Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Salmon River's Diadromous Fish

    1. Diadromous fishes are further separated into anadromous and catadromous. Anadromous fish live as adults in the sea but breed in fresh waters, usually the juveniles also stay there. Catadromous fishes are the opposite; adults live in fresh waters but migrate back to the ocean to breed.
  1. (Courtesy of the Ministry of Fisheries)
Though the salmon river is merely a shell of what it originally was, it is still harboring some interesting fishes that travel between the fresh and salt water. Fortunately our state and national governments are working to restore these populations, or even add on some.

One of the most important to be protected is the native, anadromous Atlantic Salmon. The state stocks thousands of juvenile salmon into the river each year. The river does not treat these little guys well. Hot summer temperature, low flows, uneducated fisherman, and predators limit the number that actually make it to salt water. But, through some miracle, some actually not only survive the ocean but survive the river's low flows as adults. It is rumored that in some locations salmon redds have been observed. Maybe there are even some wild fish returning to the river, but of course that would have to be a very small percentage of an already minuscule.
This past fall I was incredibly lucky and managed to catch one of the these fish on a small dry fly. It is not unheard of for anglers to stumble upon a salmon in this river,  but when it happens extreme care should be take, as the state's signs say they should be released immediately without avoidable injury. 

Another project the state has begun work on involves a close relative of the Atlantic Salmon. During the early 2014 season the DEEP stocked a tributary of the Salmon with juvenile sea run brown trout. Although the originally stocked location was surveyed and few if any of these fish were collected. However, some were found in another location. I have heard speculation as to whether the Salmon does currently contain sea runners, if fact it is very likely it does considering the fact that other streams in the area do have runs. I believe I may have encountered one of these in the lower river in the late fall, a fish about 20 inches. During that time of year trout of any kind are absent in the river bellow a certain point due to low and warm water during the late summer and early fall. I had another possible encounter even further down in the lower river a few years ago when a very large brown trout struck a black nosed dase before breaking off. 

Perhaps the largest species that invade the Salmon in the Spring is the striped bass. These fish come into a part of the river that is mostly private property or VERY hard to fish. They come in following another anadromous species, the blueback herring. These small bait fish are present in large numbers given good conditions. Alewives can also be found. If this fishery was more accessible it might account for some fantastic action. I plan to try to fish it this year. 

Also possible are encounters with american eels and shad, although the shad are not counted at Leeseville dam.

If you want to see what is happening in the river this spring this is a really good


  1. Interesting observations here. Without your post, I wouldn't have learned this !
    - G.

  2. Great observations. Nature does have a way of surviving man's destruction.
    We know what we have to do to promote and protect. Thanks for the research info.
    Tie, research, write and photo on...

    1. Thanks,
      Not everyone is well informed, or even cares for that matter.

  3. Great information and I wish you luck with the striper spot this spring! That salmon was pretty amazing and seems extremely rare based upon the river's summer temps. As you already know, sea run browns don't become self-sustainable and need stocking to maintain the population, so it's understandable that you haven't landed one yet.

    1. Thank you,
      That isn't entirely true, some populations of wild sea runs have established themselves in a few CT streams.

    2. Really...I never knew that. I guess you learn something new every day!

  4. RM
    One never stops learning fly fishing and this post can attest to that, absolute beautiful waters--thanks for sharing

    1. Thank you, it is a terrific river.