Atlantic salmon might be the most storied and prized fish for fly anglers. And Flowers River Lodge, the northernmost scheduled salmon river in North America, is perhaps the best destination in the hemisphere for die-hard fly anglers looking to tangle with a fish of a lifetime. Every summer, Atlantic salmon course up the stunning Flowers River on their annual migration, and anglers smart enough to book a trip to Flowers River Lodge are there to meet them.
The fabled lodge that bears the namesake of the renowned river on which it sits is one the world's few remaining dependable Atlantic salmon destinations, where the coveted gamefish return in healthy numbers every year. Starting in July and running into September, the treasures of the North Atlantic provide reliable fishing for anglers who want to scratch an itch that, once it sets in, is very hard to shake. These fish sit atop the salmon heirarchy, due to their sheer beauty, strength, acrobatic nature, and their willingness to hit a fly. And there may be no better place on the continent to catch them than at Flowers River Lodge.
As a scheduled river managed carefully by both the lodge and the provincial Labrador government, every angler is assigned a daily beat for fishing. Beats are generally quite large and at the peak of the season, up-running Atlantics are always moving. At any given time, anglers will be casting over fish that literally just showed up from the ocean.
The annual run on the Flowers starts in earnest in early July continues well into late August and even early September. By late August, the river also boasts a run of colorful Arctic char, and there are opportunities for brook trout fishing, too. But the real stars of the show are the Atlantic salmon. Ever year, fish over 30 pounds are hooked and sometimes even brought to hand. More importantly, in normal years, the fishing action can be excellent, with anglers boasting multiple hookups a day and, on good days when everything goes right, the landing net gets a workout.
Anglers pursue Atlantic salmon with floating lines and unweighted flies — weighted flies are not allowed on scheduled rivers. No matter, as Atlantic salmon are aggressive fish that will actively chase flies on the swing just below the surface or, better yet, big skated flies that leave a surface wake. For newbies to the salmon game, the first fish to hit a Bomber on the skate can be absolutely life-changing.
LODGING: Guest rooms are situated in large, three-bedroom cabins that feature two bathrooms and a large living room and gathering area. Bedrooms are double occupancy and very spacious. Each cabin features a screened-in, wrap-around porch with a view of the river and the lodge's beautiful grounds. The main lodge is small and homey (and scheduled for an update in 2024). It's where guests gather for home-cooked meals and catch up after a day on the water. Each morning, guests will gather at the heated guide cabin to wader up for the day's fishing.
FOOD/DRINK: Guests will enjoy three meals a day — a hearty and traditional breakfast, lunch that can either be packed for longer, farther-flung fishing adventures, or served in the dining room after a break from the morning session. Dinners feature traditional, home-cooked meals and are served generally around 6 p.m.
CONNECTIVITY: Flowers River Lodge boasts excellent connectivity thanks to high-speed satellite internet available across the bulk of the property. Cell phone coverage is not available in the wilds of Labrador.
After a night at the lodge's homey bunk house in Goose Bay, you and your fellow guests for the next week will board a DeHavilland Otter for the hourlong flight to Flowers River Lodge. The trip over the unspoiled and untracked boreal interior of Labrador is stunning, and when you finally land on a wide pool on the Flowers River, you'll understand why this place is so special.
After you arrive, the lodge's staff will help you get settled into your beautiful cabins. You'll wander the neatly maintained grounds of the lodge, and then gather in the dining hall for a quick lunch and an orientation. The lodge manager will brief you on the fishing and the program at the lodge. After lunch, you'll head to the river and your first beat, Max's Pool. Your guide will put in the right position and instruct you on how to best work the run for success. It's OK to ask questions — it's your first day, after all. But don't be surprised when a migrating Atlantic salmon grabs your Bomber on that first or second cast and blasts from the water like a Trident missile.
The Flowers River is stunning, and you'll see a lot of it this day. A long upstream run and a short ATV ride take you well away from anything resembling civilization. The Flowers River tumbles over a waterfall and opens up into a long, deep run. Your guide tells you that this is where the trophies come from, and that the fish here behave a little differently than they do downstream. It may be the best stretch of Atlantic salmon water in North America.
And, on just your second cast, a 20-pound salmon grabs your Bomber and all hell breaks loose.
While Atlantic salmon are, indeed, the main attraction on the Flowers, this is Labrador, and there are other fish worth chasing. On your fourth day, you'll motor upstream to a well-known run called the Char Pool — later in the summer, it's a dependable place to catch migrating Arctic char, and it's always a good pool for migrating salmon. But, on this day, you've toted along a 3-weight fly rod and a box of dry flies. The Flowers, while not known as a trophy brook trout stream, has a resident population of brookies in the 12- to 16-inch range, and they're there for the catching. What's a trip to Labrador without latching into at least one gorgeous brook trout, right?
You've caught your salmon. Maybe you've even caught lots of them. But maybe the biggest fish that came calling spit the hook before it got to the net. Or maybe it broke off on a patented Atlantic salmon blast from the river. No matter. Day 5 is your day, and you've been assigned Top Pool, which sits below a series of falls where, all season long, big fish gather during the migration. Here, your chances at a 20-pounder are about as good as they get.
As you arrive to Top Pool, you see a salmon breach. And then another. There's no rush to get to them. You've got all day.
It arrived fast, your last day. But you'll make the most of it. You and your guide motor upriver to Long Beach, a kilometer-long stretch of gorgeous holding water where your fellow guests have reported stellar catches each day. Now it's your turn to cast over schools of Atlantics that are breaching at a regular clip all around you.
There's a lot of water to cover at Long Beach, and you fish it hard. By end of the day, you realize that your fish count reached double digits. Not a bad way to end your adventure, huh?
- Overnight stay at the bunkhouse in Goose Bay Crash with your fishing buddies before your morning flight to the lodge
- Transportation from Goose Bay to the lodge Float plane the morning after your stay at the bunkhouse
- Guided fishing Six days of guided fishing, motorized canoes, walk-and-wade fishing
- Lodging Six nights lodging at Flowers River Lodge
- Meals Three meals prepared and served each day — on longer excursions, lunch will be packed for you. Daily appetizers are offered, too
- Beverages Water and juice included; alcoholic beverages can be brought in on your flight at your expense
- Flies and gear Guides will provide basic flies and gear is available for use, but it's wise to bring your own
Guests at Flowers River Lodge will first stop off in Goose Bay, Labrador, where the lodge maintains a homey bunkhouse for anglers traveling to and from the lodge. After a night at the bunkhouse, you'll board a float plane with your fellow guests and fly about an hour north to the lodge. Flights to Goose Bay arrive daily from St. Johns, Newfoundland, and from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and flights to those cities from U.S. and international hubs arrive daily, too.