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It’s 4 AM Friday morning, and about 7 degrees outside and I have a 4-hour drive ahead of me. I am driving to the Tailwater Lodge, in the Salmon River Region in Altmar, New York. I’m cold, tired, and hungry for some reason, but I’m focused on Steelhead. The lodge is Orvis endorsed and holds a section of private river frontage in its backyard, so my hopes are high. Walking into the large lobby of the lodge you are greeted with warm smiles and the smell of something good cooking in the restaurant. I meet Matt next, the head guide, and we quickly hit it off. Matt is professional, extremely funny, and one of the fishiest dudes I have ever met. We were also joined by the Lodge sales manager Brian Benner, who was just as fishy as Matt, and even more eager to go find some steelhead. We spent three days fishing from boats and wade fishing in the areas surrounding the Tailwater lodge. It was our first steelhead experience and will go down as one of our favorite trips to date. Most of our adventures take us outside the US, and trips like these remind us we can have just as much fun in our back yard. We landed over 40 fish between the 5 of us in a couple of days, each fish was more beautiful than the next, and the scenery was stunning. Often times spending an entire morning without seeing another angler.
The lodge itself has a nice rustic charm and everything you would ever need to be happy. The restaurant quickly turned into one of our favorite places. The largest trout painting I have ever seen hangs on the back wall, and the food is delicious. At night you could find us drinking Moscow mules by the pool table.
During the stay, we had a chance to sit down with the Tailwater team to learn more about their operation.FL: Tell us about how Tailwater Lodge came to be?
TWL: Tailwater Lodge is an adaptive re-use of the former Altmar Elemntary School. The parent company (Woodbine group) wanted to create a dining and lodging experience to accompany the fishing on the Salmon River, giving guests a new option when staying in the area. FL: Tell us about some of the amenities, and the new additions coming in 2019?
TWL: The lodge has 2,000 feet of private access to the salmon river directly behind the lodge. On property amenities now include, bar, restaurants tasting room, indoor pool, outdoor hot tub, and coming this spring a full spa.FLY: Can you tell us about the species you can target?
TWL: The salmon river is known for its epic run pacific salmon Kings and Cohos. Although many of us find that the true trophy on the salmon river is the Great Lakes Steelhead. Our steelhead season lasts from late October into mid-April with ample opportunities to target fish on the swing without the crowds. Mix in some lake run Brown Trout, Atlantic Salmon and some summertime Skamania and Small Mouth and the salmon river offers a lot more than some anglers think.
FL: Do you recommend taking a guide out?
TWL: It’s a good idea to get a guide the first time you come to the Salmon River. There are several special regulations that pertain only to Lake Ontario tributaries that don’t apply to the rest of the state. Also learning an “ethical” way to catch our fish is also taught by a respected guide. I’d say most important to the majority of the people I guide is to find a quiet place to fish. On the Salmon, you will always be around others but a guide can get their guests into locations that are either less busy or onto private sections of the river. All of these points can make your fishing experience a world-class experience and a guide will help make that happen.
FL: When is the best season to fish on the Salmon?
TWL: We have two maybe three favorite times of year on the river. Early salmon season can be a blast, late August into September. Late fall when the salmon are almost over and the dime bright steelhead enter the river and spring when those drop back steelhead are eager to take a fly on their way back to the lake.
FL: Do you have any upcoming events or projects in 2019 you would like to mention?
TWL: We are excited to open our additional 46 rooms bringing us to 88 along with the new amenities. The spa is going to allow for a truly all-inclusive package when staying at the lodge. We are very excited for 2019.
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