Monday, December 1, 2014

Salmon River, New York (SRNY) 2014 | What An Adventure

I had not planned on making it up to the SRNY this year. It was a long and busy summer and I wasn't sure I would take the time off when the season was still hot.

I talked to Dan Morgan from Project Healing Waters (PHWFF) and Ira Strouse about the PHWFF New York chapters getting together for the annual steelhead trip. They confirmed the weekend of November 1 and I was all set. Then I realized it was Halloween weekend and had to re-think my plans. I decided to make the trip up to help guide vets on the river and to take a few extra days up there. I contacted the group from last year and it was a bit of a shuffle of schedules but Jason and Scott were able to make it and we brought Thomas along to get his first taste of steelhead.

Preparation for the trip started in September. I wanted to tie the Hoh Bo fly and needed some Lady Amherst tails pictured above. As I was headed to Ohio for a week I decided to pick up the flies at Mad River Outfitters. In my spare time in Ohio I tied up soft hackle, flash back pheasant tails. Click the tutorial video below. 

October came around and we needed to get the crew together to tie up flies and go over the game plan. I would arrive late on Friday the 31st after trick or treating. The others would arrive on Saturday. I would fish with PHWFF through Sunday and we would fish together Monday-Tuesday. The plan was to take the boat up for the PHWFF event and then float on Monday.

We got together at the local Orvis shop and tied flies at a table in the back. Benefit being we can shop for materials while we tied. A few beers may have made it to the event too.

 I cranked out buggers, some Jumbo Johns, worms, and some egg patterns.
 I then put in an order with for beads for the trip. I wasn't sure if the silver beads on the pheasant tails would work so I got a few hundred in black.
 A Hoh bo. Tying steelhead flies is my favorite (next to bass) of all the types of flies I tie for a variety of fish.
 I am no longer allowed to tie at home at the kitchen table. This is a card table I found abandoned at the old storage unit. It is set up in the hallway between the pixie's room and her bathroom.
 Intruder. I picked up longer shanks this year for these.
 Some last minute tying materials at the craft store. I didn't end up using them so we are returning them today.
 Some Floatmaster indicators.These are awesome. Easy to attach, float high, easy to see.
 After a month of packing and organizing gear I made the decision to leave early on Halloween. This was a tough decision as I am now a dad and this is a big night. I decided to drive up early as it would be light and easier and faster, avoiding traffic, and easier to pull the boat. I packed the nasty car early on Thursday and hooked up the boat at 11:30am on Friday 31st. I wore the same shirt I've worn on every Halloween for the past 20 years.

The car was organized for sleeping that night with a bed set up in the back and extra gear stowed in the boat.

As I'm driving up the traffic is non-existent. Last year it took me 3 hours to leave Virginia. This year I was out in 15 minutes.  The day before I was hitting up the ATM and passed a pot leaf covered RV in the Home Depot parking lot.
 Its a small world as I passed this thing in Pennsylvania.
 Still can't figure out what this massive building is near York, Pa.
 Always a fan of the rock formations in New York along 81.
 The drive took 7 hours which isn't bad considering I was dragging a boat. I usually stop to eat but drove straight through this time. I pulled into All Seasons to get my license and some tying materials.
 Lots of colors for this time of year. For steelhead flies you need more confidence in the fly than you need to match the hatch. Pretty much any of these patterns will work on most any days and conditions. As long as you can get the fly in the right place at the right time and to have a steelhead in that place wiling to bite your fly-that is how you hook up. Pick your fly, have confidence in it, and fish the shit out of it. If you don't get a bite in a few minutes pick your next fly. Have a planned rotation that  you go through.

 Selection of eggs.

 Stoneflies and Jumbo Johns.
 These are flies donated by someone to the PHWFF trip. A mix of streamers, nymphs, randos, etc.
 I had the boat all loaded with 6-8wt rods from 9' to 11'. One of the benefits of the Stealthcraft is the rod holders.
 Anglers on the water. Those on the right were lined up up and down the stretch. Easy wading with a guide at your side. We were told to keep any Atlantic Salmon as they would be transferred from the river-->hatchery-->federal fish hatchery.
 Dead salmon at the bottom of the river. Their biomass will feed not only their offspring but the flora and fauna surrounding the river. An unnatural influx of nutrients as these fish are not native to this watershed.
 Charlie hooked into this mondo huge salmon. It was dead. It took the egg fly right in the maw. Not fun to drag this one in to the boat.
 Vets hooked up all up and down the river.
 That sweeet moment when a fish is netted.

 Tying flies on with gloves = hooks stuck in the wool. I've been using Allen hooks for my swinging flies for a few months now. Solid and sharp.
 Not sure what this is. Maybe a bent hook? Maybe a caddis case from the bottom? You can see the Folstaff that I pulled out of the river in with Charlie's walking stick.
 Hungry anglers have their rods lined up. You wouldn't think standing still and waving a stick all day can make you hungry. It makes  you very hungry. Hot lunch provided by the local American Foreign Legion consisted of home made chili, brats, dogs.
 A bit of a pep talk.
 I switched my boots out for my Devil's Canyon Korkers. I didn't wear spikes at first, big mistake.
 Charlie on the bow/stern.
 Fly selection. Some of these flies go back to 2001.
 Freshly tied flies. I'm going to do a podcast on favorite flies.
 When an angler hooks and lands a fish the paparazzi show up (Ford Motor Company).
 Back - At The Trestle Pool Lodge. Its warm, clean, has toilets and a shower, and electricity. I was a SRNY camper for almost a decade. With modern technology of phones, cameras, etc it makes it hard to camp with out power. Having a place to tie flies at night with a fridge for cold beer, a fireplace for warmth, a TV for Seinfeld and James Bond makes this place awesome. Not to mention you get 2 meals a day and it is about a mile from the Lower Fly Zone. Steelhead season is $35 per night per person. Bring cash. And there was a hookup for me to charge the boat.

 We tied flies that worked that day. I met up with the lads in the PM.

Then it was off to the American Foreign Legion for dinner. Chicken stew, mashed potato, side of peas and biscuits. It was awesome and put us in a food coma. We then retired downstairs to talk fishing over a few beers and to play some games.

I headed over to the Tailwaters Lodge to meet the film crew and to have a pint. The shop was very well stocked with high-end gear. 
 Rio, Patagonia, etc. Well organized. The lodge was very nice and not the usual SRNY establishment.

 I may have had a Dry Fly bourbon too. Wanted to check it out before I buy a bottle. This place was packed. Lot full. There was a conference going on. I wasn't hip to this place at first but the fact that they are bringing $$$ into the area and the local economy is a good thing. The food looked good. I should have eaten there one night.
 Upper bar view.
 Outside. There was a Stealthcraft in the lot. Props.
 Back at it on Sunday. Camera crew was gone. NPR joined us.
 Cold and windy. Getting gear ready. Charlie in the all green decided to wear warmer clothes sans waders for the boat.
 It didn't take long for Charlie to get into fish.
 This female King Salmon took a good 10 minutes to land.
 She was HUGE. This was Charlie's first fly rod caught fish. I consider it an honor to be by his side while he hooked, fought, landed the fish. His happiness was the sole reason I was there.

 More fish. Most likely salmon. They bent the hooks.
 Charlie and NPR. You can listen to the entire story by CLICKING HERE
 Anglers below us.
 Nice steelie!
 Anglers hooked up.

 The salmon had shot out eggs all over the boat. She was big enough that I didn't want to pull her out by hand. I used the mouth grips, we were photographed by a guy on shore and the fish was released to live a few more hours or days.
 This is a zonker tailed Hoh Bo. Fantastic movement in the water.
More eggs, worms, spawns, and intruders for Monday's float.

Someone lost a phone. Only the vibrator allowed us to find it. 
 This was the original podcast on the hand held recorder. I'll get back to that later. But if you don't listen Stankus might take a bb to the melon.
 We started off Monday a bit slow, I hooked a Stankus lower down on the river. We put in at Altmar and had beer and food and stogies to float down to Pineville. I would have preferred a few more CFS of water (cubic feet per second) and less anglers in the way.
 It was a chilly morning. We had a lot of sections to ourselves.
 Thomas sight cast to and had a salmon snap at his Popsicle. The fight was mighty but the fish refused to be netted.

 Still smiles.
 Time to put the net back.
 Shore lunch. Beer, hot food, salami, cheese. etc. Look at all the gulls in the back. Best fed gulls around. All that rotting salmon.
 No time to dilly-dally. We hit up a few more spots, hooked a fish or two and headed back.

 We mealed back at the lodge. Tied up a few flies, and drank some beers. The plan was for the lads to get up early and claim the spot while I slept in a little and me them there.

 We were joined by some funny guys from Montreal. They not only had a coffee pot, they had a skillet for grilled cheese sandwiches!!! Next time we're doing that. Though we won't make them with moldy chum from mudsharks.
 Stankus gets another steelie. Everyone was hooking up except for me. Stankus landed one.
 Stankus and Perkins took off at noon. I chilled on the river bank not having confidence in my flies. I had been rotating them all morning. The hole was silent for several minutes as anglers left and I was on the shore.

Not a minute after they left did I hook into my first fish of the day. I lost it. Then I hooked this hog and landed it with the camera work and net skills he's honed over the past few years. A shout out to Flyin' The Flats for the lid.
 Looked like Reese from Hank Patterson films.
 Can't you just smell that chum?
 Here are the Stankus hero shots.

Last day steelhead.

Back to the lodge to pack up. I decided to spend the night and get a good nights sleep. I wanted to have an easy ride back home in the morning. I had some chili dogs, finished off that sixer Labatts, cleaned up, and watched some TV.
 This is the newly added dining room to the lodge.
 On my way out on Wednesday I stopped into All Seasons for some tying material and to look at nets. They have a great selection. We need one of these next time.
 All that tying material!!
 And a stop for Dinosaur BBQ products.
 Wife wants this and craft beer when I travel.

 On the road by 0930. Does anyone stop at these places?
Transmission blows. I call AAA and get towed to a small mining town. The boat was towed too. That cost extra.

Waiting for trucks.
Transmission fluid.

Putting the nasty car up on the truck.
Waiting to load the boat.

These are worth more than my car.
Whiskey by the coffee.

Picking up a Uhaul with a trailer hitch. This is how I'll get back to home.
Gutting the car. I sold it for scrap. With the amount from towing and extra crap I ended up getting $255 for my car. I then had to transfer everything from my car to the Uhaul in a pitch black gravel parking lot. I lost my podcast recorder and a bunch of other stuff in the mayhem. I spent a good hour and a half transferring everything. It sucked. Then on the drive home the boat trailer came off the Uhaul hitch and was dragging behind the truck by the safety chains. It really sucked. I will go into detail about all of this on the Podcast.

If  you take out the whole car thing the trip was really awesome. I had a great time guiding Charlie and will always remember his salmon landed and the steelhead he hooked. I'm looking forward to the next time I can give my time to PHWFF. I took off the entire month of November and am thus publishing this today on Dec 1. I have a new car and am starting to work again. Looking forward to a fun winter. 


  1. Awesome, detailed post---sorry about your car---that really sucks, though by the looks of things, you got your money's worth out of that car. What's your new boat hauler?


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