Altmar, NY may not be a town you’re familiar with, but to many anglers across the northeast, this little town is the Mecca of Steelhead fishing. Located on the banks of the famous Salmon River lies Tailwater Lodge, our venue for a Steelhead and Yoga Retreat over the next three days. The group is being led by fly fishing guide and yoga instructor Abbie Schuster, along with the team of guides from Tailwater Lodge. We had been invited up to join a small group of men and women and couldn’t wait to get started. Fishing had been tough the previous few days and we were hoping the odds would be in our favor once we teamed up with Abbie and the guides from the Lodge.
After checking in, we enjoyed a delicious meal and had some drinks in the beautiful Lodge restaurant and bar. We got to know everyone in the group and were excited for the days ahead. As the evening wound down, we said our goodnights to the rest of our group and got some rest before a bright and early wake up call.
The morning came quickly, so we gathered our gear to meet up with Abbie before we trudged out into the dark, brisk morning on the river. Our guides had arrived on the water before us to setup basecamp for the group to fish and enjoy the day ahead. It wasn’t long before we were munching breakfast sandwiches and sipping hot coffee brought to us riverside by the Lodge.
The guides from Tailwater Lodge were great, keeping everyone’s spirits up despite the tough fishing. They were eager to answer anyone’s questions and help in any way they could. I had never cast a two-handed fly rod before, but was able to pick it up quickly with their instruction. After I figured out the basics, my guide Matt left me to it, shouting encouraging compliments to me from the bank. Adrian, one of the other guides for Tailwater, was also fun to fish with. You could tell he really loves what he does, he wanted us to catch a Steelhead just as much as we did. Being a woman and an independent angler, I really valued both their concise instruction and how they knew when to step back and let us figure things out. It was a perfect balance and I think it really helped to make the whole experience feel organic.
After taking a break, I walked out to where Adrian was standing. He handed me my fly rod, we exchanged a few words and laughs before he headed to shore. I wasn’t fishing for long, going through the casting motions I had just learned before my line went tight. It all happened so fast that I don’t really know what happened, but I set the hook. I lifted my fly rod and just started yelling “Yeah! Yeah! Fish!”. Immediately after the hook set, the fish jumped twice, which I really wasn’t expecting, but it was awesome. Within seconds Matt was on my right coaching me through the fight and Adrian was on my left with the net. I could feel the power of the fish taking line off my reel and the thought of losing it was nerve-racking. After a few minutes, Adrian was finally able to scoop the fish with the net, I’ll never forget the high fives and when he said “Congratulations! This is a morale booster, we all needed this fish!”. I definitely could not have asked for better support and overall experience for landing my first steelhead and I am very thankful to the guides and staff at Tailwater Lodge for helping make it happen.
After each day on the water, we came back to Tailwater Lodge to unwind with a yoga class from the one and only Abbie Schuster. Although our shoulders were tired from casting and our legs still chilled from the cold waters of the Salmon River, the yoga warmed us back up and helped us to relax. Abbie’s instruction combined with the settings around us made for a truly unique yoga experience. The next day we found ourselves really looking forward to the yoga sessions after fishing. If you haven’t tried pairing yoga with your fly fishing adventures, we truly recommend it, your mind and body will thank you.