The Canadian government spawned controversy when it shut down commercial netting of Atlantic salmon off the Newfoundland coast in 1991, but the result has been the renaissance of the Humber River’s sport fishery. While Atlantic salmon remain an endangered species south of the border, up here they’re in relatively good shape.
Sixty percent of all Atlantic salmon in North America return to Newfoundland rivers, and the Humber leads the province in salmon production. This is the river that angling legend Lee Wulff said “has to be visited at least once in every salmon angler’s life.” Come here in late June and in July for high catch rates of 4- to 7-pound keeper grilse (as smaller salmon are called here) as well as sea-run brook trout to 3 pounds. Bigger salmon run from late July through early October. These salmon range from 20 to 35 pounds. Some monstrous Atlantic salmon tip the scales at over 40.
All fishing is done with fly gear, and bushy dry flies take a good percentage of Humber salmon. The local favorite is the Orange Bomber, which looks like “a cigarette butt with hackle spun around it,” according to guide Bill Bryden at Eureka Outdoors in Corner Brook, Newfoundland (866-272-5666). In the big-fish section near the mouth of the river, Bryden recommends anglers pack at least 200 yards of backing on their fly reels lest they’re spooled by some wide-shouldered rocket. Farther upstream, the river’s shoals are conducive to wade-fishing, and Bryden offers dozens of lakes where brookies can be fished with spinners and bait.