St. Marys Atlantic Salmon


Situated in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, the St. Marys River is the sole outlet of Lake Superior. This river system travels eastward roughly 70 miles to Lake Huron. Historically, many revere the St. Marys River to be a world class Salmon and Trout fishery. In 1985, Lake Superior State University, Edison Sault Electric Co., and Michigan's Department of Natural Resources collaborated in an effort to introduce a healthy and viable Atlantic Salmon fishery in the St. Marys River system. Since then, 40,000 Atlantic Salmon are annually reared and released by Lake Superior State University's Aquatic Research Laboratory (ARL) inside the Sault Edison hydro plant, the current goal of the ARL is to to stock 25,000 Atlantic Salmon per year in the St.Marys River. For 22 years the ARL has stocked an average of 33,437 Atlantic Salmon per year, with a grand total of 735,600 stocked since 1987. This successful program has created a premier annual run of adult Atlantic

Late every June, the 2-5 year old Atlantic Salmon make the voyage upstream from Lake Huron through the St. Mary’s River. These adult Atlantics stage behind the Sault Edison hydro plant--which makes for a premier fishery from June through August! This is a truly a fishery unique to Upper Michigan! Fly fisherman from all over the world travel to the St. Mary's River to fish Atlantic Salmon. Rivers North is known as the authority for guided fly fishing outings for Atlantic Salmon in Michigan.

Thanks to the ARL, we can view these fish when they arrive at the Edison plant online by accessing the FishCam placed underwater in the St. Mary’s River! People can contact the ARL to schedule a tour to visit the Atlantic salmon hatchery.

Recently, Edison Sault has donated a historic building to LSSU for the renovation and expansion of the ARL. The renovated ARL will allow the ARL to expand its fish hatchery, to add a state-of-the-art fish health laboratory, to construct a visitor center and discovery room with interactive displays, and to provide more resources for training the next generation of fisheries stewards and scientists.

Please consider supporting the expansion of the ARL by donating today (make sure to specify the Aquatic Research Laboratory in the “Other” box).

Check out the blog post covering the ARL - there's some nice photos as well as great information. Click Here


Averaging 2-8 pounds, the Atlantic is thought of by many anglers to be the hardest fighting sport fish in the world.

These silver-beauties fights are impressive, leap after leap, as they have anglers hooked for life! Many find themselves comparing all other fish to the Atlantic once they have experienced the fight! During the beginning of the Atlantic run, heavy populations of spawning baitfish are present in the St. Mary’s. Stripping large baitfish imitation patterns on sink tips can provide for some exciting strikes! Shortly after the baitfish schools leave the river system, the Hexagenia hatch occurs in mid-July causing the Atlantics to switch their diet from baitfish to insects. During this time, indicator nymphing is very productive for the Atlantics and tasty resident Whitefish. The Atlantics annual spawning occurs in late October in the St. Mary’s rapids, which is located slightly upstream from the Sault Edison hydro plant. After spawning, the adult Atlantic returns to Lake Huron; unlike their related Pacific Salmon, the Atlantic does not die after spawning. Because of this, Rivers North promotes Catch & Release to help sustain the healthy population of Atlantic Salmon we have today.

Rivers North Guide Service proudly offers full-day guided outings for Atlantic Salmon on the St. Mary’s River here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Your guide is U.S Coast Guard licensed Captain Brad Petzke--after hooking his first Atlantic, he realized his life would never be the same! Being an Upper Peninsula resident, no other U.S. licensed guide spends more time on the St. Mary’s River system pursuing the Atlantic Salmon. A Canadian fishing license or passport is not needed-all fishing is done within U.S. waters.

Fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon in the U.P. - the most fun one can have with a fly rod!

This is a truly, very unique fishery that we have here in the Upper Peninsula. Anglers travel to the far reaches of the world and spend thousands to fly-fish for Atlantic Salmon--when we literally have one of the most reliable annual runs available right here in Michigan! The experience of hooking up with “the leaper” will leave you speechless as your reel screams and he cartwheels airborne down the river! Warm weather, silvery chrome fish, and a unique adventure make the St. Mary’s Atlantic Salmon fishery an opportunity all fly fishermen should experience!

Atlantic Salmon