The Salmon River itself was a very busy place this past weekend, as Columbus Day weekend typically represents the peak of salmon season. Fish and fishermen were found in abundance, with many anglers coming from out of town to take advantage of the three-day weekend.
The Salmon River is the fourth most heavily-fished fishery in New York State in terms of angler effort, coming in behind only the two Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. One reason the Salmon River is such a popular fishing destination is because of the abundance of public fishing access--an overwhelming majority of the thirteen miles of river below the first dam is accessible to the public for fishing. But this isn't because the banks of the Salmon River are publicly owned (i.e. owned by New York State)--rather, most of the fishing access on the river is possible because Public Fishing Rights (PFRs) have been acquired on otherwise private land.
PFRs are easements that allows public access on private land for the purpose of fishing, and only fishing--all other activities, such as camping and building fires, are prohibited. For a detailed summary of what PFRs are, and what is and isn't allowed, see this NYS Department of Environmental Conservation webpage. Because PFRs are located on otherwise private land, the concerns of the land's owner must be respected.
Many fishermen who come to the Salmon River respect the resource by minimizing their impacts on the land, and by carrying out what they carry in. Unfortunately, when a fishery is as heavily used as the Salmon River is during peak salmon season, some trash does get left behind. In some areas, the amount of empty coffee cups, aluminum cans and especially used fishing line, is somewhat disconcerting.
As Stewards, we do take the time to try and clean up some of the hardest-hit areas--the trash is unsightly on the otherwise-beautiful river, and the spent fishing line can be harmful to the area's wildlife. We also see other fishermen who spend time collecting not only their own trash, but trash left behind by others as well. Efforts to keep the river clean can go a long way in making PFRs more attractive to private landowners who may be thinking about opening their land for fishing access elsewhere. So, the next time you fill your fish limit, why not try and fill a trash bag as well?