Maine Atlantic Salmon Fishing

Maine Atlantic SalmonAtlantic salmon fishing, in Maine or wherever it is pursued, is steeped in tradition. I just wanted to catch a few, and knew nothing of its history. I approached fishing for Atlantic salmon in Maine, in the mid-1990s, with curiosity and a seven weight also used for - I'll admit it - bass fishing. What I found was a nice group of folks who shared with me their river, the fundamental practices of salmon fishing, and as good a place as any I have found to have a cup of coffee and watch the river flow.

Atlantic salmon do not feed once they ascend their home river, and why they take a fly remains a source of speculation. Some feel it is a memory of feeding; others a territorial response. Fishermen are pseudo-scientists, of course, making up theories based on the observable behavior of fish. Striper fishermen understand sometimes the fish aren't around, or the sun too bright; trout fishermen have seen a low pressure system turn the fish off. But Atlantic salmon fishermen don't witness predictable feeding behavior.

Adding to the mystery is the very small number of fish in the rivers and the short window in which they are active. The understanding of how to hook one is shared by many fishermen over many years. It is little wonder Atlantic salmon fishermen, as a group, are fanatical about ritual and tradition. What else have they got?

From a book on fishing rivers and streams in Maine I knew there were a few smaller rivers "downeast," which had runs of salmon; the Sheepscot, which had few returning fish, and the Penobscot, which runs from Mount Katahdin in Maine's interior through Bangor and to the sea. I had fished the Penobscot, upriver in its West Branch, for landlocked salmon, so I felt I "knew" it. I had business in Bangor, so one day I went to its town hall to get an Atlantic Salmon Stamp. This was an inexpensive addition to a fishing license, akin to the migratory bird stamp a hunter needs for woodcock and grouse. With it I was legal but in need of direction.

I ended up at Eddie's Flies, a classic Bangor shop, and admitted I was a rookie. The shopkeeper suggested Eddington pool, and said the guys had been having some luck with yellow flies, and pointed out the Cosseboom. I got two. I would like to claim I got two different sizes, as I later learned this salmon lore: it is customary, if one rolls (but does not hook) a salmon, to then offer the same fly in a smaller size. But I think I just got two of the same thing. I'm hopeful it wasn't Eddie's biggest sale of the day. The help from Eddie's was the first bit of advice I was to get, but certainly not the last.

To continue reading Maine Atlantic Salmon by Dave Kesel:
Maine Atlantic Salmon, part II, click here

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