Yesterday I caught a genuine salt-running Atlantic salmon on the fly in the Miramichi River up in New Brunswick, Canada. Since I started flyfishing some fifeen years ago, I have dreamed of fishing here, as these waters are fabled and the Miramichi is sadly one of the last great East Coast salmon rivers, even though historically these fish could be found as far south as New Jersey. I can now scratch Miramichi salmon off the bucket list, but I can tell you it didn’t come easy.
Unlike Pacific salmon, Atlantics don’t spawn and die, and they don’t only strike out of aggression. These fish are actually eating smelt in the river, and there are so many of the little baitfish around, getting them to switch from the real thing to a fly is a challenge.
The technique we’re using is as simple and old-school as it comes: cast a streamer cross-current, let it swing until the line straightens out, do it again. But seeing that I am constantly coniving and analysing the situation when I fish, my wheels are turning something fierce. If the classic Black Ghost and Pink Panty streamers we’re chucking are only getting hit on the occasion, wouldn’t a flashy Deceiver loaded with tinsel be better? If they’re picky during the day, couldn’t I catch more at night? After all, Atlantic salmon are brown trout kin, and last night I heard them smashing smelt in the dark, even though our guides say they don’t eat after sundown.
The real question is, would you stick with tradition and keep fishing exactly how they have here for decades, or go experimental? Do you always listen to your guides, or do you see nothing wrong with trying things your own way? I don’t want to be rude. – JC