A few days ago I found myself pondering about what makes the salmon such a magic and fascinating creature for us. I think it may be connected to the fact that salmon hate civilization! It seems to me that they do not want to have any part of it, and will do anything they can to avoid it. They are extremely stubborn on this point; if they cannot get away from civilization closing in on them, they will actually prefer to perish instead. Salmon may have quite small brains according to biologists, but they sure as hell have big hearts. Now, in all honesty these are not my thoughts entirely, I read Harry Middleton’s wonderful book ‘The Earth is Enough’ recently, and his reflections on the trout as the enthralling prey of two old-timers and himself as a young kid fishing the clear streams of the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. But I think these reflections could very well be transferred to us salmon addicts.
And I think he has a good point here. That it is our subconscious wish to be a part of this world, where everything moves and works solely according to nature – not civilization. We want to be part of the salmon’s world; his uncompromising and undying genuine struggle to remain 100 % wild and pure, subject only to the rise and fall of the rivers, the feeding conditions at sea, the ebb and flow of the planet’s atmospheric moods, the pulse of the universe… Most of us live our daily lives in highly ‘civilized’ and controlled surroundings. Once in a while we want and need to get out of these settings and get in contact with something originally wild and still untouched by the encroaching civilization that seems to engulf everything and all places little by little. It is one thing to go out into the wild, as we often do pursuing our prey, and observe what is going there, but it is a whole different matter feeling the direct contact to a creature of such mysteries, temperaments, tenacity and truthfulness to its own nature. When that salmon takes your fly and you feel the tug in the line, your heart stops (mine those at least). Why? Why every time it happens? Well, maybe because for a moment there you are suddenly taken away from your normal and rational world and into the magic of the salmon’s world.
Henry David Thoreau – the great American nature philosopher – once said:
“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
Some of what I just pondered about might be a part of that. Maybe not. In any case, and whatever your reason is, I hope it is a good one, as the Atlantic Salmon truly is a fascinating creature, and just one short glimpse into his world is spellbinding.
See you out there!
Camp manager Jan De La Porte