Team Amberjack took an unsuccessful trip to the Salmon River last month (the New York one, not the Idaho one) to chase after some steelhead. We were ultimately unsuccessful, but were able to meet some of the people who really know what they’re doing up there. Through Malinda’s Fly Shop in Pulaski, NY, we were able to get in touch with the SpeyDoctor himself – Walt Geryk. Here, Walt shares some of his advice for fishing in the Salmon River.
What advice would you offer fly-fishermen who want to come fish the Salmon River?
Simply put, the steelhead are large trout, they feed and act very similar to their smaller cousins, the rainbow trout, that fly fishermen may be accustomed to fishing for in most other rivers. Nymphing, streamer fishing, swinging spey flies and even an occasional dry fly can entice a hook up. Be prepared and bring appropriate tackle and equipment to do battle with these trophy fighting fish. The salmon on the other hand act slightly different but can also be fished with similar tackle and equipment.
The Salmon River is pretty famous for being really crowded. Are there ways to avoid the crowds?
Depending on the time of the season, there are times when you may get away from the crowds. This can take some moving around with added walking while hoping to find that secluded spot. When you get there, don’t be surprised to find a boat or two already anchored down.
Tell us about one of your stranger days on the water.
I was enjoying some peaceful time on the water with a friend Dr. Tom who decided to take a break. To my surprise he began playing a Scottish tune on his flute. During the swing of my spey fly, I began to turn to acknowledge the serenity of the moment. Just then there was a powerful pull and I found myself doing battle with a large Steelhead. To this day, I want to believe that my friend whistled up this encounter.
What is your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
Depending on the day; darker day, “The Walt Geryk” (top)
…. a lighter and bright day is the “Malinda Rainbow Spey” (bottom)
What is the best time of year to come up to the Salmon?
Historically, Steelhead and Browns can begin their migrations as early as September. The browns have a tendency to drift back to the lake after spawning, usually by December. The steelhead will remain in the rivers until mid-May after their spawning cycle has been completed. They will then return to Lake Ontario to migrate the following year to begin a new cycle. King and Coho Salmon fishing normally begins during September and lasts thru the end of October. Once their spawning cycle has been completed the salmon die. Their remains now become the life sustain nutrients for the river system.