March 17, 2010

fish

DEIRDRE FLEMING

— By

20080501_Salmon
click image to enlarge

20080501_Salmon

Gordon Chibroski

20080501_Salmon
click image to enlarge

20080501_Salmon

Gordon Chibroski

Additional Photos Below

Staff Writer

EAZIE — Not too many people sit around watching fishermen fish. That's a little like watching amateur golf on television: no guarantee of a birdie, so why wait?

Yet on May 1, fishermen at the Veazie Salmon Club and downriver at the Eddington Salmon Club stood in small groups and watched the few who cast into the Penobscot River.

It was the first time anglers were allowed to spring fish for Atlantic salmon on the river in nine years, but the high water from the snowmelt spoiled the fun by crashing down the banks, swelling and filling the river with branches, logs, even trees.

But Beau Peavey, who started fishing for Atlantic salmon in the river 20 years ago (when he was 4), said even without the high water, few would have come to cast on May 1.

''If 10 (salmon) are caught, I'll be surprised. The fish run is in June. They ought to give us the good season,'' said Peavey, 24, a student at the University of Maine who was out before dawn to fish the river. ''There is no reason not to give us the whole season. We're not hurting anything.''

Peavey is a bit of a local Atlantic salmon authority. He caught the first salmon during each of the special fall seasons held the past two years.

In the fall, there are far fewer salmon in the river. The salmon's spawning runs are in the spring, so the addition of the May season this year was expected to add more excitement around the salmon clubs.

But Peavey says the spring season will be a challenge, maybe one with lackluster results.

After two trips down to the river, he tried again around 9 a.m. and stood on a rock, but the high water made it useless. He decided to try again later in the day when the water level went down.

''June is the better time around here,'' Peavey said. ''I don't think there will be fish in the river for another week to 10 days. I was the only one who was here in the fall every day. I'm persistent more than anything.''

FIRST SINCE 1999

The spring season is the first since 1999, when the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission closed the river to Atlantic salmon fishing to protect salmon populations, which were believed to be threatened.

There is expected to be more salmon migrating upriver during the spring, but the season has limits. Fishermen are allowed to catch two salmon per day, but must fly fish with barbless hooks and practice catch and release.

If anglers have poor luck, the season will run to the end of May. If they are hooking salmon with ease, the season will end early, after 50 fish are caught.

Longtime Atlantic salmon fishermen like Claude Westfall say 50 salmon is a lot of fish. But Westfall also knows that with just a few fishermen like Peavey, the season could be over in a matter of weeks.

Westfall also showed up early on May 1 at the Veazie Salmon Club because he couldn't wait.

''If I had known the river was going to be this high, I'd have lowered in my Grand Laker (boat) on Tuesday on my boat rack here,'' he said. ''I'm 80. I'm very lucky to be 80 and to be able to do this.''

As he tied another fly onto his line after the first broke off in the angry river, Westfall smiled and moved quickly around the old salmon club.

His excitement seemed to overflow, just like the river. Still, like Peavey, he wants more Atlantic salmon fishing opportunities in Maine.

''I am a big proponent of this. The impact on the Atlantic salmon will not be very great by the standpoint of mortality,'' Westfall said. ''I didn't think it would have hurt the fish at all to let us fish the river two weeks in June.''

As it was, the start of the long-awaited spring salmon season started slow, with small crowds of fishermen at two of the salmon clubs watching only a fisherman or two.

At the Eddington Salmon Club, Lou Harvath, chairman of the Penobscot Salmon Club, and Dick Ruhlin, chair of the Atlantic Salmon Commission, sat and watched a fisherman they didn't know bobbing in an aluminum boat, wondering why he persisted.

''I'm not the sharpest bulb in the pack, but (I wouldn't be out there),'' Ruhlin said.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

20080501_Salmon
click image to enlarge

20080501_Salmon

Gordon Chibroski

20080501_Salmon
click image to enlarge

20080501_Salmon

Gordon Chibroski

20080501_Salmon
click image to enlarge

20080501_Salmon

Gordon Chibroski

20080501_Salmon
click image to enlarge

20080501_Salmon

Gordon Chibroski

click image to enlarge

PHOTO BY -- Tuesday, February 10, 1998 -- Salmon flies

 


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)