Thought I would do an update of my trip this past summer.
We had 4 days and 4 nights to circumnavigate the Gaspe Peninsula in Early July. If you have watched King of the River, then you would have seen some of the world famous Atlantic Salmon Rivers of the region. I was really looking forward to checking the area out, and luckily the wife agreed to two days of guided fishing.
The Gaspe peninsula is beautiful, the drive around the entire tip along the ocean is quite the undertaking with winding roads and sweeping vistas at every turn.
Lots of little towns dot the road, and you have the opportunity to stop and explore the many National Parks along the way (be careful though, In Quebec their provincial parks are called National Parks. So our free Canadian national parks pass did not work for these parks)
Along the drive we found 5 microbreweries, all of which had fantastic food. I must say that Quebec knows how to make quality beer. My favourite stop was Pit Caribou south of Gaspe.
We stopped in a bunch of places that are worth noting.
Matane - The world famous matane river, has a Salmon observatory. The road pretty much parallels the river if you wanted to some DIY fishing. However the salmon fishing here is very regulated and costly. The best pools will cost you, and most of the best pools are limited draw. Most sections have rod limits as well, with best pools having the least rods.
Parc Du Bic.
This is a massive park with a ton of hiking trails. If you time it right, at low tide you can hike around the cliff face around to the far bay (about 5km). What amazing views of the St. Lawrence you get.
From Matane, we drove to the town of Gaspe, home of the York, St. Jean and the Dartmouth Rivers.
Saumon quebec has a shop there where you can get a bunch of information and pay for your access rights.
The only company I could find who offered a guiding service was Quebec Sporting.
I must say they did a fantastic job, they applied for draws for and arranged accommodations in Gaspe for my wife and I. Ann, the owner dropped off my pool tags and fishing licenses the night before along with an assortment of flies to try.
When I got there, I found out that I would be fishing section 4 of the York river for two days. This is a limited rod section with only 8 anglers per day and contains 9 named pools. I never saw another angler on either day.
My guide Denis was awesome. Very knowledgeable of the area and went out of his way to get me into fish. We did split days, he would pick me up at 5:30 and we would fish till 11 and then he would pick me up again at 3:30 to fish until dark. This was a lot of work for him, and the drive to and from the hotel to the river was 50km. So he definitely did his part.
He did his best to teach me all of the nuances of Atlantic Salmon fishing, presentation, flies, rationale etc..... and we saw a lot of fish in the two days and were desperately looking for a taker.
Water was pretty low and gin clear when I was there and alas, in the two days of fishing I did not catch an Atlantic. I had a few hits, and caught a few small brook trout, but I am still waiting to earn my first Atlantic Salmon.
I would definitely like to go back some time, but would try to book it closer to June.
Access Point to one of the 71 pools on the York. There are maps available and all of the pools are easily found from the road. The longest walk I did from parking to river was 20 minutes.
The first pool called Maitland, this is a lesser know pool that not many stop at as most people quickly go to the famous ones like gros saumon. I had two pretty solid hits in this run/pool. Also had a fish come up and inspect my bomber....this pool had the most action of the trip. Moreso than the 'famous' ones.
But no Atlantics to hand.
We hit this pool first thing in the morning on the second day. The pool name escapes me at the moment.
We saw lots of fish in this pool, they were pretty active, but no fish was willing to play with my fly.
The typical "accommodations" at each pool
Seeing as I had a couple of hours during the day to kill, I did some research and found a few spots within 5km of Gaspe to try my luck at Striper fishing.
Fishing a beach called Boom Defense: Named for the large nets they strung across the bay to Forillion Park to keep the subs out during WW2.
Caught my first two stripers at this spot.
Little guy....these fish are pretty awesome fighters for their size
Hit up another spot called Barachois on the way back to quebec city. Caught a few more there, but there is a big bridge to cross to get to the beach, and in the river you could see schools of hundreds of fish. However at this point in the year the river was closed to striper fishing, so you had to keep to the ocean side.
After the two days in Gaspe we left for the drive back to Quebec City to catch our flight. But first we needed to stop and see Perce rock. It has a huge natural arch in the center, but all my pictures are from a great distance and dont do it justice. I like this picture much better.
All in all, if you are looking for an exploratory trip that an angler and perhaps a non angler would enjoy, then I would highly recommend the Gaspe region. The scenery is amazing, rivers although highly managed are easily accessible from the road, the people are very kind, and the beer and food is fantastic.
Make sure you try the salted caramel soft serve ice cream....my god it is good.
And the poutine.....never leave without poutine.