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 Post subject: Atlantic salmon madness
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2019, 11:32 am 
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Joined: February 28th, 2017, 9:28 am
Posts: 29
Location: Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Canada
On june 23rd I left home and drove 3h to reach the Sainte-Marguerite river located in the Saguenay area. I met with my usual fishing buddies Alex and Francis for our annual atlantic salmon (AS)fishing trip. The plan was to fish the Sainte-Marguerite river for 3 days and then move to the Escoumins river for a week.

It was our first time fishing the Sainte-Marguerite river so we focused on exploring the sector 4 of the river. The salmon started to reach this area a couple days ago so there wasn’t a lot of them in the pools and some of them were empty. The river itself is beautiful and it was the first time that I fished Atlantic salmon in water that clear.

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A big salmon rose to my fly twice without taking it and that’s all the action that we had in 3 days of fishing. We decided that we would not fish this river again in the future. Like I said the river itself and the scenery is beautiful but the downside is that that there’s a major road that runs all the way along the river so the constant sound of cars passing by is very annoying... So on june 26 we moved to the Escoumins river where we setted up our base camp.

The Escoumins river is where we started fishing for Atlantic salmon 6 years ago. We go there every year so we know have a good amount of experience fishing it, especially the sector 1B wich is restricted to 8 anglers per day. We weren’t lucky at the AS fishing lottery last fall so there was no fishing in the sector 1A for us this year. That sector consists of a single pool located at the confluence of the river and the Saint-Lawrence river so the salmon there comes from the sea with the tide. They are strong and are easier to catch because it’s the first time in their life that they see a fly.

Upon arrival we talked to some friends over there and things were not looking good. There was a big storm the night before so the water level of the river was a little bit too high to fish some pools of the sector 1B. We also learned while the sector 1A was red hot and produced fish every day, things were different in the sector 1B. The fish just started showing up and there weren’t a lot of them up there. Nobody had hooked a salmon there since the start of the season. The good news was that thing could only get better and it was a matter of days before the AS reach the area in good numbers.

The first day of fishing we noticed that the AS that were in the area were all stacked at the foot of the waterfall that blocks their way upstream, at least until the fish ladder is open in mid july, and in the first pool below the waterfall, pool number 23. At the end of the day Alex hooked a nice 12 lbs salmon while swinging a wet fly across the pool. The fish was strong and he started to jump and trash the pool for a minute of two before he wrapped the leader around a rock, jumped out of the water and freed himself by breaking the tippet! Too bad but it was a good start!

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On the weekend there’s a draw to get a chance for 2 anglers to fish the sector 1A so we decided to try our luck and enter the draw. Alex got picked first so he won 2 acces right for a day to the sector 1A. I wanted to fish there really bad but I decided to let Francis fish it. Francis was on is 6th season fishing for Atlantic salmon and after roughly 40 days of fishing he never had a salmon on the line... He was long overdue to catch one! That day I was fishing on my own in the 1B while my friends were in the 1A. Early in the morning around 6 am I was swinging a wet fly in pool 22 when I got a strong pull on the line! The salmon trashed a bit and then made a long run all the way until he reached the tail of the pool and then jumped out of the water. It was a nice 15 pounders! After the jump he shook his head 2-3 times and managed to unhooked itself... I would have loved to land this fish but sometimes the fish win and I’m ok with it.

At the end of the day I was curious to know how the fishing went for Alex and Francis in sector 1A. They had a blast fishing there and had one of the best day of fishing since the start of the season! Alex landed a very nice salmon in the morning and he lost another one!

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Francis had even more action as he hooked and lost a big salmon and a smaller one and at the end of the day he finally landed his first Atlantic salmon ever!!

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Excitement was high that night and we allowed us an extra cup of bourbon before going to bed!

The following days things were improving in the 1B as more salmon reached the area every day but somehow we didn’t hooked any salmon. Still there was 2-3 salmon hooked per day by other anglers. Extended fishing trip like this one are very hard on the body. We get up at 3h45 am, fish from 4:30 am to 1:00 pm and then start over from 4pm to 9:30 pm. By the time we get back to camp and eat a little bit we go to bed around 11 pm and then wake up again at 3h45 and start over. It’s roughly 14 hours of fishing per day and at the end of the trip I had to slow down because I was starting to have concerning pain on my casting wrist and my shoulder wasn’t better. Every 2-3 days we had a rest day and it was very much needed. As the days go by and with the sleep deprivation you kind of get in a form of trans where you are on automatic pilot. Make a cast or two, let it swing across the pool, take a step downstream and repeat. Do it for 14 hours a day. This is what it look like to fish for a fish that doesn’t feed. It’s almost madness but a good one!! When you finally hook one these fish you quickly forget that you fished for 3 days without action to finally get to this precise moment!

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One morning I was fishing with Alex and the river level had dropped enough so we could finally do some dry fly fishing on another pool. As usual things started slow and salmon started to get more active around 7h30 am. While Alex was fishing the spot I noticed a nice salmon that rolled right on the eddy line. I told Alex about it and a couple cast later the salmon rose to his fly but didn’t take it. When my turn came I casted my bomber to the spot where that salmon rose and when I got the bomber to land exactly at the right spot I saw a grilse come up all the way to my fly again without taking it. I waited 2-3 minutes, started my gopro camera and casted my bomber to the same exact location. I saw a big head rising to the fly, the open mouth reached for the fly wich disappeared while the salmon was diving back to the depth of the pool. I setted the hook and instantly felt the weight of a very nice fish!! The fish jumped a couple of times and fought hard but in the end Alex managed to net him after a 19 minutes fight! I was very excited to land this awesome 15 pounders male atlantic salmon!!

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Here’s a short video that highlight the fight, including the live take!!

https://vimeo.com/348070343

About 1 hour later Alex hooked a similar fish on a dry fly! His salmon was very bright wich mean he was fresher than mine. He was strong and made us run 500 feet downstream where we netted him!

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We couldn’t agree on wich one was bigger. I say mine was bigger and Alex says that his was bigger...you know how it is!!! Wich one do you think was bigger!!??

After these two catch we continued to had nonstop action from 9 am to 1 pm. A lot of salmon rose to our bombers but unfortunately no more hookup.

At some point Alex and Francis had to leave and I stayed to fish 3 more days. There was a heatwave and fishing got very slow. I had 2 hours of dry fly action in the morning and then nothing for the rest of the day. No salmon on the line during theses 3 days of fishing.

Overall we had a great time and are happy with the result. The first salmon landed by Francis was worth it on its own! We will definitely go back there next year!


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PostPosted: July 23rd, 2019, 12:22 pm 
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FFIM Addict

Joined: December 2nd, 2001, 1:00 am
Posts: 3674
Location: T3R11
Great trip report.

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You see that dimple way over there? Well I couldn't hit it with a cruise missile.


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PostPosted: July 23rd, 2019, 12:32 pm 
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FFIMer

Joined: March 5th, 2004, 1:00 am
Posts: 235
Great report, thanks for posting. Nice fish, sweet looking rivers.


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PostPosted: July 23rd, 2019, 2:46 pm 
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FFIMer

Joined: August 7th, 2004, 12:00 am
Posts: 102
Location: Plymouth, ME
Nice! Thanks for that. Beautiful fish!


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PostPosted: July 23rd, 2019, 3:27 pm 
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FFIMer

Joined: May 12th, 2003, 12:00 am
Posts: 517
Location: Hampton, NH/Eustis
Another wonderful report. Beautiful pictures too. Thanks for sharing!


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PostPosted: July 23rd, 2019, 7:49 pm 
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FFIMer

Joined: May 29th, 2016, 6:46 am
Posts: 72
Location: Sebago ME, Errol NH
Great vimeo link there. That fish used the whole river. Nice!


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PostPosted: July 24th, 2019, 6:58 am 
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Joined: February 14th, 2007, 1:00 am
Posts: 1532
Location: New Hampshire
Simply awesome.

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"Fishermen...spending their lives in the fields and woods...are often in a more favorable mood for observing her, in the intervals of their pursuits, than philosophers or poets even, who approach her with expectation." - Thoreau


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PostPosted: July 24th, 2019, 8:46 am 
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Joined: August 28th, 2002, 12:00 am
Posts: 1424
Location: Wells, ME
Outstanding report all around - thank you!!!!!


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PostPosted: July 24th, 2019, 7:19 pm 
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FFIM Addict

Joined: September 28th, 2003, 12:00 am
Posts: 2740
Well done.

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The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of something that is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

Sir John Buchan


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PostPosted: July 25th, 2019, 1:54 am 
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Joined: January 24th, 2002, 1:00 am
Posts: 2387
Location: Lyons, CO
Well played!

I'm still 0fer on Atlantic Salmon, though it's been over 10 years since I tried. I've broken off 2. One of these years, I'm going to have to try again.


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