I have a long held love of angling, which dates back to my first time wetting a line when I was 4 years old with my father.
Growing up in St. Phillips, I had access to several ponds that were fairly plentiful with fish – even some rainbows in Hogan’s pond. As much as I love trouting, there’s another species that I have always wanted to fish for.
My father and brother had the privilege of salmon fishing after very busy, and long, work days when they were employed at a fishing lodge during the summer several years ago. I was busy playing rugby, so I didn’t get to experience salmon fishing at that time – though I was well interested in it from their stories when they returned home.
So, I have had a long held desire to try salmon angling that dates back to my teenage years, and this week I finally had my opportunity to satiate my interest with two marvelous mornings on the river.
With many thanks to my good friend Jeff, who took me under his wing, I had my first salmon angling experience this week; I won’t soon forget it.
The first morning we went was Wednesday July 24th. I purchased my first ever licence at our local Esso station, and came back to the truck with a smile as wide as the Humber river – I was stoked! Finally, I would have an opportunity to see firsthand what this famed fish of the Atlantic was capable of.
The learning curve is steep – but I would encourage anyone interested not be intimidated and give it a go! Jeff coached me through how to set up the rod, the line, the fly (no barb), and some of his his secret tricks of the trade. He patiently coached me through the art of casting, which I liken to the finesse and art of skate skiing. It’s a skill that one can always refine – and how relaxing is it to cast away to the cacophony of the gurgling river and birdsong on an early morning!
On the first outing we did get to see several salmon jumping, but we didn’t rise any, nor were we successful in landing a fish.
Onward to this morning, Friday July 26th. We set out with the birds to try our luck again on the Southwest River, which is just outside Clarenville.
It was a beautiful summer morning, with a temperature of 14 degrees, when we departed. There were some pockets of fog along the TCH on our way to the river, but a promising sunrise was appearing in the east. I must say, there is something peaceful, tranquil, and serene about an early morning just on the crest of a sunrise; it’s worth the rise.
We were fishing for about an hour when I had my first taste of a salmon on the line. For anyone with experience – you can appreciate the exhilaration I was experiencing. The salmon took the fly, headed down river, and leaped out into the morning rays on the river about 25 feet in front of me! WOW! I managed to reel it in so far when it took a giant leap about 10 feet in front of me – and unhooked back into the river. That was a rush I won’t soon forget.
Back at it!
I was enjoying the rhythm of a good roll cast, training my eye on the fly as it gently landed on the ripple of the river – BANG! Another salmon is on the line racing down river. ROD TIP UP!
“FISH ON” I yelled back to Jeff, who was fishing a pool above me . . .
I reeled in the slack; Jeff had made his way to my side to coach me along at this point. We caught sight of him as he had a great jump about 30 feet down river, and Jeff wondered aloud: “My god, Richard – he might be too big . . .”
I fought the fish for about 6-7 minutes – some of the most intense and adrenaline filled minutes of my life – and finally landed him (Jeff concluded it was a male). It was a full out rush! My heart was pounding! My hands were shaking! I was in AWE!
Quickly, we splashed water on the fish, and a quick measure revealed he was a good 2cm above the retention limit of 63cm. We took a quick picture to mark the memory of my first Atlantic Salmon. Carefully, and respectfully, we nursed the fish back to full strength in the current.
I sat on rocks admiring the salmon – a special specimen indeed. I said a quiet prayer for him and thanked him for the experience. I wished with all my heart for him to regain his will and continue on living his best life in the river. We watched him regain full strength and swim away. It’s a memory I will treasure for a lifetime – my first Salmon was too big to retain – beginner’s luck defined.
I cannot express with words my thanks to my friend, Jeff, for his careful instruction and great leadership in helping me have my first experience in Salmon Angling – an introduction indeed, and a day I will not soon forget.
Thanks for reading, especially if you read the full post. I must conclude with a note of encouragement: don’t hesitate to try something new in your life. My early lessons in salmon fishing have my brain reeling with excitement and my soul is soaring with happiness to have another hobby that brings me close to nature – my favourite place to be.