Morning on New York's Salmon River.

Whether the runs of coho salmon on New York's Salmon River reported over this past weekend turn out to be record-setting may never be known, but it seems abundantly clear that this season's first big push of fish was one for the ages. Beginning this past Friday, reports of massive runs of coho began emerging from the river. These reports continued throughout the day on Saturday. While Sunday seemed to return to the previous norm, wish small pods of fish being spotted intermittently, initial reports this morning indicate the return of some strong runs of coho. Healthy numbers of king salmon and brown trout have also been reported.

Even Salmon River regulars seem to have been amazed by the numbers of fishing moving through the river over the last few days. The official report from the Douglaston Salmon Run described the river as "stupid with fish." Numerous reports surfaced of fisherman being repeatedly run into by migrating fish. One report even suggested that anglers were able to "walk across the river on the backs of coho". While we're not entirely sure that last report is accurate, this much is clear: the first big runs of the season were here, and if you missed it, you're kicking yourself like we are.

The Scott S4 fly rod.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a gear hound. I love fly fishing gear. However, over the years I have found my favorites amongst many companies and have stuck with them. When it comes to fly rods, I have fished many brands and have hopped around to say the least. But, I have to say that I have finally found "the rod" for me. I recently took the plunge into fishing Scott rods, specifically the Scott S4 and S4S series. All I have to say is, wow (okay, that's not really all). These fly rods are the best fly rods I have ever fished with.

First the S4. These are the sticks I am using for almost all of my trout fishing, including a 9 foot 5 weight for dry fly fishing, a 10 foot 5 weight for nymphing, and a S4S 6 weight for streamers (I also have a G2 for light line dry fly fishing). Anyway, the S4 rods. As advertised, they are very fast and can generate high line speeds. They load and unload very quickly, at long and short distances alike, and match my casting tempo perfectly. They are quick, responsive and very powerful. Casting long distances and punching out line are a breeze with the S4.

This week saw the season's first significant action on the Salmon River.

Although the areas surrounding the Salmon River in upstate New York were spared the deluge of rainfall delivered to other parts of the state by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, several inches of much needed rain did fall. Combined with an brief increase in flow from the dam by Brookfield Power, during this past week, the Salmon River saw its first significant numbers of salmon entering the river. Reports from the lower river on Wednesday and Thursday included word of large groups of kings and cohos moving through.

As is customary, the arrival of salmon brought an onslaught of fisherman of various "styles", followed almost immediately by internet forums set ablaze with observations on the state of sportsmanship on the Salmon River. Rebukes regarding the "lining" and "snagging" of salmon were countered by accusations of elitism and thick headedness, and for a while it all flowed as freely as the river did during it's brief uptick.

Programs related to ranch lands and farm lands are some of the most affected.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a 2012 funding bill that includes a staggering $726 million in cuts to federal conservation programs. Many important programs which focus on habitat protection, soil quality and water quality received damaging budget cuts. In some cases, programs were eliminated entirely. These recent cuts are of particular importance to fisherman and other sportsmen, as many of the damaged or eliminated programs were designed not only to protect habitat but to provide and encourage fishing, hunting and other recreational activities.

While the House version of the 2012 spending bill would cut programs more sharply, by 19%, the Senate bill cuts conservation programs by 12%. Important habitat protection programs such as wetlands protection were cut by 29%. According to the National Wildlife Federation, funding for the Voluntary Public Access program is cut entirely.

As part of a continuation of our '20 Questions' series, following is our interview with Jim Plante -- guide on the Housatonic and Farmington Rivers in Connecticut. To learn more about Jim, including links to his blog, check out his profile.

Hatch Magazine: What's the first fish you can remember catching? Tell us about it.

Jim Plante: I remember my very first trout on a fly rod. Was on the Salmon River in CT. I was actually fishing a small tributary of the river with a Mickey Finn. Nice little brook trout. At that very moment, is when this became an obsession. I'll never forget it.

HM: What's your favorite piece of gear at the moment?