After a Seven-Year Ban, Salmon Fishing Returns to Maine

Herb Swanson for The New York Times – Anglers are out for the first Atlantic salmon season on the Penobscot River in Maine since 1999. The season began on Sept 15.
Published: September 28, 2006  EDDINGTON, Me. — Forget your trout, your striped bass. Wild Atlantic salmon are a fisherman’s Holy Grail.

For the first time since 1999, Maine salmon fishermen wait to try their luck in the Eddington Pool below the Veazie Dam on the Penobscot River.    They are fickle, finicky and feisty, and, in recent years in this country, few and far between.

So scarce that in 1999, Maine, the last American bastion of wild Atlantic salmon, closed its rivers to salmon fishing to save the salmon, whose numbers had shrunk from pollution, dams and other forces. But it dealt a blow to fishermen around the country, especially those who recall the heyday, when the first silvery salmon caught in Maine each year went to none other than the president of the United States.

Now, with salmon slowly returning, Maine has opened its first wild salmon season in seven years — a month of restricted fishing on the state’s storied Penobscot River.

It is drawing people from as far as Washington State and South Carolina, in hip-waders and in boats.

[But it took until Wednesday, nearly two weeks after opening day, for the first salmon to be caught.

[It was landed by Beau Peavey, a 22-year-old junior in college (“I took two years off to fish,” he said), who is such a devotee he has been on the river before sunrise every morning and again every evening since the season’s first day. The salmon — a frisky 32-inch 12-pounder that fought back with “four jumps and a couple of good long runs” — was caught after Mr. Peavey abandoned his own flies and used a pink fly created years ago by a now-deceased member of his salmon club.

[“From the time I was 9, I spent every waking minute up there fishing,” he said. “The river closed when I was 15, and I caught one of the last legal fish in 1999. I fish religiously — that’s my life.” Mr. Peavey is a spring chicken in the salmon game here.]

Rest of story here

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