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Fishing Report
Fishing Report March 20, 2019
Wed, March 20, 2019

It was a beautiful day to be on the water. The morning broke crisp and clear with just a breathe of wind. As the sun rose so did the temperatures, near 50 for a high! Those guests who were fortunat ...

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Address:Pulaski, New York
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A History of the Salmon River Fishery

A HISTORY of the SALMON RIVER FISHERY

 

13,000 years ago: Glacial Lake Iroquois was a prehistoric pro-glacial lake that existed at the end of the last ice age. The lake was essentially an enlargement of the present Lake Ontario that formed because the St. Lawrence River downstream from the lake was blocked by the ice sheet near the present Thousand Islands. The level of the lake was approximately 100 ft above the present level of Lake Ontario. (Note: Lake Iroquois extended to present day Altmar and probably to Salmon River Falls).

 

1632 (Lake Ontario): Champlain first called it Lake St. Louis.

 

1660: Creuxius gave it the name Lacus Ontarius. Ontara in Iroquois means "lake," and Ontario, "beautiful lake.

 

July 1654: The Jesuit Fathers Lemercier and LaMoyne ascended the Oswego River. They met Oneida Indians "with their canoes filled with fresh salmon ... one of our men caught twenty large salmon and on the way up the river our people killed thirty other salmon with spears and paddles. There were some many of them that they were struck without difficulty" (Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1899:151).

 

1743: ... of spears used by the Indians fishing there. "They strike them [salmon] with long slender shafts 18 or 20 feet long, pointed at the end with iron. The 2 splints of wood spreading each side, directs the point into the fish, which at a great depth it would otherwise be difficult to hit. I saw upon one of their canoes in the morning a large piece of bark spread across. On this lay gravel and sand, and on these coals and ashes, which I supposed had been a fire, and the gravel placed there to save the bark. And I took it to be a design both to allure and see to strike the fish."

 

1792 (Van der Kemp Papers): "Both Salmon Rivers, emptying into Lake Ontario ... and the Fish-creek in Oneyda lake are in the spring and fall [full] of Salmon. You may form of this assertion, a pretty accurate opinion after I have informed you, that one Oneyda Indian took with his Spear 45 Salmons within an hour; another in the presence of Captain Simonds 65 during one night, and another 80.”

 

1792: Original purchase DSR property. It traces its title back to a conveyance (Macomb Purchase) from the State of New York. DSR's property encompasses the shoreline properties, the riverbed, and ten islands within and along the Salmon River.

 

1817: NY Governor Clinton - "Salmon have been caught at Van Valkenburgh's [a tavern two miles below Oswego Falls] in every month of the year. They sometimes weight 37 pounds. The boats frighten them away, and as they are very shy, they are not so numerous as formerly. In the spring of the year they are in the best order. Big Salmon [Salmon River at Pulaski] is their favorite haunt ... The salmon pass Oswego in April, in great numbers, and are caught at that time. In September and October, when they return to the lake, they are again caught; but at this season none are to procured.”

 

1817: DeWitt Clinton enumerated early signs of loss of habitat for salmon and other fishes. "The cultivation of the country has had a prodigious effect in producing this diminution... The cutting down of trees, the drying up of swamps, marshes, the ploughing of land, and the exposure of the soil to the influence of the sun, have lessened these sources of subsistence. The streams and rivers have also been diminished in size, some of them have been entirely dried up. The fountains and springs which furnished cool retreats for the deposite of their spawn, are destroyed. The alluvial deposites have also choked up their ancient places of resort, have discoloured the waters, and rendered them disagreeable and unhealthy; and they have thus been expelled from their former domains, and have been obliged to look out for other haunts, in wild and uncultivated countries."

 

1812: 2000 were speared in one night in Pulaski, and 3600 salmon were caught in one night by twelve skiffs fishing in the Salmon River. Salmon runs are reported to have been quite large. For example, one fisherman caught 400 salmon in one night in the Salmon River; these fish averaged about 15 pounds.

 

1769 – 1828: Mayor of NYC, Governor of NY, Senator, Presidential Candidate and TROUT FISHERMAN.

 

1822: Fishes of the Western Waters of the State of New York "There was an advent of salmon in the Oswego River which was called the 'June Run'. This was usually two or three weeks earlier than the appearance of the fish in the Salmon River. In inland lakes in which the Oswego rises [Oneida, Onondaga, and the Finger Lakes] kept that river well filled most of the time, but the Salmon River was ordinarily low when the salmon first came on the shore." Note: In Lake Ontario, the source of salmon in the Oswego system, historical records are adequate to fix the presence of spawning fish in every major tributary except the Niagara River.

 

Early 1800s thru mid 1800s: "There were formerly three salmon streams in this vicinity - Grindstone Creek, Deer Creek and Salmon River - and each stream had a different type of fish. An experienced fisherman could readily tell which stream a fish was caught, though they are but four miles apart. In Deer Creek the fish were long and slim, in Grindstone short and chubby, and in Salmon River large and heavy."

 

Mid 1800s: The prosperous farms in the Pulaski / Salmon River neighborhoods frequently had vigorous complaints from their hired hands because the frequency of Landlocks for meals. Further, these fish were often netted or speared and used for fertilizer.

 

1866: A writer for the "New Topographical Atlas of Tompkins County, New York" had this to say of Lake Ontario. "many of our citizens can well remember the time, when from the waters of this lake, their tables were annually served that prince of fish, ... the Salmon, with flesh as red and luscious as any taken nearer tide water; but to the great disgust of many, and regret of all, these excellent fish have been shut out from this lake by the reckless manner in which its outlet has been damed [sic], and it water polluted with the vile offal from Starch, Gas and other Factories located near the stream".

 

1869: Horatio Seymour, Governor of NYS, reported of the New York Commission of Fisheries in which he noted: eight dams across the Salmon River below the falls, the lowermost 8 1/2 feet in height; 27 dams on Big Sandy Creek, including both branches; seven dams on Little Sandy Creek; and 10 dams on the Oswego River, the first one 10 feet in height.

 

1891: U.S. Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries, Marshall McDonald, reported to the Senate. "The cause of the disappearance, practically, of salmon from the streams of the St. Lawrence Basin has been chiefly and primarily the erection of obstructions in all of the rivers, which have prevented the salmon from reaching their spawning grounds, and so natural reproduction has been absolutely inhibited."

 

1890 -1900: Extirpation (local extinction) of Landlocked Atlantic Salmon

 

1930s & 40s: Decimated indigenous fish populations allowing alewife & other invasive species population to explode.

 

1968: Pacific Salmon stocking initiated - 22,000 Coho.

 

1970: Pacific Salmon stocking continues - 22,000 Chinook & 22,000 Coho.

 

1972: Successful sea lamprey control initiated in Lake Ontario tributaries.

 

1974: Large runs of Pacific salmon & Steelhead stocking initiated.

 

1980: Deep Water Sculpin, previously abundant in Lake Ontario are considered extirpated

 

1981: Salmon River Hatchery built.

 

1985: Zebra: 1/8” – 2” bottom-dwelling mussel found in all five Great Lakes.

 

1989: Quagga: No bigger than a thumb nail, found in all five Great Lakes.

 

1990: Round Goby from the Black & Caspian Sea found in Lake St. Claire and shortly after in all Five Great Lakes!!!

 

Early 1990s: Asian Carp escaped into Mississippi River from southern aquaculture facilities in the when the facilities were flooded. They continue to travel thru the Illinois River enroute to the Great Lakes.

 

1995: Ban on snagging enacted by NYSDEC.

 

1995: Re-introduction of landlocked Atlantic (60,000 fry stocked).

 

1996: Deep Water Sculpin, previously extirpated, caught in Lake Ontario waters

 

1997: Minimum flows go into effect - Significant natural reproduction of all species, especially Chinook Salmon.  Further insect life was able to complete cycle making Salmon River “Buggy”.

 

1998:  First return of adult Atlantic salmon occurs from 1996 stocking.

 

1999: Studies initiated by SUNYESF to determine potential habitat requirements for juvenile Atlantic salmon. 120,000 Atlantic fry stocked to support research

 

2009: Surprising number of 18” Land Locks.

 

March 2010: Numbers of Land Locks, some fish over 12 lbs.

 

April 2011: Numbers of Land Locks, some in high teens or 20’s. They are found in the upper river and particularly the Upper Fly Zone all summer.

 

Spring 2012: Some nice fish were taken but the numbers were less than the previous two springs. This was probably due to the low water flow and cold water temps this year. The Spring Lake fishery does indicate a large population.