The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced the opening of catch-and-release fishing for the Lower Fly-Fishing Section of the Salmon River on Saturday, October 31. The opening of the season marks the successful actions taken by the Salmon River Flow Management Team in order to mitigate the effects of low water flows on the salmon population at the start of the salmon run.
The Salmon River seasonal baseflows are usually increased from 185 cubic feet/second to 335 cubic feet/second on September 1, under federal license, so long as the water levels in the Salmon River Reservoir are above a critical threshold. Water levels in the reservoir were low and declining due to a dry summer, and the annual September 1 increase in baseflow was delayed, and the scheduled whitewater releases over Labor Day weekend was cancelled. These actions were taken to conserve the reservoir waters to maintain suitable flows throughout the salmon spawning run.
The DEC recommended delaying the scheduled baseflow increase, considering that significant rainfall was not forecasted. They based their recommendation on abnormally high-water temperatures combined with low-water flow in Salmon River tributaries, including Beaverdam Brook, where Chinook salmon in migration access the DEC Salmon River Fish Hatchery for egg collections which support the states successful stocking program.
To increase the odds that enough of the salmon reached the hatchery to sustain the salmon stocking program on September 15, the DEC did not open the Lower Fly-Fishing Section of the river to fishing. Many salmon and anglers typically congregate at this section of the river (just below the hatchery) and temporarily closing it under low-flow conditions allows for another year of successful egg collection.