Chase World Class Trout and Salmon in Oswego County, NY

03/01/2013  |  RB Knight Tourism and Public Information Coordinator
From the Publisher

Anglers around the world travel to Oswego County by the thousands to enjoy a world-class fishing experience and enjoy the scenic and pristine character of Lake Ontario and its tributary streams, the Salmon and Oswego rivers.

Anglers around the world travel to Oswego County by the thousands to enjoy a world-class fishing experience and enjoy the scenic and pristine character of Lake Ontario and its tributary streams, the Salmon and Oswego rivers.

Located in Central New York State with easy access to I-81 and I-90, Oswego County is about 45 minutes south of Fort Drum, home of the legendary 10th Mountain Division, and less than an hour’s drive north of the Syracuse International Airport.

Oswego is named for an Iroquois word meaning “place of the pouring out” or “place where the waters meet.”

Thousands of massive Chinook and coho salmon, weighing up to 40 pounds, navigate the rapids and shallows of the Oswego and Salmon rivers every fall during their migratory spawning run. When hooked, salmon are known to take off in an explosive attempt to escape, providing an exhilarating challenge to anglers and exciting entertainment to spectators lining the river banks.

But the action doesn’t stop after the fall salmon run. Oswego County is just coming off another fantastic fishing season, with excellent steelhead conditions (a strain of rainbow trout) on the tributary streams. Between mid-October and April, the steelhead congregate in these rivers and feed on salmon eggs before they return to Great Lake Ontario in the spring.

Known for their natural beauty and their physical stamina, steelhead are a favorite target of fly fishermen and bait anglers alike. Many expert anglers and river guides consider steelhead to be the toughest freshwater fighting fish, pound for pound. Brown trout are also plentiful during the winter and early spring months. Anglers can catch both species from the river banks, wading in the shallows, or hire an expert driftboat guide for the ultimate cold weather fishing experience.

And the best reason yet to take advantage of fishing’s therapeutic benefits is that Lake Ontario, the smallest of America’s Great Lakes, is coming off an amazing year of productive sportfishing. The fishing keeps getting better and better, and there’s no reason to think 2013 will be any different.

All of the major species of Chinook, Coho and Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout and even smallmouth bass continue to show high catch rates according to a survey recently conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The catch for trout and salmon alone was estimated at nearly 200,000 fish.

‘Fishing Behind the Lines’

With close proximity to Fort Drum, and its own Army Reserve unit based at historic Fort Ontario in Oswego, local residents are very supportive of the military and appreciate the sacrifices of military families. The Oswego County Tourism Office is working with the local public television affiliate in Watertown, NY on a 13-part series called “Fishing Behind the Lines” in partnership with Fort Drum.

The first Oswego County episode featured Specialist Rodney Tiner, a combat medic with 3-6 Field Artillery, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, fishing for steelhead on the Salmon River with local river guides Andy Bliss of Chasin' Tail Adventures and Tom Burke of Cold SteelSportfishing. They generously donated their time, expertise and equipment to the project.

Additional episodes will cover Lake Ontario charter fishing out of Oswego, NY, and the two biggest Lake Ontario tributaries, the Oswego and Salmon Rivers.

The show introduces fishing as a form of recreation for soldiers and their families, with an emphasis on local fishing destinations. Oswego County is a major sponsor and will be featured in four episodes. The series will start in the spring and will be presented to public television stations across the country. Here's a link to a blog about the filming on the Salmon River last March:  fishing-behind-lines.html

Healing Waters

The community is also very supportive in other ways. For several years, volunteer guides, veterans organizations, and others have partnered with the NYS DEC by hosting recovering soldiers and disabled veterans for the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Program. Dan Morgan, program leader for the Syracuse chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, and Fran Verdoliva of the NYS DEC Salmon River Fish Hatchery coordinated the event held this past November.

Professional guides worked with the soldiers and veterans at the state fish hatchery in Altmar to teach them a variety of steelhead fishing techniques. Many had the experience of a lifetime to land their first steelhead. All of the fish were released back into the Salmon River. The river echoed with sounds of laughter and words, participants enjoyed and endless supply of excellent food, and plenty of photos opportunities showed it was a very successful weekend.

Expert Guide Services

“Whether you’re looking for an expert Great Lakes charter, a guided river trip, or pier fishing with the family, there are plenty of places to land the fish of your dreams,” said Dave Turner, Oswego County Tourism Director. “The Oswego County Web site, features up-to-date conditions and a complete list of charters, guides and marinas.”

Visitors and residents alike cherish the unspoiled natural beauty of the rolling hills, glittering waters and historic towns on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario. A variety of affordable accommodations and plenty of spacious family campgrounds provide a relaxing place to rest. One can park their RV at one of 4,000 campsites, pitch a tent along Great Lake Ontario -- or settle in at a rustic fishing lodge, scenic riverfront hotel, or luxurious bed and breakfast.

To plan an Oswego County vacation, go to or call 1-800-248-4FUN for a free vacation kit.

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