The Pursuit for Spawning Salmon in The New York Salmon River

The salmon spawning process is a long and detailed process that takes place once a year. The salmon spawn takes place during the early fall months, mainly during late September and October. 

One of the most well-known salmon fisheries is Lake Ontario. Once a year, the salmon from Lake Ontario make their way up the Salmon River in Pulaski, NY; known among fishermen as “The Salmon Run.” 

“The Salmon Run” attracts thousands of people each year to the banks of the Salmon River, all with the goal in mind of catching one of these trophy fish. The spawning cycle of these salmon brings them into their native rivers, where they are hatched to complete their life cycle by laying thousands of eggs. During this time, fishermen will target these spawning fish by using many different tactics and fishing gear. 

Although, there are lots of other excellent lakes to fish in the US!

Methods of Fishing for Salmon in Rivers

Salmon can be difficult to fish for, especially for any beginner. To help any beginners looking to give salmon fishing a try, we’ve outlined a few of the most common ways to fish for salmon in rivers. Many of these methods are used by thousands of people and passed down through generations of fishermen. 

Drift Fishing

Drift fishing is one of the simplest methods of fishing when targeting salmon. The salmon River and the Oswego River are some of the most famous rivers targeted by fishermen each year during the salmon run, and you will see hundreds of people using the drift fishing technique. 

Drift fishing is a technique used when you cast your line upstream and wait for your rig to drift downstream into the area of the river you are targeting. Many people also drift fish from a boat, allowing you to get more precise casts in the river.  

The key to drift fishing is to keep your rig about a foot off the river bottom as it flows downstream in the current.​ If you use much weight on your rig, it will stay in one place on the bottom where you cast it. If you use Too little weight on your rig, it will float too fast downstream and too high in the water column. For many anglers, this is the preferred method when the salmon are migrating up the rivers to spawn during the famous “Salmon Run.” 

Fly Fishing 

 There are two primary fly fishing techniques to catch salmon in the salmon river: The wet-fly swing or nymphing. 

The Wet Fly Swing 

The wet-fly swing is a very commonly used fly fishing technique you will see used on the salmon river. When wet-fly swinging, you cast across-stream and allow the fly to swim downstream in the river’s current until it comes to rest on a tight line directly below you.

When using a wet fly, your goal is to keep the fly moving slowly downstream on its own in the river current. You want to avoid twitching the fly or moving it during its float. To help avoid this, I recommend using a sinking-tip line heavy enough and with a long enough tip to reach the bottom. Once your fly reaches the end of its drift and is directly downstream, you then lift the line and fly up into the water column to finish the swing before taking your next cast. 


There are many types of ways to fly fish while using nymphs. Below is a list of two of the most common nymph rigs and a brief explanation of what they are and how to use them. 

Indicator nymphing

An indicator is a small type of bobber used to indicate a strike and is a widely-used nymphing technique. Though indicator fishing rig has multiple variations, the most commonly used indicator drift style is a dead drift. When using an indicator rig with your nymphs, the fly moves in the current, suspended in the water Column with the indicator above. When the indicator disappears, then you know it’s time to set the hook! This rig is very simple to learn and use, which is why it is used so commonly. 


One of the more advanced techniques, tightlining is a very effective strategy for executing a proper drift in the river. When tightlining it is important to hold the rod tip high in the air to keep the fly line off the water. This creates a drag-free drift, which is when your nymph drifts in the water column without your line laying on top of the water. Tightlining is a proven technique that provides bites when used properly. Since there’s no indicator, you need to pay close attention to your line and rod tip to feel a strike so you know when to set a hook. 

Need A Place To Stay?

The Salmon River is a very popular travel destination and is loved by many different tourists or fishermen looking to see what the river and neighboring Lake Ontario have to offer. When taking a trip to the Salmon River, there are many different places to stay. From hotels to campgrounds, you can always find a place to stay. 

Personally, my favorite way is to check out the local campgrounds and stay in my RV while I’m on my fishing trip. If you don’t have your own RV, don’t worry, you can always rent an RV from an RV rental company!

All the towns and cities surrounding the Salmon River are home to beautiful campgrounds that are open from spring to fall. 

Many of these campgrounds are located near the river for public access for fishermen. Some even have their riverfront property that is private to ensure their guests have the best experience on the river! These campgrounds are also very close to the River and Lake Ontario for any angler looking to test their luck and hit the waters of the Salmon River or Lake Ontario.

I have put together a list of a few ideal campgrounds that you should check out if you’re considering taking a fishing trip to The Salmon River in an RV. 

  • Browns Campground
  • Stoney’s Pineville Campground
  • Bears Sleepy Hollow Campground 


The Salmon River is one of New York’s premier fishing waters that brings thousands of people each year in search of trophy Salmon when they make their run up the river from Lake Ontario. “The Salmon Run” attracts thousands of people each year to the banks of the Salmon River, all with the goal in mind of catching one of these trophy fish. 

Before booking your next fishing adventure, make sure you consider the Salmon River for your next fishing trip. A world-class fishery ready to provide you with endless memories, this river is the perfect place for you! 

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