Atlantic SalmonWe left home early, drove 12 hours and picked up our Atlantic Salmon licenses at a small store in Cape Breton Canada. I was still trembling from the long ride and possible coffee overdose while unpacking and getting my fly fishing gear ready for the first morning of fishing. While I was taping my 14 foot 2 handed rod, we discussed where we would make our first casts and a variety of other variables that need to be accounted for. Current water levels? Who has been catching salmon and on what parts of the river? Floating or sink tip lines? Weather conditions and how many layers of clothing to wear? Weather forecasts in this region are not known for accuracy as the Margaree Valley makes it’s own weather and the weather changes on a seemingly minute to minute basis. Two of my friends arrive the first day and another friend arrives the following week. It rains heavy the first night and into the next morning and the Margaree River blows it’s banks! Plan “B” is the Middle River, twenty miles away and should not be as high. The Highlands on Cape Breton is a massive water collection area. Some rivers are shorter than others with fewer feeder streams. These shorter rivers dump into the ocean quicker and although the water levels get high they remain respectively manageable and fishable. Throughout the course of 14 days only 3 or 4 days involved a reasonable degree of sunshine. The balance of days consisted of rain, drizzle, snow and ice. Nevertheless, we fished every day and usually went back to the lodge soaked to the bone, cold and ready to do it all again the next morning. In high, fast water the Atlantic Salmon hug the banks and get behind rocks seeking shelter and refuge from the energy draining current. They duck and cover as opposed to the more normal behavior of pooling up and running mostly at night. This departure from normal patterns and behavior makes this type of fishing difficult. Add wind, rain, cold and ice to the situation and it can be a bit dangerous too, if you don”t watch your step. I caught two fresh Salmon both in the 32 inch (10 – 12 lb.) range. One of my friends caught two fish, one grilse and one Salmon. Two other friends caught nothing but did miss numerous fish, as we all did. Hard to beat it. The number of spey casts per fish was remarkable but each fish made every cast worth it.