I’VE WANTED TO CATCH an Atlantic salmon for some time, now. While I hate to use the term “bucket list” at the spry young age of 50, I’ve started dropping a few pins on the map since the AARP packets began showing up in the mail. I can run, but I can’t hide.
For those of you unfamiliar with Atlantic salmon, they begin their lives in fresh water and then run back and forth from their natal rivers to the ocean for feeding and spawning binges. There was a time when they were abundant in New England rivers, but now you’ll pretty much need a Passport to catch one. Well, unless you’re a resident of Canada, Greenland, Iceland, The UK, Norway, Finland, or Russia.
Last week I returned home from Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, and a wonderful week of fishing and photography at Camp Bonaventure. My hope was to hit the early season run of strong and shiny migrant salmon, and boy did that work out well. Glenn LeGrand runs a great operation, especially with his daily rod assignments on dozens of regulated fishing “beats”. Guests of Camp Bonaventure have access to three different rivers: the Bonaventure, the Grand Cascapedia, and the Petite Cascapedia. Each has public water and limited access water, and if you prefer not to fish shoulder-to-shoulder with folks you don’t know, then Glenn is your guy.
Since this was a completely new experience for me, I could write volumes on the actual fishing. Instead I’ll spare you the detailed rhetoric and punch out a quick laundry list:
- Atlantic salmon fishing is steeped in tradition, so roll with it
- Bring lots of leader material; you’ll be changing flies quite often
- Fishing conversations in French are nice to hear, even if you can’t understand them
- I love dry flies that don’t require flip-focals attached to my hat
- Watching a really big fish rise from the bottom of a crystal clear pool to eat a fly is pretty special
- I wish I’d discovered Spey casting long before I did
- Atlantic salmon are incredibly picky, and here’s how they typically react to a swung streamer or dry fly…
Thanks to Ford McTee for catching lots of fish and helping me Sherpa camera boxes from pool to pool. Thanks to the guides for their courtesy, teaching, and plenty of laughs. Thanks to Glenn, Johnny, and the lodge staff for a wonderful accommodation. And thanks to The Atlantic Salmon Federation for keeping the heat on those determined to net and eat the very last one. I’m talking about you, Greenland.
To see the entire shoot, please click here.