by Paul Beauchesne Jr (AKA Muskie)
To begin, the Salmon run that takes place every fall in the Salmon River in Pulaski, New York is one of the top fishing destinations for just about every angler. From breath taking scenery in the river to the beautiful surroundings of Lake Ontario to the Hatchery where it all begins, this is a must for every angler’s bucket list. Fly fishing is the most common technique used in the river itself to catch one of these beasts. However, there is another method that can be used when fishing for these trophies.
The King Salmon from Lake Ontario are on the top of the list when it comes to sure fighting power. You don’t have the fish until you have netted it. Too many times have we seen the heart break of a lost potential catch. When the run begins in early to late September, you can experience some of the most intense and insane battles against a fish that’s determined and driven by some force to reach the hatchery from which it was born.
There are two sets of rules when it comes to fishing the Salmon River, both ending with the same result, Trophy Kings! Make sure you read up on all the rules and regulations before you enter or fish the river. There is a bridge that marks the rule change line, don’t cross that line. Both techniques are called “Flossing” the art of placing the line in the Kings’ mouth, just like a king, always being hand fed. In the river, use the “two to ten” technique and at the mouth or on the beach, use the “Hang Em High” technique.
King Salmon that enter the river are there to spawn and die, hence they swim with their mouths open and are not eating. Ok, then how do we catch them? Lot’s of skill and luck are required to land these beasts after they are hooked, but before that, we have the advantage and use their will against them. They have to swim at all times with their mouths open, so we put the line in the “Hitting Zone” for them.
First, you need to have the right gear. A rod that has some backbone is a must. No matter if you are using a high-end, pricy rod or something that you picked up on the cheap, it will be tested to the max. Next you want to make sure that you have a reel that can hold about 300 yards of line. Yes, these monsters will run and can very easily spool your reel. Make sure you have your drag set just right. There needs to be some give on that tension or you will be heartbroken. A pair of waders will go a long way too. You will be able to get a better angle on the fight once hooked.
The “Hang Em High” technique is simple to do, no leader required. First, tie a 2 – 3 oz weight to the end of your line, I recommend braided line, as it floats which makes it easier to keep you hooks in the strike zone. About 8-9 inches from the weight, tie a Treble hook, and again about 12 inches up from that, and again until you have three hooks total. Place a piece floating material on the top hook, I use pieces of a Pool Noodle, floats better than anything, then a floating egg sack on the middle hook and both on the bottom hook. Make sure the barbs are exposed if you want to hook the fish.
Cast out your line, be aware of the current and the channel, no need to give the fish a 50 ft head start. Keep your rod upright in the rod holder as much as possible, this allows for greater angle in the hitting zone, tighten up till you feel the weight, then back off one full turn of the reel. This allows the line to wave in the water freely. When using bait runners, the river may run too hard for them, Strike Guard makes a clip that tightens the tension, no matter the bait or the current. You must have your bail open or the rod straight up, if not, this fish will take everything you have. If you are going after them in the darkness, adding a glow stick to the end of your rod is a great way to see when you have something going for you. Just make sure that if you get a hit that you get that glow stick and your bite indicator off so that they don’t interfere with you landing that trophy.
When the Salmon hits your line, the force will either put one hook or two hooks into it, there will be no mistake – reel as fast as possible to tighten up and never, ever let the line slack up, “Heart Break Hotel” is the song that you will sing if you do, and it happens to everyone and it’s a long drive home.
This is a trip that you will make every year for the rest of your life. This was our fourth consecutive year, thanks to the guys that showed us the way, and to all that come and play.
If you are interested in this National Geographic like experience, visit Muskie Adventure Tours on Facebook and get ready for a life changing trip.