A Primer for Salmon Season

Everything you need to know about salmon and salmon fishing in NL

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the salmon fishing season runs from June 1 to Sept 15.

It can be an expensive hobby to get into. Different setups of boots, waders, rod and reel will run the gamut of $300 to $1100. Skimp at your own peril – you’ll be the one with leaking waders or slippery boots.

Plus, a license for a resident is only $23. You can buy them anywhere gasoline is sold.

The best option for the townie who is looking into the adventure is to find a veteran (who is about your size and shape) that is best kind enough to take you to a scheduled river. Licensed professional salmon fishing guides can charge upwards of $800.

With a license you get six tags. Rivers can be Class 0, Class 2, Class 4 or Class 6. The class number indicates the number of salmon one can catch (and keep) on said river. An angler can only “bag” two salmon per day, no matter the river’s class. There are size and weight restrictions. Too big or small? Throw it back.

The Atlantic Salmon is the only fish of the Salmo (salmon) genus found in the Atlantic ocean. It has a reputation as the largest of said genus – a record of 110 lbs was set in Scotland in the 90s.

When reaching the “Smolt” (adult or saltwater) phase of their lives, salmon travel down their river of birth, eventually reaching the ocean, where they hitch a ride on Atlantic currents and travel a quarter of the distance around the earth, snacking on squid/herring/whatever and quadrupling in size then returning home when it is time to spawn (between 1-4 years).

If how remarkable that is does not faze you, then get this: Atlantic Salmon only leave their river of birth once. Using the earth’s magnetic field, they navigate back to their place of birth years later – they then, using smell (nobody, by the way, quite knows how this is possible) return UPSTREAM to their original river. 95% of the time a salmon will return to the EXACT SAME POOL where they were born. I however cannot find my car keys.

The inland salmon fishery is now the only way to consume wild Atlantic Salmon. We used to fish for salmon in salt water but got greedy and messed the whole thing up. Now, 99.5% of salmon available for sale is farmed. This is a shame because wild salmon, as any angler will tell you, kicks farmed salmon’s ass. Google it.

Salmon farming happens in two stages – an inland hatchery portion, where salmon are raised to adulthood and a net-pen system for growing to their final weight. The saltwater pens use nets in bays to keep farmed salmon from the outside world.

This creates a whole host of problems: there is a risk of disease (like the 2012 outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia) or the escape of farmed salmon into the ecosystem where interbreeding with wild salmon causes weaker offspring.

Despite wishing very much to murder salmon, humans have created legislation to make it as fair to the creatures as possible. Rules create a challenge for anglers, demonstrating the deep respect they have for these creatures.

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