BRUNSWICK — It’s the fourth outdoor film in six years for director and Bethel native Carter Davidson.

And there were no Warren Miller-style crowds to see “Turning Tail: The Atlantic Salmon’s Great New Leap” on Thursday night at the Frontier Cinema and Cafe in Brunswick.

But making money or getting into the Banff Film Festival isn’t why Davidson spends part of his production company’s resources on making fishing documentaries.

“The most important thing to me is to have the most people see it, the largest audience possible. With ‘Turning Tail,’ I just felt it was time to tell an important story,” Davidson said.

On Thursday, members of Trout Unlimited, Fly Fishing in Maine, the Saco River Salmon Club, and others watched the 70-minute film on the Atlantic salmon’s sad story.

“His films get people together and get people excited for the fishing season. And his stories always have a conservation message that’s important. This one on Atlantic salmon goes even further, on another level,” said Dan Tarkinson, founder of the nonprofit Fly Fishing in Maine.

The film documents the work that’s been done the past two decades to help restore the prized game fish that was put on the endangered species list. Once found from the Hudson River all the way up through Canada, the Atlantic salmon now is seen in the United States only in Maine, and in small numbers at that.

Federal and state biologists, as well as plenty of anglers in the film, weigh in on the salmon’s demise due to dams, aquaculture and 250 years of industrial pollution.

But Carter also goes on location to the Miramichi River in New Brunswick, where 120 miles of crystal, clean water has created a robust recreational fishery. The film shows the local camp owners and conservation-minded guides who line the river and live off the salmon’s prosperity.

Two Maine fly fishermen travel there to try, with some humor and not a lot of success, to hook the great fighter. And when they experience the thrill for the first time, they start to explain, like a half-dozen Canadian guides before them, why the salmon is the king of fish.

But the fish’s northern border is moving north to where there are fewer people, less industry and more wilderness, says Maine fisheries biologist Ed Baum.

And whether or not the fish can be restored in its original waters in Maine is uncertain. The guides of New Brunswick and Quebec don’t know, either.

The film leaves the viewer wondering, wanting to know what’s next, and maybe hoping.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: [email protected]

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