Landlockeds are in…sort of

With all of the rain in central Mass I thought it would be a good idea to check out the Stillwater River in the hopes that the run of Landlocked Atlantic Salmon would be getting started. From what I’ve heard and read it seems like the fall rains tend to get the salmon running upstream – I guess that’s not really news considering most lake-run or anadromous fish cue on flow to find and ascend spawning tributaries. I had also heard however that these landlocked salmon tend to just trickle in during the first couple good rain events and the main run doesn’t get started until later in November, or after several good rains. I’m not sure as I’ve never fished for these guys before. I’ll be learning as I go.

It rained like crazy on Friday but the river didn’t seem to be up all that much. Probably because it has been so dry some of that rain got sucked up by the ground. Either way, the river was up but still below bankfull and not that off-color.

I fished a short section of the lower river down to the mouth. My thinking was that if the initial instance of increased flows were drawing salmon in they wouldn’t have moved far upstream. I dug through my flybox hoping to find some approximation of a smelt – seemed like a good idea considering smelt are a major food source for landlockeds in Wachusett (and Quabbin for that matter). I couldn’t find what I wanted so I tied on a small gray and white saltwater streamer and hoped for the best. Within a few casts I had landed a couple small largemouth bass but no salmon. Moving downstream I fished the classic down-and-across streamer tactic, methodically covering water. Shortly I connected with my first ever landlocked salmon! Very cool fish to say the least.

Snapped and few pictures and released it back into the river. I continued downstream to the mouth but never hooked another fish. The weather was terrible most of the day with driving rain. Even with the bad weather there were a few people out. One guy had also caught and released a salmon. Another guy hadn’t had any luck but mentioned that it was a bit early for the big push of fish. He also told me that when the run is really going you can see salmon porpoising all over the place in the deeper runs near the mouth. I’m excited to keep trying the Stillwater as the salmon move up in greater numbers as the fall run continues.

Did anyone else get out after salmon this weekend? What about other fishing excursions?

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10 thoughts on “Landlockeds are in…sort of

  1. Anonymous, who doesn't already know that landlock salmon run up this river? Are you ok? Nice post and cool pictures, there isn't a whole lot of water but they should still be moving up anytime now. That river has the best/only naturally occurring landlock run in the state and some years it gets pretty wild. EVERYONE who doesnt live under a rock fishes this place around now and it's kind of too bad, but there is definitely enough fish and river you just have to hike to find them. Anonymous probably just hits the holes by the bridges, and gets chapped up trying to jockey for position like it's pulaski NY. Definitely get back there soon and good luck.

  2. I am the quaboag c&r poster – just making it clear the criticism was not me. Thanks for sharing.
    Anonymous- maybe you know the conditions better than me. Why the concern? The run has been easily found on the internet for a long time.

  3. This is a very interesting prospect. I had totally forgot about this with all the action that is happening at the Millers. I am going to try and get out there maybe next week sometime, hoping that the water levels are right and the water temps have hit the sweet spot to trigger the spawning run! I am hoping the crowds at the Stillwater are not that crazy especially because I am willing to hike up stream a good distance to get some peace and quiet. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Hey Joe, definitely check it out and maybe comment here on what you're seeing there. We need a bit more rain and some colder weather I think to really get the run going. From what I hear it is certainly possible to get away from crowds with a little walking.

    1. Adam, went there Sunday and today (Tuesday) as well. Water color was a stained and dirty Sunday, but today I saw a few fish and caught a couple small ones. Soon enough hike up to the 190 bridges and you will most likely find the area and fish to yourself. It is perfect spawning ground up there all gravel. Don't hesitate to check out some of the runs and pools on the way up as they hold fish also. Planning on getting out this weekend/next week let me know if your going to be out and I could show you a few spots, or hopefully I'll see you out there.

    2. Hey Ben, thanks for the update. I might get out there this weekend but I'm not sure just yet…there's just too many options this time of year with the hot fishing and hunting starting to pick up. I may just wait it out until the salmon are in there thick. Let's keep in touch though and maybe we can meet up.

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