On the one hand, it’s big, strong and full of fight, one of the most fun and exciting game fish. On the other, wild caught and fresh, it’s a treasure on the palate. Those who angle for salmon have their fun and eat it too.
“There’s something freeing about being behind the rod when you have a salmon hooked up—it’s the only thing that matters in that moment and everything else seems to fade away,” says Matt Herod, general manager of Alaska’s Salmon Falls Fishing Resort, “I see grown men hug each other on a regular basis.”
Among the lures of salmon is its variety. Being anadromous— living both in fresh or salt water—it can be fished from boats on the open sea, on lakes and from riverbanks, with all kinds of tackle. A half dozen species are found in North America, including King (aka Chinook), Sockeye (Red), Coho (Silver), Pink and Chum in the Pacific. The sixth, Atlantic salmon, which you’ve probably eaten as lox on a bagel, is common from Maine to Nova Scotia, Scotland to Ireland, and Norway to Iceland. As Atlantic salmon is commercially extinct (meaning the fish you buy at market is farm-raised), the only way to enjoy them drug free and naturally colored and fed is to catch them yourself. That’s one reason places like Iceland and Scotland are on many a fly-fishing junkie’s bucket list. Places to fish them abound on America’s east coast as well, such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, upstate New York and Lake Ontario.
On both coasts, salmon season runs from May or June through September. Ketchikan, Alaska, known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” is home to several charters and lodges with its own fleets and gear. Here, the biggest confluence of the different species is from late July through August, and top lodges like Salmon Falls also handle cleaning, prep, freezing and vacuum sealing of guests’ catch, so you can take home enough wild-salmon steaks and filets to stock your kitchen through the next summer.