The first salmon of the season...On our rivers every angler wants to be the one who catches the first fresh salmon of the year. The talk around camp the first few days is "who caught the first fish and what did they get it on?” News passes quickly among the camps on the river and secrets are hard to keep!
It's always exciting to cast the first fly of the season on your favourite pool. You set up your rod, and choose a heavier leader because you never know if the first fish will be 10 or 40 pounds! Now it’s time to choose a fly. The first thing to look at are the water conditions: flow, color and height. This will allow you to choose the correct size and appropriate color. Usually in early June our rivers are flowing fast and perhaps a bit stained from the spring run off. On the Grand Cascapedia I would suggest a #2 double or larger. Good early season flies include the Lady Amherst, Green Highlander or Silver Rat. Big streamers such as a Magog Smelt and Picasse are always good choices. Spey flies also work very well, especially the Grey Heron and Green Spey. On the Bonaventure and Petite Cascapedia the water is usually very clear even at the beginning of the season. Your fly choice might be the same patterns but should be a few sizes smaller. Forget Dry's at this time of the season, the water is usually too cold.
Once you have the correct leader and fly, what’s next? The best way to approach a pool in early June is to believe there could be a salmon holding anywhere in the pool. The water is fast and there is plenty of it. Start with a short line and cast it twice per length. If you are wading, add one foot and cast twice repeating the same. After you have a comfortable length of line out, fish the rest of the pool the same way covering every inch of water. Cast on a 45 degree angle down stream and continue fishing through to the tail. Forget about the places where you saw salmon last summer when the water was lower - in June the water is high and that fish of a lifetime could be holding anywhere! When fishing from a canoe its almost the same technique. Start the same with a short line and once you reach a comfortable casting distance, the guide will move or drop the canoe allowing you to cover the entire pool.
Mario Poirier - Head Guide at Camp Bonaventure
Clement Brenier - Head guide at Salmon Lodge