Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Salmon River & New York Creek Steelhead In March

(Addendum)  March 20, 2011
When I wrote this post below, earlier this week March 16, it just was not making any sense to the reality of what was happening in New York.  I thought the snow pack and the warm days were changing what I knew from history.  

I wake up this morning checking reports and gauges and exactly what I know to be true is happening.  For safety sake I checked myself and held the post till today.  

During March, as we have seen over the last week or so, the steelhead rivers of New York State often swell with a pre-spring increase in flow.  Most anglers shy away from the big rivers and stay home.

This is a big mistake.  Now before you say how hard it is to fish on the Salmon River with flows in Pineville at 2000cfs and above, please consider the following.

The SR has so many places where islands and sharp turns create back eddies, slow deep holes and moderate flow locations close to the shore.  I emphasize "Close To Shore"  as the Salmon River is a dangerous place and has taken more than one life.  It is not a place to wade or cross in high water. When the multitude of anglers are enjoying a warm fire, and a wee dram, the steelhead are in mass moving to these easy to reach locations.  As soon as you get a falling river you seek out and fish these places. You will be doing a bit of walking and it might not be easy depending on the snow pack.  The trails should be well worn making some places easier than others.   I would not recommend this if it were in the fall.  The reason is simple.  The maximum number of Steelhead that the river will hold, for the entire season, builds during the month of March.  The fish are gathering to spawn and will need to find quite water close to the areas that are best to build their redds.  Bright ones are also coming every day as the river drops.

As soon as the river goes back to 1500cfs at Pineville, and the crowds start to return, you run as fast as you can to the creeks.  The high water creates March Madness in these places and will fish very well so long as additional melt doesn't cause the river to run cloudy.  The run is guaranteed and the pressure is light.  You will see other anglers and a few drift boats, but nothing like the crowds on the big river.  The biggest problem is the possibility of slush ice in the morning should the weather turn cold.  Hit the upper Salmon early if the night has been very cold and then make the drive after 10am.

Creek Steel in March is upon us now.  Don't spend a lot of time in one place and take advantage of this wonderful spate fishery.  You will be back on the SR and the crowds soon enough during early April for drop back season.


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