Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Love it or Hate it

H: November 3, 2015: Ahhh, the Salmon river.... You either love it or hate it. No tepid, in between, feelings for this river. The past two years, I made one or two trips all season and usually later on when the salmon crowds have thinned. But so far, I've made two trips in the last three weeks.

The first trip was a quickie. I met Sam and Demetre in the DSR on a Friday thinking the crowds might not be too bad. Wrong! Every inch of good water held fishermen stacked side by side, maybe 20 feet apart. Chad texts me asking about the crowds. My response: “I can’t believe how crowded it is. I hate it!" It took some hiking upriver but we finally found a small stretch where the three of us could rotate in and swing. From there we slowly walked down to the meadow, stopping at a couple of spots along the way but with no luck.

Sam Decker casting her Seele rod in the Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Sam Decker casting her Seele rod in the Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Demetre and Sam walking to the Meadow, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Demetre and Sam walking to the meadow, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
At the meadow, we met up with Chad and Adelcio. Chad was already halfway down the run. Adelcio was fishing in front of us. As we settled into the picnic table, Sam, Demetre, and I watched Adelcio cast: simple—fluid—effortless—beautiful. Chad texts to say he’s working his way down to the lower clay so I decide to join him.

There are only 3 anglers there, nymphing. We step in below them and start to fish. It wasn’t long before one of them hooked and landed a nice steelhead. He decides to call it a day so Chad and I rotate in above and below the other two anglers. Shortly after, I hook a fish. It's not a steelhead but a big beautiful brown. Then Chad hooks up with a large hot steelhead. He puts the screws to it with his 10 weight Carron and 25 lb Maxima. I can tell he thinks he has it, but it makes one last run towards a submerged log jam and comes unbuttoned. Everyone is excited. The two Canadian anglers we were fishing with asked what flies we were using. I told them I had caught my brown on an atlantic salmon fly and Chad had hooked his steelhead on a streamer. They were surprised, opened up their fly boxes, and decided to switch from their egg patterns.

My beautiful brown trout, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Chad tailing my beautiful brown. Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
We continued fishing as silver torpedos darted by in shin to ankle deep water, some just a few feet away. Chad hooks another steelhead and this time lands it.

Chad's second steelhead of the day. Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
—————

The second trip was one of perseverance. After two tough days of fishing, battling strong winds and endless leaves, I was pretty tired. I wasn't sure how long I would fish that third day. Chad and I jokingly bet that if we both caught a steelhead, I would stay another day. He lands one later that morning. Now, it's up to me....

Honestly, it wouldn't have mattered if I had caught one. So, it’s blowing 25 mph and you’ve reached the point where you doubt that tug on your line is a fish but rather one of hundreds of leaves you've bumped or hooked.... It's a gorgeous fall day. I'm outside fishing and my partner is someone who actually enjoys fishing even more than me, someone who loves this crazy Salmon river.

Our efforts were rewarded that third day with some beautiful fresh chrome. It was one of the best days I've had on this river and certainly one of the most fun! Between us we were 6 for 10. We shared the run with 3 center pinners below us and 2 nymphers above us, swinging our atlantic salmon flies. Who says we can't all get along?

As the light of day started to dim, we looked out towards the estuary. The surface rippled with life as 30? 50? 100? steelhead pulsed underwater, getting ready to make their push. The anticipation was electric. Once again, chrome torpedos shot upriver. It was such an incredible sight! Everyone hooked up and so many beautiful steelhead were landed!

One of 3 beautiful steelhead I caught that day, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
One of 3 beautiful steelhead I landed that day. Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
The last fish I caught that day is one I won't soon forget. It took off upriver as soon as it felt the hook and looked like it would take me into my backing. As I chased it upstream, it suddenly changed it's mind, turned around, and came racing back towards me. I reeled in line as fast as I could and I truly thought I'd lost it.... But it was literally right back in front of me :). As I reeled in more line, it took off again, this time towards the estuary. I followed in pursuit and finally brought it to net.

Beautiful steelhead, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Gorgeous fresh chrome. Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
It’s funny how quickly the tides can change, how things can turn on a dime—from hate to love, frustration to exhilaration, calm to sheer joy. I guess that’s why I love this sport.

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