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Salmon and Private Property near Lake Ontario in New York

As I have mentioned before, I am a fan of the organization PERC. I just received their Spring, 2009 volume of PERCReports and within is a cool piece on salmon in upstate New York. The article, Former State Senator Sees River as Magnet, by David Figura, (originally printed in the Post-Standard on October 12, ’08) is about former state senator Doug Barclay, and the 5000 acres of property he owns along the Salmon River in New York near Port Ontario.

About 25 years ago, Barclay awoke to find thousands of people on his property trespassing during the annual Chinook and Coho Salmon spawning run. He approached one man and after reminding him that he was on private property, the fellow said “The hell with you”. That experience led Barclay to open the Douglaston Salmon Run, a pay-to-fish business for salmon and trout from Lake Ontario. Anglers are charged $30.00 per day, and have access to a parking lot and a fish cleaning station. He’s added exclusive lodging and recently has expanded the operation to include lease agreements with two adjacent landowners. He sees his business as a magnet to bolster the North Country economy.

Evidently, Barclay’s stretch (not just the banks, but the waters within) is privatized, and has been validated through controversial supreme court decisions. He’s just doing a little better than breaking even, and some years not even that. But he notes that those who visit stay in local motels and spend dollars for all kinds of things locally. The interesting part of the article to me is Barclay’s idea of surrounding landowners offering leases for specific fishing spots or areas for specific times. In the long run, he imagines fisherpeople (yes, men AND WOMEN) set up on the river in a really nice tent, or house, or lodge, and a fire, great food, and wine…

The author, David Figura, can be reached at

- Michael Collins


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