Captain Mark Ledden fishing Salmon River

Over 20 years experience

Salmon River Trips

Check Instagram for updated photos and conditions on Salmon River and Lake Ontario.

River fishing goes from late September to early May. September and October is the time for king and coho salmon. November through May is steelhead and other trout species. We are normally casting with spinning rods, using fly rods, or plugging. We will use what ever method works best to get the best results for your group.

March - May

After a long winter here in upstate New York, spring is a great time to get outside and back on the open water. Our early spring season starts in March. Although the weather can still be cold, the river steelhead fishing can be great! There are two types of steelhead in the river at this time. The resident steelhead run the river and tributaries in the fall and winter over until late march when they start to spawn. After they spawn they “drop back” to the lake where they spend the summer until the next fall and do the whole process over again. These fish are normally very hungry after spawning and will take almost any presentation you put in front of them. The second strain of steelhead are a spring-run steelhead that run the river in March and stay sometimes until late May (depending on water conditions). These fish are normally bigger and full of life since they have not been under the same pressures of the fall-run fish. With both groups of fish in the river and Lake Ontario tributaries, spring is a great time to target them before they disappear for the summer months.

The other option in the spring is the brown trout Lake Ontario fishery. If you are looking for a lot of action, liberal bag limits, and great table fare this is what you want to be doing! See my inshore fishing page for details.

Summer

Summer weather favors charter boat lake fishing. (See my lake fishing page for details.) But the drift boats return to service in the fall when the weather cools and the salmon return to the river.

Fall

Depending on water temperature and levels, the mass movement of salmon occurs sometime in late September or early October. Once the majority of the run hit the river, we take the drift boats up stream and back troll plugs or cast flies to attempt to get these powerful fish to strike. Some days can be a bit slow, but as the river temps start to fall, the fish start to move and get into their spawning areas. Then their true aggression turns on and some epic fishing can happen. Because these fish are so big and powerful, it is not uncommon to lose up to ninety percent if you are fishing from the bank. Because we use drift boats to chase and move these mighty river warriors, we have a better landing percentage than the bank angler.

Winter

Steelhead fishing starts in the fall and goes well into winter and remains good all winter long. As the winter months loom over upstate New York there is one bright spot if you are looking for open water fishing. The weather can sometimes be challenging and cold but the steelhead fishing remains good no matter how bad the weather. If you dress for the cold and come prepared, you will find that steelhead fishing can be an excellent way to get outside and enjoy a great day on the Salmon River and other Lake Ontario tributaries. Although it’s cold, the big steelhead will start coming in December and will continue until they spawn and leave the river in early April.

If you are planning a winter trip you need to be prepared. Multiple layers of shirts, long johns, and socks are essential. Also good wind and water proof outerwear is a must. Hats and thin or fingerless gloves will help keep dexterity issues to a minimum and let you cast all day. Remember you can always take some layers off if you get too warm, but warming up is hard if you are underdressed. Our drift boats come equipped with propane heaters for your added comfort. The heaters are great and will help keep you toasty, but being dressed and prepared for the conditions will insure you have an enjoyable day on the water.

There is a big upside to winter fishing. If you have fished on the Salmon River then you know the crowds can be a pain and finding a spot is challenging. During the winter months there are fewer anglers on the run and you will get the feeling that you actually have the place to yourself. Lately we have been seeing a lot of bald eagles and other winter-time animals on the river. The Salmon River is world-class fishery and a great way to connect back to nature. Come join us for a unique and fun experience this winter!

Prepare for Your Trip

Our Salmon River drift boat trips meet at All Season Sports store here in Pulaski (3733 NY-13, Pulaski, NY). Our meeting time varies depending on the time of year but normally it’s in the 5 am to 6 am range.  Please be on time for our departure.  Being on time will greatly help and being ready to go as soon as we meet will also help to get a good starting spot on the river. If you are going to be late just shoot me a text and let me know.

drift boat on Salmon river
Drift Boat River Trips
SALMON SEASON   October 1 - November 1
1 - 2 people $400
STEELHEAD SEASON   November 1 - January 1
1 person $300
1 - 2 People $400
STEELHEAD SEASON   January 1 - March 15
1 person $250
1 - 2 People $350