Urban atlantics [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

Urban atlantics

08-18-2005, 07:44 AM
I work near an urban stretch of river, first dam from salt.

Yesterday making the excuse I wanted some dinner I snuck out from coding and meetings to take a few casts before the upcoming clave. I had a large piece of olive yarn and a long leader to try to emphasize my anchor and turnover, throwing primarily single speys occasionally to the knot for practice on the steelhead specialist. Without any waders I was suffering from bank/brush interference.

Anyway, as I was swinging the yarn down on a floating line, downriver mend and nearly skating, a huge boil took the yarn down and I felt a heavy and familiar headshake! Instinctively I turned the rod to one side and the fish took a run and some drag (very light due to practice cast setting) and lightly came off with a thrust of it's familiar shaped tail.

Soon after I noticed in the distant seam a head and tail roll as evening fell, and some urban anglers showed up. They asked "did you get one?" I said I was just practicing but what are they getting? They said their friend came home with a large salmon earlier in the day, undoubtedly a survivor from the federal restoration program poached and I am not referring to preparation for the table.

I will call the EP today to see what the regs are, I'd like to see these fish left alone. However it did make my dreams of the Canadian Maritimes come alive, or perhaps a Scotland trip like Andre just made, etc.

As far as restoration, all it would take is what they're doing now plus two-way passage around dams. If they could only get back to the Coolidge Woods stretch in the Pemi again to spawn!

And the upper Connecticut is a bounty of Vermont and NH spring fed tributaries feeding a salmon factory of an American river, now cut off at the arms and legs with dams too numerous to count.

Maine is the American salmon angler's last hope, we should be as active as possible in helping that cause any way we can.

The American atlantic salmon. What a concept, I was reminded of it in stark fashion last evening.

08-18-2005, 08:07 AM
If Maine is the last hope :eek:

I am a firm believer that if you build it they will come. I think that if the habitat were restored, the fish would eventually find themselves there and establish themselves. What an azaing xperience while taking a smoking break. :smokin:

08-18-2005, 04:11 PM
Unfortunately they take longer to build back up than they do to nock them down. The Penobscot used to get over 20,000 fish in the early 80's. I think it was in 2000 or 2001 they were down to 500 fish. There was about 1100 fish in 2003. I was not able to get a count for 2004.

Lets hope the recent restoration efforts will help them come back.


P.S. It was estimated that 1436 fish came back to the entire U.S. in 2003.

Salar 33
08-18-2005, 06:45 PM
Hey Juro,

It must have been just a dreadful sight the year after Mr. Lowell built the Essex dam. The mighty Merrimac was a substantial salmon river and there would have been many thousands tiring in vein to reach the headwaters in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I like to think of her as my home river.

For six years in the 1980's I spent every free hour during the run between Haverhill and the Essex Dam in Lawrence Massachusetts. Mid May until the first week of July. The results were this one fish. That was the last time I have wet a line for bright salmon on the river.

I am responding to this thread because I want to let everyone who reads it understand that the numbers of salmon in the river are extremely small. In addition, during the run the numbers of places to fish are minimal due to mountain run off and rain. This river fishes extremely large and it took me years of searching to learn but a few of the holding spots. This is clearly not a viable fishery.

Now, in addition to the possible loss of the program for brights due to funding, will be the loss of the brood stock fish. These brood stock fish, that range from 3 to 12 or more pounds, are stocked in the Pemigewasset and Merrimack during the spring and fall. Strictly for angling pleasure. Bristol N.H. has some of the finest looking Atlantic salmon water I have ever seen. It is a place of great imagination of what the past must have been.

I have heard of these fish finding their way down below Lawrence. Juro, if you had a bright fish take it would mean that it didn't find the ladder. I am only speculating but I do hope that is what is holding there. They act very much like bright fish and can scream line. They take a fly on the swing just like the real thing.

I would like to believe that down stream passage would be the answer to the rivers returns. I now believe that what is lost will never be regained. If we could get DNA of a Merrimac river fish we might have a chance. But the fact is that Mr. Lowell in all his wealth and ambition was mindless of Salars future.

I go to the river to clear my mind. I take from the river what flows by as each moment becomes history. The thoughts of my home river are reflected in time. My age is a harsh reality as I look at this photo.


08-19-2005, 02:43 PM
For those of you who are Upstate NY residents…check out this link for a paper on the historical abundance of Atlantic Salmon in New York. The fish were incredibly prolific and had managed to colonize much of the state including all the way down to the south end of Seneca Lake. Salmon River fish averaged 15 pounds and ranged to well up over 40lbs.

Every time I read this it is almost too much for me to bear.


08-21-2005, 11:45 PM
Dmas -

Devastating to read...

Upon reading the link, I had another even more stark revelation:

the name "Salmon River" did not come from introduced pacific salmon... but from it's unimaginably prolific atlantic salmon population before we 'played God' and destroyed it.

As sad as any American salmon disaster story I've ever read.

Salar 33 -

Thanks for sharing your retrospective of the plight of the Merrimac salmon and I admire your passion. I agree that the Pemi is as beautiful a river as one can imagine and a lost AS gem.

Salar 33
08-22-2005, 07:04 AM
Dear Juro & Dmas,

Today there is a small but increasing number of Atlantics ascending the tribs of Lake Ontario. Fish and Game has worked very hard toward this goal. The Salmon River is one of them. During July the dam released water is increased to give good flow for recreational kayaks and the Salmon move up the river.

In addition I have heard that fish from the original eggs that were transported to South America for seeding are alive and well and are of Lake Ontario origin. I am hoping that what was taken will return.


08-22-2005, 09:08 AM
Yeah that’s real cool. I believe that some Canadians from the U. of Guelph are working on that. They think that the Patagonia fish were originally sourced from Lake Sebago in Maine and in turn those fish were originally from Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes. Last I heard the biologists working on the project were looking for old Lake Ontario mounts for DNA comparison to the South American fish. I was talking to one of the MNR biologists about some of this stuff (he also happened to be at the SR Clave this weekend). Lots of hurdles to overcome (i.e. Early Mortality Syndrome, competitive interaction w/ Pacific Salmon during spawning, political forces, etc) but they definitely have the nursery habitat up on the north shore. Time will tell I guess.

BTW…fantastic presentation and casting Juro. Amazing watching you fire out that Carron after the show…makes the average stiff like me want to get out and practice :Eyecrazy: .

08-22-2005, 06:01 PM
You're too kind, thank you - I am grateful for the generous meal at the clave and admire what you are doing to pull anglers into a unified force to ensure we don't get fooled again.

On a related topic, if folks haven't already seen this one it's a cool web media offering from National Geographic...


08-22-2005, 10:42 PM
Seems to me I read that when the Edwards dam was removed it not only opened up 17 miles of main river but quickly led to repopulation by fish species that were kept out by the dam. Shad was particularly mentioned but it appears that while a few atlantics have been observed, salar repopulation is going very slowly.

Glenora Ghillie
09-03-2005, 05:57 PM
I just found this forum and post about an upcoming trip to Aruba in the bonefisha forum, I'm a recent transplant from the finger lakes to Conway NH and have fished that area and LO for many years. The LLS in New York are sebago strain and at this moment are a put and take fishery, due to EMS from the alewives. LO attempts to create a real population have failed and the salmon river hatchery has discontinued the atlanic program. Very sad. This is not to sat there aren't atlantics in LO and the LLS fishing in the fingerlakes is nothing short of outstanding, PM me for details.

I'll be going to SR next weekend for my bach party to mess around with the pacifics, they are just starting to show and its fun to fish upthere before the masses attack. I fish a 12' rod with an array of sinktips for those guys and they will slap a swinging fly.

I did fish for brookstock a couple of weeks ago below the dam in manchester and the water looked great, 67 degree water was not too great and smallies took my flies on the swing real well.....I haven't gotten to do much else as far as salar, execpt to the Andro, and had a ball with little fish on caddis.

Tight lines,


09-03-2005, 11:49 PM
Sorry to hear you've moved away. We never did get a chance to pursue the LLS together.

Glenora Ghillie
09-04-2005, 05:42 AM

Sorry to have missed you too. Remember Dresden in December for lakers and I'm 50% closer to NB and Gaspe. ;)

All the best,