The Grand Cascapedia is a river on the Gaspé peninsula of Quebec, Canada and is re-known for its very large wild Atlantic salmon as well as being a historic river. It has long been recognized as one of Quebec’s richest salmon rivers. To think of their return every year making their journey to spawn where they were born after confronting so many predators, braving so many challenges, is in itself incredible. I used to dream of fishing this river for the ultimate freshwater game fish. It is true that dreams can come true!
Last July my husband and I made our annual trip to the Grand Cascapedia. We usually arrive the day before for our three day trip to check things out which means driving along the river and stopping to watch anglers fishing at some of our favourite pools. We also stop to get the salmon news at the famous Sexton & Sexton fishing shop in St-Jules where guides and serious anglers gather for a cup of coffee. While at the shop we make sure to find out “what they are biting on” purchasing the killer flies, the ones to capture the big ones in the appropriate sizes for the current water conditions.
The first day we were up at the crack of dawn and met our guides Carl Bujold and Perry Coull at the parking lot of the Cascapedia Society office. We followed them to the Lower Murdoch pool in anticipation to a wonderful day fishing. Both guides are veterans of the Society having spent most of their adult lives fishing and guiding on the river. The water was a cool 58 degrees Fahrenheit and the Atlantic salmon were there! I cast as far as I could because it seems that the salmon were hugging the other shore. Bang! My efforts were rewarded as I landed an awesome 23 pounder on a Picasse fly. A quick picture and salmo salar was released. A short time later and I had another Atlantic salmon on. The reel screamed, he jumped! And on the second jump which was probably five feet in the air, this “moby” came off. Well I thought this salmon was “Grand”. We all saw this huge salmon and my guide confirmed afterwards “that was a trophy fish”.
The second day we fished the Lake Branch with guide Lawrence Coble, Chubby as he likes to be called. Chubby was replacing his uncle the late David Caplin a native guide who had guided this sector for over forty some years. Nevertheless to say Chubby has huge shoes to fill and he didn’t disappoint us. He knew this stretch of the river very well. I managed to land a grilse. His uncle David would have been very proud of him. He taught him well!
On our third day we fished the Salmon Branch sector with guide Jason Ferland. Jason is one of the few guides I had who takes time before fishing to check your equipment thoroughly and is willing to share new discovered tips that might make a difference. We made our way to a pool called “Nine Mile” well nestled in the valley. From our perch we could see in the pool many fine looking salmon. My Tiger Ghost size 6 was ready! It didn’t take me long to hook one of these fine silver salmon. On the second cast, mission accomplished! I landed an eighteen pounder. Well it was only 8:30 in the morning, the fishing was very promising. To change scenery we crossed the river to fish the other side. Jason quickly advised me to take it easy and perhaps to take a few breaks between changing flies because regulations on the Grand specify you are only allowed two salmon a day. But when you are pumped, you are pumped. On the first drop on this side with a number six Silver Rat I hooked an awesome nineteen pounder. The fish was as silver as the Silver rat itself. A quick photo and this world’s finest salmon was released. It was a wonderful morning fishing!
How lucky I am to live close to some of the finest Atlantic salmon rivers in the world, the Grand Cascapedia being just one of them. It is with great anticipation that I will be returning next summer.