Salmon Fishing Nipigon River

How I fell In Love with The Nipigon River

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May 22nd, 2019

Nipigon Bridge in Superior Country

Growing up in Thunder Bay, within Ontario’s Superior Country, was a blessing. My childhood memories are filled with camping at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, fishing at Lac De Ma Lac, and exploring the outskirts of the city from my bicycle. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Now I live a stone’s throw away from Lake Superior, in Nipigon, Ontario. Once again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Let me tell you why… After high school I did what many Northern Ontario residents were doing at the time. I moved to the Western provinces of Canada to find work and build my professional career. Long story short, the organization I worked for closed its doors, and I decided to move home and attend college. It was always my intention to move back west, but things never quite go as planned. Instead, while attending college I met the love of my life. He was from the small town of Nipigon only 125km east of Thunder Bay. Over the next year I was introduced to his family and “Nipigon living”. With the town being home to the World Record Brook Trout it should be no surprise that fishing isn’t just considered a recreational sport or activity but a way of life. As I said earlier, I grew up angling, but not of the variety that the Nipigon River had to offer. Salmon was my partner’s family’s fish of choice and so to would it be mine.

Now don’t get me wrong. I spent a lot of time on the River before I ever put a line in the water. You see, my in-laws basically live on this stretch of paradise. We float down river on inflatables, build memories on sandy beaches, swim often, and enjoy many campfires. But when the salmon start running that becomes the only focal point. My father-in-law lives for salmon fishing. If he’s not fishing for them, he’s talking about fishing them. Reminiscing about the fight and the thrill of landing a “silver bullet” – his description of a beautiful chinook salmon. I had to see what all the hype was about! My in-laws invited me to join them for an evening troll one late summer night. They didn’t plan on going for long. The relaxation and company of each other is just as important to them as the fish themselves. I had also been warned that when fishing for river salmon you can spend hours without getting a bite, especially early in the season like that night.

We packed a small bag, with some cold drinks and some snacks, and took off on the river. When we came to a stop, we began setting our lines. This was all new to me. I had never used such large rods before. I was used to jig fishing for Walleye. Now I was setting up a 10-foot fishing rod, with about 400 to 500 feet of line. It quickly became apparent to my in-laws that I needed help. After some mocking and some good laughs, they had me all set up. They showed me how to operate the reel, set the line counter, and work the rod holders. While trolling they explained to me that the type of fishing we were doing was called flatline fishing. They explained the difference between flatlining and down-rigging and started telling me what to do if one of us got a bite. My head was swimming. I was excited, super nervous, and didn’t want to be responsible for a possible missed fish.

Salmon Fishing Nipigon River

Then it happened. My father-in-law quickly begins yelling “FISH ON, FISH ON” while pointing at his wife’s rod. I have never seen a rod bend that hard in my entire life. In a flash she snatched it out of the holder and set the hook. My heart was racing as I watched my mother-in-law fighting her catch and listened to my father in-law calling out instructions and informing her of how he was operating the boat. “Rods are clear. Do you want me to go in neutral?” He asked. Her response almost sent me over the side the boat. “No” she said, “keep it in gear until I hand the rod to Dan!”. It was time…

She passed me the rod and instantly I felt the strength of a chinook salmon. I had NEVER felt such power on a fishing line. “Going into neutral” my father-in-law called out once he saw that I had gained control. I began reeling as fast as I could. Quickly they both told me to slow down and try to relax. To pull up on the rod when needed and when to reel. I looked down at the line counter, still 50ft of line, I couldn’t believe it! Then I saw a silver flash 50ft off the stern of the boat which made me put my doubts of the line counters accuracy aside. The salmon had broken the surface and jumped straight up into the air. I was in awe. “Put your rod down, don’t let him jump” my father-in-law yelled out. I did as instructed, luckily it didn’t shake loose. After another 10 minutes, which felt like a lifetime, I had him next to the boat. In one determined scoop my mother-in-law had him in the net. We all cheered, hooped, and hollered. We had landed a silver bullet! My first salmon and my first fish on the Nipigon River. After finishing college my partner and I moved to Nipigon, got married, and purchased our first boat. Now every fall I get to relive that first experience of catching a “Silver Bullet” Salmon on the infamous River. And that is how I fell in love with the Nipigon River…

Nipigon is full of activities for the the entire family. Here are some other articles you might enjoy reading: 5 Ways to Enjoy the Nipigon River, 10 Ways to Love Nipigon in the Winter, Top 10 Things to Do in Nipigon This Summer, and everything you need to know about the World Record Brook Trout.