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Fishing in Salmon River

If you’re ready to fish your heart out, then you need to have your next vacation on the Salmon River. Spend the day fishing for Coho, Chinook, and Atlantic Salmon, as well as Brown Trout and Steelhead. The Salmon River offers anglers 12 miles of excellent public fishing spots. Head over during the fall for the annual Salmon run.  

Located on the east side of New York state, the Salmon River is 71 KM long. It’s one of Lake Ontario's most heavily fished tributaries. Have your waders ready – most guides will take you out to the hot spots then jump into these bountiful waters.

Top Catches

The local town of Pulaski was once called “Fishville” due to this river. It’s perfect for spawning Salmon because it’s shallow, has plenty of riffles, and is generally quite slow-moving. Fish have been stocked here since the 1960s, so every year there are plenty of Salmon coming into the river to spawn.

For those who wish to fly fish, there are two spots to choose from. A fishing guide can take you there, as well as other hot spots that can be fished using traditional techniques.

Some of the best spots along the river can be found in Pulaski, such as the Black Hole and the Douglaston Salmon Run – you’ll need another permit for this area. Fish here have just started their migratory journey, so they’re fresh-faced and ready to bite!

Chinook, Coho, and Atlantic Salmon

There are three species of Salmon you can target here. The most prestigious are  Chinook Salmon. The record for Chinook on the Great Lakes was caught in the Salmon River in 1991, weighing 47 pounds and 13 ounces. On average, however, these fish weigh 15–30 pounds.

Coho Salmon tend to be smaller, with the local record standing at 33 pounds and 4 ounces.

The only Salmon native to these waters are Atlantic Salmon. Once on the brink of extinction, their reintroduction to the Salmon River has been slow, but they’re finally making a comeback. These guys are different as they can spawn year after year, and start their journey earlier, usually in July.

Washington and Skamania Steelhead

For other species, it’s less about spawning and more about feeding. As the Salmon run slows, Steelhead and Brown Trout come in to eat the Salmon eggs. They spawn during the spring, and only some will stay in the river until then. Unlike Salmon, they are lucky enough to spawn multiple times in their lifetime.

You’ll find two species of Steelhead here. The winter-run Washington, and the summer-run Skamania. Washington Steelhead is most prevalent in October, whereas Skamania is hot from June onwards.

These guys are hungry and aggressive – perfect targets for all anglers. Guides will take you to the deeper pools for the best chances of catching your fill of these fish. The best time to catch them is after heavy rainfall or when water levels are high.

Fishing Tips

  • The best time to catch Salmon is at the beginning of the season – they’re more likely to bite your bait before they become too focused on spawning.

  • If going after Brown Trout (especially in the spring) begin with flatlines and plugs. When the water warms up, change to spoons and downriggers.

  • Large Chinook Salmon require heavier gear to match – the best line is 12–20 lb test. Rod length can be anywhere from 7–10 feet. Light rods have minimal chance of catching the mighty Chinook.

  • Although you need to get your lures to the bottom of the river, try not to put unnecessary weight down. You’ll cover most eventualities with a split shot from size BB to size 7/0.

Need to Know

There are many legal regulations on this river, so take care to avoid getting a ticket or fine. It’s also wise to read up on fishing etiquette – during the Salmon run, you’ll be fishing shoulder to shoulder, so respect your neighbors. Your guide will let you know the current legal limit and combinations of species you can take home.

Rules and Regulations

You can buy a single day license for $10 – you’ll need this, or the confirmation code if bought online, with you at all times.

Some of the rules for the Salmon River include:

  • No snagging – this was made illegal in 1993.

  • No foul-hooking. Only fish caught in the mouth are fair game.

  • Keep an eye on the time – night fishing isn’t allowed during some parts of the year.

  • Fishing gear has to meet specifications – from the lures to the distance from the hooks to the line, check the DEC fishing guide. Treble hooks are not allowed for most of the year.

  • You can fly fish in the designated area only, with the correct fishing gear.

Budget

An eight-hour trip, leaving from Pulaski, will be between $600–$800 for four people. Head further downriver to Altmar and you can expect an eight-hour trip to be around $700 for four people.

Getting There

If your fishing adventure is beginning in Pulaski, head along Route 11. If going to Altmar, Route 13 will get you there before you know it. Rochester airport is along the I-90 W, around two hours from Pulaski.

Fishing the Salmon River needs to be ticked off your bucket list. This is the ultimate in river fishing. You’ll be talking about the fish you caught, and the ones you lost, for years to come!

Salmon River
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Salmon River Fishing Seasons

This month will be for Steelhead only if you can face the cold. Lowest temperatures will reach 10.4° F. Head to nearby frozen lakes for ice fishing opportunities.

The weather continues to be cold, with lows of 12.2° F. Brave, well-dressed anglers can fish for Steelhead this month.

Brown Trout joins the Steelhead action in March. Head to Pulaski to warm up with the Wings and Things Festival.

April is all about the Brown Trout. Can you beat the 32 lb record? Temperatures reach highs of 53.6° F.

 

Steelhead makes another appearance as the water slowly begins to warm up. Smallmouth Bass is very good this month.

Smallmouth Bass continues to be reliable fishing. This is the month when you can expect Chinook to come into the river en masse. Atlantic Salmon will start spawning too.

Steelhead is hot in July – they put up a fight, so be prepared! Spend hours battling them with light tackle. Brown Trout is active, making this a great month for fishing.

Fish on! This is the official start of the Salmon Run for Coho – choose your lures wisely and have a great time going after Salmon. Brown Trout continue to be active.

Coho is in full swing, and Chinook is beginning to come into the tributaries. Temperatures reach 71.6°F, the perfect climate to spend the day fishing.

October is a good month for Steelhead. This is the last month for Salmon before they die off after spawning. Join the Salmon River Festival to celebrate the season!

Although the Salmon run is officially now over, Steelhead is still hot. Have the river to yourself to go after these great fish.

Join in local Christmas celebrations on land. On the water, it’s all about the Brown Trout and Steelhead.

Salmon River Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Salmon River

"Half day trip "

Timothy L. fished with Reel Silver Charters on July 3, 2019

Get ready to have a blast reeling in them Big fish!

"Full day steelhead trip on salmon River."

Paul P. fished with Dreams Come True - Drift Boat on November 11, 2018

Book a drift boat trip and learn the techniques of fishing for those big fish. Also, you get a first hand view of the river.

"Drift boat trip with Captain Rick Pecci"

Terri F. fished with Dreams Come True - Drift Boat on September 29, 2018

Do some research on the weather the water temperature. If you are booking this kind of tour make sure you ask your captain questions. They will prepare you.

"6 Hr Morning Trip"

Ruben G. fished with Midway Charters – Lake Ontario on June 2, 2017

Contact Midway Charter to book your trip

Top Targeted Species in Salmon River

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Brown Trout

Brown Trout

Salmon (Chinook)

Salmon (Chinook)

Salmon (Coho)

Salmon (Coho)

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