The boys were back; for one extended weekend the gang was back together after the graduation fracture with one common goal, great lakes salmon. An off the cuff trip idea boiled down to the founders of our University’s fly fishing club and our trusty pup shoving off from Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg, pushing our way up to the Salmon River in New York. We were planned, primed, and prepared to stake our claim on what we were told was the honey hole of honey holes for a salmon run that was said to rival that of 2012. We had been given some misinformation. Our 7-hour push arrived us streamside by 3 am where we promptly wadered up and shipped out to stream to pull an all-nighter like anxious children on Christmas Eve. As the sun began to peak over the trees the crowds crept out of the woodwork, just like that we were shoulder to shoulder before we could send the first cast. Brien sent that first one, snapping his rod in the process and instantly that unabashed optimism we all had stewing up in us washed away. We watched as spin fisherman snagged fish after fish hauling them in left, right, and sideways, but mostly backward as we couldn’t get one to notice anything we threw. The group consensus after a few hours of skunk laden depression was to go cut our losses and move on to hopefully greener pastures. Taking the fight to the Oswego River we found even less success. At this point we had been up for nearly 30 hours, the sun was high in the sky, hydration levels were low, and morale was even lower. Then one fish turned it all around.
I hooked into a fat hen, the biggest fish I had ever seen in person. The fight ensued and with some beginner’s luck I came out victorious. Excitement, high fives, and photos were lighting up our section of the bank. We had one in the net: proof of concept.
I hooked a few more fish and for the first time in my life, I saw a river fish tear into my backing. As soon as the backing peaked its head out of the reel it popped the fly line off the backing and I found a poorly tied knot the hard way. From then on you would catch a glimpse of fly line scooting around the river like Jaws with his buoy. The crew finished off the hard-fought day tallying only one more fish as Brian pulled in a very early season steelhead.
We retired to our home for the night in the Pulaski Walmart parking lot hoping for a better tomorrow, and a better tomorrow it was. We decided to go back to the Salmon River and post ourselves up in the fly section, the one place we were told wouldn’t be worth it. The same wise sage who told us to burn our early start in the spin fishing section told us to avoid the upper fly zone and the trend of his advice held strong. Once we had made the first contact the floodgates opened, fish-after-fish-after-fish came to the bank. Grips and grins all around. We spend the next two day catching close to 50 fish between the lot of us. It was truly a pleasure to be a part of what might have been a historic run of king salmon in the great lakes.
Doubles were not uncommon those two days and net logistics quickly became an issue.
Dan With his first New York King
Zach Lenker (IG: @zach_lenkner) showing off the gun show with his biggest from the trip.
Panther Fly Fishing Club is part of the 5Rivers Program. The club was founded by Grant Cowan (IG: @grantcow), Brien Hansen (IG: @brienedwardh) and Flylords’ own Dan Zazworsky (IG: @dan.zaz)
Check the club out on Instagram @pantherflyfishing!