The Salmon River and The Magic of Estaz
By Mike Hogue
I am really not much of a salmon fishermen. By nature, I am more of a trout and bass lover. So when I moved out to New York state, I was determined to learn some new kinds of fishing and of course salmon was at the top of my list. In my book it is a bit freaky to be fishing with a fly about the size of your fingernail to fish that are best described as well floating bumpers from the back of a '73 VW microbus. When you latch on to one of this, wow what a fight! These things are big incredible fish, with a small one about 20 lbs and most fish weighing in at 30--40 lbs.
I heard that is was supposed to rain this week and that they began releasing water out of the dam in the Salmon river. I checked in with the boss, got the okay and started loading my gear. I checked my knots, rewound my reel and backing, looked over the stash of salmon flies I tied up. I was ready. Fish On!
What a nice day I had with air temps in the 70-80, a bit of early morning breeze and a nice over cast day. No rain and it had rained the night before. Perfect day for fishing. I pulled into Pulaski, NY and saw the crowd. By the dozens, lining the bank tossing bait, lures, flies. It was all there. All of us in search of the same thing. Big fish. Not discouraged, I keep driving to find the Douglaston Run. After a few wrong turns, I looked at the map and finally headed down the right road.
I pulled into the lot and paid my fees. ( For those not familar with the Douglaston Run it is a 1-2 mile strech of the Salmon River which is on private land. It has a restricted number of folks allowed to fish and it is also located near the mouth of the river and Lake Ontario. Any fish which begin to enter the stream will have to pass through this strech. It is a pay to play place. )
The Douglaston Run while somewhat less crowded is still a pretty packed house. If you have ever fished in MO trout parks this is about the same. Not exactlly wall to wall but not a pure wilderness experience either. At least here, a few of the more colorful sorts and yahoos are kept to a minimum. At one time Pulaski has had a very interesting past with large crowds, rowdy folks and general dis-order the rule of the day. Now thankfully that is pretty well gone, most of the folks are actually nice.
I began the morning by fishing a run near the parking lot. I saw lots of hook ups and several nice fish landed. I started casting. I tossed all sorts of flies and drifted a ton of stuff down the way. Nothing. Fish On! I heard that enough to just about get sick. If you catch a fish you are supposed to cry out so that you don't get tangled in the mess of lines as the fish makes it way up the river.
Off course I had no fish on, nothing but a few chunks of watercress that floated my way and a few birds nests of mono. I watched as I saw folks with spey hours dance flies and some model for a Harley ad land monster fish. I saw one fellow go running up the stream to follow his fish, slip and go face first into the water. Now that was outstanding. Bellyflop, 10 points for the guy down in front. Nice form dude. I would prefer a full gainer next time.
I spent some time talking with a man who told me in no uncertain terms was I supposed to strip the my line and fly. That would be considered snagging which was illegal and I could get kicked out for that. Gee I thought that was what you did, cast and mend. I also watched as this fellow landed and kept 4 fish which was at least one past the limit. That was okay because his partner/wife? got skunked. Right.
I packed up and walked up stream. I visited with a gent from Pa and asked him how he rigged, fished and where he liked to go. After a bit I headed up stream some and ran into a fellow that is a guide and started fishing. Man I must have fished for an eternity. I cast eggs, streamers, salmon flies. I stuck the tree, busted off and spanked myself in the head with enough lead to fill up the Wal Mart tackle section. Ouch that hurts getting hit in the head.
After lunch I stopped, looked and watched. I rerigged and kept fishing. Still nothing. Finally late in the day. I made a cast. At first I thought it was a rock. I pulled back and ker-pow. Like an explosion the water lit up and you guessed it I had FISH ON! Yes. Zzzzzz, first the line ripped out and then the backing. Man this was a brute. I reeled and pulled and finally the fish backed off. I started reeling and then zip out went my line. Again, I reeled in and pulled. Finally, I saw him. Holy Mackerel, this was a big fish. I headed him in and beached him. Quite literally, this was the size of my leg and was a hefty 30 lber at least. By the end of day, I broke off another fish and I had 2 more hook-ups. The fly? A Blue Estaz egg.
For more info on the Doulgaston run check out:
For those not in the loop, Estaz is a long time Salmon River favorite. Estaz is a plastic chenille which is mostly pearl. It comes in 3 sizes and about 30 colors. Simple flies are eggs in which you wind the chenille on an egg hook. Now exactlly a work of art but it is very effective. Mine had a base of flo orange thread. I also used a stout Kamasan egg hook.
Other popular flies are comets, stoneflies and streamers in which the chenille is used as a body or belly. You can also use this material as a base behind spey hackle for a cactus spey fly. For more info be sure to check out this site:
This is the complete book on-line of Fran Verdoliva. It contains all of his Estaz flies. Long list here with some photos. If you want to make FISHING salmon flies this is it.
Eggs, Egg Salad and Egg Sandwichs. All here. Yeap Estaz included.
Estaz: Long time Great Lakes Favorite. Use for all you your steelhead flies. Colors: Red, Orange, Black, Pearl, Hot Pink, Gold, Olive, Blue, Purple, Chartreuse, Shrimp Pink. Price: $2.50
Petite Estaz: Smaller version of the popular material. Use for woolies, stoneflies, streamers or on bass flies. Colors: Blue, Olive, Peach, Pearl, Black, Shimmer Gold, Hot Pink, Chartreuse. $2.50
Egg Yarn: Favorite for eggs. Colors: Hot Orange, Chartreuse, Cheese, Roe Orange, Bubblegum/Pink, Mixed Pack of 4 $2.50
Hot Melt Glue Gun: This is a low heat Hot Melt Glue Gun. Use this to make MOE bugs, easy to make eggs, cluster eggs and also for all sorts of heads and such. Includes clear glue sticks. Order colored glue below. Price $5.00
Dyed 5/16" Mini Glue Sticks: Use these sticks with the new mini glue gun for great looking eggs and cluster eggs. Choose from these Colors: Chartreuse, Pink Champagne, Roe Orange, Clear and Cheese. $2.00 per pack of 4.
New! More Glue Sticks: Last year's big seller is back in more colors! Choose from Hot Yellow, Neon Pink, Neon Fire Orange, Pearl or Glow in the Dark. Use for Moe type bonefish flies or use as eggs. $2.00 per pack of 4.
Krystal Glo Eggs: 6mm eggs mixed with fuzzy pearl fibers. Colors: Cheese, Bubblegum, Flo Chart, Flo, Orange and Red....$2.50/pack of 10
Mustad C67S Hooks: Egg type: Chemically Sharpened Micro Barb, Curved 2 extra strong, Down Eye. Sizes 8-14, Price: $3.75/25
Kamasan B982: Egg Hook: RE, short heavy wire hook. For eggs and tube flies. Size 6, 8: $1.50/10
Kamasan B 983: Black egg hooks, wicked strong. Size 4,6,8 price: $4.50/25
Still on sale: Grizzly saltwater necks. Great bargin. Top Quality. Same necks as drop_apsi. These are great for streamers and also wings on medium size dries. $10 or 2 for $18.
Sharptail grouse: Looks sort of like a bird pizza. Tan, white and gray. Industrial nymph hackle. $6 or 2 for $10.
Crap Load of deer, elf or moose hair. Was $5.50 for a mix of 4 patches. Includes deer, moose, elk. Tanned patches, big bag with a large handful. $4.50
#2 Partridge. Was $10 each now $8 til gone. Bargin city. I am nuts for selling at this price.
Krystal Egg flies: Chart, Peach, Orange, Red. In a hurry? I still have some. Krystal egg, super glued onto a serious Kamasan egg hook. Imported from New Jersey. $.75 each or 6 for $4.00
Fishing Report: Water at Salmon River is 335 cfs. Great temps. Early fish in. Steelies soon to follow. Eggs, woolies and slinkies rule the day. Take along lots of lead and a hard hat. It started raining in Ithaca, streams muddy maybe this week some fish will come in.
Rumor has it Mike's Red Barn Fly store is more than half done. Expect a grand opening party and specials next month if I am still alive after doing this.
=============================/:>/:>/:>/:>/:>====================================================As usual if you want to be deleted from this list for any reason, let me know. Hope you enjoyed this! Contact: Mike Hogue, Badger Creek Fly Tying, 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068 . 607-347-4946. Email: Mike@eflytyer.com, Web Site: www.eflytyer.com