October and November traditionally trigger trout and salmon migrations into Lake Ontario and Lake Erie tributaries where local anglers make the trek to experience some of the best trout and salmon fishing in North America.
Chinook and Coho salmon runs in Lake Ontario tributaries generally begin in mid-September and continue through early November. Steelhead begin their tributary runs in earnest in both these Great Lakes in mid-October, and provide fishing excitement through springtime.
Salmon are on a mission to spawn and they’re aggressive and ready to fight. Steelhead on the other hand seem happier and eager to feed, arriving to stuff themselves full of eggs and decaying salmon flesh.
If you plan a trip to pursue these strong fish, the following are the most popular waters that should provide some excellent fishing action:
• Black River (Jefferson County)
• Salmon River (Oswego County)
• Oak Orchard Creek (Orleans County)
• Lower Niagara River (Lake Ontario)
• Cattaraugus Creek (Lake Erie)
According to Willie, from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, several customers traveled to Salmon River in Pulaski, New York last week and had terrific action on Coho in the 5-12-pound range. Although the daily limit is three, Willie said his customers could have caught them all day long. “This was the best run of Coho my customers have seen in a while,” Willie retells.
Willie went on to say that the guys were also picking up a few browns and steelheads and were using egg sacs, rubber salmon eggs and, believe it or not, Berkley’s pink, three-inch trout worms for the Coho.
Easton angler and friend Tom Marchetto, also hit Pulaski and in three days fishing during the last week in September, he reported there was plenty of fish from the DSR up to Pineville (basically the lower stretch of the Salmon River). Marchetto and buddies fished the Staircase Hole area for all three days where the water flow held at around 375 cfs, so access was good. Marchetto said they used a variety of baits including egg sacs, plastic eggs and various flies.
Fishing was good, he opined, considering major runs had not yet occurred. The trio focused on Coho and steelheads, but the majority of the hook-ups were kings (Chinook). Battles were intensive which is indicative of fresh fish coming up the river. Marchetto believed fishing could have been even better had the temperature not been 84 one day. Some rain cooled things off a bit making conditions more typical for fishing there. “The three of us brought home five kings and one Coho, but the take could have been higher had we chose to keep what was landed. Overall, another successful salmon trip,” he said.
Reporting for On the Water Magazine, my fellow New York State outdoor writer and long-time friend Bill Hilts Jr says the Salmon River has fish spread out from top to bottom while the lower end of the river is getting the most fishing pressure. He reports anglers have been getting into kings in the DSR, Black Hole, Staircase/Longbridge, Town Pool, Ballpark, Papermill and RT2A areas.
Bill goes on to report that in the mid-upper end of the river, fish continue to be holding in and around the deeper holes and larger runs such as Sportsman Pool, Pineville, Trestle Pool, Ellis Cove and Schoolhouse Pool. Additionally, fish are holding in both the Upper and Lower Fly Zone.
Anglers there are using glo-bugs, sucker spawn, estaz eggs, hot stones, steelhead hammer, egg sucking leeches, comets, bunny leeches and Wooly Buggers.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.