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Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar)

The allure of fly fishing for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and the anticipation of the first bright fish returning to spawning rivers each spring explain the devotion of anglers and conservationists to bringing back this remarkable fish. Sea-run Atlantic salmon are bright, silvery, large fish, over 30 inches in length and 7-15 pounds. They can reach much larger size (especially those that return several years to spawn), and the world record is 79 pounds. When at sea, they are bluish-brown on the back shading to white below. Dark spots are scattered over the upper half of the fish. They may resemble brown trout, but the tail is slightly forked rather than square, and there are no spots on the adipose fin (the small fin on the back just in front of the tail). In fresh water, Atlantic salmon turn dark gray to reddish brown and become darker colored and mottled. By fall, they are almost bronze-colored and have large reddish spots on the head and body. Juvenile salmon look very similar to trout but have a shorter mouth. The landlocked form (also known as ouananiche) is nearly identical in coloration to sea-run salmon, but is much smaller. The average landlocked salmon is about 20-25 inches long and weighs 3-5 pounds. Both are revered sport fish and are known for their long, powerful runs and their willingness to take a fly or lure.


Read the MDIF&W fact sheet on Atlantic Salmon to learn more

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