Dodging Harvey to Find The Chittenango

Late last Friday night I made a last minute decision to head north and cross another New York trout stream off of my “streams I want to fish” list. I decided on New York because it was Labor Day weekend and the remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey were racing towards southeastern Pennsylvania. I knew Saturday was going to be gray skies and a rain jacket at home. In New York it would be sunny skies and a t-shirt. The stream I targeted was the Chittenango Creek, located in Madison County, just south of Oneida Lake. I learned about this body of water back in May when I was fly fishing Ninemile Creek. The Chittenango was rumored to have a healthy population of wild and stocked brown trout and I’d been wanting to get there for weeks. 

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The Brown Trout Buffet on Ninemile Creek

Heading into Memorial Day weekend I had my sites set on traveling across the border into Canada to fly fish the Grand River. I had all my planning done and was ready to roll and then Friday afternoon I called Grand River Outfitting & Fly Shop. I found out that water levels on the Grand River had been raised due to high water in the reservoir and in five minutes my weekend plans had to change. Fortunately I had a Plan B ready to put into action. Plan B consisted to heading to New York to fish Ninemile Creek, just east of Syracuse. Ninemile Creek is a 22-mile tailwater that begins at the Otisco Lake and runs east to the Onondaga Lake. Within these 22 miles of water, there are approximately 5 miles of accessible water with Public Fishing Rights (“PFR’s”). The stream intrigued me because it has a wild population of brown and brook trout, but is also heavily stocked by the Carpenter Brook Fish Hatchery. This hatchery puts a lot of fish in the river. I’ve read numbers from 18,000, all the way up to 24,000 annually. I figured if I headed here there was a good chance I could get into some fish.

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Chasing Chinooks on The Upper Fly Zone

On September 29th the Salmon River saw the best run of salmon so far this season. The Douglaston Salmon Run (“DSR”) was reporting large numbers of fish clogging the river entrance in their morning report and the afternoon report mentioned a client hooking 100 fish and landing 20. While the fishing slowed on Friday, I was still anxious to get on the water Saturday morning. Access to the DSR for the weekend had been sold-out for weeks. The first weekend in October is a common time that many anglers who do an annual trip to Pulaski make their trek. With the DSR out of the equation, I decided I was going to target the public water in the Upper Fly Zone just above the Salmon River Fish Hatchery. I knew this area was not going to hold the volume of fish that were in the lower river, but for what it lacked in fish, it would make up for in limited fishing pressure.

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