There are all kinds of ways to refer to large fish, and you might hear anglers talk about “lunkers,” or “hogs” when referring to a particularly impressive catch.

Go to the St. John Valley and fish Long Lake, and you’re likely to hear a term that you’re not familiar with. Locals up there often call the landlocked salmon there “Long Lake footballs,” or simply “footballs.”

Take a gander at one, and you’ll immediately know why: The salmon of Long Lake are big in the middle and tapered at each end, much like a football.

Long Lake has a plentiful forage base of smelts, and the salmon that reside in the lake pack on the weight like many of us: They wear it on their midsections.

Long Lake is part of the Fish River chain of lakes, which includes other waters that are connected by thoroughfares. Interestingly, if you compare a 20-inch salmon from nearby Mud or Cross or Square lakes with one caught from Long, you’ll easily be able to tell which one came from Long.

Just look for the one that looks the most like a football.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...