Wild Atlantic salmon in the United States are extremely rare—there are a few that hang on in the coastal rivers in Maine, but, for the most part, three centuries of development have cost this iconic fish most of its spawning and rearing habitat and earned it a likely permanent place on the Endangered Species List.
But in the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, these majestic wild fish continue to push up coastal rivers and spawn every year (Atlantic salmon can spawn several times over the course of their lives), and anglers still await their annual summer arrival.
This great video featuring Big River Lodge in Labrador from The New Fly Fisher shows just how robust Atlantic salmon can be when habitat merges with opportunity. Chasing these fish on the fly, for most Americans, is likely a lost opportunity that went away when the fish’s habitat in the Northeast also dwindled.
But it’s good to know Atlantic salmon still persist, and it makes every effort to restore habitat in the Lower 48 worth it. Perhaps one day the Penobscot River will be home to big runs of salmon again, like it was before it was dammed and tamed (and TU is doing it’s best to make that possible, thanks to our work with our partners to breach and provide passage around fish-stopping dams). Until then, I’ll just check in occasionally with the fish that still come home from the ocean to the wild rivers of the north.
— Chris Hunt