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REEL TIME: Where to fish for salmon

The famous “Same Thing Murray” fly.
The famous “Same Thing Murray” fly. - Contributed

This week’s column will continue the discussion about salmon fishing in Nova Scotia. In last week’s article, I talked about the Margaree River, so now I want to talk about the other rivers in Nova Scotia where salmon fishing is still allowed.

The province is broken up into five areas by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO):

  • Area 18 — Gulf Shore of Nova Scotia
  • Area 19 — Cape Breton East
  • Area 20 — Eastern Shore
  • Area 21 – Southwestern Nova Scotia
  • Area 22 – Upper Bay of Fundy

Areas 20, 21 and 22 are closed for salmon fishing all year. That makes areas 18 and 19 the only areas open for salmon fishing. I will identify the rivers in Area 18 this week and talk a little about these rivers. Other than the Margaree, all the rivers in Area 18 will open for salmon fishing on Sept. 1 and close on Oct. 31. The Margaree River opened in June and is also open until Oct. 31.

The rivers in Area 18 that are open to salmon fishing are the East River and West River in Pictou County; the West River and the South River in Antigonish County and the Wallace River and River Phillip in Cumberland County.

One of my favourite fall salmon fishing rivers is River Phillip. Now, some late October days I have had to chip the ice out of my rod ferrules, but it is still a thrill to have a feisty salmon at the end of my fly rod.

Please remember that with water levels low and water temperatures high, DFO has closed part of the Margaree River and may close more sections of that river and others when they believe that they need protecting. Please check with your nearest DFO office for updates before you head out to fish.

Here is what DFO has posted for “Notes for Salmon Fishing Area 18:”

The daily catch and retain limit is zero.

The daily catch and release limit is any combination of Grilse or Salmon totalling Four (4).

The yearly catch and retain limit is zero.

When fishing for salmon, only single hook barbless or pinched barb artificial fillies are permitted.

As for fishing each of these rivers for the first time, I would suggest that you find a friend or hire a guide to show you where the pools are and how to fish them. You should also talk to the friend or guide about what flies to use in low water conditions and which ones to use in high water conditions.

I once took my wife to one of my favourite pools on River Phillip that just happened to be a drive across a large field with muddy ruts that I told her was a road. These pools are hard to find on your own.

I mentioned in my last article that I would tell you about a fly named the Same Thing Murray. A good friend of mine named Doug is an avid and very good fly tier. He likes to create his own patterns. Doug and his friend Murray decided to take a trip to New Brunswick for a week to fish salmon. Doug had tied a new fly for the trip and was using it on this particular day. He was having a great day and hooked a nice salmon and his friend tailed it. Doug’s friend wanted to see the fly and Doug showed him it. Throughout the day, Doug hooked a few more salmon and after each fish, his friend Murray asked, “What fly are you using, Doug?” Doug would reply, “Same thing Murray.” The name stuck and it is now one of the most used fly patterns in New Brunswick. Google it, it is pretty famous.

One word of caution, after hooking your first Atlantic salmon, you will have a hard time appreciating other kinds of sports fishing. Next week, we will talk about Area 19.

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