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Trophy Atlantic Salmon
"Catching a Truly Huge Atlantic
or "A Lower Humber Primer"
By Bill Bryden
Fishing for Giants
I landed my first salmon at age 10 from
the Miramichi at a place called Slatey's Rapids...and have been hooked ever since. But
when I moved to Newfoundland at age 11 and landed my first salmon in Newfoundland from the
Lower Humber at age 12, things started to change. I have a friend who has been
salmon fishing for a long time (since I introduced him to it and fly tying at age 14 or
15). I have had the pleasure of fishing with this chap (Brad Andrews) since we were
lads and Brad lands dozens and dozens annually including 3 monsters this year alone with
many more monsters lost or pricked. The largest was estimated at 35 pounds...and strangely
he has photos this time as he agreed to take a trainee with him (the trainee got a
30 pounder the next night)....only 2 photos in 25 years should tell a fellow something
about sneaking off alone and not bragging or photographing.
A local trophy salmon guru that usually
lands the first monster of the season once said to me "Bill, the big ones are no
different than the grilse, just slower and anti-social"....there was wisdom in
that statement and experience and if you doubt it....well... how many 50+
pounders have you landed with photos? His biggest was 61" by 38" in
girth! I have been fishing the Lower Humber since 1981 and I'm not embarrassed to say my
total is "0" despite having seen some horrendous sized fish (I'll never
forget Sept 17 1999.....I never thought they grew that big). This chap annually
lands as many or more monster salmon than anyone in North America I'm sure. He's a
3rd generation master you'll likely never hear about and definitely will never see
any photos of his fish. Seeing, hooking, and landing 20 to 40 pounders is a different
thing though. My "system" is simple, if the trophies are running then set
up in a good spot just before dark as they will start moving some time just before black.
Pick a spot that has the most monsters funneled along a migration route,
some of the migration routes I fish are 10 inches wide in a river which is over 100
yards in places, some are no more than 2 feet wide, while others are 4+ feet wide but
nearly every monster swims through it. During the day I have a few choices.
The first is to focus on two or three
areas, pools, or shoals and memorize which fish have been there all week rising, which
ones have been hooked, and which ones are new fresh fish that are rising and "jump on
the fresh rising ones" once they start rising. You don't have to stop because it is
hot and sunny during mid-day if the water is cool, but try and not work your guide or
yourself to death (pace yourself). Trophy fish often shift lays to very shallow lays
sometime during mid day (11AM to 2PM) if the water is cool enough. If there are a
number of fish all trying to get into the same lay/area they can start to fight and you'll
likely hook one. Watch the tides and have a flick on the change in the tides. Watch
for changes in lighting (clouds repeatedly blocking out the sun, sun goes behind a
mountain, etc) as this can trigger a take. Fish very hard on cloudy calm days.
Another approach is to start miles up
river and hit every top quality lay you know for about 20-40 casts each lay with various
presentations, angles, speeds, dry and wet fly, etc. Some lays have presentations
that almost never work and some that will draw a trophy fish very often. Try and
figure these spots out by experimentation. Most lays will only hold one fish but some will
have 2 to 6 in them. Don't waste time spending a hours on one fish....hitt'em all. Then
return to the ones that gave chase or rose. Usually the action will happen in the
first 10 casts and often on the first cast. This is one of the most common strategies used
by local trophy "cracker jacks" that land in excess of a handful of world record
class salmon annually. This approach is also used while grisle fishing when the fish
are not running to you. Hit the deep holes in early morning and late evening and the
shallow lays during mid-day...I know it sounds crazy, but just try it.
The least most successful approach is to
pound one fish or "permanent" lay to death. Some fish will never take and from
some lays the fish are rarely hooked. Ever try to catch a single huge salmon for a month?
I once asked a local trophy salmon guru, "what doesn't anyone fish for those huge
fish rising down there by the beaver house?" "Dunno", was his reply,
"they just don't....and that tells me something." I guess after decades of
trying them they learned not to bother! Similarly, I know of a great lay that I have
hooked some huge fish from, but have never landed a single one! The water was just too
fast and the fish tore free everytime. I've stopped fishing this lay, but
"wasted" many hours before learning the hard way about trying to land monsters
in very fast and heavy water.
Timing....(aka Good Luck)
We quickly learned to fish until the
legal maximum of 1 hour after civil sunset and have landed many very large fish in the
black of night. Try the shallow spots of a pool or shoal during mid day. Watch for the
highest tides of the month, double high tides of early morning and late evening, and of
course rain. Ask around about when people start seeing the big ones come in. This
is usually early spring or late season. Most of the early spring runs of trophy fish have
been all but wiped out globally.
First, never wade directly upstream of
the fish.....as you know - they have noses. I hate wading anywhere near the fish
because like caribou one spooked fish can alert the others and you must wait for them to
settle again. Second don't wade into the water unless you absolutely have to and if you do
have to don't move around a lot. Third don't make a lot of noise; sound travels 5 times
faster in water and much clearer over background noise. Ideally you want to be able to
cast to more than one giant at a time and a dry fly will be your greatest assets in
accomplishing this. Next, if fishing from a boat or canoe have two rods ready, one with a
dry fly and one with a wet fly. Park your boat on a short anchor rope if possible,
so you can pull it up in a hurry if you need to chase the fish or drift back with it. A
fish you drift back with thinks its escaped the force pulling on it and settles a little
bit. Make sure you have an anchor puller or line stop on your boat for pulling anchor.
This device locks the rope with every pull upward of the rope and thus a man can
pull anchor in heavy current with one hand and still hold the rod.
It is almost funny to watch one of the
local "cracker jacks" single handedly fish for a trophy salmon. Once hooked they
must pull anchor, start the motor, and maneuver a boat while fighting the fish (remember
this has to be done with one hand!). Don't try and tail or net a large Atlantic salmon
from a boat in general (like they do for the pacific salmon) - you will be sorry. Try and
get the fish out of any harms way and away from any nearby heavy current. Be sure
you have a couple of good calm spots up stream and down stream to land the fish already
scouted and cleaned of debris and vegetation. I have found freshly stirred up clay
from the river bed can be used to help calm the fish when getting ready to tail it.
I have found this so good that I have even carried a couple of buckets of clay to areas
without it. It really blinds the fish to the approach.
The Presentation and Take
First I would like to suggest something
that many atlantic salmon guides will not like. Hold your fly line tight once the
fly lands on the water. Apparently many guides from Europe and New Brunswick or
Quebec, Canada suggest to not do this. However, I have seen too many salmon that
were missed or quickly lost because a novice angler was not able to get a fast and hard
enough hook set on a fish. When the guest lifted the rod to strike all that happened
was the reel let line off or worse - back lashed. Make sure your drag is set just
tight enough to prevent backlash. Trying to "muscle in" a freshly hooked
fish with your drag is a mistake that will cost you a trophy fish one day.
"Man-handling" a freshly hooked 20+ pound salmon with a fishing rod is
impossible - either the hook will tear out or something will break.
A very shallow lay seems to be harder to
actually hook the fish well in ie less than 3 feet deep. This is also true for
smaller fish. Ideally the lay should be 4 to 8 feet deep. To catch them from very deep
lays requires a very long drift and consistent timing of presentations. This allows the
fish to time when to start rising, the time to rise, and enough water over which to to
chase the fly after finally coming up from the bottom.
This is where everyone makes a mistake
sooner or later, so rest assured you are in good company WHEN this happens. Large
salmon are very forgiving when taking a fly and thankfully so as some grilse in fast water
are terrible to try and hook.
Dry flies....the ultimate. Set the
hook on a dry fly correctly .......this is virtually impossible to teach with mere words
so I won't bother to try. My best advise is to try and get some experience on grilse
first but be sure to give the slower trophy fish time to finish eating the fly - they
usually eat a dry fly much slower than smaller salmon. A salmon quickly realizes he
has been fooled and rejects the fly from its mouth. The fresher and smaller the fish
the faster it ejects the fly from its mouth. You will move many salmon by twitching
a bomber or skating it across the water surface as the original tyer suggests it should be
fished, however we fish bombers on the Humber more often than any other river I am aware
of and we all know you will catch more salmon dead drifting a bomber than you will by
Skating a bomber will move many big fish,
but to catch one, dead drift it between its eyes. Here is a theory. A salmon has spent
much of its life in a river catching flies. Parr know that a moving fly is hard to
catch and will strike at a dead floating fly much sooner than a moving fly. They learn
that moving flies are more likely to escape attack while dead or very busy flies that are
not moving are easier prey. Conjecture sure; but it makes sense to me. Don't move
your fly around a lot trying to get it into position "right between" the fishes
eyes. This is all seen by the eagle eyed atlantic salmon and it is less likely to
come to the fly. Rather, wait until the drift is finished and well behind the fish before
retrieving and casting again and this time to the the CORRECT spot so the fly drifts
between the fishes eyes. Never false cast over a salmon. The deeper the fish
is laying the farther away it can see a fly on the surface in its peripheral vision. I
have seen many a 30 pound salmon power up on a fly that is 10 to 20 feet away and slightly
upstream of it or turn so that it can get the fly in its binocular view from both eyes and
thus get a 3D look at the fly and the distance between it and the fish. However, at
all times the fly was below the surface film.
Here are the most common wet fly
mistakes. If you have a large pressure wake build behind your fly. First, don't stop
moving the fly. So, it didn't take that time. Second DON'T strip more line
off your reel in your excitement getting ready for the next cast, and third if you are a
long way away from the fish....move a little closer to the fish if you can without
spooking it. Then, give the fish at least 2 minutes (5 minutes preferred)
between each time you cast to it - if you don't it may continue to chased the fly to
another lay and you will have to find the fish all over again. Let the fish settle
back to where it wants to lay. Cast back to the original spot/cast you made when you
first moved the fish - not where it stopped chasing it. If you don't do this, then
once again, you may cause the fish to change lays.
Don't fish a wet fly too slowly - you'll
catch either less fresh fish or no fresh fish. As a general rule make sure your
fly lands with the leader straight on the water or pull it tight right away; otherwise
your fly will not fish correctly or "swim" in the water and you will catch less
or no fish at all. If you are fishing a level leader of 10 pound maxima and it
doesn't always land nice and straight do not worry about it just lift your rod to pull it
tight before it reaches the spot you are fishing. Salmon like to chase things.
If it is moving too slowly it will not induce a predatory attack or the fish will
pick at the fly or try to gently suck it in and not be forced to make a full blown attack
(the line is already tight and the fish won't be successful at gently sucking it in or you
will prick the fish). The exception is when fishing for stale salmon that have been in the
river over 4 weeks at which time a nice slow wet fly swing or simply hanging the fly in
front of the fish may work.
There seems to be a correlation between
the size of the fish and the likelihood that the fish tried to ingest the fly by primarily
using a vacuum force. My guess would be that as the fish gets larger the vacuum action
induced by the fish gets more effective at drawing in food. Hence, trophy sized salmon
tend to chase after a wet fly and then try and vacuum the fly into the mouth more often
than an attacking grilse or teen weight fish. This is a problem for the angler as a wet
fly is fished with a tight line. The fish is expecting the fly to be drawn in to its mouth
by the vacuum it creates with its mouth, but we have it attached to a tight leader and fly
line with little or no stretch - at least not enough such that can be stretched by the
vacuum from the mouth of the fish. The fish tries to inhale the fly but it doesn't move
and get drawn into the mouth, but continues racing across the current in a normal wet fly
Here are some ways to help you hook
the next monster that offers. Some anglers like to put a small coil or two in the
"memory" of the butt section of the monofiliment leader. The fish sucks and the
line stretches those precious extra two inches as the coils straighten. Still others use
short casts and soft action rods that bend easily, but many people just get short takers
and/or pricks and blame it on the fish and bad luck. Remember, everything a salmon does
consistantly can be used to an anglers advantage.
Fishing with a floating line will help
you see even the smallest grilse coming as it chases your fly across flat surfaced water
during a wet fly swing. One can slowly (whatever that means) and steadily lower the rod
tip from a 45o angle to horizontal as: the fish meets the fly, you feel a
gentle pull, or you watch it flare the gills to suck in the fly. Then lift it back
straight up and enjoy a deep mouthed hook set. A more detailed discussion is below.
A large salmon that has to eat a fly from
the top of the surface film can miss the fly if it rises rather lazily or does not suck
hard enough to inhale the fly. Trophy salmon are of a large enough size to push the water
around its head or mouth as it rises and thus the fly that is sitting on top of the
surface film or trapped in the surface tension can roll off the fishes nose or out of the
mouth at the last second as the water is pushed aside by the fish. Subsurface wet flies
also decrease the chance of a foul hooked fish. If the fly is subsurface then it does not
become trapped in the surface tension of the water and moves into the mouth of the fish
more freely. That is not to say that dry flies are not any good for trophy fish;
rather it just means the fish will miss sometimes when it never wanted to. Try and make it
easy for the fish to eat the fly once it it interested (even if you have to move to do
this) but not too easy - remember salmon like to chase things and this "running
away" by the fly is the predatory trigger that catches some salmon. Having a
salmon race after a fast wet fly on a floating line that is presented nearly perpendicular
to a fast current is a thrill worth trying for sure, but most fish that are not very
fresh will only do this a few times and then will give up on trying to catch the fly. If
this occurs it is time for a nice dead drifted bomber, but be ready for a water opening
savage take after teasing a fresh monster.
A trophy salmon guru who has landed
dozens of trophy fish including a number over 35 pounds from our Lower Humber once said to
me, " Bill, I hate to see the big ones coming. Even today I tend to
occasionally pull the fly away from them, so I close my eyes when she comes and then open
them when she is on the line." I too must confess that I would love to have hooked
all the trophy salmon that would have eaten mine or my guests flies if we had let them.
So, the fish powers up on the fly and you
see her coming as a large pressure wake behind the wet fly. Then, you feel the
gentlest pull on the line and you try and set the hook.....only,... there is a short
instant of pressure on the rod or simply nothing. Here is likely what happened.
Large salmon eat things like herring, squid, caplin, mackerel, krill, sand lance, etc.
Like most fish they use the vacuum of their gill covers to suck in food. The gentle
pull was the fish opening it's mouth to suck in the wet fly that was only an inch or two
from its lips. This accounts for at least 50% of all the wet fly takes I have
experienced while guiding for trophy salmon.
With the line fished correctly (tight in
the water) you will often barely hook the fish in the extendable upper lip flap when it
tried to suck in the fly or on the very edge of the jaw. To solve this problem have the
fish as close as possible....ideally no more than 35 or so feet away. Then present the fly
from slightly upstream and past the fish in such a manner as the fly passes the fish in
the very beginning of the swing or lands in front of and near the fish but not out past it
(sometimes 12 feet is close enough and sometimes 2 feet is too far....usually the closer
the better). Keep you rod tip at a 45 degree angle in the air! Then,.... as you feel the
first inkling of a pull, or when you figure the fish is about to eat the fly,... lower
your rod tip and then moderately fast but strongly lift it back straight up. This will let
the fish suck in the fly and a modest hook set will help in the chances of not upsetting
the fish until you get ready to fight it.
I used to tell people to "hit'em
hard" not wanting to risk too light a hook set - especially on the fuzzy and
big body of a bomber, but we have had a few fish go crazy when struck hard and we lost
them. Besides a sharp hook only needs a few ounces of pressure to sink the point of the
hook and anglers tended to pull on the fish too hard once hooked instead of hitting them
and then quickly relaxing pressure. The hard hook set and heavy pressure afterward
often upset the fish and "all hell would break loose" instantly.
Generally, the larger the salmon the slower it is to both take and reject the hook from
its mouth - so don't worry about lightning reflexes like you do for grilse. If you
are fishing a full fly line you will be a little less successful at this than if the fish
has to suck-in/move only 15 to 35 feet or less of fly line. A second technique is to hold
a foot of line in ones fingers and drop it the instant a pull is felt and then set the
hook by lifting the rod in the air fairly quickly but not like lightning and with 50
pounds of pressure.
The "shooting head only"
technique or a chopped off WF*F line has two advantages (as discussed above it helps
prevent the fish from tearing free) and it will help you accomplish the very
necessary task of getting the fly deep into the fishes mouth as the fish has to move or
effectively suck-in less fly line as one lowers the rod. Many fish that are missed in fast
current are missed because the fish tried to suck in the fly but the line was too tight in
the heavy current with little or no give in the line. Many fish that are hooked without
doing this will be a) pricked and never really hooked, or b) barely hooked and quickly
lost. The major draw back of truly making sure the fish eats the fly are gill hooked fish.
Sadly, it happens.
Here is another type of take everyone
makes mistakes on. The fish powers up on the fly and is swimming behind the fly. It opens
it mouth and then overtakes the fly and keeps on swimming in the same line of travel, then
rejects the fly. This is most common in grilse and teen weights but on occassion the
fiesty big ones will do it too. The angler feels a very gentle tap on the line and the fly
hits the back of the fishes mouth and the angler doesn't set the hook.
So, you've hooked a big fish and didn't
drop line, coil leaders, lower the rod, or set the hook when it overcame the fly eh? Well,
then you never hooked the fish......it hooked itself as it ate the fly by opening its
mouth and swimming over the fly and turned down stream or slowed quickly after eating the
fly......lucky. Or you just got lucky that the fish sucked hard enough from an angle
relative to the fly such that it was able to inhale it as it was drawn sideways in the
water. The longer it chases teh fly the less likely this "typical" hooking is to
happen. Most big fish are hooked like this, but many are missed because the take
was like one of those outlined above. I'm betting at this point a few readers are
reflecting on some large pressure wakes that were very close to their fly but that were
never landed despite feeling a gentle tap or pull on the line. Ahhh....you'll never catch
them all and the better you get at drawing them to your fly and hooking them the more you
will want to kick your own butt when you make a mistake! I pulled the fly right out of
ones open mouth last year and so did the oldest guide on our river,... you have company.
Sometimes a guide will distract you just as he/she figures the fish is about to power up
on the fly, please forgive them, they're only trying to help.
Last year, a guest hooked a 30 pound
salmon with a guide on his 3rd cast in the river on the first day. The guest was
disappointed because his "trophy" guide didn't want to join him until 1PM on a
sunny day, when expressing this to me I winked and said, "with Barry, it doesn't
matter what time of day it is", in the meantime Barry was waiting until the fresh
trophy sized fish came up into shoal water. He never knew what he had hooked until it
jumped for the first time, nor did he see it eat the fly 20 or so feet from him....thanks
Barry Carter (guide)...you are "the master"!
Finally, if the wet fly is chased up to
the last 1/4 of the swing pull the fly away from the fish. At this point the fly has
slowed enough for the fish to pick at it without racing up to it and sucking it in hard
while swimming over the fly or the line will be too tight for the fish to suck it in as
the fish too slows down behind the fly once the fly is in the "inhale zone"
right in front of the fish and you will be back to merely striking the fish or losing it
early in the fight. It takes a lot of guts to do this but is worth it..........The
closer you are to the fish the more likely you are to get a good hook set into the fish
and it is actually easier to hook them on a dry fly (once you know how....evil chuckle).
On a conservation note. Please don't fish
for giant salmon that have been hooked and landed in the recent past or when the water is
warm (above 18oC or 64.4oF). They WILL take but the fight will be
much lesser and further stresses the fish. A released fish will often return to the lay
it was hooked in to recover (sometimes for weeks....beware).
Do the same as you would on a smaller
fish except that you want to try and keep the fish in as calm a piece of water as is
available. The heavier the current the more likely you are to lose the fish.
Don't move until the fish has more than
half of your backing. Many times a huge salmon will change direction after 100 yards or so
and head in the other direction. If you know for certain that the fish is headed straight
down stream (you're fishing a shoal and the nearest deep water is 350 yards down river)
then pull your anchor and float down with the current. Most times this will be sufficient
(unless there is virtually no current). Once the boat starts moving the fish may relax a
little and stop running so check every 100 yards or so by stopping the boat.
A fresh or running
salmon that has chased your wet fly and was hooked is likely hooked on the side of the
mouth you are fishing toward (see figure just above) and if possible you should not change
sides of the river once the fish is hooked. That is to say, a salmon almost always slows
and turns up river after chasing and eating a normal or quickly presented wet fly.
These are the fish you see coming after the fly as a pressure wake chasing the wet
fly (another advantage of using a floating fly line). The best study I can find is of
nearly 500 trophy salmon landed from the Alta river in Norway (E.B. Thorstad et al
Fisheries Research 60 (2003) 293-307 email email@example.com for a copy of this amazing hook, catch and release, and radio
and regular tagging study) has shown that about 48% are hooked in the lower jaw, 40% in
the upper jaw, 5% in the mouth cavity somewhere, and 7% in the throat. However, if the wet
fly is presented very slowly or the fish has been holding in a lay for a long time then
all bets are off - the fish may make a breif attack and turn down stream and effectively
hook itself while returning to the lay. Try and watch which way the fish turns as it
takes the fly and then judge which side of the river to fight it from. This also
helps prevent the leader from scrapping scales off from around the edge of the gill plate
and head (see the photo at the start of this essay) or line cuts on the fish's snout.
Many times a trophy sized fish will be
racing around with a lot of line dragging behind it. If your line all goes slack in the
water you should not assume that the fish is free....reel as fast as you can to gain
contact with the fish again but beware as the fish is likely in the middle of a quick
change of direction and the line will often very quickly and abruptly come tight as
one is furiously reeling in slack line....be ready for it. This "slack line with
fingers on the reel" has cost us some truly huge fish and I have seen some aweful
purple thumbs after the leader broke. If the guide says "reel as fast as you can but
be ready for it to come tight and want to unwind quickly", then perhaps you should do
it,... if nothing else just to allow him the simple pleasure of being wrong. Most fights
with trophy sized salmon have at least one time at which all the line goes slack in the
If you put too much pressure on the fish
too early you will likely increase the hole size in the fishes jaw while it is really
fighting and moving very fast and then loose the fish on a jump or late in the fight. Let
them race around dragging fly line and back for awhile and hope they tire a little
before making them work for the line. Usually (but not always) you can tell when to really
start putting pressure on the fish.
So, you've hooked an enormous salmon and
have been fighting it for awhile. Then to your horror, it sits on the bottom of a deep
pool or in heavy current and you can't move it. Yes you can......here are three
techniques. First, heave on the rod while a little down stream of the fish. Once
the head turns - heave harder. If this fails, start throwing rocks in the water,
slapping the water with a paddle, or otherwise make a lot of noise. One local angler has a
metal butt on his rod and taps it with a rock which sends a shock wave down the line to
upset the fish. Finally, if that doesn't work, and you have a straight leader or
(god help you) a knotless tapered leader and a smooth leader to fly line connection you
can try something else. Move a little way upstream of the fish (the slower the current the
farther upstream you should move) and slide a safety pin or small light washer with a slit
cut through it down the line. When this reaches the hook it will "ping" the fish
on the snout and should get it to leave the current or lay it is using. Be ready once the
fish moves as it will likely have had a rest and be ready for battle again.
|Once the fish is played for
20 minutes it's usually time to start putting "the wood" to the fish. Many
anglers are nervous about putting a tremendous amount of strain on a "fish of a
lifetime" even if it is a tired fish, but remember the minute per pound rule...and of
course 25 pound fish like the one in this photo are strong....so when its time....bend
that rod!! What is more embarrassing??, loosing a fish or returning to the lodge with you
(and the guide) knowing you killed it by playing it too lightly and too long? On a very
rare occassion, at 2AM, some locals have had to break off the biggest fish of their life!
Sometimes they win....
Remember the minute per pound rule, and
as scary as it may seem head to the shore after 20 minutes. So, you've gone and done
it. She's coming in quietly and your ready for her. This is the time to get help and
keep your wits. Ask your nearest rescuer to step in the water and stir up the bottom
if it is possible to cloud the water this way. If clay or silt is available in quite
water land the fish on this shore and stir up the bottom before the fish comes close.
Once landed some anglers will turn the fish upside down, but I think this is a
mistake. The fish is likely already tired and dazed. Imagine going 15 championship rounds
and after the last round someone spins you around and then lets you go; the eels must love
this (and the salmon gills). Bring the fish into about two feet of water and with two
hands that are in tailing gloves grab her by the tail and hold on tightly. If you
bring her into less than two feet of water you risk her knocking a lot of scales off her
body as she thrashes and bangs off the bottom. Sliding a salmon up on dry land is deadly -
you might as well gaff it. Remove the hook and take the rod and line clear of harms way
(ever remove a heavily barbed #2 deep gap hook from your leg or hand?)......and she is
Do not lift a large salmon with your hand
between the pectoral fins - especially straight up vertically. Your hand will be on the
heart of the fish and you may kill the fish by crushing the heart if you lift it clear of
the water. Similarly, lifting the fish by the tail straight up will likely damage
the membranes (mesenteries) that hold the organs in place and you will either kill the
fish or give it a bad hernia. Also avoid crimping the tail area too harshly (a difficult
task on a green fish). Roll the fish on its side while it remains in the water or if it is
not fresh from the ocean (and thus won't lose scales too easily) lift it on to your wetted
thigh or forearm by its side and take a couple of quick photos submerging the fish
between photos ....please... two or three are enough? (hold your breath while doing this -
the fish is holding its breath).
If the fish shivers then it is in shock
and should be watched after release. Beware eels and grab/stomp/stab any that attack if
you can. Many salmon I have released have been attacked while we played them or after we
landed them - even in the middle of the day. If things go wrong and the fish is in bad
shape don't feel too badly (many things that the river needs eat salmon flesh) just try
and figure out how you WILL do things differently next time. Watch for the telltale
signs of gulls or eagles circling the water near where you see fish released. I honestly
believe that I have only ever killed a handful of salmon, brook trout, brown trout, and
arctic char that I released and I wish you the same luck.
Back to part 1,
If you enjoyed this article please see Salmon Fishing Techniques and Tips Section for more helpful pointers most of us learn the
Good Luck with YOUR Giant;
Newfoundland Guide, Eureka Outdoors Inc.