I love salmon fishing.
It's a ritual that I enjoy every year, shared with my closest friends and relatives. A crisp fall day in upstate New York surrounded by the beautiful countryside and the incredible Salmon River is really a trip that you must experience.
But, fishing? Not exactly. Let me explain...
The species of salmon that we're targeting is the Chinook or King Salmon. This particular variety is landlocked, never making back to the ocean like their cousins, the Pacific Salmon. Where we go, the King Salmon spawn and hatch in the upper portions of the Salmon River and its tributaries. After hatching, they make their way back to Lake Ontario where they spend the next five years eating mostly alewives and other baitfish and growing to an average of 26 lbs. before they make the trek up the river to spawn. The NY State record King Salmon is a 47 pounder, caught in Lake Ontario.
Every fall, between September and November, these raging spawning beasts make the perilous marathon swim nearly 15 miles with one thought in mind, laying their eggs and fertilizing them as soon as possible! That's it.......nothing else. That's significant, because they don't eat anything on their journey. Typically, fishermen throw lures, flies or live baits to "match the hatch", normally trying to match or imitate the baitfish or food source that their target fish is eating at the time. Not so with the King of the River. They don't eat.
I think the term "hunting" would be more appropriate.
What we do is hike up and down the river, stalking our prey, stumbling and slipping on the rocks, pushed by the mighty current until we find these powerful and elusive fish. Then we position ourselves in just the right spot to lay a perfect cast, falling gently on the water so we don't spook them, upstream of their gasping mouths. If we do everything right, the weights glide past the fish on one side while the hook is dangling on our leader on the other side. We lift the rod at just the right moment and.........
WHAM! Instant chaos!! Charging, leaping, beautiful chaos! Upstream like a freight train, rod bending, real screaming then... Oh shit, he's heading back downstream!
FISH ON we scream!.... BEHIND YOU!..... LOOK OUT!........
What a fight!
I think wrestling with a bear would be easier sometimes. That's the beauty of it all. We guide the fish to the rocky shore and if we're very lucky, we'll actually land this trophy. Regardless of the size, every one of these awesome challengers deserves our praise and respect. Thank you, Salmon River, for this amazing hunting trip!