Category Archives: Adventures

Salmon Fly Fishing for the East Coast

Salmon Fly Fishing by Sean Obrien

Some of the best salmon fly fishing in the United States is relatively tough to get to by normal standards.  Two places that come to mind almost immediately are The great Northwest, and Alaska.  There are naturally many other areas in the USA as well, but those are two of the best in the world.  A little bit closer to home for those of us on the East Coast would be ideal for that fall salmon fly fishing trip.   Perhaps the best spot on this half of the United States is Pulaski, NY.  This small sleepy town in Oswego County has a population of 2,365 as of the 2010 census.  But it also has a 2 month period in September and October where the Coho and King salmon are spawning, and the fly fishing is absolutely insane.  The aptly named Salmon River is home to some of the best salmon fishing anywhere, and definitely the best on or near the eastern half of the USA. .

Anglers line up shoulder to shoulder for the opportunity to catch a coho or king salmon as they make their annual run up the river.  The fish seem to mill around the estuary, and then race up the river in spurts. Some of the fish can be in excess of 40 pounds and will put up a hell of a fight. One of the best methods is to use salmon eggs, because the fish are going upstream to spawn.  If they see a random egg floating in the water the natural instinct is to grab it and hold it in their mouth, which will lead to a hook set.  Hopefully.  The fish are not as aggressive in Pulaski as you would think, but there are spurts where you can barely see the river bottom because of all the salmon. These groupings of fish occur as they swim upriver from the estuary where Lake Ontario meets New York.  The king and coho salmon are not native to the area, but have thrived since their introduction into the ecosystem in the 1960’s. Now, there is a huge game fish population in this area, and the trout and salmon, as well as smallmouth bass make this a great destination for a Salmon Fly Fishing trip.

The only method of fishing that is banned on the Salmon River is snagging, because at certain points in the day, the fish are so plentiful running upstream that you can throw a treble hook of any bare hook and rip it through the water and you would probably snag something.  There is also a requirement on the way weights are tied to lines, as the authorities do not allow a sliding weight, so there is no chance of it dropping to the hook and allowing you to snag easier.  That said, the typical setup is a small weight about 48” from the hook, rigged with  a salmon egg.

There are a ton of essential items to insure safety in the cold water streams in late September and early October.  The most essential is a pair of insulated waders, as you will be spending quite a bit  of time in knee to waist deep water, and it is not warm.  Gloves, and any and all other cold weather essentials will be a benefit out here.  It is also recommended that the anglers wear studded or cleated shoes to avoid slipping and falling in the river.  Polarized sunglasses are also a must, as when the river is clear, you will be able to sight fish and pick your spots.

Although spinning rods continue to dominate the day, fly fishing has been a growing segment of the angler population on the Salmon River.  Drifting streamers and egg patterns down the river during a run will inevitably lead to a hook up with some monster fish.  As you see them darting up the river in the clear water, you feel like you can dive in and bare hand them.  We will take a look at techniques and tips for both spinning and fly fishing for these monsters next, so be sure to check back with us for all your salmon fly fishing information.

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Season can Bring Surprise Fishing

Hurricane Season by Debbie Kay

The changing weather of autumn is the hurricane season. It brings with it a number of different storms.  Hurricanes, tropical storms, monsoons and typhoons are stirred up as the switch from warm to cool (or vice-versa in the Southern Hemisphere) creates inverted weather systems that make the wind blow with severe force.  Everyone knows that during a storm, property and people are at risk.  But what about fish?  It turns out that a storm can create a number of different distribution patterns for fish that the intrepid fisher can use to his or her advantage.  Here are some of the changes that can occur, and how they can benefit you:

Salinity Changes:

Much of the water in a coastal area will change in salinity during a hurricane.  This can work both ways.  Brackish or fresh water may get a surge of salt as winds push tides inland.  Saltier bodies may get a huge influx of rainfall to lower salinity.  Both of these offer opportunities for fish to explore further than they normally would.  Quiet bays that were closed to freshwater fish may find some curious inhabitants found in salt marshes.  Salt marsh and saltwater coastal fish may push upstream with the salinity boost.  This can mean that you’re catching surprise species further afield than normal.  Look for areas sheltered from wind and current where the fish could have sought safe harbor.

Channel Shifts:

The erosion processes of storm surges can carve new channels for streams and can get them to shift back into historical water routes.  This means new fishing opportunities once the turbidity of the water has settled, and it also means an easy target in stranded oxbows left over from the pre-storm stream channel.  This is especially true in areas like the Pacific Northwest, where winter’s flooding rains can shift major streams 20-feet across into completely different riverbeds.

Safe Harbors:

Wetlands and marshes connected to waterways are a great place to find fish after a storm.  They represent quieter water that is typically safe from major change, and therefore a great refuge for fish.  As they don’t represent typical feeding grounds for many of these fish, they will typically be curious to find what’s available to eat in their new digs, and will bite readily.

Hurricane Season Downfalls:

In inland lakes separate from coastal waterways, fish are going to be drawn to places where there are downed trees or other large messes of vegetation.  This is because they offer several benefits.  Protection from predators with the screen of vegetation.  Food in the form of rotting leaves and insects also eating them.  And protection from microcurrents caused by continuing winds.  Take your lake to the areas most affected–  a downed tree in the water is perfect for exploring new fish habitat.

Lateral Floods:

Often, water tops a riverbank during these storms, which allows fish to swim sideways out of their streams.  Some get stuck in puddles, ditches and other places far from their stream when the water dries.  Stream-edge areas of standing water are a great place to find surprise fish after a major flood.

No matter where you find storms, and what they look like in your region, they can be great opportunities to find fish in new areas, as well as high concentrations of hungry fish in sheltered places.  Once the weather has cleared, the hurricane season has some great opportunities to up your fishing game.

The Special Fish of Lake Crescent (Part 1 of trout fishing series)

Lake Crescent By Debbie Kay

Eight thousand years ago, a landslide on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state dammed up Indian Creek, an ancient stream full of cutthroat, steelhead, salmon, and many other species of fish. It changed the drainage of Indian Creek, and created two separate lakes, Crescent and Sutherland, who each had separate drainages to the ocean. Continue reading The Special Fish of Lake Crescent (Part 1 of trout fishing series)

The Best Small Stream Fishing in Washington (Part 2 of trout fishing series)

These 5 Small Stream Creeks and Rivers Give the Classic Fly Fishing Experience

Small Stream By Will Jukes

Updated. We spend a lot of time around here talking about fishing the big rivers in the Columbia River basin, or the open waters of the Pacific Coast.  And why wouldn’t we?  They’re great fisheries, and unique to the Pacific Northwest.  Small stream fishing – little fish, tight casts, long hikes and 2 to 4-weight rods – often takes a backseat.  It’s easy enough to find those streams in other states, places like Colorado, Idaho and Montana.  So why spend time on that when Washington has so much of its own fishing to offer? Continue reading The Best Small Stream Fishing in Washington (Part 2 of trout fishing series)

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Shark Fishing off Marthas Vineyard

Shark Fishing By Sean Obrien

Martha’s Vineyard has long been a bastion of fun for everyone from the average tourist and their family to the President of the United States.  Quaint shops, nice beaches, great people, and a wonderful island to explore.  But Jaws was filmed here for a reason – off the shore of this tourist attraction is a haven for sharks.  There are a huge number of species of shark that can be found off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, and off the coast of Cape Cod as a whole.  Everything from blue sharks to dogfish sharks, and from porbeagles to makos.  But in the warmer months of the summer, you can find great hammerheads, tiger sharks and great whites.

shark fishing

Shark fishing has been a bountiful business off the Cape, with multiple charters offering shark fishing tours, with basically a guarantee they will get time on the rod with one of these monsters.  The advancements that have been made in recent years as far as gear is concerned have benefited the monster shark fishing community perhaps more than any other. What was once used for school bonito is now able to handle the line for sharks, because of advancements in braided line.  Reels and rods have gotten smaller, lighter, and more able to handle the fish as well. The key to getting a shark on and landing it is to have your gear set up properly.  The best bet is to use 10 – 20 ft of 480 lb to 500 lb braided cable connected to the hook and a swivel that is rated above 250 lbs.  From that point, you can use 80 lb braided test, and you will be able to put enough line on the reel to allow the fish to run.  Most reels will be able to handle 500 or 600 yards of this line, and it is much lighter than monofilament.

The next item on your shark fishing checklist is chum.  Placing a 5 gallon chum bucket off the side of the boat is key to creating the optimum chum slick to attract the sharks.  Some of the captains I spoke with bring 6 five gallon buckets, and they hang one off the front and one off the back to start, and then keep one midship all day to maintain the slick as required.  The goal with your chum slick is to attract the sharks, and not feed them.

Choose areas that appear to have a water temperature between 65 and 68 degrees ( or close) and that may have some activity occurring already.  The bait should be standard – oily fish like mackerel or bluefish, which are plentiful and very easy to grab on the boat ride out.  These fish will secrete oil into the water and assist in attracting the apex predator of the seas that you are chasing.  When using the mackerel, butterfly the fish t o remove the spine which will result in more fluttering action, and assist in a hook set.
Speaking of a hook set, when the bait is taken, the general rule of thumb is to wait 5 seconds, then reel tight and give two big pulls to set the hook in the jaw of the shark.  At this point, the fight is all that is remaining.  With braided line, keep it tight the entire time, and when the hook has been set, it is a waiting game to see who gets tired first.  Fight the good fight, take the picture, and release the catch.  Shark fishing off the Vineyard offers many great opportunities for a once in a lifetime experience.  Make sure you allow someone else to have the same experience you were able to enjoy.