Fly-fishing for Atlantic Salmon
Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec Canada
September 21-28, 2002
|After a short rest I was back at it and it sure was a good thing I took that rest. While working a size 8 Thunder & Lightning (tied on Mustad 80525BL double) wet fly through the pool, I saw a large fish turn and appear to follow the fly. I dropped the rod slightly to slow the fly swing and the fish engulfed the offering and turned back up river. I actually did what you are supposed to do and waited for the rod to load up and then set the hook. When I set the hook, a huge male Atlantic rocketed skyward, coming down with a large splash. The fish streaked upriver and jumped again, within 15 feet of Tom, doing at least three flips before hitting the water again. We knew it was a big fish but at the time we were guessing it was around 25lbs.|
The fish then got down and dirty. Try as I could, I simply could not move him. He did whatever he wanted, when he wanted. After moving about the Keg Pool he settled in alongside a rock in swift current and was using the current to his advantage. The only thing I could do was to wade out into the pool to try and move him. He moved all right! He streaked up to the head of the pool and then shot back to the tail of the pool, circling once and then exiting the pool. The river was very swift below Keg and the Salmon was emptying the reel of line and backing. I was in an all out sprint for over 600 yards downstream. I had to run out to mid-river several times as the fish would get my line wrapped around a rock or a stick. Keep in mind that I was only fishing 4X Grand Max tippet (7lb break strength). Amazingly, the tippet did not part and the fish continued down river.
Now, several minutes into the fight, the fish was still strong and I was exhausted. He had taken me over 800 yards down river. The fish bulldogged me for the next 15 minutes, refusing to give way and move into shallow water to be landed. Finally, the fish settled into water around 2 feet deep. He was so strong I just could not budge him and steer him toward the gravel bar. At that point I felt the fight had lasted long enough andI wanted to end it before the fish became too tired, so I gambled. I carefully snuck up behind him and cautiously reached for his tail. His tail was so big I could not get my hand around it but somehow I managed to hold on. . . barely. I carefully walked the fish over to the shallows with good moving water. We removed the Thunder & Lightning pattern, which was securely seated in the right corner of the mouth. After a couple brief photos and careful measurements with a tape, I steered the fish back to mid-river, holding him into the current. Within a minute he gave a big tail kick, showered me with water and was off like a shot.
|I sat down in the river, exhausted and amazed. I have never fought a fish like that before. His strength was simply awesome. His spawning colors were stunning. This massive Atlantic Salmon of a lifetime measured out about an 1/8 of an inch shy of 46 inches and had a 24-inch girth. This brute of a fish was an estimated 34lbs. Most serious Atlantic Salmon anglers will go their whole lives without seeing such a large fish, much less hooking and landing one on a fly. I was truly lucky to have had such an experience and that fish has been burned into my memory for life. Yes, I was blessed that day.|
As we roll down the New York State Thruway, I tap out the week’s adventure on my notebook computer’s keyboard (Tom’s driving now). We are 14 hours into our trip home. We left Gaspé and its wonderful rivers at 5AM this morning and yet I cannot wait until the day I can return to fish these waters again.
I owe a big thanks to Ann Smith of Lady Amherst Inc. Tom and I met Ann while working a couple of Fly-fishing shows this year. After learning about the rivers on the Gaspé, Ann and Tom talked and she went to work and planned the whole trip for us right down to every last detail. She got us a great hotel, great zones on the rivers and gave us many fishing tips as well. This was a very affordable trip and Ann did an outstanding job arranging everything. Please understand that this was not a free trip in exchange for a plug for Ann’s business. We all paid full price for the trip. We were so pleased with everything I wanted to be sure I included her contact information.
Equipment Run Down:
#1 Orange Phantom on size 8 Mustad 80525BL double
#2 Orange Blossom on size 9 Partridge CS14/2B double
#3 Thunder & Lightning on size 8 Mustad 80525BL double
#4 Black Bear Green Butt on size 10
CS10/2 Partridge Bartleet Supreme
|For more information on the Partridge hooks, please visit the Partridge website:
Rod – All Star Austin 9 for 9
* PLEASE NOTE – Great care was taken in photographing the fish you see in this story. I have a very strict 3 second rule when removing any fish from the water that is to be released. The photo is set up and everything is ready so that when the fish is removed from the water the picture can be taken and the fish put back in 3 seconds or less. When taking your own fish photos, please keep this in mind so the fish is released in the best possible shape.