Fishing the rivers of the South Shore can be very rewarding in September. As stated in the last column, smallmouth bass are starting to feed aggressively and trout are staging at the tributaries to start their spawning run. Chain pickerel can be caught anytime, but with the water temperatures coming down, they will become more active as well.
As a lot of the rivers are fly fishing only, it might be a good time to dust off that fly fishing gear and give it a try. Some things to remember, there are several rivers that are “scheduled,” which means fly fishing only. If you are trout fishing, it is catch and release only and you must use barbless hooks. Several rivers have certain sections and salmon pools closed for the rest of the season so check the Nova Scotia Anglers’ Handbook for all of that specific information.
I would ask that you check water temperatures as anything more than 20 C is really hard on trout and many of them will not recover once released back into the water. However, smallmouth bass and chain pickerel love 20 to 25 C water and will be very active and will survive catch and release.
There are many provincial and federal scientists, sport fisherpersons and the general public that are concerned with the damage invasive species have caused. Chain pickerel and smallmouth bass have been illegally stocked in hundreds of lakes and rivers in Nova Scotia. These fish are very hardy and travel to other connected water courses with any large rise in water. They compete for the same food that our natural species eat and they also prey on our natural species, especially small salmon, trout and white and yellow perch.
There have been discussions about the pros and cons of killing every bass and chain pickerel you catch. There is a lot of science to support the statement that eliminating invasive species from a water course through recreational angling will not work. Smallmouth bass have been around long enough that there are rules and regulations relating to how many you can keep and when and where you can fish for them.
I am telling you this because it is my philosophy that you only kill what you want to eat and you release everything else. There are laws in our province that state it is illegal to recklessly kill game fish, meaning catching one and just throwing it in the woods, for example, is against the law.
While we are talking about dos and don’ts, it is also illegal to use game fish as bait. I have had many situations where I have hooked a small fish and while I was reeling it in, a large fish followed it and before I could get the fish in the boat, the big fish ate the little fish. Big fish eat little fish but you are not allowed to go catch little fish such as yellow and white perch, hook them up with a large hook and use them for bait.
Fall to me is a great time to go fishing. The temperatures are cooling down, most of the bugs are gone, the trees are changing colours and many species of fish are still very active. Remember, fishing is not just about catching! You are out in the fresh air, you are active, you are alone and peaceful or you have family and friends with you and Mother Nature will provide you with entertainment. Just look up a scattered time and enjoy what’s around you.
While fishing, I have seen bald eagles swoop down and take a fish out of the water. I have seen an osprey dive and grab a fish. There are ducks, geese, loons and many other birds active around you. I have seen painted turtles, snapping turtles (some huge snapping turtles), deer, moose (Cape Breton) a bear (a little scary), beautiful fall colours, rainbows and all kinds of insects and cats and rats, but no elephants or unicorns (for you Irish Rovers fans).
Give fall fishing a chance!