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Atlantic Salmon Fishing on the Humber River, Newfoundland by Italo Labignan

Posted on October 4th, 2010
Italo - Generic 100_3256 (1)
Italo Labignan - Newfoundland Atlantic Salmon Fishing!
Italo Labignan - Newfoundland Atlantic Salmon Fishing!

Atlantic Salmon Fishing on the Humber River, Newfoundland

by

Italo Labignan

Oct. 1,10

To the dedicated fly fishermen there is no greater gamefish to pursue in freshwater than the majestic Atlantic Salmon.  Found only in the most pristine streams & rivers in the world, this magnificent fish can attain weights of over 50 lb., is anxious to take a well presented fly, and once hooked, may jump a half-dozen times completely out of the water and make long sizzling runs before it allows itself to be landed and released.

I have had the pleasure over the last 25-yrs. of hosting the Canadian Sportfishing TV Series and fishing some of the most famous Atlantic Salmon rivers throughout North America.  When I received an invite to fish Atlantic Salmon in Newfoundland, I could not refuse. 

In case you didn’t know, one of the best places to fish for Atlantic Salmon is non-other than the Island of Newfoundland and Labrador.  It’s here that mountain ranges and a plentiful supply of freshwater create one of the best Atlantic Salmon habitats in the world.  Atlantic Salmon live their adult life in the food-rich waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Once they are ready to spawn between 3-7 yrs. of age, they enter the freshwater steams where they originated from, and migrate often hundreds of kilometres to reach the very spawning grounds where they themselves were born.

Among the mighty rivers of Newfoundland, the Humber River situated on the north-east coast of Newfoundland is the second largest river in all of Newfoundland and the largest river on the north-east coast.  This river is 120 km long originating in the Long Range Mountains around Hampden, Newfoundland and flows eastward then southward through Deer Lake, and then to the Bay of Islands at Corner Brook.  Atlantic Salmon have over 80 km of prime spawning grounds available to them here and that’s one of the reasons why this is one of the most productive Atlantic Salmon rivers in all of North America.

Our Humber River adventure started with a pleasant drive along the highway from Deer Lake, down a gravel road where a young Moose strutted in front of us for a few hundred yards before we reached the landing.  Our hosts were waiting for us in comfortable Gander River Canoes ready to transport us along with our gear for an enjoyable ½ hr. cruise to the Lodge. 

As we boated up-river flocks of ducks with ducklings would scatter along the shorelines.  Vast areas of lush aquatic vegetation and shore-grasses looked like Canadian-everglades.   Before long we arrived at the Lodge which was situated at the base of two sets of rapids.  

Full of excitement we unloaded our gear, connected our fly rods and reels, donned our wading gear and headed out on the river.  Within minutes of anchoring where a small tributary joined the Humber River, we started seeing Atlantic Salmon rolling on the surface and jumping out of the water.  I started casting a Bomber dry fly and my wife fished a Blue Charm wet fly. On about her 10th cast she tightened the line and a trophy Atlantic Salmon shot out of the water.  She had hooked a three-foot long female torpedo that made about 5-jumps out of the water before allowing itself to be landed with our cradle net.  We admired the fish while it lay in the water, removed the barbless fly, took a quick picture and released it unharmed.

barb_salmon

That evening we enjoyed authentic Newfoundland dishes that included fresh cod, delicious steaks and wonderful dessert.  The main topic at our dinner table was definitely the fabulous Atlantic Salmon fishing in the Humber River.

The next morning we decided to fish early and than have breakfast afterwards.  This time we decided to fish the rapids right in front of the Lodge.  As we slowly motored out again we could see salmon rolling on the surface.  Our guide positioned our boat directly up-stream so that we could easily cast our flies out.  Within an hour we were fighting Atlantic Salmon.  This time we hooked a couple of nice grilse in the 4-5 lb. range.  Each fish took the Bomber dry fly gracefully on the surface and made many jumps and long runs before being landed and released.

As a break from our Atlantic Salmon fishing we also ventured into a small tributary of the Humber River where within minutes we could catch pan-fry size  Brook Trout which we enjoyed for dinner.

If you love to fly fish, Newfoundland should be at the top of your list.  Not only will you have non-stop fishing action, you will also surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery in North America.   As a bonus, Newfoundlanders are some of the most hospitable people on earth that will ensure you are well-fed, and immersed in their wonderful culture!

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