This is all too often the hand that I have been dealt when fishing the Salmon River. "You should have been here last week" or "Its going to be phenomenal in a few days based on this spike in flow" has rung from ear to ear in my head on a number of past trips. I would like to take a moment to express that I will personally drag the next person below the surface of the SR waters if I am told this again. So began the the first BFC trip to Western NY during the fall Steelhead season of 2012....deep breath....we rigged up, slept, and took to the water early on Friday morning.
This was Maxfield's (Steel Leader) first Steelhead trip. I brought he and Ethan (both young gents I work with) up last Salmon season and it had been a bust under similar increased flow conditions. This trip was shaping up to be very similar; it was looking quite likely that the man may never return if Jasper and I were unable to pull off some heroics.
Altmar was a bust as well, plenty of guys on river right, things looked fishy but there was nothing fishy about this day. We retired to the Altmar Hotel for seafood platters, beers and Velvet Elvis shots. Day 1 was over and we held onto hope that Day 2 after the flow increase would produce fish that had settled into the high water. We had pre-purchased tickets to the DSR for Saturday so a plan was in motion.
Tickets to the DSR this season are $45 which is a tough pill to swallow unless you have a good idea that things are going to be productive. We couldn't do much worse than Day 1 so the money was the last thing on our minds. We settled into the Flats at the bottom of the stairs and I almost immediately tied into a fish, a battle ensued, fish was twice to the net and the hook popped as the fish was a mere foot from victory. A nice fat chromer casually swam back into the depths, if she had a middle finger it would have been high out of the water aimed directly at me. The place went cold after that; we saw nobody tight and touched nothing else other than leaves. Downstream we trudged.
The snooze button was hit a few extra times on Sunday morning, no matter though we were a stone's throw from the parking lot and nobody could cross the river to the side we would be hiking into, crowds would not be a concern.
We settled into the BFC's favorite glide in the upper reaches and once again I came tight; once again the fish had other plans and threw the hook, this was beginning to be a thorn in my side. It was early, perhaps this was a good sign. By 9:20 neither we, nor the half dozen people on the far bank had touched another fish. We had an hour and 10 mins to make something happen before we had to leave the river so we ventured downstream.
There is a tree, a tree we have caught many fish near, and when we approached it there were three people already fishing there. We nearly bailed on the day. There seemed to be room for perhaps two of us and as we began fishing the guy below us went tight and his buddy upstream offered us his position so he could help his friend, all three of us now had a position. 30 mins left in our trip. Tight, snapped, tight, pulled hook, tight landed, tight snapped, tight pulled hook, 5 mins left, tight landed. That was our last 30 mins of a stupidly bad trip. War cries, pictures, and fist bumps ensued.