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Steelhead Fly-Fishing Background

Fly-fishing guide Ted Lewis of Nahant, Massachusetts guided me for my first visits to the Salmon River in Pulaski, New York. Before the Salmon River, Ted guided me several times on the Deerfield and Westfield Rivers in Massachusetts.

Sometime during this period Ted became a licensed guide in New York State so he could provide guiding services on the Salmon River. Then probably beginning in 1998 or 1999 Ted lured me to the Salmon River. I got hooked!

The Salmon River, having a lot to offer, is listed by the Atlantic Salmon Federation as the Westernmost Atlantic Salmon River. My assumption was that the installation of locks for deep water shipping ended the original runs of Atlantic salmon, but some natives claim the cause was Great Lakes pollution and the Salmon river fish never entered the St. Lawrence River towards the Labrador Sea. Once again there are a few Atlantic salmon running the river, but now without question Lake Ontario is their “ocean”.

Some 20 or 25 years ago the State of New York put in a State fish hatchery on the Salmon River at Altmar, NY and introduced Coho and Chinook salmon from the West Coast. The salmon enter sometime in September followed by the Steelhead in October. The salmon spawn and die and are all gone by mid-November. Their flesh and eggs become food for steelhead.

In spite of being an Eastern freestone stream, the Salmon River has an amazingly abundant food supply. The eggs and carcasses of the salmon are combined with an incredible array of insect life. A common sight when there is snow on the ground is watching stone flies crawling on the streamside snow-banks. So, if one is a fisherman who likes to turn over rocks to discover what fish might eat, he’ll get hooked by this river as I did.


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