12 pound test main line and using a 10 pound leader. If the water is very clear I will fish as light as 8 pound. As far as the weight goes only use just enough to tick bottom. The streams being much shallower and to much weight will cause you to snag bottom often.

I also like a rod that is more of a Steelhead rod than a Salmon Rod. Actually something in between is best. You want to make sure that you will be able to cast the light weight and line whatever distance is needed. That is why I prefer a 9 to 11 foot rod. This allows you to cast when needed or at times just drop the bait in front of the fish or in the top of the hole.

When it comes to your approach much more stealth is in order. It is best not to wear bright colored clothing so that the fish will not see you. When you walk up to the stream make sure to walk slow and watch for fish moving in the water. Polarized Sunglasses are a must for small water Salmon fishing.  If you do spook fish watch where they go and give them time to rest. Chasing after them will do no good as they are not going to be willing to hit right after spooking from a hole.

I am often asked where is the best place for small water Salmon fishing. This changes constantly based on the rainfall. These waters are not damn controlled  and therefore require rain to bring the water levels up. One of my favorites is the Little Salmon River in Mexico, New York. This stream has no public access however there is a section in the town of Mexico where you can get permission with a donation. As of last year it was $50 for a year long pass.

Grindstone creek is another that provides great fishing and unlike the Little Salmon River it has a lot of public access. There is access at Selkirk State Park where the creek empties into Lake Ontario. This is a great place to cast spoons into the lake before the Salmon start to run or when they first start entering the river. From there if you travel upstream on County Route 28 you will find 2 more public access points. There is also public access off Krebbs Road and County Route 41A.  This stream is well known and does see fisherman but not nearly as many as the Sandy Creeks.

Little Sandy Creek, South Sandy Creek, and North Sandy Creek are all great Salmon fishing streams.  As you travel Route 3 north out of Port Ontario you will cross all 3. Little Sandy has access of Norton road. This is a very small stream as far as width goes but it can hold impressive numbers of fish when the water is right. Down stream from the parking lot you will find deeper holes on bends in the stream.

South Sandy Creek has access along Route 3 and along South Landing Road. At the parking lot along Route 3 you will find a very slow moving and deep river. This is a good place for casting lures or fishing with a float and large egg sacs. Along South Landing road you will find more of what you would expect in a Salmon stream, shallower fast moving water with deep holes.

North Sandy Creek is my favorite to fish and there is a nice parking lot where Route 3 crosses the stream. This area is often heavily fished and is best to be avoided on the weekends. There is a great hole right above the bridge that is very deep and will almost always be holding fish.

There are many other small streams and creeks that see an annual run of Salmon each fall. I can’t list them all as I am a guide and must keep a few secrets.


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The Black River in Dexter, New York is a great Salmon fishery that is not all that well know. The majority of the fisherman that come to Upstate New York looking to fish for Salmon stay in the Pulaski area. This makes the Black River out of the way. There are multiple other rivers and streams between Pulaski and Dexter that people will stop and fish never making it all the way to the Black River.

The other problem with the Black River in Dexter, NY is that it is best fished from a boat. There is good public access however the access doesn’t offer the best fishing depending on water conditions. If the water is low there are multiple areas an angler can get into with waders. Use extreme caution when wading on the Black River as there are many drop offs and you could go from waist high water to over your head in one step.

When the water is up fishing from a boat is best. Many will bring their own boats and fish below the bridge. If you know the water you can get above the bridge with a motor boat but there are many large rocks and it is easy to damage a motor in a hurry. A drift boat by far the best way to fish this section of the river. The drift boat allows you to cover a lot of water when fishing plugs. It also allows you get in the best position to drift bait or cast lures into the many different currents.  The dam in Dexter, NY has 5 different places that water flows out of it. This creates many different current breaks where the flows of water meet. Anchoring the drift boat in different places and fishing each of them from different angles gives you the biggest advantage when fishing the Black River.

Salmon fishing on the Black River starts in September. If we have a wet summer it will be early September and a dry summer will cause the run to start more towards the end of the month.  September is a great time to fish at night for these monster fish. If you are going to fish at night on the Black River at this time of year make sure you stay below the bridge as it is illegal to fish above the bridge at night. The best way to catch Salmon at night is by casting lures such as Hot n Tots or Rapalas from a boat or from shore. There is a public boat launch on the downstream side of the bridge right in Dexter, NY. This boat launch is free to use and offers a place to put a boat in or a place to cast from shore.  When the fishing is hot you will see multiple boats anchored and casting lures at night.

During the day there is public access on the up stream side of the bridge. You can park by the Fire Department and walk down the bank right above the bridge. This is a great place for casting lures or for drifting bait under a float. There a multiple rock piles in the area so bottom bouncing is can be tough and you will most likely lose a lot of gear. If you get hung up casting a floating plug you can let the line go slack and it will normally come lose and float back towards the surface.  This is also a good place for landing big fish as there is nice slow water along the shore by the bridge making landing the fish easier.

A second public access point is found if you drive past the fire department and across a small bridge. You will see a small parking lot with a concrete wall that many people will be fishing from. This is generally a snagging area. You will see very few people actually fishing here. However if you walk down along the rocks there is a stretch right on the water where you can fish. This area will also be full of snaggers at times. Again another reason why this area is best fished from a drift boat. This area is good for both bottom bouncing and float fishing. Casting floating lures is another good option in this area too. The down stream corner of this access point allows you to fish where 2 currents come together and is normally the most productive area to fish. It can get crowded when the fishing is hot so I recommend getting there early to get a spot.

If you are looking for a new place to fish for Salmon the Black River in Dexter, New York is a great option. There is a good run of Salmon every year and there is good easy to get to public access. It may be a bit of a drive from Pulaski, New York but it will be worth the while. If you would like to fish from a drift boat contact me at  www.wayneosguideservice.com  to set up a trip.

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Float fishing with a center pin reel has become one of the hottest ways to fish for steelhead. It’s many advantages include precise depth and speed control along with a very natural and long drift. When fishing small streams many people believe there is no advantage for the pin due to the short drifts and shallow water that is commonly found on these waters. This is far from true.
These smaller waters often have small pools and short runs that are perfect for float fishing. The pin gives your the advantage of being able to precisely run your bait through each section of these pools and runs.
You will want to change your setup to match the water you are fishing. One problem with small waters is they often have over hanging trees and brush that can get in the way when fishing with the long rods normally used when pin fishing. There are to options you can choose from to fix this problem. The first is buying a second center pin set up with an eleven and a half foot rod. I like the St. Croix personally. However this is a costly fix especially if you don’t fish small waters all that often. The second option is to put your center pin reel on the nine and half to ten and half foot noodle rod you probably already own. This will cut down on the distance you are able to cast but on small streams it is not an issue.
The other setup change that will need to be made relates to the low clear water you will often be fishing in. The floats you normally fish on larger waters will often be to large. They will either make to much splash when entering the water or will easily be seen by fish due to the short leaders you will be fishing. I recommend get some floats ranging from 4 grams to 2 grams for fishing these streams. This will allow you to fish shorter leaders and cast quietly.
Don’t forget you may want to drop down to 4 pound leader material when the water is low and clear.

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