The Atlantic Salmon GENERAL LINES, COLOR, Etc.

by Fly Fisherman

GENERAL LINES, COLOR, ETc.—The salmon is built very
much on the same general lines as the trout. The fin construction is practically the same as to shape and location on the body; the tail, however, is decidedly forked, more so on the grilse than the mature fish. They are built for speed, and their silvery bodies can flash through the water at unusual speed. When hooked on a rod and line they may leap through the air ten feet or more because of the terrific burst of speed they exert in order to become released from the hook.
The young parr is brown on the back with a series of vertical bars and bright red spots along the sides. These overmarkings seem to miraculously vanish in the spring just before the smolts migrate to the sea, then a silvery coat covers the smolt. Yet the red spots may remain for some time after the general color changes to silver ; however, they are under the new silvery coat of color and not visible.

The silvery color of the young smolt seems to increase during the sojourn in the sea. In fact, it is more brilliant when he returns to start on the spawning journey. The general color is a greenish blue on the back with the sides a light silvery gray which gradually merges into the silvery white on the belly. The grilse are slightly lighter than the more mature fish and have a series of irregular black spots scattered over the body, mostly above the lateral line. The more mature fish are a bit darker on the back and the over-markings are more in the shape of an X. The pectoral fins are a pearly gray with the first ray black; the ventral fins are a grayish white ; the anal fin is tinted with pink; the dorsal fin is a pearly blue and somewhat lighter than the back of the fish. The grilse are somewhat slimmer than the salmon and far more active. The male salmon are slimmer than the females and have a general tendency to develop much longer heads. When they enter the fresh water in the rivers on their first spawning migration they lose much of their graceful lines toward the end of the spawning season. Many of the males develop underslung or hooked jaws. All of them lose considerable weight during the spawning migration. The brilliant color also fades to a dull grayish cast on the back and a dull silver on the sides. Both the brilliant color and weight are regained soon after they return to the sea, and the weight may be tripled when they return the next
year.

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