for Atlantic Salmon
Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec Canada
September 21-28, 2002
Sales Manager Jeff Pierce and three friends had some of their
best fishing experiences ever, fishing for Atlantic Salmon
on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec last September. Landing
Atlantic Salmon requires great skill and experience on the
part of the fisherman, but the tackle must of course also
meet very strict quality demands. In addition to being a
very knowledgeable and experienced fisherman, Jeff is an
expert fly tier and pays great attention to details, such
as which hooks and patterns to use for his flies. If there
is fish in a river Jeff will certainly know what flies to
choose and how to catch it. The following is his story about
a wonderful week it was out on the Gaspé Peninsula! I
took a week's vacation along with three buddies and loaded up
2 vans for the 990-mile drive on Saturday the 21st of September.
After an overnight in Matán, Quebec, we pulled into the
small town of Gaspé around noon on Sunday. After settling
into the Adams Hotel, Gary Rose and I left to drive the York
River to scout some of the pools that we would be fishing during
our week's stay.
the next five days, we would be fly-fishing for beautiful sea
run, wild Atlantic Salmon on the York and St. Jean rivers. These
are two world famous Salmon rivers known for their gin clear
water and their wealth of large Salmon. The kill season ended
the beginning of September but the catch & release season
continued through September 30.
way it works out there is that the rivers are broken into sections
or beats. You pay to lease a beat on the river and have the right
to fish. The number of rods allowed on each beat varies depending
on the length of the beat and the number of pools the beat contains.
Most sections are limited to two rods, while some allow as many
as eight. With the exception of one day on a beat that allowed
six rods, we never saw another soul on the river. A paved road
runs the length of the York allowing access to all the beats.
Some pools are a mere 50-yard walk while others require a five
to ten minute hike through the forest. A vast, mountainous wilderness
area surrounds the rivers. The scenery is beautiful and the surroundings
are peaceful. We had decent weather with daily highs in the 60s
and lows in the 30s and 40s. We did get some rain on Monday,
but could have used more. The rest of the week was partly to
fishing started on Zone 9, the uppermost section of the river
still open to fishing. There are a total of 6 pools in Zone 9,
three of which were holding fish. At this time of year, the Salmon
are close to spawning. The fish are pooled up, gathering in the
larger holding areas on the river. My long time fishing pal Tom
Wermuth and I began the day's fishing on Pool# 61, Montagnard.
It's a small pool that was holding around 40 fish. My buddy Tom
started working the top of the pool with a wet fly and I worked
my way up from the tail out, fishing a dry fly. Only 30 minutes
into day one, I had a nice Grilse (juvenile Atlantic Salmon)
come 5 feet for my dry. I missed the fish - AHHHH! Rule number
1 in Salmon Fishing - never set the hook until the weight of
the fish loads the rod ... a missed opportunity. That was
it for that pool.
that morning we went to Pool# 57, Terry. Terry is a large pool
with a nice 30-yard riffle and 90 yard section of deep water.
Tom took the first rotation through the pool and had a good fish
take a wet fly, but did not get a good hook-up. Another hour
went by when I had a 15-20lb Atlantic take a wet fly on the swing.
The fish was on long enough to pull about 10 feet of line off
the reel and that was it. That's Atlantic Salmon fishing for
third pool was the charm as we made our way to Pool#58, Keg.
The pool was heavy with fish. The numbers of fish were not as
impressive as the size of some of the fish we saw. Several fish
in the pool were in the 20lb class, with some fish over 30lbs.
Yes, the York does produce some very large fish. We worked the
pool pretty hard but had no takers. After resting the pool for
an hour while we ate lunch, I gave it another shot.
swinging a size 10 Black Bear Green Butt fly (tied on a CS10/2
Partridge Bartleet Supreme) through the pool my rod loaded up
and I waited a couple seconds to set the hook. Success!! A beautiful
hen Atlantic began cartwheeling across the pool. After 5 awesome
jumps and a 15-minute fight I tailed my first ever wild, sea
run Atlantic Salmon on the fly. She was 38 inches long and around
24lbs. I was in heaven. Yes, the Fish Gods were taking good care
of me on this day. Then, after a rest and a bottle of water I
hit the pool again. Swinging a wet fly through the faster water
resulted in another solid hook-up. After an impressive aerial
display, I tailed my second fish of the day, a gorgeous Grilse
of around 5lbs. What the Grilse lack in size they more than make
up for with their tenacity. Shortly thereafter, we called it
a day and headed back to the Adams for a hot meal and a good
two had Tom and I on Zone 3 on the York. This section of the
river contains just two pools, only one of which was holding
fish at the time. We spent the day fishing Pool #11, Mississippi.
We fished hard all day with only a couple brief hook-ups to show
for it. The fish were just not in the biting mood. But that was
OK, as the river and surroundings are beautiful. It's so quiet
up there and the fresh air was a welcomed change.
booking agent, Ann Smith, called us just before we drove the
16 hours up to Gaspé with some great news. She had made
some calls and worked some moves the days previous and she managed
to get us a day on some very exclusive, private waters. So, Wednesday
morning at 7AM we were met by our guides for the day, Austin
and John. We were fishing on our own up there on the York but
Guides were required on the private waters of the St. Jean. Gary
and I went with our guide John to the famed Pavilion Waters on
the upper reaches of the St. Jean River. I now know how the upper
class lives! What an amazing river. Without a doubt, it was the
most beautiful river I have ever laid eyes on.
St. Jean is nearly 100% ground water fed so the water is the
clearest imaginable. You could count the pebbles on the bottom
of a 25-foot deep pool. The flow was good for this time of year
and the pools were full of Salmon. The St. Jean is known for
its remarkable water clarity and great number of fish. While
it does not have the number of big fish that the York has, it
does produce some large fish on occasion. Gary and I fished two
pools in this Zone. It was a very rough ride into the river.
We had to drive just over 30 miles of old logging roads to reach
the pools. It was an adventure that lasted an hour and a half.
We met several Grouse along the way.
first pool was Little Indian and was only around 80 yards long.
It was holding around 80 fish and with the gin clear water, you
could count every single one of them. After working the pool
for two hours with no interest from the fish, we decided to head
over to the other pool, Big Indian.
Indian was the perfect Salmon pool. A long fast run at the headof
the pool, followed by a long deep section that in places reached
over 20ft deep. This pool was holding well over 200 Salmon. They
were daisy chained along the surface over the deeper section.
They were also stacked up in the faster portion at the head of
the pool. The pool held some impressive sea-run Brook Trout up
to 6lbs. They too were running the river to spawn. In fact, there
were three pairs of Brookies spawning along the edge of the main
pool as we fished. It was a wonderful sight to see these big
Brook Trout in full spawning dress.
and I worked the pool over and the only action came when a 15lb
Buck Atlantic came up and nosed my Bomber dry fly. After resting
the pool a bit and eating lunch, we went back at it. As the afternoon
went on, the fish became more active, jumping and chasing each
other. They also became more interested in our offerings. Finally
at around 1:30, I had a Grilse turn and follow my size 8 Orange
Phantom wet fly (tied on a Mustad 80525BL) downstream 10 feet
on the swing. I watched the fish take the fly (AWESOME!) and
waited for him to turn and for the rod to load up. I set the
hook and the fish went berserk, jumping at least eight times
in the first couple minutes.
a few minutes, I had the 5lb. buck in hand and released. The
colors of these Salmon in their spawning dress are impressive.
A few minutes later Gary had a take as John and I watched the
fish turn on the fly. The ocean bright 12 pound fish spat the
hook just as John was ready to tail it.
the next three hours I hooked up four more fish, landing a nice
12lb Hen and another Grilse of around 7lbs. Both fish cartwheeled
around the pool. What a day!
and Rich Rose fished a lower section of the river with Austin
and also did very well, landing three fish. Two were Grilse,
one of which was taken on a dry fly and the other was a big Buck
of 37.5 inches and around 23lbs. Yes indeed, the Private waters
of the Pavilion Club more than lived up to our expectations.
was yet another new Zone on the river for Tom and I, Zone 2.
This zone contains only one pool. Pool# 10, Grande-Fourche, is
a long pool of around 300 yards and was holding around 50 fish.
For some reason, the fish in this pool did not hang in the faster
head of the pool. Instead they preferred to scatter out along
the middle portion of the pool in moderate current, over a slate
bottom. Only an hour into the morning I had a good fish take
an Orange Blossom wet fly, but setting the hook too quickly,
I blew the opportunity. Later that afternoon I was able to raise
two Grilse and a nice fish of around 11lbs. After a brief break,
I managed to get two of the three to come to the Orange Blossom
fly again. I hooked the 11lb fish but the tippet parted on the
first jump. Upon further inspection it appeared to be operator
error, a poorly tied knot. Ouch, that hurt! These things happen
from time to time but you can bet, I took greater care tying
my knots the rest of the trip. That was it for the day and we
headed the 30 miles back down river to Gaspé.
was our last day on the water and little did I know just how
good of a day it was going to be for me. Tom and I were back
fishing Zone 9 again. We started the morning out at Keg. There
were plenty of fish in the pool, including some real bruisers.
Nobody showed even the slightest interest in our offerings though,
so on we went. We moved on to Montagnard. Tom managed to get
a BIG male to take a look at a fly a couple times but the 25lb+
fish just would not commit. So, we packed up and headed back
to Keg for the rest of the day. After running flies through the
pool a couple times each and only managing one beautiful little
Brook Trout in full spawning colors, we took a break and had
a bite to eat. We hit the pool again and I had a nice 3lb Grilse
come hard to an Orange Blossom wet fly tied on a size 9 CS14/2B
double. The take was very deliberate and the fish was hooked
well. After several jumps the fish was tailed and released. What
a sight to see a fish turn and chase your fly downriver and take
it right in front of you. We decided to rest the pool a bit and
enjoyed a nice riverside nap. (Contin. on page 2).