Nfld. & Labrador·Outdoors

Whether passion or obsession, the benefits of salmon fishing are virtually endless

Salmon season has arrived, and for those who partake, it can be better than Christmas, writes Gord Follett.

Salmon season has arrived, and for those who partake, it can be better than Christmas, writes Gord Follett

A fisherman stands in a river as the sun sets.
A peaceful evening of salmon fishing on the Torrent River. (Submitted by Gord Follett)

This column is an opinion by Gord Follett, former editor of the Newfoundland Sportsman. 

Well, after eight long months — 10 for those who only fish prime time — the 2022 recreational salmon angling season is finally upon us. And while this may not mean a row of beans to some, it's like Christmas — better, actually, in many respects — to tens of thousands of us die-hards.

"Obsession" might be a fairly accurate description of our passion for this thrilling outdoor activity, sometimes referred to as "the sport of kings."

Mind you, I'm no king, not in any sense of the word. But I do feel pretty special when partaking in my absolute favourite outdoor pastime.

I describe it as "thrilling" — and it really is — but it's also quite relaxing at the same time. "Heh heh, figure that one out," a non-fishing buddy said to me one time. "It can't be both."

Oh but it can. And it is.

A fisherman standing in a river holds a salmon.
Gord Follett gets ready to release a salmon from Crabbes River. (Submitted by Gord Follett)

Many times in years gone by, when I was struggling emotionally with one issue or another, a few tranquil hours casting a fly on a slow-moving river somehow cleared my mind, even if I never hooked or even rose a single fish. It's difficult to describe, really, unless you've done this or something similar in the outdoors that you find peaceful.

And if you happen to hook one of those silver bullets, your peace of mind instantly turns to excitement-plus mode, without erasing all the positive, calming vibes that had been absorbed over the previous two, three or four hours.

On more than one occasion over the years, I have actually fished four or five straight days, averaging 10 hours a day, without catching a salmon. And at the end of each one, as I was packing up to head home, I considered it another great trip!

As I write this piece, I'm also running up and down the stairs at home, preparing for my first salmon fishing trip of the season, to Newfoundland's west coast. I'll be joined by my brother Jeff and friend Sean. While nothing too serious, all three of us have reasons to want to clear our minds for a few days, be they personal or work-related. I have no idea whether any of us will hook a fish. But I am certain that once the flow of the river reaches knee-level of our waders, our
minds will immediately switch to "relax" mode.

A major component of any successful fishing trip is the camaraderie, and I've been most fortunate to have experienced this on virtually every excursion. I'd much, much rather experience a great time with my buddies and not hook a single fish than catch a dozen salmon while we are constantly bickering at and arguing with one another.

Four men wearing fishing gear stand together, arms around each other's shoulders.
For many of us, camaraderie is the most important and rewarding aspect of any trip. From left; Sean Kearsey, Tony Vinnicombe, John Dyke and Gord Follett. (Submitted by Gord Follett)

If one member of our party isn't having much luck hooking fish after couple days and any of us is enjoying great success, you can bet your bottom dollar the fellas doing good will do everything in their power to help him get on the scoreboard, be it giving him one of our "killer" flies, calling him over to cast where somebody just rose a fish, or racing to him with a dip net if he does happen to hook one.

This is how and why, with our crew, by the end of the trip there's usually not much difference in the number of fish each angler caught.

About a year ago on social media, somebody posted a piece called The 10 Benefits of Fishing, which included both mental and physical rewards. I have experienced and agree with every one, which I'll summarize here.

Fishing:

  • Decreases stress and anxiety.
  • Creates social bonds.
  • Improves self esteem.
  • Improves balance and co-ordination.
  • Teaches patience and appreciation.
  • Makes lifelong memories.
  • Trains your mind to focus.
  • Contributes to conservation.
  • Burns calories.
  • Boosts the economy.

I'll add one thing this post neglected to mention: the health benefits of eating wild (not farmed) salmon.

So there you have it. You can either spend $150 an hour for a therapist … or go fishing.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gord Follett

Freelance contributor

Gord Follett is a former editor of the Newfoundland Sportsman magazine, former co-host of the Newfoundland Sportsman TV program and best-selling author of Track Shoes & Shotguns. He lives in Mount Pearl.

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