Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Fishing and Foliage! (10/1/09 - 10/7/09)

Salmon season is hitting its peak, and the river is packed with fishermen looking to catch chinook and coho salmon on their way upstream to spawn. Some of these fish are striving to reach the Salmon River Fish Hatchery, returning to the place where their life began. Like many migratory fish species, salmon are able to return to their home streams by following the unique chemical composition of the water where they imprinted. Salmon raised at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery "imprinted" on the combination of well water and stream water used at the hatchery, and are now returning there in great numbers. Soon it will be time for hatchery staff to begin the "egg take" process, the first step in raising the next generation of salmon for stocking in Lake Ontario and its tributaries, including the Salmon River.


Anglers fish along side a drift boat at Altmar North. Photo by River Steward Liz Wolff.


The Salmon River Fish Hatchery, located on County Route 22 in Altmar, NY, is a great stop for anglers looking to learn more about the fish they're hoping to catch. The main building is currently open from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. each day, and has numerous informational displays about the hatchery, the Salmon River, and the sportfish species found there. The facility is also great for families and offers a children’s area with coloring sheets, posters, and kid-friendly educational materials as well as an auditorium that plays a series of videos about fishing and the spawning process. This time of year, another attraction is the fish ladder where you can watch as thousands of fish make their way up to the hatchery.




Left: A salmon attempts to jump up the "waterfall" at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery. Salmon instinctually want to go up stream to spawn. Features like the fish ladder and waterfall help draw them closer to the hatchery. A gate is in place (Right) to stop the fish from traveling upstream past the hatchery, though some still make it over the gate when the water is higher. Photos by River Steward Liz Wolff.



An exciting time to visit the hatchery is during the salmon egg take, which begins on 10/8/09. No eggs are taken on weekend or holidays and activity typically takes place in the morning; afternoon sessions occasionally take place as well. The egg take will continue until the required number of eggs are collected, which varies in length from year to year. Call the hatchery for more information on spawning times.


Anglers on a beautiful fall day at the Pineville Bridge. Photo by River Steward Greg Chapman.


Tours are sometimes held for various groups at the hatchery as well. River Steward Greg Chapman conducted his first tour of the season this past Saturday for members of the Syracuse area YMCA. Greg enjoyed the opportunity to present some of the finer details about the hatchery operation, its history, and some of the considerations that go into keeping Lake Ontario stocked with sportfish.


The sun peeks down through the trees at Trout Brook fishing access location. Photo by River Steward Greg Chapman.


On Monday, I, River Steward Liz Wolff, gave a tour of the Salmon River Falls Unique Area to a group of women from Japan who were visiting as part of a Rotary Club program. Despite the rainy, cold weather the ladies enjoyed their tour and were quick to capture shots of the gorgeous fall foliage from the top of the waterfall. After the falls tour, the group headed back to the hatchery where they learned all about the Salmon River, local fishing industry, and the details of spawning season. Although the "egg take" had not started yet, the group was still excited to see thousands of fish making their way up the ladder and into the crowding channel. Before they headed home, I took the group to the Lower Fly zone in Altmar to see some fly fishing first-hand! There was no shortage of entertainment as we watched Salmon jumping up into the air and anglers fighting to land their fish.





The brilliant fall colors are reason enough to take a trip to the Salmon River Corridor!
Photos by River Steward Liz Wolff.


When we're not wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of spawning season and tours at the hatchery, Greg and I love just being out on the river taking in the magnificent fall scenery and talking to anglers. We're always happy to answer your questions and chat about the river, so don't hesitate to strike up a conversation!

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