The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the Lower Fly-Fishing Section of the Salmon River will be open for catch-and-release fishing starting Saturday, October 31st, marking the success of actions taken by the Salmon River Flow Management Team to mitigate the impacts of low-water flows at the start of the salmon run.
Recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remain in effect to ensure the health and safety of the public.
Under a federal license, Salmon River seasonal baseflows are typically increased from 185 cubic feet/second (cfs) to 335 cfs on September 1, providing that water levels in the Salmon River Reservoir are above a critical threshold. This summer, below-average precipitation resulted in low and declining water levels in the reservoir. The Executive Committee of the Salmon River Flow Management Team, comprised of natural resource agencies and Brookfield Renewable hydroelectric facility that regulates reservoir water levels, delayed the annual September 1 increase in baseflow and canceled scheduled whitewater releases over the Labor Day weekend. These actions conserved reservoir water to maintain suitable flows throughout the salmon spawning run.
Because significant rainfall was not forecasted, DEC recommended delaying the scheduled baseflow increase. DEC’s recommendation was based on abnormally high-water temperatures coupled with low-water flow in Salmon River tributaries, including Beaverdam Brook, where migrating Chinook salmon access the DEC Salmon River Fish Hatchery for egg collections that support the State’s successful stocking program. Increasing baseflows prematurely would have likely enticed the Chinook salmon already “staging” in Lake Ontario to enter the Salmon River on their spawning migration, which could have stranded and/or killed fish if temperatures remained high. These fish cannot reach DEC’s hatchery without sufficient water levels in Beaverdam Brook.
To increase the probability that sufficient numbers of salmon reached the hatchery to sustain the salmon stocking program, on Sept. 15 DEC did not open the Lower Fly-Fishing Section of the river to fishing. This section, situated just below the hatchery, is typically where large numbers of salmon and anglers congregate. Temporarily closing this section under the low-flow conditions allowed adequate numbers of salmon to reach the hatchery for another year of successful egg collection. A map of the Salmon River Lower Fly Fishing Section can be viewed online.
Anglers are encouraged to be respectful of the resource and other anglers by using ethical angling techniques. Additional information can be found at DEC’s website.
DEC reminds anglers that several new Great Lakes tributary angling regulations became effective on April 1, 2020. For more information and exceptions, consult the DEC Freshwater Fishing Digest or visit DEC’s Great Lakes and Tributary Regulations website.
DEC’s Salmon River Fish Hatchery is instrumental to maintaining healthy runs of salmon and trout and is a very popular destination for anglers, school groups, and other visitors. To help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to protect hatchery staff and effective hatchery operations, the Salmon River Hatchery and its grounds remains closed to visitors until further notice.