Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Battling Chrome and Cold - The Salmon River Recap

Life has been pretty hectic so far this year. Endless work hours, time with the wife and kids, constant traffic jams, and more snow that I remember having in PA in a long time. We've tried to head to the Salmon River in NY three times since October and for one reason or another, the trips always got cancelled.

Things finally fell into place this past weekend. We were able to take off work, it looked like our wives and kids wouldn't get hit with a snowstorm while we were away,  the weather up there was cold but looking mostly dry, so we made the journey. Along for the ride was my brother in law, Nick, and our good fishing buddy, Bob from Just Another Fishing Blog. We headed up Thursday night. My step dad, Jack, and his neighbor Ken were planning on heading up Friday morning to meet us.

We arrived a little after 11pm and it was in the single digits. I forgot how damn cold it was up there. We met up with Nick's family in Mexico where we'd be staying, and started cracking beers. And more beers. And more beers. I'm not sure what time we got out the door on Friday morning, but it wasn't very early.

We met up with Jack and Ken in the parking lot in Altmar and got to fishing. Bob lost one right off the bat, then Nick moved in and brushed off the multi-year steelhead skunk with a little baby.

As for me? Well....I started early...and pretty much continued all weekend.

Fish for half an hour, drink a beer. Fish for half an hour, drink a beer. I was feeling pretty good around 4pm and not really caring that I didn't get into any fish and then I started to feel even better when I felt the switch rod bend.

I too brushed off my steelhead skunk with a nice slab of a fish and holy shit, it felt good.

He took a blue estaz stonefly nymph. I hooked another immediately after him but broke him off. John Ryan, Nick's cousin, centerpinned all day and nailed a ton of fish. Damn beads. Jack, Bob, and Ken walked away empty handed.

We headed back to the tackle shop, hung up the waders, and pounded a ton of beer.

I think we were up fairly early Saturday morning, but I honestly don't remember already. I know we met up with Jack and Ken at McD's for breakfast, and then hit the water.

We fished hard in the morning. I opted to stay in the lower fly zone while the majority of the crew trekked downstream. Beers started happening around noon and  I wound up sitting with John Ryan and his dad in the Altmar hotel getting lunch since the rest of the crew were down somewhere between the schoolhouse and Ellis cove. As we were leaving, they were walking up. Nick told me that Jack got a fish, and from the look on his face, I could tell it was a nice one.

I owe a lot to Jack. Besides being an amazing step dad, he also gave me my first fly rod 5 years ago, and the rest is history.  He even gave me my first vise. He's came along with me 4 or 5 times up to NY, but has always walked away empty handed. He's an amazing fisherman but just couldn't shake the steelhead or salmon skunk. I don't think I've ever seen him so happy  as when he was telling me about his fish. From the sound of it, it was one to remember. Unfortunately none of us were with him when it happened, and he cared more about getting the fish back in the water than a hero shot, so there were no pictures. I've been kicking myself in the ass for not fishing near him when he landed it. Hopefully there will be more.

After lunch it was back to fishing. About half an hour in the water and I felt a slight pop, and then my boot FILLED with icy cold H20. Yep, bye bye waders. My leg was soaked.

I pretty much gave up on fishing for the rest of the day and headed to the car, where sweet, sweet IPA awaited me. About an hour later when I could officially not feel my foot, I went to get Nick to head back to the house. As I cross the bridge and look down, he's into a MONSTER, and his uncle and cousin were hooking them left and right as well. Bastards.

And so ended day 2 of fishing with Bob and I walking away empty handed.

But the day was only half over. Jack and Ken came over to the house for dinner. A ton of wings, pizza, and beer was consumed, following by dick jokes, really bad IPA farts, Suicide Girls Instagram comparison, and a fly tying marathon.

We whipped out some bugs, and got completely trashed. Zero f*cks were given. And we realized that with his Buff on, Bob is definitely an understudy for Reno 911.

We went to bed at varying times between 1 and 3:30am (of course I'm the last one up and listening to snore-a-thon) with the alarm set for 6am, knowing sure as shit we weren't gonna be up then.

9am rolls around and we get out to the river by about 10:30. Jack opted to head home early with Ken because a storm was rolling through NY and PA. We decided to fish anyway. We fished hard until about 1:30. I was hooking up nonstop with some fish. Here's a nice male I brought up that unfortunately took a hook in the fin. John Ryan got a few as well

We then packed up and headed home, only to drive through the entire freaking snowstorm. The typical 3.75 hour drive turned into 6 hours. Roads sucked. Snow sucked. It was awful.

All in all, it was an awesome weekend. Memories were made, as were flies and hangovers. Nick and I broke the skunk. Jack got his first one ever. And Bob...well you can read his version of the trip here. At least he was the only one that got a fish last year.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better group of dudes to fish with.  Thanks so much to the Lutz family for putting up with our smelly asses for 3 nights. I look forward to the next trip.


  1. Good times, Mike! I've only been there once and am itching to get back. Congrats on all the fish.

  2. Dude....sounds awesome! I would love to chase chrome some day!