Salmon River Voice

What if a river had a voice? If he could describe the things he saw and heard. What if the roaring waterfall and chattering stream could converse with those who frequented its banks? Somehow… a river has this ability. However, it is spoken through the mouths of fishermen, shop owners and visitors who find themselves within its waters. The voice of a river takes many forms, but in the end, the spirit is shared by all those who have dipped their boots in its continuity. In this film… we hear the words, lessons and voice of Salmon River.

aerial view of salmon river

Salmon River Voice it’s one for everyone to hear. He is the one who talks with purpose but never looks down on the game. It is welcoming, but it is firm. He is one who has seen his fair share of trials and tribulations, but speaks, today, with exhilarating joy to acquaintances and strangers alike. It is a rumbling and whispering voice. It is the culmination of generations of anglers who have loved and lost within the confines of its shores, and one that will always remain present, if its visitors care to strike up a conversation.

fish in the salmon river

About the Salmon River:

The Salmon River, located in the picturesque part of New York, is a body of water whose name is as famous as the fish that inhabit its cool, flowing currents. Stretching just over 50 miles, the Salmon River, a tributary of Lake Ontario, stretches west and flows into East Lake Ontario at Oswego County, NY. Since the original human habitation, the Salmon River has drawn settlers from many different cultures, generations and walks of life through a common force. Fishing.

salmon river fishing

Home to several highly sought after species of game fish such as Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, as well as Brown Trout, Steelhead* and Smallmouth Bass, the Salmon River is nothing short of an angler’s dream come true. Fishable 8 months out of the year (depending on how brave you are), season after season, anglers can be found lining the river banks hoping to catch the fish of a lifetime, or, more often, to reunite with what gone away…

holding a steelhead above water
Know Before You Go: View the Oswego County Comprehensive Fishing Report, here.

Change of seasons:


As summer begins to wind down and the leaves return to decorate the gold-tipped and crimson-tipped northern timber, the Salmon River begins to reopen to its annual residents—both above and below the river’s thrilling currents.

salmon out of water
Learn more about the Douglaston Salmon Run, here.

From mid-September to early November, the first salmon begin to return to the river to complete their spawning runs, with Chinook usually leading the way, leaving around October, leading the way for Coho that comes As these fish only spawn once in their lifetime, catching these fish presents an exciting challenge to ethically entice these fish to receive the treatment presented; either by fly or traditional, through a provoked strike. These methods being very popular with steelhead anglers in the western United States, the fishing experience can sometimes seem quite similar. However, due to their limited range and carefully implemented conservation efforts, the success rate of catching one of these fish is relatively high by a global standard. However, it takes the skill and determination of a true angler to land one.

salmon making a run

winter and spring)

As Salmon begin to dwindle in the colder months, the next wave of hungry fish enters. Coming to feed on the newly laid eggs, steelhead* and Brown Trout begin their invasion of the river and take out the toughest of the Salmon River Crowd as the fishing progresses into the cold winter months. During these months, long before the sun rises, the river is illuminated by the glow of dozens of fisherman’s lanterns as each participant waits for the morning light to entice the fish to start moving.

an eager fisherman waits before dusk

Then, once these fish have had a chance to spawn and the Spring thaws around the river, brown trout and steelhead begin to return to Lake Ontario to conquer the depths. As they make their journey home, these fish feed aggressively, stocking up for the trip and a summer spent occupying the depths of Lake Ontario.

mat and client fish together


If you missed the winter/spring Steelhead* season, Summer still presents an opportunity to hook up with a massive walleye through the DNR’s Summer Steelhead* stocking program. However, with the onset of the warmer months, most anglers turn their attention to the exciting lure of smallmouth bass.

smallmouth bass

*: Use of the term “Steelhead” to refer to the giant rainbow trout run from the lake in the Salmon River. In our opinion, the argument is pointless, but you are welcome to draw your own conclusions. Here is all the information you need: These fish rocks.

The meaning behind the Salmon River:

Salmon River is not something whose ethos can be summed up in a few words. To those who have never been, the bound gravel that surrounds the culture in and out of the water can seem daunting. From the frigid sub-zero mornings spent brushing ice off your guides to the throngs of anglers that can be found crowding the banks day after day…some may have completely wiped out the river. And for those people, we thank you – as your place will be happily taken by someone else. However, for those looking for a fishing experience that perfectly embodies the freshwater culture of the American Northeast, the waters of the Salmon River may be just the place to focus your search.

walking towards the river in the dark

This river is a place that year after year; rain, shine or snow, you will find people making their pilgrimage for one reason or another. It is a place where time has slowed down and where the unfamiliar faces that populate local restaurants, lodges and fly-shops are quickly transformed to become the welcoming faces of friends. Where the first and last tapes are made. It is a place where one goes to experience a true phenomenon that cannot be compared anywhere else in the world.

sign outside the fly shop

To learn more about the Salmon River:

To learn more about Salmon River, or other opportunities in Oswego County, NY. Check out their website, here. For regular updates, check them out Comprehensive fishing reportwhich is updated daily.

Thanks to the Oswego County Tourism team for making this piece possible. Additional thanks for Tailwater Lodge, Malinda’s Fly-Shop, Fran Verdoliva, Garrett Brancy, AND Matt Ertzinger.

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