The Good Old Days were days when salmon were plentiful and anglers were allowed to retain large fish. Each summer, rivers like the Lower Humber gave up many double figure salmon that tested both equipment and angler to the hilt. Hooking a 40 lb silver beauty fresh in from the ocean and in the Humber’s strong current was indeed an exhilarating challenge.
Many other Newfoundland rivers have large fish as well, but grilse make up the predominant run. Here we show you some of the memories, retained in photos, links and copies of rare hard to find documents.
Updated April, 2019
Afton Farm House
A few of the photos from the galley above reference the Afton House Farm, Tompkins. This was the first fishing lodge in the province and it ran for around 70 years before it unfortunately burned down in the 1950’s. Sports primarily fished the Little Codroy River that was located just behind the house and many records were set over the years. The little river was well known for large Atlantic Salmon. History says that due to the farms longevity, location to the gulf ferry for American sports and reliability of putting fisherman over fish all the time, the lodge never had to advertise for each season and was always full. We, however have purchased a brochure advertising the farm. This is a true piece of Newfoundland angling history. For more information about the farm house you can search the MUN online archives, thumb through some old SPAWNER magazines and read Don Hustin’s Newfoundland fly fishing history book – Rivers of Dreams. Its available for purchase in our store.
In 1950 you could fish from May 15th when salmon start to ascent the Bay St. George Rivers, right through Sep 15th for $5.
A 1984 Decks Awash magazine article covering the status of Atlantic Salmon stocks in the Newfoundland and the Maritimes.
Killdevil lodge located near Lomond in Grose Morne National Park was the base of operations for Lee Wulff during the years when he operated his fishing lodges on the Northern Penninsula. It is named after the mountain to which the Lomond faces looking across the bay.
Lee Wulff was a writer. He wrote for many publications over the years and one of them was Outdoors Magazine. In December 1945 a story about the Lower Humber was published – “Hail the Humber”. Hail indeed!
If you have read anything about North American fly fishing you have probably read or come across an article by Lee Wulff – see above. Wulff’s early mark in Newfoundland was made when he started his fishing camps on the Northern Penninsula. Specifically, the camp at Portland Creek seemed to be his most prized to which he penned his book “Bush Pilot Angler”. In the off fishing season he traveled North America lecturing the angling public about his camps and his experience in Newfoundland and subsequently recruiting new sports for the upcoming season. Much like the Afton farm he didn’t need to advertise as word of mouth provided enough clients to fill the camps each summer. However, he did do a brochure and we have a copy we have provided here to satisfy your Newfoundland angling history curiosity. If you visit Portland Creek you can see the last camp Wulff had (fallen down) and the concrete dams built to hold salmon in pools in a small feeder brook right beside the old camp.
During the early years of the fly fishing sport tourism in Newfoundland, the tourism bureau published annual reports on fishing and distributed printed brochures. This was an attempt to market the island to wealthy sports who could afford the travel and guide requirements. Here is a snippit of the report from 1950 and the brochure from 1955. There is some very useful information in here that is still applicable to fishing the island these days.
If you wish to submit a good ol’ days photo please email us a copy of your photo. Our e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
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50 Main Street, Suite 203
Corner Brook, NL
Canada A2H 1C4