Catching a salmon was always on my bucket list.

I've caught some big fish in my day. I was a freshwater angler most of my life, but once I got the bug of striper fishing, it was hard to go back to lakes. Stripers fight like crazy, and outweigh most freshwater fish considerably. so the idea of hooking into a big, old Atlantic salmon has always been tantalizing.

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Although, for years now, fishing for Atlantic salmon has been outlawed, due to over fishing. If you want the tasty bite of salmon these days, you need to buy the farm raised stuff in a store. If you hook into one when you're fishing, there's major trouble to be had if you're caught.

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But, once upon a time, we had so many we started sending them to presidents.

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash
Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

Back in 1912, a man from Bangor named Karl Anderson, caught a gorgeous 11-pounder and decided to gift it to the POTUS at the time, who was William Taft. Taft allegedly had it poached whole and enjoyed it very much. And every year after that, the first caught Atlantic salmon was sent to the President.

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

This continued for the better part of 100 years, when it ended with George Bush Sr. in 1992. By 2000, Atlantic salmon were on the endangered species list, and the tradition went away. And since it's still currently against the law to fish for them, it won't be back any time soon.

Senior man flyfishing in river
Stephen Schauer

What shape is the Atlantic salmon population in today?

While the wild Atlantic salmon population is making a slow and steady comeback, the numbers coming up the Penobscot River for instance, are still comparatively low. Last year, only about 1500 salmon made it upstream. The biggest run so far, was in 2011, when nearly 3000 fish came through.

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It may be some time before we have the salmon population we had 100 years ago. But it seems to do a little better all the time. It'd be nice to return Maine to it's former glory of gifting US presidents the first-caught Atlantic salmon of the year. But for now, I'll just keep throwing back the chubs I catch in the Penobscot. There's definitely plenty of those.

these folks could cook up some mean salmon, for sure. Check it out...

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