By Pete Gadd
Several hundred years of fly fishing tradition for Atlantic Salmon is ancestor of modern steelheading and so holds a good amount of Romantic Charm for us. While our aspirations abound, we are not all able to drop $1500/night at a lodge. The better destinations are often saddled with difficult native tongues and flights that seem unending. You may feel it is hopelessly out of reach. But worry not dreamer, there can still be Atlantic Salmon chasing your flies. I come to you $68.75 per day poorer, and a good deal richer for a fantastic week of fishing for Atlantic Salmon.
Eastern Canada checks all my boxes for an Atlantic Salmon destination: the flights are direct, the people charming and the English language abounds, while not necessarily there native tongue. It may not have the heritage of Scotland or the mystique of Scandinavia, the rivers are gorgeously clean, ridiculously clean even, not a bubblegum wrapper in sight. Since you aren’t suffering terrible jet lag from flying halfway across the world, you can enjoy it all the more and do so, on the cheap, since the licensing can run as low as $70 per day. Not only that, but Canada has the best potato chip flavor of all time: Grilled Steak Ruffles®.
June brings fresh great grey Ghosts into the rivers of Eastern Canada. While there aren’t hordes of Chromers headed upstream yet, the quality of the fish more than makes up for their numbers. It is an excellent time to catch the fish of a lifetime — so fresh they are leaping out of the water to shake the sea lice off. Because there aren’t thirty fish to a pool at this time of year, it is even more important to get a guide, at least for a day or two, and save yourself a week of frustration and regret. While the fish are somewhat sparse, so are the crowds which always has me giving a little sigh of relief.
While I presented this as a budget piece, one thing I urge you not to scrimp on is a good guide. While peanut butter sandwiches are as good a fuel as any, all the money saved won’t count for squat unless you have a clue what you’re doing. As a steelheader from the West, I was stunned at the difference in fly speed when fishing for Atlantic Salmon. It’s so much faster that it’s almost unbelievable. You need someone to nudge you faster than you think could possibly be right. They’re also invaluable with showing you the ropes, where to get you day’s license, etc.
Tackle for salmon in Eastern Canada is very similar to what you have if you live in the PNW — twelve to thirteen foot spey rods in the seven to eight weight bracket fit the bill perfectly. I fished a 7127-4 almost exclusively and never felt under-gunned. Bringing a single-hander is advised, though I may be showing my age with that comment (hey kids get off my lawn).
Thanks to David and Charles for a great week and showing me the ropes. Contact the Burkheimer Rod shop (email@example.com) for guide recommendations and accommodations.