Best Salmon Rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Jul 06, 2022 10:47 AM

By Gord Follett

I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced literally dozens of amazing salmon fishing trips over the past 25 years and have been asked numerous times about my favourite. That’s a tough one.

Tough because for more than 20 years I’ve looked forward to our annual Northern Peninsula salmon fishing adventure with same the anticipation of a child at Christmas. The Torrent River, in particular, is such an enjoyable place to fish - so much so that when I’m gone, I’ve asked that some of my ashes be scattered there at the head of Jack’s Pool. I’ve caught more salmon on the Torrent than any river in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Tough because the opportunity to fish a world-class river like Flowers in Labrador is one you will never, ever forget. And I consider myself so lucky to have been there five times! My largest salmon to date - a 27-pounder - was caught on Flowers River at Max’s Pool, the one closest to camp. I remember casting across the long, wide run, basically just seeing how far I could throw a line and not really expecting to hook a salmon, when my line suddenly went tight and peeled off my reel like never before. It felt like a half-decent fish and I was delighted to be playing what I assumed was a 10-, perhaps even a 12-pounder. After 10 minutes or so, my guide waded out in hopes of tailing and releasing it in waist-high water, and when he got a good look at the fish in that gin-clear water, he exclaimed, “Gord, you got a dog on there, buddy!” That’s when my knees suddenly went weak, but I did manage to hold on until the beautiful silver hen was tailed and measured - just under 42 inches! And there have been plenty of salmon caught on the Flowers much larger than mine.

Tough because I’ve suggested the Exploits River in Central Newfoundland, on quite a few occasions, to somebody new to salmon fishing and looking for a spot where they were “guaranteed” to hook a fish, and they ended up filling their tags there. I always, without exception, tell them that there’s no guarantee when it comes to salmon angling. None. Salmon could be taking anything that even remotely resembles an artificial fly all week, from Sunday until Friday, then you step into the river on Saturday and fish for eight hours without as much as a rise. That’s salmon fishing. You’re not likely to smack into too many monsters on the Exploits, but when the fishing is good, as it often is for a significant portion of the season, it’s really good.

Tough because the Eagle River is… well, the Eagle River - salmon angling at its very best for those seeking the perfect combination of quality and quantity. This Labrador gem is undoubtedly one of the finest salmon rivers on the entire planet. Numbers and power of these fish will amaze you. I’ve fished the Lower Eagle a couple times and was simply blown away by the number of hookups I experienced, particularly on my first visit in 2007. I caught fish when I wasn’t even fishing! I was sitting back in the boat one morning, taking a break from hooking several fish at what’s called “The Slick.” I had just a few feet of leader hanging over the side with the rod across two seats, and as I reached for a snack in the cooler bag, my rod shot towards the back of the boat and I had to reach quickly to grab it. A chunky five-pound grilse had taken the fly right next to the craft and turned to head downstream. This happened twice during that trip. Over six days, I cannot recall 30 minutes passing without at least one angler in our boat experiencing a hookup. Many times you could look around at the other boats and see three or four hookups at the same time.

Tough because the spectacular Humber River on Newfoundland’s west coast consistently records salmon over 30 pounds taking a fly and giving anglers a battle and thrill of a lifetime. Over 30 pounds! And you can fish for these monsters just a few metres off the TCH in some places! I haven’t fished for Atlantic salmon in any other country or even another province, but from what I’ve read and heard, the Humber can compete with the best rivers anywhere in the world. Only in recent years have I spent any real amount of time on that river, but I plan on doing so even more this season and next. And I’m still dreaming of that big lottery jackpot so I can purchase a dream summer home on the Lower Humber.

Tough because… well, I love salmon fishing. Anywhere, really.