BREAKING DOWN THE WALLS
Quebec is a paradise for fresh water angling. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of lakes, mile after mile of rivers and countless streams. We have Pike, Muskies, Arctic Char, Brook trout, Rainbows, Sun fish, White fish, and Land Locked salmon, Bass, Walleyes and Carp.
We also have a few Atlantic salmon rivers. Well, actually something like 117!
Most of the salmon rivers in Quebec are scattered up and down the St-Lawrence sea way
Source: Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife
Strangely, there are very few anglers in Quebec who fish these rivers. Over the years I believe that the majority of clients and friends I have introduced to my home waters have been from out of Province.
This past summer I met up with a few friends in mid-July for a few days on the river. One of them mentioned that the week before had been the very first time she had fished in the limited rods zone farther up on the river. I was a bit taken aback and then I came to the realization: Fishing on Atlantic salmon Rivers in Quebec can seem awfully complicated!
First off, salmon rivers here are managed for the most part by non-profit groups. These groups hire the wardens, run the logistics on the river and handle the reservations and rod fees. They also can sell you your salmon license. So that gets two things out of the way. You see, in Quebec, to have access to salmon waters, you need both: a license for salmon (which is not the same as the regular sports angling license) and; a paid rod slot, that is to say, you have to have paid your access fees for the day.
So there, getting access to a salmon river isn’t really complicated.
The second stumbling block I have noticed which newcomers can run into is the apparent complexity of the fishing itself. I do admit that there are some seasoned Salmo salar enthusiasts out there who seem to go out of their way to keep this myth alive. For those of you who believe or have been told that fly fishing for atlantics is complicated, here’s a secret for you: The two basic presentations for Atlantic salmon are simple upstream dries or down and across streamer swings!
As for fly selection, life gets even easier here. Atlantic salmon don’t eat while they are in fresh water. This means you don’t have to match the hatch! … At least, I can’t remember the last time I saw a hatch of Green Highlanders!
Sure, we can get fancy with the types of flies we use,
Then again, the dressing can get more simple.
We also use many trout flies!
I suppose the only flies newcomers don’t have are smaller ones. Stream side, I’ll have on me models from no. 6-8 all the way down to 14’s (and some special ones in 22’s)
Choosing the right fly for the right situation can be a bit of a learning experience, but not as much so as on a Brown Trout river in New York! (Generally – Bright sky light fly, dark sky dark fly but there are variations)
So if the actual fishing isn’t all that difficult (and it isn’t – casting distances are also pretty short on most Quebec rivers), the third aspect of salmon fishing could (unfortunately) be a contributor to our problem here recruiting newcomers.
Atlantic salmon fishing in Eastern Canada and even more so in Quebec, is shrouded in a sort of mystique. Rivers here used to be privately owned or leased to private companies or individuals. Angling with a fly for salmon was perceived as a sport for the rich or elite. I suppose in those days that could have been true. Then again, thanks in some part to the control and conservation efforts of the old private clubs; Quebec now has some of the best salmon fishing in the world.
Unfortunately, the flip side to private clubs was the lack of access to the resource by the “Habitants”. Back then, poaching wasn’t seen as stealing a public resource, but more like putting one over on the company. This mentality has taken years to change (an ongoing battle).
To help break down this barrier we all have our bit to do. As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, when we are out and about, we are ambassadors of our sport, our region, State, club, or whatever:
Take the time out to rest a pool and chat with the visitors who may have stopped by; if you have the opportunity to help out with one of the clinics, forums or claves around your area, go for it. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet other anglers as well as help promote the sport.
Making sure the leader knots are up to the task.
Take a friend fishing! It will amaze you how many our friends and family are interested by fly fishing, but just can’t find the opportunity to give it a try.
The gallery on Glass Pool: Ste-Marguerite River
Taking the time to help out a newcomer.
Lastly, for those of you who have always wanted to try salmon fishing, but just believe that it is too complicated, too expensive or just for Pros and experts, ask around at your local club or on the internet. There will always be someone around willing to show you the ropes.
For more information on sport fishing for Atlantic salmon in Quebec, one can consult the Salmon Quebec web site at: https://www.saumonquebec.com/Default.aspx.