…from the archives.

Salmon Chanted Evening

“I must admit to having a bit of a love/hate relationship with the mighty Pacific salmon tribe (chinook, coho, chum, pink and sockeye).”

Out in the open ocean or in the Great Lakes, they’re bright chrome, hard-fighting bullets. But from the moment they enter a river on their way to spawn and ultimately die, they quickly begin to darken, soften and lose condition. They also cease feeding, so they only respond to lures or flies out of pure instinct or sheer aggression. As a result, a lot are foul hooked or “mouth-lined”, either intentionally or accidentally. Once hooked, their fight is deep, powerful and dogged rather than spectacular.

This was the biggest chinook (king) salmon I landed during my time living in Canada at the end of the ’80s. It was taken in a small creek flowing into Lake Ontario, not too far from my home in Grimsby. If I look a bit exhausted in this shot, it’s because I am! The fight took a good 40 minutes after the big, dark buck snapped at my twinkling spinner, and it dragged me a good kilometre downstream.

I released the fish, as they’re not great to eat by this stage of their lives. Then I went home, despite the presence of dozens more fish like this in every pool. Don’t get me wrong: they’re great fish. But I’d rather target them in open water or the lower reaches of estuaries when they’re still “fresh” and bright. Upriver, I think they’re best left to complete their bittersweet final journey. On the other hand, Atlantic salmon… well, that’s a whole ’nuther story for another time!


The best place to be,
when you can’t be fishing.