My dream river starts out at the confluence of two small streams. From there it flows into a deep pool, a place were fish will rise in February as long as there are midges. It then flows through several miles of hemlock, deciduous, and white pine forest in deep cool valleys. There it is a classic mountain freestone. Trout live in the pockets, in front of the boulders, and in the deep pools. Further down the river small streams flow into it and support it's cold flows. There are longer, slower pools here and the river is wider and warmer. This is where the biggest trout live, and smallmouth live and spawn there two. The lowest reaches of the river have tidal water that holds many interesting species. In the spring, herring run up the river by the millions, and striped bass are in hot pursuit. At the same time elvers are on the way in too. Later on, Atlantic salmon, lamprey, sea run trout, and other species enter the river. There is a healthy population of native brook trout in the upper river and they grow to large size. In the lower river wild brown trout rule, growing 20 inches on regular hatches of mayflies, wild salmon parr, and abundant sculpins. There are some wild rainbow trout too, but not many. In the summer some will show themselves during the hex hatch on the lower river.
This river exists, but only as an empty shell. The Salmon River has the right ingredients to be my dream river, but over the years it has taken blow after blow from mankind. It is left as an empty shell of its former glory, a beautiful place, though not nearly as lively as it once was. I love the Salmon. It is a special place. But it pains me that all it holds now are stocked trout. It could be so much better. I've seen the evidence first hand. Trout hold over in the Salmon nearly every year, even dreadful ones like 2015. Yet there are very few wild trout in the Salmon. What would it be like if the management changed, if the TMA began catch and release year round, like the Farmington. More trout would holdover. Some of them would have genetic variation that allowed them to survive and reproduce, creating wild offspring better suited to the environment than the average stocker. After a few years the state would not need to stock nearly as many fish and that money could go towards other programs, programs that would help restore habitat and work with other species, say salmon, or maybe eels. It would not take long before the Salmon was a healthier river, one with a greater biomass and better habitat for insects, mammals, and birds of prey.
My dream seems far fetched. For the time being I'll enjoy the river as it is. It is such a pretty place.