Species: Atlantic Salmon
Also known as: Bay Salmon, Black Salmon, Caplin-Scull Salmon, Sebago Salmon, Silver Salmon, Fiddler, or Outside Salmon. At different points in their maturation and life cycle, they are known as Parr, Smolt, Grilse, Grilt, Kelt, Slink, and Spring Salmon.
Latin Name: Salmo salar
Description: Atlantic Salmon are anadromous, which means they can live in both fresh and saltwater. They have a relatively complex life history that begins as eggs in rivers. Here they grow into juveniles before migrating to saltwater. Here they grow and mature before returning to freshwater as adults to spawn. Unlike Pacific Salmon, Atlantic Salmon try to return to the sea after spawning. They do this to replenish all the weight they have lost through the stressful process.
Not all Salmon will make it back as for many the stress can be too much. However, the ones that do make the whole journey will be ready to return to spawn again after a couple of years rest. It is these fish that are multi spawning fish that tend to be the larger specimens all anglers wish to target.
Young Salmon that are still in freshwater rivers are Parr; at this stage, the fish have brown to bronze-coloured bodies with dark vertical bars and red and black spots.
These markings are designed as camouflage to help protect them from predators. Once the Parr is ready to migrate to the ocean, their appearance changes, their vertical barring disappears, and they become silvery with nearly black backs and white bellies. When they are adult fish, they are ready to return to freshwater to spawn. They grow very bright silver with black speckled spots.
Once Atlantic Salmon have been in freshwater for some time, they darken to a bronze colour before spawning in the Autumn. After spawning adult fish which are now referred to as Kelts can darken further so are often referred to as Black Salmon.” Once adults return to the ocean, they revert to their counter-shaded colouration dominated by silver.
Atlantic Salmon that return to rivers to spawn will tend to be on average four years old. These fish will have spent two years in the freshwater rivers as Parr before spending the last two year out in the ocean feeding and packing on weight. These fish are often referred to by anglers as two sea winter fish, and they would be on average around the 8lb to 12 lb range. Juvenile fish that return after just one season out to sea are known as Grilse and by their nature will be smaller fish.
Average Size: The average size of fish is the 2-winter fish that average between 8lb to 12lb. However, it is still possible to catch smaller Salmon around the 4lb upwards mark right through to fish of a lifetime over 40lb.
Where to catch: There are three groups of Atlantic salmon: North American, European, and Baltic. These groups are found in the waters of North America, Iceland, Greenland, Europe, and Russia. Atlantic Salmon spawn in the coastal rivers of northeastern North America, Iceland, Europe, and north-western Russia. As these groups of fish return to their respective rivers, it is here where fly fisherman from all over the world target the King of all Salmon, the bright chrome Atlantic Salmon.
For travelling anglers from the UK looking for better fishing due to the unfortunate decline in Scottish Salmon numbers, the most popular Atlantic Salmon Rivers are located in places such as Norway on the Gaula River, Reisa River and Orkla River. In Eastern Canada, on the east coast, famous rivers for Atlantic Salmon are Bonaventure and Grand Cascapedia, Petite Cascapedia and Sainte-Anne River. Fishing in Canada is also renowned for holding the record of the largest Atlantic Salmon ever caught. In Sweden, there are some tremendous wild rivers, and as Sweden is not so well know with travelling anglers, the rivers tend to have less pressure. These rivers include Byske River, Sävar River and Ore River.
Fishing Methods: Atlantic Salmon fly fishing can be conducted with single-handed rods mainly but only on small rivers. The traditional method is Spey casting. This involves the use of a double-handed rod, which is not just there to try and help you cast further but also to help you control your fly rod line. Although there are many variants, anglers mainly cast downstream a little from the noon position and then allow the fly line to swing the fly across the current and river towards the bank. Usually, an angler will start at the head of a poll/beat and fish their way down, taking two steps after two casts. For more fly fishing tips, head over to our YouTube channel.
Once at the end of the pool/beat, it is best to take a break to relax the river before starting the process again.
The variety of flies is enormous, and they all have their place on the right day and right time. The majority of times anglers will use wet flies, that sink below the surface. Some of these flies are also fished on both plastic and metal tubes to allow a fly to sink quicker and deeper.
Other flies can be used, such as dry flies which stay on the surface like a falling leaf. The rivers in Quebec are famous for this, and there is nothing more exciting than watching an Atlantic Salmon rise up to take your fly off the surface. In other location such as Iceland and Russia, skated flies or waked flies are used across the surface.
Is fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon your passion? Would you be interested in a fishing holiday to Canada or Norway. As you fish some of the most populated rivers in the world? Contact us today on 01603 407596 and our experts will help find your dream fishing trip. Make sure to explore all our Fly Fishing holidays here, and request a free brochure.