Ontario Atlantic Salmon

Fishing the St. Marys River for the silver leaper

Most people associate Atlantic salmon with angling on the east coast of Canada. However, there is a special place in Northern Ontario's Algoma Country that offers fly fishers the opportunity to cast and swing flies for large Atlantic Salmon. That very special place is the St. Marys River located in the heart of Sault Ste Marie! The St. Marys River is already well known for its runs of steelhead, Pacific salmon, and other species. Over the years, strong Atlantic salmon runs have emerged as a favourite for those that love to catch the "silver leaper." One of the most experienced guides for salmon in the region is John Giuliani. With over 20 years of know-how on fishing the rapids of the St. Marys, he is the perfect person to help get you on the fish in all conditions.

atlantic salmon

The typical season for the Atlantic salmon is the end of June through August. In the early part of the season, the salmon are chasing smelt at the base of the rapids. John uses a boat for this type of angling and has clients cast smelt streamers to entice the salmon into striking. Frequently, you will spot multiple salmon slashing the smelt on the surface in a wild frenzy of activity. John has invented some very unique methods for keying into this action and helping clients connect with aggressive feeding salmon. When water levels are low and temperatures are high, the Atlantic salmon will move into the rapids. Here John will have clients either swing flies with Spey or Switch rods or use nymphing techniques to catch fish. The action can be fast and furious when a fresh run of salmon have come into the rapids. Best of all, you never know what is going to take your fly; often it’s a steelhead or even a lake trout!


Our guide, John, strongly recommends either 7- or 8-weight rods with fast actions. Unique to this type of fly fishing is the use of very fast sink-tip lines. Usually, 24-foot sink-tip lines with sink rates of 5 - 7 inches per second are required to get your smelt patterns down in the fast currents. However, if the water conditions are low, then John recommends using floating lines with indicators to nymph or swing flies for the salmon. Leaders of 6 to 9 feet are coupled with 2x or 3x tippets to handle the hard strikes you can expect. Of course, like east coast Atlantic salmon, you definitely need a quality drag system on your reel to handle their lightning-fast runs and acrobatic jumps!

john giuliani salmon fishing

sink tip lines and streamers

The fishing in the St. Marys River is legendary and, best of all, it is adjacent to reasonably priced accommodations right in the heart of Sault Ste Marie. John Giulini is exceptionally conversant with the St. Marys River and understands the best times for great Atlantic salmon fishing or angling for other species, like steelhead. We would strongly recommend him to any visiting angler!

salmon fishing

For more information contact John

Call or Text John at 705-971-3293
Website: www.stmarysrapidsguiding.com

(All photo credits: The New Fly Fisher TV Show)
About Colin McKeown

Colin McKeown is the producer of The New Fly Fisher Television Series, and several documentary series for the Outdoor Life Network, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. With a passion of fly fishing, Colin's goal is to help both novice and veteran fly fishers everywhere by giving them a top-quality fly fishing series that will make them better anglers. Known for his keen sense of humour, Colin has two wonderful children and is married to the most understanding and patient woman in the world. 

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