Catch the One That Got Away

Landlocked salmon, also referred to as Ouananiche, are one of the incredible species to angle for in Newfoundland and Labrador. Found principally in both rivers and lakes, landlocked salmon grow very, very large here.

In fact, this pristine wilderness playground is teeming with record-setting salmon, just waiting to be caught. Most landlocked salmon are in the 2- to 8-pound range but it is not uncommon to catch them over 10 pounds.

Though they don’t grow as large as their sea-run brethren, landlocked salmon are prized because of their exceptionally aggressive nature. It is one of the reasons why I love to fish for them. They will readily slam a fast retrieved streamer, and then give you an acrobatic performance that is second to none. Their colouring is magnificent with hues of silver, brown, and gold. And many mistake them for brown trout.
In the vast wilderness of Newfoundland and Labrador, landlocked salmon are abundant, and outfitters have developed excellent access to some of the best waters for flyfishers.

You can cast for them from both a boat or while wading. They can be caught from June through to September.

I have learned a lot about this outstanding game fish after numerous trips. Some tips to consider: Bring fullsinking and sink-tip lines for casting streamers to help get your fly down in the current. Use a very fast retrieve with your streamers (it seems to incite violent strikes that will jar your arm). Don’t forget to try traditional Atlantic salmon dry flies – they love to hit a waking bomber or other dry fly. Some streamer patterns include the Ballerina, Zoo Cougar, Scottys McFly, Cats Ass, and Muddler. For topwater, large Stimulators, Bombers, and even mice patterns all work well.

Best of all, when you are casting large surface flies for landlocked salmon, you are often surprised and delighted to catch a massive brook trout as well. One recommendation about fishing Labrador landlocked salmon – bring heavy gear. They are exceptionally strong fish and tireless fighters that will truly test your equipment. Fast action fly rods in 6- and 7-weight are ideal coupled to large arbor reels with quality drag systems. Don’t forget to bring quality leader and tippet in the 0x to 3x sizes. A big landlocked salmon will easily break light terminal tackle, so use set-ups that are similar to those for sea-run Atlantic salmon.

Excellent places to find landlocked salmon include in front of and behind large rocks and boulders, defined seams between differing current speeds, points, drop-offs, and ledges are all good bets.

Fly-fishing for landlocked salmon is one of the strongest arguments for why you should come to Newfoundland and Labrador. In the same waters where you will cast for them, you will also usually catch massive brook trout, lake trout, and northern pike. There is no place in the world that I know of that has such incredible and diverse fly-fishing in unspoiled waters.