It’s never too early to think about Spring Steelhead fishing, although the fall run of Steelhead on the Salmon River wasn’t great, things are looking good for the spring run. Tons of snow on Tug Hill means high water flows for hopefully the entire month of April which translates into lots of post spawn Steelhead remaining in the river for a longer duration of time. More fish in the river means in theory more fish on the end of your line. High water on the Salmon river is something that should be welcomed with open arms, especially in the spring. You will find fish just about everywhere in the river which makes things a bit easier. In low water, fish will be concentrated a bit more in the deeper holes which can make finding them easier but if there’s less fishy water there’s gonna be a much higher concentration of anglers. High, stained water also makes the fish a bit less spooky which is good for everyone. You don’t need to use as light of tippet material which will help keeping you from breaking as many fish off. The only thing that can be tricky in high water is chasing after fish on foot, sometimes when you hook a hot fish there’s nothing you can do to stop them and often in high water it can get tricky real quick trying to pursue a hot fish. That’s one of the awesome things about fishing from a drift boat. You can chase them down in a drift boat much easier than you can on foot allowing you to potentially land more fish.
Once the Salmon River exceeds aprox. 2200 CFS wade fishing will get a little dicey, 1,500-2,000 in the spring is good, you may have some trouble moving around but it’s definitely fishable at those flows. Don’t worry though! If the Salmon River is flowing at 2,500cfs or even above 3,000cfs at the Pineville Bridge there are other options. Lots of the smaller tribs of the Salmon River and Ontario will fill up with fish when the Salmon gets that high allowing for some awesome opportunities at sight fishing to Steelhead. Trout Brook and Orwell Brook are two great streams to fish in high water. Generally you’re going to be doing more looking than casting in these streams, quite often you will see a pod of fish, approach them and then cast to them. These fish will be a bit more spooky so wear drab colors and try to stay out of the water. Also avoid casting to fish that are on their beds, let those fish do their thing without harassing them, there will be plenty of other fish around.
When it comes to tackle you can keep it pretty simple. We prefer a 10′ 6wt or 7wt for Steelhead, we generally either fish with TFO rods or St. Croix Imperials. Both have a Med Fast Action allowing them to roll cast exceptionally well. Flies are another thing that can be over examined and overthought. Pink San Juan Worms, Chartreuse and Pink single eggs and egg clusters like a Sucker Spawn all work well. Throw a few Big Kaufman Black Stoneflies in the box as well and you’re pretty much all set. If the water’s clear, use these same patterns in a little less intrusive colors such as Cheese. We generally use Maxima 8lb for our tippet material. This stuff is rugged, ties knots extremely well and doesn’t have a lot of stretch. It is a bit thicker than lots of other materials on the market but the diameter doesn’t seem to have a negative impact for us. It would be wise to throw some lighter stuff in your pack in case water levels are low and the water is clear. Generally some type of strike indicator is a good idea, if you’ve seen our posts before you know we’re all believers in Raven Floats as they work excellent in conditions that you’re generally up against over there. Other types of indicators will work as well but be sure they’re capable of carrying a little bit of weight. We’d recommend either using felt boots or having a pair of rubber soled boots with some aggressive studs like the Simms Alumabite cleats. Wading Staffs are also a good idea Be prepared for weather conditions from 10 degrees to 60 degrees because you never know whats going to happen weather wise in that area!
If you’re looking to book a trip for the Salmon River this coming spring give us a shout, we still have some openings for April, not a ton though so don’t wait!