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  Field Notes From
Atlantic Salmon

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From Author

Fen Montaigne

Atlantic Salmon On Assignment

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From Photographer

Paul Nicklen

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Paul Nicklen


Atlantic Salmon

Field Notes From Author
Fen Montaigne
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    National Geographic tends to send me to somewhat difficult places like Siberia, South America, Africa, and India. This time I spent the summer and early fall traveling all over Canada, Maine, and northern Europe, which was stunningly beautiful. It was by far the most pleasant traveling I've ever done. I love northern climates and northern light. Many of the good salmon rivers are located not far from the Arctic Circle in countries like Iceland, so during high summer the sun almost never sets. It was an incredible chance to see these beautiful, pristine spots in the Northern Hemisphere.
    I also got the chance to do some fishing, which is something I love to do. This was just a trip of beautiful places, nice hotels, good food, some salmon fishing, and meeting a lot of really interesting people in the world of salmon conservation and biology.

    There really was nothing bad about this story. No close calls and no dangerous moments. It was absolutely pleasant. There was no malaria or dysentery to worry about, no terrorism to worry about. No horrible highways, bad cars, or rickety airplanes and helicopters. The sort of general hazards you have traveling in the developing world just didn't exist.

    In Scotland's Outer Hebrides, many of the wealthy owners of estates where people go salmon fishing are quite alarmed about the recent explosion in seal populations. I visited a number of landowners who were shooting seals, either from boats or right from the shore. They're allowed to do that because the seals are preying upon these somewhat threatened populations of Atlantic salmon.
    I visited a man named Jonathan Bulmer, whose beautiful castle sits right on the shore of the Atlantic. He was a delightful British gentleman dressed in tattered corduroys and a sweater with holes in the elbow. He invited me up to his study, a sunny room overlooking the pool where the salmon first come in before heading up the river where guests fish. We were sipping whisky, and then I looked over and saw a high-powered hunting rifle with a scope sitting on a banquette by a window. So when his guests aren't in the salmon pool, this guy sometimes sits up there and blasts the seals that come to eat his salmon. It was an incongruous touch to see this gentleman sniper in his old castle.

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