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The Saint John River

Fishing

Fishing

The Chic-Choc mountains.
The Chic-Choc mountains.

The source of the Saint John River begins some one hundred kilometers from the settlement, in the steep ranges of the Chic-Choc mountains. It carries huge quantities of water from the mountains to the sea and supports a diverse ecosystem, including fish, birds, and a wide variety of other wildlife. One of these fish, of course, is the Atlantic salmon. The Atlantic salmon is a remarkable fish that can live in a freshwater stream or in an ocean environment. They migrate long distances to return and spawn in the same river where they were born. Here in the Gaspé, salmon begin entering our rivers each year at the end of May.

Salmon Pools & Beat System

Along this pristine River we are very fortunate to have exclusive use of approximately 8 kilometers of water, containing a total of 12 salmon pools. This takes in the entire Sector 3 and part of Sector 4, located above the Club. We have divided the water into 4 separate beats, one for each angler, and each day we have a rotation process.

Beat 1 is an upriver canoe trip, where after breakfast, the angler and 2 guides leave by truck and drive approximately 6 kilometers to a drop-off point. Using one of our 24 foot canoes you will descend down a River valley, taking in the exceptional scenery along the way. Anglers have the opportunity of fishing 6 salmon pools, which are Consul, Clandeboye, Countess, Lady Hamilton, Dufferin, and Dufferin Run. After a pleasant morning your guides will have you back at the Club just in time for the one o’clock lunch. In the afternoon the angler will move to a different beat. Beats 2, 3, and 4 are all within two kilometers of the Club, which only take minutes to access. These anglers return for lunch as well.

McDonald Pool
McDonald Pool, Beat 2

Beat 2 is comprised of the Home Pool, directly in front of the lodge and McDonald Pool, which is a bit further down the road. Home pool provides good fishing in medium to high water. McDonald has a slower moving current with good depth and just the place for the avid dry fly angler. It holds salmon throughout the season and has a good spawning bed at the very end of the pool. It is here that in 2003 Paul Nicklen, polar specialist and marine biologist, took his award winning photo of Atlantic salmon spawning (1st prize, World Press Photo).

In Beat 3 anglers have a choice of three different pools, Shanty, Roughwater, and Still Pool. Shanty is a run with fast moving water and usually holds a few fish. Roughwater, fished by wading also, proves to be very productive under lower water conditions. Still, which is only a few feet below, is a deep pool with less current and holds salmon later in the season.

Beat 4 is made up of one pool, which is Curtis. It is one of the long established salmon pools on the river, dating back to the 1870s and named after one of our founders, Mr. Fred Curtis. In high water it is best fished with a wet fly from a boat and under lower conditions by wading and using a small wet or a dry fly.

Additional Fishing

Curtis Pool
Curtis Pool, Beat 4

Our clients are also able to fish Sector 2 of the Saint John River for 5 days each month during June, July, and August. We generally cover three salmon pools on this sector by boat under higher water conditions or by truck when the water level is low. Opportunities are also made available to us from time to time to fish Maitland Pool on Sector 4 of the Saint John. We have records of our salmon catch at the Saint John Salmon Club that date back to as early as 1905. When you have some spare time it makes for interesting reading.

Information on fishing packages, arrival and departure times, and other items are available on the Accommodations & Services page of this website.

Fishing Licence & Club Policy

Each angler must be in possession of a valid Québec salmon fishing licence. This may be a regular licence with tags or a mandatory catch and release licence. Anglers under the age of 18 may fish under the licence of a parent, however the daily catch is included on the parents' licence. If you would like to have a licence purchased for you prior to your arrival please advise the manager and provide him with your name, address, and date of birth. Anglers may also purchase one at the local Zec office in Gaspé.

Roughwater Pool
Roughwater Pool, Beat 3

The Atlantic salmon fishing season opens in Gaspé on May 25th and goes through to September 30th. At the Saint John Salmon Club we operate until August 31st of each year. In the interest of conservation we have a catch and release policy on all adult salmon, classified as 63 centimeters (24 ¾ inches) and over. Anglers may retain one grilse (less than 63 centimeters) during a half-week fishing trip. An angler who retains a grilse is limited out and may not fish the remainder of that day. Each person is permitted to release a maximum of two fish per day, whether salmon or grilse. Take some time and have a look at the great catch and release video in the Video section of our website. Filmed in the Gaspé on the Grand River, it provides good catch and release techniques that can be useful for both anglers and guides.

There are also good numbers of sea trout entering the Saint John River throughout the summer.

Guiding

The quality of a guide is extremely important on any fishing trip. We focus solely on Atlantic salmon fishing and our team of experienced guides are some of the best in the business. They are professionals and will do their best to make your trip a success. We require that clients be accompanied by a guide while out on the River. The only exception is on Sunday, when clients have the option of fishing on their own, or if they prefer, they may hire a guide to assist them. There is an extra fee for clients who would like a guide on Sunday and it is best to speak with the manager in advance so arrangements may be made.

Equipment & Clothing

Clandeboye Pool
Clandeboye Pool, Beat 1

In order to make your trip a pleasant one it is essential to have the proper equipment. The Club does not provide fishing gear so anglers should be equipped with a 9 or 9 ½ foot rod and a fly-fishing reel with an adequate drag system. The reel should have 150 to 200 yards of 20 lb. test backing and a floating weight forward or shooting tapered fly line. It is always a good idea, if possible, to bring along a spare rod and reel. Anglers should also have a few rolls of leader material from 6 to 15 lb. test. A good selection of Atlantic salmon flies, both wet and dry, is another requirement. Hook size varies according to the water level, when in the spring we would use a number 2 or 4 and under low water conditions, go down to a number 8 or 10. Our resident fly tyer always has a good choice on hand or you may contact us before your fishing trip and request that specific patterns be tyed up for you.

Other important items to consider before leaving home are:

The weather can vary significantly in the Gaspé and the water temperature can be cold in early and late season fishing so it is best to have a variety of clothing. If you have any questions simply e-mail us and we will be happy to help you.

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