Atlantic salmon fishing: how and where to catch big fish


Useful information about salmon

Salmon, or Atlantic salmon, is a representative of the salmon-like order, a genus of real salmon. Usually, anadromous and lacustrine (freshwater) forms of this species are distinguished. Large predatory fish, the maximum length of which can reach 1,5 m, and weight – about 40 kg. Lives up to 13 years, but the most common fish is 5-6 years old. Lake salmon can reach 60 cm in length and 10-12 kg of weight. This fish lives up to 10 years. A distinctive feature of the fish are the spots on the body in the shape of the letter X. The best time for salmon fishing in the river is the period of its mass entry. Fish enter the rivers unevenly. For different rivers, there are different features, including geographical, associated with a fish herd that lives at different distances from the mouth, and other factors. It is possible to single out several mass entry of fish into the rivers: spring, summer and autumn, but this division is very conditional and does not have exact time limits. All this is highly dependent on natural factors and can vary from year to year. Accurate information about the entry of fish in a given season can be given by local fishermen or owners of licensed areas.

Ways to catch salmon

Salmon is caught with various fishing gear, both in rivers and in the sea. In the old days in Rus’, salmon was caught using seines, fixed nets, and fences. But today, these types of fishing gear, like trains, messes, floodplains, are considered fishing gear and are prohibited for amateur fishing. Before you go fishing for salmon, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules for catching this fish, what gear, in a particular region, is allowed to fish. The rules may be determined not only by the legislation of the region, but also depend on the tenant of the reservoir. This also applies to baits. Today, in some reservoirs, in addition to artificial lures, it is allowed to fish with a hook with replanting natural baits: this makes the range of gear used wider. But before the trip, all the nuances must be clarified. The main types of recreational fishing allowed are spinning and fly fishing. Trolling is allowed on some waters. In addition, regardless of the fishing method, many RPUs allow fishing only on a catch-and-release basis.

Spinning salmon fishing

When choosing tackle, pay attention to its reliability, since there is always a chance to catch large fish. In medium and large rivers, catching salmon weighing more than 10 kg does not look like something fantastic, so it is better to use a strong rod. If you are hunting for large fish using heavy lures, take multiplier reels with a line reserve of 100 m or more. The choice of equipment depends on the experience of the fisherman and the reservoir, and on the population of salmon spawning. Before the trip, be sure to ask about the biology of the Atlantic salmon, when and which herd enters the river. Spinners fit different and rotating or oscillating. If desired, you can use wobblers. Fishing for salmon with a spinning rod using salmon flies is no less popular. For casting light baits, large bombards (sbirulino) are used. For fishing at the beginning of the season, in large and cold water, sinking bombards and large shipped flies are used.

Fly fishing for salmon

When choosing a rod for fly fishing for salmon, there are a few things to consider. As for the choice of a one-handed or two-handed rod, it all depends, first of all, on personal preferences, the experience of the angler, as well as on the size of the reservoir and the fishing season. On medium and large rivers, the use of one-handed rods obviously reduces the possibilities of a fly fisherman. Fishing with such rods becomes more energy-intensive and therefore less comfortable, except when watercraft are allowed on some large rivers. A large body of water, when fishing from the shore, suggests the possibility of using longer rods, including two-handed rods up to 5 m long. Especially if fishing is in high and cold water, at the beginning of the season, as well as in case of possible floods in summer. There are several reasons for using longer rods. Factors such as increasing the length of the cast in more difficult shoreline conditions may also play a role, but the main thing is the control of the bait in a powerful stream of spring water. Do not forget that heavy and fairly large flies are used. To select the class of two-handers, they proceed from the principle that rods above the 9th class are used in spring water for casting spring baits, the weight of which, sometimes, goes over several tens of grams. When the low summer level is set, the water warms up and the fish are actively biting in the upper layer of the water. That’s when most fishermen switch to fishing rods of lighter classes. For more adventurous fishing, many anglers use tackle of 5-6 classes, as well as switches, which are very different in structure from spey rods and create additional intrigue when playing. For beginners and economical salmon fly fishers, as the first rod, it is recommended to purchase a two-handed rod, nevertheless, of the 9th class. Often the class of modern two-handers will be described, for example, as 8-9-10, which speaks of their versatility. The choice of coil comes down to reliability and high capacity. The choice of the class of one-handed rods depends, first of all, on personal experience and desires. But it should be borne in mind that even with summer fishing for medium-sized fish, beginners may have problems with playing strong fish. Therefore, it is not necessary, on the first fishing trip, to use rods below the 8th grade. On rivers where there is a possibility of catching large specimens, a long backing is necessary. The choice of line depends on the fishing season and the angler’s preferences, but it is worth noting that for fishing in summer low, warm water, it is better to use long-bodied, “delicate” lines.

Salmon trolling

Trollers usually look for salmon in the estuarine sections of rivers, in the coastal waters of the bay, on the seashore, as well as sedentary herds of fish in lakes. Usually salmon is found at depth behind underwater shelters. By adhering to sea currents, salmon stay in its jets. Salmon, permanently living in the Gulf of Finland, for example, is relatively small. Catching a 10 kg giant is a great success, so there is no need for ocean-class spinning rods. But rather strong rods are used, which have powerful multiplier reels and stocks of fishing line 150-200 m long. Large wobblers are often used as bait. Their length is not less than 18-20 cm (at great depths – from 25 cm). They are often equipped with three tees. Less commonly used heavy oscillating baubles. The most popular of the used wobblers are the so-called “huskies”. This term refers to both classic Rapalovskie wobblers, and products of the same type with them from other manufacturers, as well as home-made ones.


The choice of flies for catching Atlantic salmon is very individual and very diverse. To a large extent it depends on the season. It is worth proceeding from the principle: cold water – heavy baits; if the water is warm, and the fish rises to the upper layers of the water, then the flies are on light carriers and hooks, up to the surface, furrowing. The size and color of lures can vary greatly depending on the particular river and region. It is always worth asking experienced fishermen in advance what baits should be used in a certain period of time. When fishing at fishing bases, you should use the baits offered by the guides. Salmon can change their preferences during the day, so it is difficult to get by with a small number of baits. In addition, the northern regions are characterized by unstable weather. A large amount of precipitation can dramatically change the temperature of river water and its level, which means that fishing conditions will also change. Therefore, even in the middle of summer, it will not be superfluous to have a supply of heavy drowning flies and undergrowth.


Places of fishing and habitat

The anadromous species of salmon of the northern part of the Atlantic lives in a huge range: from the coast of North America to Greenland, Iceland and the coasts of the North, Barents and Baltic Seas. In Russia, it enters the rivers of the named seas, as well as the White Sea, and reaches, in the east, the Kara River (Ural). In large lakes (Imandra, Kuito, Ladoga, Onega, Kamennoe, etc.) there are freshwater forms of salmon. For the most part, salmon are caught in rapids, in rapids, in shallow places, below waterfalls. From a boat, they fish anchored in the middle of the river, or with the help of a rower holding a watercraft, in the course, at one point. In the middle of summer, most often, fishing takes place in the upper layers of the water. Only when the pressure drops can the fish go closer to the bottom. In a river, it is usually located near obstacles or where the current is a little weaker. A favorite is the place where two jets merge into one between adjacent large, pitfalls. Catching salmon in small rivers is much more convenient, because in them it stays in one place longer.


Salmon spawns in the upper reaches of the rivers from October to December. The return to the native river (homing) is highly developed. There are “winter and spring” herds. Males mature much earlier than females, and in some populations, as early as a year after leaving for the sea, they return to spawn. In general, the maturity of the fish occurs in 1-4 years. First in spring and last in autumn (although, this is relative, salmon enters large rivers under ice), females go into the rivers. En masse, males start to go to the river with warming water. The size of the fish varies greatly by region and reservoir. Salmon that come in autumn will only spawn next year. Before entering the river, the fish adapts for some time in the estuarine zone to the change in water salinity. After entering fresh water, it undergoes morphological changes in the digestive system and stops eating. Winter fish are more fatty, they will not eat for about a year. In fresh water, the fish also changes externally (“losing”). Females prefer to equip nests in pebble ground. The fertility of salmon is up to 22 thousand eggs. After spawning, a certain number of fish die (mainly males), females spawn, on average, 5-8 times in their entire lives. Having spawned in the fall, and having lost significant weight, the fish begins to fall back into the sea, where it gradually takes on the appearance of an ordinary silverfish “. The larvae hatch in spring. Food – zooplankton, benthos, flying insects, juvenile fish. Rolling into the sea after the ice drift in the spring. Atlantic salmon fishing throughout Russia is licensed, and the fishing season is regulated by “recreational fishing rules”. Dates may be adjusted depending on the region and weather conditions.

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