In one way the world of Atlantic salmon is big. It encompasses all the watersheds where these charismatic fish live, and the oceans in which they navigate across thousands of miles to and from distant feeding grounds. It is as big as all New England, eastern Quebec and Atlantic Canada, plus western Europe from northernmost Portugal to the Ural Mountains of Russia.
And yet, the people who are caught up in the Atlantic salmon’s world are more of a village. This is a village where the actual language spoken may differ, but the subject of the conversation remains the same. The talk is of how the runs are doing, what the flow of the river might be, and what time in the morning to get up to go out either angling or on some restoration mission. This is a village made up of individuals who see the connection to Atlantic salmon as an intensely personal matter.
Some talk with humour, like the lawyer who said to me on the River Bann in Northern Ireland, “I am salmon mad”. He took off every Thursday afternoon during the angling season, and did everything in his power to push aside all other matters in his life, including court dates, so that nothing interfered with his time for the salmon connection.
And there are individuals like Joan Wulff who lives in New York State. She has become a living legend in the Atlantic salmon world, with a perspective gained through both a love of streams and a remarkable ability to cast a line. She does not call it the “Zen of Casting”, but she exhibits all the grace of a dancer, and the calm concentration of a true devotee when she works the line to send it back and forth over incredible distances.
There is a great short video introduction to Joan Wulff on a website run by the R. L. Winston Rod Co., that will eventually have a set of 10 videos with Joan explaining her views on casting.
Watch that first video, especially. It has great material and provides excellent background on Joan Wulff.
Everyone associated with Atlantic salmon finds there own personal road to a passion for these fish, the rivers, and lifetime experiences.
ASF’s Director of New Brunswick Programs Geoff Giffin sent along a photo this week (see below). The text reads:
“This shows my son Ben, age 14, releasing a beautiful bright fall female salmon on the Margaree in October 2013. He got it on the flyrod we built together; and on a fly developed and tied by his Grandfather Giffin – the “Rainbow Chief”. This is the first salmon we know of caught on this pattern. Another first - this is Ben’s first full cycle of hooking, playing and releasing a salmon. Tailed by One Happy Dad!
Stories do not get much better than this. Three generations involved together in an angling event that binds these people together with a river and an Atlantic salmon.
A Last Comment on the Northumberland Strait Rivers
Jamie Caddick of Truro, NS brings along the idea of friendship, another form of the passion that ties individuals to the Atlantic salmon and its rivers. He also weaves a beautiful tale of watching Atlantic salmon intent on completing their migration and life cycle. He describes this last angling outing of the season in this way:
“I spent the last day of the season on the river with some buddies. We didn’t hook any but we did see some at one of the bridges we stopped at.
They were semi-active with one big male chasing the grilse away from what must have been a big hen. There were half a dozen or so big fish in that pool that were easily visible with more coming into view at the front and then dropping back to where they were difficult to see.
We witnessed two large fish move up from below the bridge to a position just above the bridge, we estimate that one of them was at least 20lbs and the other was likely 25lbs or so … big fish !!
Further up river we fished a long section of water, we didn’t see any fish but two of my buddies came upon a number of redds, some of which were freshly dug.”
And just for the many who have worked so hard and with such focus for more than a dozen years, this is a video clip from CBS NEWS shown coast to coast in their network on the Penobscot River Restoration Project. More folks that are part of the Atlantic salmon village.