The 2024 F3T is underway – Click HERE to find a local showing and purchase tickets. 

Next in this year’s F3T Behind the Lens line-up, is Hooke’s 10th anniversary film “Only the Salmon Knows.” We sat down with Fred Campbell to learn more about this amazing film and its incredible adventures. From catching his personal best Atlantic Salmon to exploring rivers that very few people have the chance to fish in their lifetime this film takes you on a journey of love and passion for these fish and their rivers. Check out the full interview below. 

Flylords: First, we want to congratulate you on 10 years of Hooke. This film has a ton of passion and personal meaning. Is there a message you are trying to convey through this short movie?

Fred: “I don’t know the movie it just happened. It’s tough to say. Sometimes things just happen, and you don’t really know why they happened. All 3 of the rivers in the film are wild rivers with private access and you have to win a draw tag to be able to fish them. That year my co-worker won the Causapscal draw, I won the Patapedia draw, and the Restigouche was through another friend. We just said you know what let’s film it and see what happens. And you know it all kind of aligned, the river gave back to me, the timing was great, and the water conditions were perfect.”   

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

Flylords: Fred, Like most fishing films there’s so much footage filmed, and such a small amount gets used. What were some of your favorite moments that didn’t quite make the final cut? 

Fred: “I don’t know. Haha there’s so much footage, I put it in the festival this year and I showed it at an Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) dinner as well. It was the best Salmon fishing I’ve ever had we have so many fish on camera. The first fish I hooked in the film we think was close to a 40lb-45lb salmon. I couldn’t move it and ended up losing it. It was a heartbreaker we thought the film was screwed. But then the river just kept giving us chances. We chose not to focus on the fish catching and decided to make a more passion-driven film that focuses on the wildness of those rivers.” 

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

Flylords: For those who don’t know a ton about Atlantic salmon, what makes them so unique in comparison to other Salmon species and Steelhead?  

Fred: “There’s a lot of history with Atlantic Salmon fishing it’s got a lot of heritage similar to Steelhead. Like Steelhead as soon as they hit freshwater they don’t eat. You’re hopeful that you will get a bite but in the back of your mind, you know that it probably won’t happen. Out here the average time spent between hooking a salmon is 7 days of fishing. Nobody knows why they take the fly, some people believe that it irritates them others believe you have to imitate what they used to eat in the ocean. The water is so clear in these rivers you can see the fish most of the time. You can cast 1000 times at the fish and then for some reason the 1001st cast the fish will eat, but that’s the mystery of it that’s why the film is called “Only the Salmon Knows.”

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

Flylords: Fred, why pole a canoe down a river instead of a drift boat or raft? Is there an advantage of the canoe versus a drift boat? 

Fred: ” It’s an unspoken rule. The Canoes and poling canoes down the river are engrained in the heritage of Atlantic Salmon fishing. We try to promote it as best as we can for the younger generation it’s a piece of the culture that shouldn’t be done differently. However, there are no regulations that say you can’t use a raft or a drift boat but it’s not a great look. We’ve been seeing it slowly gain traction but the hardcore people and the old-timers want the younger generation to know that a wood canoe with a wooden pole is the traditional way. It’s better to arrive with an open mind and willingness to understand the traditional culture than to try to push something new. It’s a way to respect the river, the fish, and the culture of Atlantic Salmon fishing.” 

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

Flylords: What made these 3 rivers so special to you? Was there one river you had been wanting to fish more than the others? 

Fred: “I hadn’t fished any of the rivers. I had fished the Restigouche at the mouth for the first Hooke film we shot but I wasn’t on the shoot. But the Causapscal and the Patapedia are permits that I’ve been trying to get for the last 15 years. There are 122 rivers in Quebec and there’s a tag for each one. It’s a very unique fishery. When driving through the Gaspe to other rivers you drive over the Causapscal and I had always dreamed of fishing it. It’s such a hard draw to win and there’s only one access to the river. The Causapscal is just mystical, it’s so pristine and wild. When I was a kid I worked at a sawmill in that area and I just remember hearing so many stories about it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me, some people win $50,000 on a scratch-off ticket but for me, I won this permit.       

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

Flylords: What fishing gear was brought on these expeditions? Were you guys fishing sinking heads, two-hand setups, or more traditional single-hand setups as well? 

Fred: “For that time of year it was really high water but my rod of choice was an 11’5 7 Weight with a floating line. We were throwing big flies and needed to reach the other bank. On the Restigouche, I used a 10′ 7 weight single-hand rod out of the canoe which was a bit unique. Those are typically the two rods me and my buddies use. We don’t like going too big when you start to get into the 13’8’s, the 14’s it’s like fighting a fish on a tree. I prefer lighter tackle, sometimes we can use an intermediate line but you have to be careful out here cause a lot of rivers don’t allow sinking lines. It depends on the time of year and where but we aren’t allowed weighted flies as well, it’s complicated but that’s what keeps its tradition and makes it harder.” 

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

Flylords: Was there a fly that you found that worked across all 3 rivers? What is your decision process for choosing flies? 

Fred: Yeah it’s crazy. Since it was the 10th anniversary of Hooke we asked our friend and amazing fly tier Marc Leblanc if he could invent a special fly for us. He likes to drink Gin and loves Bombay Sapphire so he based that special fly off of that. He gave us a set but I only used that one fly cause it worked so well. When we got to the Restigouche we got introduced to a guy named Gilbert who had been fishing the river for 50 years! Gilbert gave us a simple orange fly and said this is what you need. I caught the 45″ and the 48″ on that fly it was amazing.         

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

Flylords: We noticed that you flashed a HOOKE-branded beer after your first fish. What’s the story there?  

Fred: ” It’s so crazy you ask, typically it would be a cold beer but our guide on the Restigouche had started this crazy production of his own Maple Syrup. Before we started fishing we all drank some and then we caught that first fish and we all sipped some more! We think it brought us luck for that trip. Not only on that trip but on most trips we know we are going to walk a lot so we save the beer in the cooler to ensure we’ve got a nice cold beer to enjoy.” 

“Also, That year we partnered with a local brewery in Quebec and made our own Hooke beer. It was super fun, they produced and sold it all around the region here. So while supplies lasted that was our beer of choice. That was a one-time thing and then more recently we made a Gin which was really fun.” 

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

Flylords: To wrap things up here Fred, a 48-inch Atlantic salmon! Has the search for a 50-inch fish started? 

Fred: “No man. It’s not possible it’s barely been heard of. The only places that 48″ could’ve existed in the Northeast were those rivers. There are maybe 10 rivers in the world that MAY hold a 50″ and you’d have to dedicate years of travelling to chase them. For some people, it’s their dream to ascend the tallest mountain, that 48′ was the tallest mountain for me. It was perfect, we were able to film it, take great care of it, and release it. It kinda was the end for me, all my new projects are based more on conservation and giving back. It helped to close the 10-year chase for me. Our guide had been guiding the river for 30 years and he said that’s the biggest fish he’s ever netted. Not many people get graced by a fish like that, I soaked it all in. It could’ve never happened it’s like a dream come true. The next step for me is to have a positive impact on Atlantic Salmon.”   

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

Flylords: Last but not least, with 10 years of Hooke what’s next? Is there a big film or project you’ve been working on?

Fred: Yeah man, actually we just launched a new film called “The Call of the Wild” following the footsteps of Lee Wulf. He invented catch and release practices and the fly fishing vest among other things. He explored Newfoundland for 30 years under a contract with the Provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador. This film is going to focus on me following his footsteps and exploring his adventures. In 1938 he stated that “game fish were too important to only be caught once.” But it’s a constant evolution here at Hooke we are always working on the next thing and looking for the next story to tell. We’ve got some great films on deck that were shot across Canada and then giving back to the local community and conversation organizations as well.”                    

Image Courtesy: Fred Campbell and Hooke

From 2014 to now and beyond Hooke was started with the idea of catching Atlantic Salmon and sharing the emotion that it brings. A huge thank you to Fred Campbell and the Hooke team we can’t wait to see what you guys release in the future. If you haven’t already be sure to check out and remember to get outside by the river. “We wanted to create distinctive productions and products, to share our passion with a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts, and to get more people on the rivers with greater awareness for the environment and species preservation.”    

Buy your Fly Fishing Film Tour Tickets HERE! 


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