Sea Winter Salmon – Chronicles of the St. John River

by Mari Hill Harpur with Eileen Regan McCormack

Salmon fishing on the Lower St. Lawrence. James J. Hill fishing Camp. Sea Winter Salmon.

“North Atlantic salmon may venture out into the world, but they always return to their home river system to spawn. Just as the salmon return home, so do the guests at Hill Camp. By 2001, Hill Camp had made it through its first century, and the beautiful log homestead had survived intact. For us, the new millennium arrived without much fanfare, and celebrations for Hill Camp’s first one hundred years actually took place in 2003. Our festivities were not elaborate, but all who attended camp that year felt the impact of history. The camp had lasted into the new millennium, and we possessed the means and desire to protect and prepare our river for future Salmo salar generations. We were about to launch ourselves into a wonderful world of primary research at the riverside.”

— FROM SEA WINTER SALMON

From the rivers in which Atlantic salmon spawn on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, they migrate to rich ocean feeding grounds where they grow quickly.

The Atlantic salmon, unlike the Pacific salmon—which die after spawning—may return to the sea to repeat the migration and spawning pattern. Some Atlantic salmon only pass one winter at sea before returning, and are called grilse. Many spend two years or more at sea, and return to their home rivers as large salmon. Each period at sea is referred to as a sea winter.